Injuries on defense starting to take toll on Notre Dame
BY LAMOND POPE Sun-Times Media November 3, 2013 8:22PM
Notre Dame linebacker Jarrett Grace (59) is carted off the field after an injury during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Updated: November 3, 2013 8:49PM
Notre Dame didn’t have nose guard Louis Nix III. Defensive lineman Kona Schwenke was also unavailable late in the game Saturday against Navy.
Defensive lineman Sheldon Day and linebacker Ben Councell were out because of injuries, too, as the Midshipmen moved down the field on their final drive.
The Irish still found a way to stop Navy to preserve a 38-34 victory, but injuries are starting to take a toll on them.
‘‘We are running out of next men,’’ coach Brian Kelly said during his teleconference Sunday. ‘‘From a defensive standpoint — and particularly the defensive line — we’re left with very few options. It becomes an issue now where we have to be very creative in what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.’’
Councell is lost for the season because of what Kelly called a ‘‘significant’’ knee injury suffered Saturday. Schwenke will sit out the game Saturday against Pittsburgh because of a high ankle sprain. Day has a high ankle sprain, too, but Kelly is optimistic he’ll return for the game against the Panthers. Safety Austin Collinsworth has a neck strain and will have an MRI exam Monday.
Nix, meanwhile, missed his second consecutive game because of knee tendinitis. Kelly said Nix has a small meniscus tear in the joint, but the tendinitis is the bigger issue.
‘‘This is more for Lou to make a decision in terms of where he’s at in terms of his health and making sure he feels he’s capable of playing the rest of the season,’’ Kelly said.
Notre Dame later announced Nix will practice this week.
Kelly said he couldn’t recall coaching a defense this decimated by injuries.
‘‘I’ve had some offenses that have been hit this hard, and I think if you’re in college football or at any level in the pros, you’re going to have these times,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘They don’t give you any points for complaining about it. If they did, I’d complain every minute. So we just take care of it internally and get the next guy ready.’’
NOTES: Notre Dame is ranked 24th in the Associated Press media poll released Sunday.
◆The game at Pittsburgh will start at 7 p.m. and will air on Ch. 7.