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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Adapting To Injuries & Rotation At Linebacker

September 9, 2019
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Notre Dame entered the season with a solid stable of running backs, but the Irish were looking for a home run back to replace Dexter Williams.
 
Jafar Armstrong figured to fill in that role as the former receiver made a few big runs in 2017 in his first year at the position. However, Armstrong tore his rectus abdominis and will miss several weeks as he had to have it reattached last week.
 
Brian Kelly has turned to junior Avery Davis to potentially help fill that void as he has moved back to offense with the injury to Armstrong.
 
Davis arrived at Notre Dame as a quarterback, moved to running back in 2018 before moving to cornerback in the spring, but now he’ll have a chance to get the ball back in his hands moving forward.
 
“We moved Avery Davis back over to the offensive side of the ball to give us another complement to that piece,” Kelly stated on Monday afternoon. “Avery can catch the football for us has the ability to do those things that Jafar did. He gives us another piece at that position that we think can fill in nicely.” 
 
The Texas native seemed to be adapting well to the cornerback position, which makes the move tough and even Kelly admitted Davis is a quality young man for handling the situation with class. 
 
“Avery is a great teammate,” said Kelly. “If I was Avery, I would be sick of the head coach too. He just wants to get on the field. We're in a need situation. He wasn't getting a lot of time defensively, so he was anxious about the opportunity and excited about the opportunity of coming on the offensive side of the ball and seeing what he could do to help us.” 

Davis could find a role as soon as Saturday with Kelly stating sophomore running back Jahmir Smith sprained a toe during a scrimmage over the weekend.

“Jahmir has a sprained toe, but we'll see how he goes this week,” Kelly said. “He's going to practice this week. We'll see what he's like this week.”
 
On the other side of the ball, Notre Dame’s linebackers have been the focus for the last nine months and continued to be the focus following the win over Louisville. 
 
Kelly seemed somewhat pleased with what he saw from the linebacker corps in week one, but knows they will need to improve over the next few weeks. 
 
“I think situationally, it played out pretty good,” Kelly explained. “I thought Jack Lamb did a really good job in his time in third-down situations. I thought the rotation with (Shayne) Simon and Asmar (Bilal) looked really good. I think Drew White had a nice first game starting for us. I think you'll probably see, Bo (Bauer). He had a nice couple of weeks here where he's probably earned some playing time.
 
“I think it is coming together for us. It's starting to kind of settle into a more consistent pattern of what we want from those guys. We're feeling like we're going to get the job done the way it needs to be done at the highest level.” 
 
For defensive coordinator Clark Lea, it will be about finding the best combinations for situational football as he waits for one or two linebackers to emerge. 
 
“We have more than two guys that can play there,” Kelly stated. “So he has to figure out time, down and distance, and who are the guys that need to be matched up together as well. That's a big consideration. He's trying to get to that. I think you'll continue to see you know more than two guys going in and out of the game, and then situationally. I think it is a pretty fluid situation.
 
“I can tell you this. We're pleased with the first week's work. There's more work to be done there at a higher level of play that we think we can get. But so far, so good.” 
 
Notre Dame tight end Tommy Tremble got his first college football action in week one and it was a memorable game for the sophomore. The Georgia native caught three passes for 49 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown from Ian Book. 
 
Tremble got the game ball on Monday night, but could see his playing time decrease this weekend as junior Cole Kmet could make his season debut on Saturday. 
 
“He was involved in practice last week, 7-on-7 drills, some team work,” said Kelly. “We'll make a decision at what level we want to engage him this week, but his x rays looked really good, significant growth relative to his injury. That's going to be a day to day situation as to how we see how far we want to accelerate him. He's been cleared to do quite a bit of the football-related work within the practice.
 
“Is he healed to the point that he could be (available on Saturday), yes. That will be a decision that we make within the program as to whether we choose to do that.”

 
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