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Notre Dame Football

Botelho's back, Carmody 'game-time' as injuries mount for Irish

September 16, 2021
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Notre Dame's offensive line is expanding, and the Fighting Irish are getting help with their pass rush.

That was coach Brian Kelly's message Thursday in his final media availability before Saturday's game inside Notre Dame Stadium against 2-0 Purdue (2:30 p.m., NBC).

The defensive help is expected with the return of sophomore edge rusher Jordan Botelho, who missed the Irish's first two games for unspecified reasons.

Botelho had flashed during Notre Dame's preseason camp and, like Isaiah Foskey, even had shown some instances where he could line up at middle linebacker.

“Jordan's a guy that I think can help us at that Vyper position,” Kelly, who noted Botelho “will play,” said. “He brings pass rush ability, I think he brings, third down in particular, depth for us in terms of rushing the passer, we're a little thin there.

“I think that's going to be really welcomed to our unit.”

Earlier this week, Kelly had shared that the interior of Notre Dame's offensive line would work toward some semblance of a rotation against the Boilermakers, primarily, Kelly noted, because guards Zeke Correll and Cain Madden needed some load management.

Kelly reiterated that plan and shared the pecking order.

“I think we have to,” Kelly said of rotating guards. “I think they're getting so many snaps, Zeke in particular and Cain need a blow. Andrew Kristofic is probably the first guy and then I think Rocco (Spindler) and John (Dirksen) in that order.

“I think you'd probably see Andrew as first man in. He's been playing some center, playing guard. I really like his development. I expect to see him playing some guard on Saturday.”

Along the offensive line, Kelly said left tackle Michael Carmody remained a game-time decision this week against the Boilermakers; Tosh Baker would get the start if Carmody cannot be activated.

INJURY UPDATES

Two more Notre Dame players have been declared officially out for the season, per Kelly.

Freshman defensive back JoJo Johnson suffered a torn ACL and was scheduled for surgery Thursday; Osita Ekwonu suffered an Achilles injury last month had surgery to repair it.

Two games into the season, that's a lengthy list of injured Irish: Blake Fisher (meniscus/knee; approximately 8 weeks); Kevin Bauman (broken leg, surgery; approximately six weeks); Shayne Simon (torn labrum, surgery; out for season); Paul Moala (Achilles, surgery; out for season); Marist Liufau (broken leg, surgery; out for season); Michael Carmody (sprained ankle, TBD).

Those injuries, particularly on the defensive side, had prompted Kelly and the coaching staff to move Xavier Watts from offense to defense. Kelly had proclaimed last week that Watts would play against Toledo, but Watts did not factor into the game.

Still, Kelly emphasized Watts should have a role this season.

“I think when we were talking about Xavier, the game was in a position where we thought we'd be able to get him in a limited role,” Kelly said. “We were still in a situation where we needed to play a multiple-call defense. He wasn't ready to do that.

“We're getting him closer to that and we expect him to contribute for us this year on the defensive side of the ball.”

 
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