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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Rocco Spindler Out for the Season

November 13, 2023
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Notre Dame came into the season with questions about their two guard positions and they’ll exit the season with questions as well. Now that Rocco Spindler is out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, they’ll be forced to look at some alternative solutions in these last few games of the 2023.

Spindler won the starting right guard job out of camp and had some good days as a first-year starter. He had some uneven days too.

His good, particularly in the run game working in tandem with Blake Fisher, was very good. His bad was noticeable. He gave up multiple pressures in six games and it wasn’t the volume, but the impact of those plays. His misses were loud misses and that’s partly why he was likely going to be in a battle to keep his starting job in 2024 despite the experience gained this fall.

We’ll have to see how long he will be out for and whether or not he can return for the spring. Guard is a position that needs to get settled early on. The Irish face Texas A&M to start their 2024 campaign and they should have one of the best defensive lines in the country.

As for what Notre Dame will do to replace Spindler against Wake Forest, the obvious choice is Billy Schrauth. He stepped in when Spindler left at the end of the Clemson game and also at other times this season.

Schrauth was considered a heavy favorite to start at one guard spot heading into fall camp, but was beat out by Spindler and Pat Coogan. The fact that those two held onto their jobs while going through struggles isn’t exactly a vote of confidence for Schrauth or any of the other backups at the position, but it’s a tremendous opportunity for him to stake a claim to a starting spot in 2024.

The other candidates to possibly step in are Andrew Kristofic and Ashton Craig. Both of them played center when Zeke Correll went out with a concussion against Clemson, but Kristofic left the game with a leg injury as well. His status is uncertain. Craig did a more than admirable job when called upon at center in the second half.

The darkhorse to see playing time would be true freshman Charles Jagusah. He has not played this season and is in line for a redshirt even if he did play. This injury at the very least should get him working with the regular offense as opposed to scout team, but it may be more realistic for him to see action in the bowl game unless offensive line coach Joe Rudolph spent a lot of time getting him ready during the bye week.

There are high standards for Notre Dame at the guard position and for the offensive line overall. People are looking for the next Quenton Nelson or Aaron Banks and they weren’t found this season. The end of 2023 is the start of trying to reach that standard at the position during the 2024 season.

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