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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Aaron Banks' Injury

June 26, 2019

Aaron Banks appeared poised for a great season and that still might happen. It just might be a bit delayed.

With Notre Dame’s starting left guard out with a foot injury that could take weeks to heal, we might not be seeing Banks as a full-go at the beginning of camp. It might be the right thing to delay his return as long as possible as well. It’s the kind of thing that could linger and that could be disastrous for the offensive line this season if it were to go down that way.

So if he were to miss the game against Louisville, he’d have a bye week after that before New Mexico. And the game that they need Banks the most, rhymes with Beorgia, is the following week. Him being 100% for that week has to be the priority.

The good news is that Notre Dame now has a chance to prepare for any situations where Banks might not be available. It gives Jeff Quinn an opportunity to find out some answers about his depth and there are plenty of unknowns about those players.

Banks starts at left guard and is also the third tackle. Even if Banks isn’t the best of the offensive linemen, he had a strong argument he was the most valuable because of his versatility. The obvious contenders to replace him at guard would Josh Lugg, Dillan Gibbons, and Trevor Ruhland.

Lugg is the top candidate based on the spring when he was inserted there when Banks missed practices. He is someone who can move people in the run game, but he has not looked as proficient in pass protection. That is an underrated part of Banks’ game.

Gibbons is working back from a foot injury he suffered during the spring. Like Lugg, he has not taken meaningful snaps in a game. If Notre Dame were playing a game today, it’s safe to say that Lugg would be ahead of Gibbons. Banks’ absence may give Gibbons a chance to move up the depth chart as the sixth man if he has a great camp.

Ruhland has the most experience (five starts last season) and would be a logical stop-gap if Banks were to miss any games, but the problem is that we have no idea if/when Ruhland will be available to play. Brian Kelly was vague on his potential availability this season in recent comments. If Ruhland can’t play, it will likely be between Lugg and Gibbons at left guard.

Tackle is a different story. If something were to happen to Robert Hainsey, Tommy Kraemer could kick out to right tackle (although that would present another issue at right guard), but there is no obvious backup left tackle. Hainsey might slide over there and then maybe it’s Kraemer or true freshman Quinn Carroll at right tackle.

I think you get the point. They don’t really have any answers that don’t involve shuffling the line as it currently stands.

It’s not a bad thing that this happened in the summer because the staff will be able to try out different combinations in camp. There can be an actual competition for these spots rather than figuring it out on the fly like they did after Alex Bars was injured last year.

That injury led to the emergence of Banks as a starter, but it took a few weeks to figure out that he was the guy. They have more than a few weeks to find Banks’ replacement if it needed early during the season and they’ll need that time to get it right.

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