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Collinsworth injury could reshuffle secondary

Jun 12, 2012, 12:03 PM EDT

Austin Collinsworth

While Notre Dame hasn’t publicly commented on it, multiple outlets have reported a significant shoulder injury to safety Austin Collinsworth. The injury, reportedly sustained during the Blue-Gold game, has the potential to be season ending, altering the Irish’s plans at the safety position, where Collinsworth was set to play major minutes.

If we are to assume to worst (and this is Notre Dame football, that seems to be the only way people assume), the loss of Collinsworth for the year leaves the Irish particularly vulnerable in the nickel formation, where Collinsworth would’ve likely played with Zeke Motta and Jamoris Slaughter. Former walk-on Chris Salvi, fifth-year senior Dan McCarthy, and a fleet of young, but inexperienced safeties will now have to get up to speed quickly before the season opening game against Navy.

In Brian Kelly’s first season, the Irish struggled with depth at safety, with injuries limiting the Irish to basically a two-man scholarship depth chart of Harrison Smith and Motta. With Slaughter, Motta and McCarthy, the Irish are in better shape than they were in 2010, especially with the coaching staff feeling like Salvi can contribute and take significant snaps as well. New safeties coach Bob Elliott, lauded as a teacher on the field, will have a chance to earn that reputation, with Elijah Shumate, John Turner, C.J. Prosise, Nick Baratti, and Chris Badger all preparing for their first season in uniform.

Again, there’s no official word that Collinsworth is out for the season, but multiple sources have confirmed the shoulder surgery. The injury might actually be a blessing in disguise for Collinsworth’s development, allowing a redshirt season after the rising junior played in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, mostly as a special teams contributor.

With the scholarship depth at cornerback — Lo Wood, Bennett Jackson, Josh Atkinson, Jalen Brown and converted running back Cam McDaniel — not exactly fruitful, it’ll be up to one of the safeties to step up and claim significant minutes in the nickel package.

The odds-on favorite has to be Danny McCarthy. Many raised eyebrows when McCarthy was brought back for a fifth year, but head coach Brian Kelly’s decision to bring back the little used safety could turn out to be one of the best of the offseason. Long thought to be a better athlete than his older brother Kyle (who was only a special teams contributor until his senior season), this final season could be a breakthrough for the Youngstown, Ohio native.

UPDATE: Notre Dame has confirmed Collinsworth’s injury: “Notre Dame junior safety Austin Collinsworth had shoulder surgery to repair torn labrum and will require 4-6 months to fully recover.”

  1. brendanunderscoreg - Jun 12, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Let’s go Danny. Make Mooney proud!

  2. pchristner9 - Jun 12, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Hey Keith what about E. Hardy? Is he at full speed from his injury and will he have a chance to step up? Or even Mathias Farley?

    • dmac4real - Jun 12, 2012 at 5:38 PM

      Agreed. He was making noise last summer before the ACL injury. I still hope for big things from him.

  3. irish4006 - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    I don’t think it is a critical loss from the team point of view. There seem to be a lot of very talented players in this particular position, the only thing lacking is game experience. With Slaughter and Motta providing the experience, it should be fairly easy to get some of these young guys into the rotation. I also agree with the blessing in disguise comment. This may actually help AC’s development and he will have the opportunity to come back as a better player next year. Of course, no one likes to sit out; but this is football.

    Good luck, Collinsworth! Get well soon.

  4. nudeman - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    There are an awful lot of reasons to feel good about the ND football program.
    The D Backfield isn’t one of them, with or without Collinsworth.

    Motta is the very essence of an underachieving, mediocre (at best) safety
    Lo Wood is a piece of toast waiting to happen
    Bennett Jackson is unproven. Might be the best of a sad bunch.
    Slaughter has potential.
    Atkinson is raw.
    Cam McDaniel is a white CB. ‘Nuff said there.

    So they’ve gone from “lousy” to “lousier” without Collinsworth, who by the way strikes me as a shade above average. “Pretty good” at best.

    • nudeman - Jun 12, 2012 at 3:58 PM

      You all kill me
      We’ve all been saying what I’ve said here about the D Backfield for months
      In a word, it stinks

      So I write as much and get a hundred thumbs down
      OK, I get it. Happy talk only. Let’s get better by deluding ourselves.
      So here you go; replace my above post with this:

      “Keith, I think our D Backfield is friggin’ awesome!!!!
      Even though Motta has 1 career INT and drops anything that he gets in front of by mistake, I think he’s gonna’ get about 20 picks this year
      Lo Wood is an All American; probably will get 15 picks
      Slaughter and Atkinson should just go straight to the NFL
      We gonna’ be BEASTS!!!
      Go Irish

      • bernhtp - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:13 PM

        Wow Nude, ever think about scheduling another therapist session or upping the meds prescription? Besides constant indecent exposure, you’re now getting hysterical.

        There certainly are huge question marks about the secondary. I don’t know that “it stinks,” but there are many new guys that have yet to prove themselves.

        Wasn’t it you just a few days ago that was predicting 9-3 in the face of the nation’s toughest schedule and key areas of uncertainty?

      • danno27 - Jun 12, 2012 at 5:03 PM

        I gave you a thumbs up to make you feel better. love, Mom.

      • rico75 - Jun 12, 2012 at 6:11 PM

        this is why people find you insufferable. you didn’t get thumbs down because people only want happy talk. your assessment of the dbs isn’t off-base. in fact, most of your comments are valid.

        you got thumbs down because the state of the dbs has been discussed a lot (just like Rees was discussed a lot) and your comments add nothing to what’s been said by you or anyone else. everybody knows what you think yet you continue to pummel us.

        you take the concept of beating a dead horse to new heights. you would help yourself out tremendously if you’d just refrain from posting half of your comments. just give us a break.

      • nudeman - Jun 12, 2012 at 8:11 PM

        Was not aware you speak for the entire board.
        Now that I know, I’ll pay special attention to your posts

      • don74 - Jun 13, 2012 at 1:47 PM

        Not that he needs my defense but on balance Nude and his highly opinionated postings makes the site better. I have a hard time being critical of the on field performance of 18-22 year olds. That may deem me a nice guy but my goodness, it’s kind of boring. Nude’s posts stir things up and get others to respond. It gives me a diversion from what I really need to be doing so I consider it a good thing.

        My take on the secondary…..this is why Kelly is paid the big bucks. Let’s see what he can do regarding personnel and scheme. He has 10 weeks to figure it out.

      • nudeman - Jun 13, 2012 at 2:06 PM

        Thank you
        I do however admit to guilt in occasionally over-posting or beating the proverbial dead horse.
        So …

    • joeschulz - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:36 PM

      “Cam McDaniel is a white CB. ‘Nuff said there.”

      Whatever you may otherwise be, you are certainly an AH.

      • nudeman - Jun 12, 2012 at 5:52 PM

        Any mention of the words “white” or “black” in reference to an athlete are taboo I guess.
        We’ll just pretend there, too

        So going forward, I will pretend that:
        1. Everyone is the same color, and that color will be blue
        2. There are no differences in body types and skill sets between athletes of different ethnicity (FORMERLY different, that is; remember, now we’re all blue)
        3. Even though 99.99999% of CBs in the NFL and D-I NCAA were formerly black (now blue), that does not suggest any sort of tendency.
        4. I am a HUGE racist. Even though married to a women of color (formerly, that is; now she’s blue too), I stereotype, pigeon hole, and in general see all things in the world through racist glasses. Ooops; just spilled some coffee on my white robe and hood. Gotta’ go clean it off. Bye

    • brendanunderscoreg - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:55 PM

      1. Agree on Motta
      2. Agree on Wood
      3. Agree on Jackson
      4. Agree on Slaughter
      5. Agree on Atkinson
      6. Agree on McDaniel. You should’ve used the word “scrappy” instead of white, though.

      But, I’m not ready to agree on your conclusion of “lousy to lousier” solely because many of them haven’t played extended minutes. Any bets on how many games into the season we can agree on your conclusion?

      • nudeman - Jun 12, 2012 at 5:56 PM

        Are you agreeing on my real thoughts about them or my facetious observations?
        As far as # of games, Navy certainly won’t light them up.
        Purdue probably won’t, because they’re Purdue
        Denard stands a very good chance of exposing them

        So I’ll go with 3

      • brendanunderscoreg - Jun 13, 2012 at 2:00 PM

        I’m agreeing on the real thoughts (I think). Not the blue man group post. The one stating Lo Wood will be toast…

    • dmac4real - Jun 12, 2012 at 5:40 PM

      Agree with most of it. Except Jackson. I whole heartedly expect him to be better than Blanton/Gray/Walls easily by the end of the year.

    • dickasman - Jun 12, 2012 at 10:29 PM

      Sht, B-I-N-G-O. Couldn’t have said it better myself nude xcept I would have thrown in a couple a sexual innuendos in there for a good measure.

  5. bernhtp - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Too bad about Collingsworth. He was a good special teams contributor and was about to get his first serious minutes in position work.

    Among the frosh, Shumate appears to be the highest ranked and Badger is the oldest (maybe most physically developed) following his Mormon mission. Prosise is athletically gifted.

    • nudeman - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:50 PM

      If I had to rate the def backfield in the category of “area of concern” I’d say it’s a solid 8.5.
      I see very little to be optimistic about there

      And let’s be honest: We all like Collinsworth because he plays hard.
      But he’s most likely an “above average” guy at the very most at this level

      • irish4006 - Jun 12, 2012 at 3:03 PM

        I liked Slaughter a lot in some of the games last year. He showed some potential. If he can keep it up and be consistent, that will go a long way to providing some stability. We are toast at CB, but safety position is not nearly as bad. We do have a lot of ‘good names’ there.

    • nudeman - Jun 12, 2012 at 3:25 PM

      All true. Throw Baratti in there too.
      But all are frosh
      No impact this year.

      • bernhtp - Jun 12, 2012 at 3:39 PM

        I bet that Shumate breaks into the two-deep and gets meaningful snaps. He’s athletic and very aggressive – perfect psychology for safety. I have no clue about Badger. It’s probably been three years since anyone on the coaching staff has seen him.

  6. georgegipp - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    The d-line’s performance and it’s ability to generate a pass rush will be an important determinant of many games this fall. If we can manufacture a consistent pass rush, our young CB and safety talent might have a bit of a window to develop during the season.

  7. dmac4real - Jun 12, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    Prosise has a lot of potential….A lot. Someone on ISD was saying they were shocked he was a 3 star and I agree. Im just as excited if not more for Prosise than Shumate.

  8. thobb - Jun 12, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    This is certainly a blow to the depth in the secondary, but it’s not their biggest loss – especially in nickel situations. That distinction belongs to the departure of A Lynch. It could be a very troublesome year for a largely unproven secondary if they can’t get some serious help off the edge.

  9. jerseyshorendfan1 - Jun 13, 2012 at 1:23 AM

    Agree that CB’s are a major area of concern. Some of the pressure will be off of them as long as Lynch can develop a consistent pass rush. Oh wait, never mind.

    • bernhtp - Jun 13, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      Lynch was certainly a huge loss in terms of talent and pass-rushing ability. However, Aaron was never a team player and had issues that made him a relatively poor fit for Notre Dame. Lynch had little interest in his position other than pass rushing. He was often a liability when called upon to perform other duties. He also had more than his share of personal fouls and he was completely unrepentant about it. While highly respected for his abilities, he was less respected as a person and apparently was disliked by many on the team. That he finally decided to leave after getting into a fight is pretty indicative.

      While Lynch’s loss was disappointing, it should not completely surprising. I expected him to stay purely from self interest, but rumors had circulated for a long time.

      Mike Frank discussed this a bit on this week’s ISD Power Hour podcast. His version comports with what I hear/heard from other sources.

  10. georgegipp - Jun 13, 2012 at 5:26 AM

    BTW – I think the Collinsworth injury occurs at the 1:14:30 mark in the 1st half replay of the Blue Gold game on Theo gives him a stiffarm and he falls on the shoulder and seems to stay on the ground for a bit.

  11. gtizzo - Jun 13, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    This is where BK and I split. My decision would have been to put Neal on defense instead of offense. Move the other Atkinson over to the offense. The reason being I don’t mind being young as long as I’m talented. Shumate would follow that same theme and he would be my choice in the nickel. At some point BK has to start thinking beyond the current season and start looking two seasons down the road. Neal and Shumate could be part of a great secondary. Bring in two more defensive backs this cycle and look to other youthful but talented players on the roster. The irish have plenty of questions marks all over the field already time to start planning for next year. This season you start with Navy, Purdue and Michigan State…not exactly three teams loaded at wide out. 2 of those teams start new QBs which puts them in the same boat as ND.

    • nudeman - Jun 13, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      I agree completely and said so after watching some video of him covering in a practice drill.
      Looks fantastic.
      Also, they’re already sort of loaded at Neal’s most likely offensive position, slot or part time RB.

    • bb90grad - Jun 13, 2012 at 1:18 PM

      My hope is that BK doesn’t change course like the bowl game. I hope the let up on pressuring the QB was an anomaly. Why would you do anything to bring your weaknesses front and center? Find what beats your opponent and finish them off.

      Point is, all the talent/potential is for naught if used incorrectly against your opponents.

  12. bernhtp - Jun 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Collingswroth is apparently out 4-6 months for a surgical repair of his labrum injured during the BG game. I’m frankly surprised it wasn’t diagnosed and repaired then, thus getting (almost) a two month head start relative to now. It might have saved his season. At this point, unless there are other injuries and a huge need and benefit, I would sit the year out and preserve a year of eligibility, especially if the number is six months.

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