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Irish getting healthy in time for spring

Jan 31, 2014, 7:27 PM EDT


While Signing Day is the focus right now, the start of spring practice is just over a month away, with the Irish beginning drills on March 3rd, their earliest start in the Brian Kelly era. And while the Irish head coach was meeting the local media to introduce his new offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, he spent some time answering questions about his team’s offseason progress.

The largest update came on the status of the Irish’s injury report. With numbers dwindling throughout last season, Kelly gave positive updates on just about every returning player.

Let’s walk through the player, their injury and a status update:

Nick Martin: The Irish’s starting center is ahead of progress as he rehabs a knee injury that ended his season early. Getting Martin back for spring drills will help tip the hand of Harry Hiestand as to what the offensive line will look like heading into the season.

Ben Councell: Another player that Kelly was very happy about, citing Martin and Councell’s progress from major knee injuries as well ahead of schedule.

“Two guys in particular have exceeded all expectations and that’s Ben Councell and Nick Martin,” Kelly said. “If they walked through here right now you would not know they had surgery.”

Jarrett Grace: The senior linebacker is out for the spring, while his leg break still heals. This may not be breaking news, but the severity of Grace’s injury — a leg fracture in four different places — is a complicated rehab process and an injury that could’ve been career threatening.

Devin Butler: The freshman cornerback caught the ire of his head coach for tweeting about his offseason surgery looks to have had shoulder surgery, but Kelly didn’t seem concerned.

“We went in there and tightened some things up, not as complex of a surgery,” Kelly said. “He should be fine for us.”

Doug Randolph: The freshman’s shoulder has healed after a preexisting injury and he’ll be ready for spring.

Nicky Baratti: One of the X factors heading into next season is Baratti, who had multiple shoulder surgeries that cost him his sophomore season. While he’s likely capable of taking live snaps this spring, Kelly seems content letting him get healthy for preseason camp.

“Whether we put him in, in full contact because of a second surgery, I think that’s still questionable,” Kelly said. “We may just want to ride right through the spring and have his first contact be in the fall but if we are playing he will be cleared to play.”

John Montelus: The rising sophomore offensive lineman will be ready to compete entering spring practice for the open guard job Chris Watt leaves behind.

Chase Hounshell: After two lost seasons from shoulder injuries, Hounshell has every opportunity to compete for a starting job with Stephon Tuitt departing early. With a fresh start with Brian VanGorder, Hounshell will be full go come March.

Tony Springmann: After having a scary setback with an infection in his surgically repaired knee, Springmann is back moving around. While his status for spring is still up in the air, Kelly sounded optimistic that Springmann can be a big part of the Irish’s plans along the defensive line.

  1. fnc111 - Jan 31, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    The biggest question mark out there is will coach Kelly ever try to beat scUM?

    • kansasirish - Jan 31, 2014 at 8:40 PM

      Always the first d-bag to post.

    • papadec - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:43 PM

      fnc – I guess we’ll get the answer to that question on Sept 6th.

  2. fnc111 - Jan 31, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    I bet you’ve never even been to an ND game Kansas.

    • dillonbigred - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:00 PM

      What does that have to do with you being a d-bag?

    • kansasirish - Feb 1, 2014 at 1:57 AM

      Actually been to 4 home games. It’s a 9 hr drive but I’m a true fan and have been since grade school. Sorry I don’t post as often as you because I have a real job,a family and don’t live in my parents basement…just saying.

    • danirish - Feb 1, 2014 at 6:23 PM

      I seen the Irish play at Ga Tech and at Wake Forrest. Make something of that.

  3. fnc111 - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:05 PM

    Hopefully Hounshell stays healthy. Gotta give him praise for fighting through the last two years.

    • ndfaithful - Feb 1, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      Who just posted this as ‘fnc111’?

  4. mikes1160 - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    Fnc, go away.

    • dudeacow - Jan 31, 2014 at 11:29 PM

      These bipolar trolls are starting to annoy me.

  5. mediocrebob - Jan 31, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    Any update on Springman?

  6. heartofgoldandblue - Jan 31, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    fnc is the biggest BS spewing mental midget I’ve ever had the displeasure of hearing (reading) over and over again. Same illogical posts/guarantees over and over none supported by any rational thought let alone facts. Get a new agenda and/or own up to all your wrong “predictions”. Old……

    • 1historian - Feb 2, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      ignore him – your new mantra


  7. whiskeystraight - Feb 1, 2014 at 12:18 AM

    I can’t wait to see Nicky Baratti play next year. He looked like a natural freshman year. Should be a huge piece moving forward. Same thing with Grace. Defense has a lot of pieces ready to fill in big time positions.

  8. yaketyyacc - Feb 1, 2014 at 6:25 AM

    let’s hope everyone heals. some good talent sidelined. good update Keith. thanks

  9. irishdog80 - Feb 1, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    No mention of Torii Hunter? I know his leg break was severe and it’s now been over a year. Broken bones can take a long time to heal properly. He was tearing it up on the High School All Star circuit and could make an impact this year.

    Have to say Grace’s leg break has to be a big question mark and speaks to the need to recruit Inside Linebackers. I predict that Nyles Morgan will be a starter by the 3rd game next year…more speed and athleticism on the field sooner rather than later.

    • mediocrebob - Feb 1, 2014 at 12:34 PM

      I thought I read something on Hunter Jr practicing a little for bowl prep? Maybe mistaken. I think he’ll be good for fall

    • dsharp86 - Feb 1, 2014 at 12:35 PM

      Hunter was practicing during latter part of season and was praised by Kelly during bowl preparations so I assume he’s good to go. Surprised Keith did not mention Springman though.

    • mayesdays - Feb 1, 2014 at 2:39 PM

      Dog you may be right, but the frustrating part about Grace was that he was making great progress. Tough break, literally, for the guy. He’ll be back and if nothing else help Morgan be ready. Another good playing time battle.

  10. 1historian - Feb 1, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    To my fellow posters:

    I am going to give you the same advice concerning fnc111 as I did concerning phcinquante-trois (figure it out) and for which he branded me a genius (no I didn’t pay him) and it is this:

    Ignore him.

    • irishpuma - Feb 1, 2014 at 5:27 PM

      historian you have gone too far again….no french on this site unless it is du lac.

      • mcirish27 - Feb 2, 2014 at 3:28 AM

        I gave you a thumbs up there but surely “Notre Dame” qualifies

      • 1historian - Feb 2, 2014 at 8:30 AM

        mille pardons, mon ami

  11. bernhtp - Feb 1, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    Keith: You forgot to mention the Gingerman. Springman is apparently doing well despite a setback stemming from an infection following his knee surgery. It is unclear how much he will be able to do in spring practice, but we certainly need DTs.

    • Keith Arnold - Feb 1, 2014 at 3:38 PM

      Updating now with Springmann… Thanks. Bad miss on the Big Ginger!

      • bjc378 - Feb 1, 2014 at 7:43 PM

        Whoa whoa whoa! Let’s be clear on this man’s nickname. It is Ginger Thor. It’s obvious.

  12. irishpuma - Feb 1, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    BK announced today that the QB job is open between Golson and Zaire……..discuss………

    • bernhtp - Feb 2, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      Nothing to discuss. Kelly believes in development through competition. The best player plays and no one’s job is safe regardless of incumbency. Golson doesn’t even have incumbency on his side given that he’s missed the last year under ignominious circumstances.

      Kelly is sending the clear message to Golson that he needs to earn the job back. ND clearly needs a solid backup who is ready to play regardless. Golson missed over 5 Qs due to injury in 2012 and a few more due to performance issues. Odds are the #2 will play meaningful time, and maybe a lot.

  13. ajw21 - Feb 1, 2014 at 8:59 PM

    puma: You surprise? Golson is the starter, why tell Zaire that? get him the practice reps, Golson will get hurt, Could be 5 games or 5 plays, Zaire needs to be game time ready, easier to do if your “competing” for the starting job.
    Last year Kelly must of known Hendrix wasn’t going to compete for the starting job(we saw why vs USC) so he announced Rees early.
    Kelly is a politician, hate it or love it, he is just pulling the strings.
    Go Irish!

    • 1historian - Feb 2, 2014 at 8:34 AM

      There does remain the fact that Golson had 18 months to absorb the Irish offense and he still needed TR as a bailout more than once. At the same time Kelly (and others) have been heard raving about how quickly Zaire has absorbed it.

      I think that Golson will win but he will know that Zaire is breathing down his neck. Here’s hoping that Golson has grown mentally, as in maturity, as well as physically. If he is in charge out there, as in – in control – it will show.

      • 1historian - Feb 2, 2014 at 9:32 AM

        And if he is not – it will show. IMO one thing to watch is how long it takes him (whoever the QB is) to GET – as in understand – the next play called from the sideline.

        The occasional quick snap, the occasional hurry-up offense would be good to see – if they can do it.

        The offense has to be good enough to keep the opposing D guessing, a bit nervous, maybe 1/4 step slow. Kelly has the horses to do it and there should be no excuses if he can’t make it happen.

  14. paulhargis53 - Feb 2, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Good to see I’m part of the discussion, even though I haven’t contributed to the comments.

    I will save the “smart” ones the trouble that say I never have….

    P.S. the genius comment directed at you was meant ad sarcasm, I wouldn’t wear it ad a badge of honor. I’m touched that you do wear it so proudly though.

  15. mtflsmitty - Feb 2, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    Gonna be a long three days.

  16. getsome99 - Feb 3, 2014 at 12:29 AM


    This you?

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