Notre Dame lost defenders Julian Love and Drue Tranquill to head injuries against Navy. The freshman cornerback and junior safety will both return to practice, per Brian Kelly, though neither will be full contact yet.
“Tranquill and Julian Love, they will go to practice today,” Kelly said during his Tuesday press conference. “They will practice in a non-contact fashion. If everything goes well, they’ll be clear for contact tomorrow.”
Before being pulled from the game for precautionary reasons, Love was playing excellent football at cornerback. He was active in run support, and finished behind just Greer Martini and Nyles Morgan in tackles with eight, including one TFL. Kelly praised the way Love played, the freshman from Chicago a quick study against a difficult assignment.
“I don’t know if I’ve seen a true freshman play the triple option as well as he did,” Kelly said of Love. “He was really good before he got dinged. He was running to the football, playing off cut blocks, playing physical, playing smart, very, very good. In terms of assignments, in terms of physicality, in terms of tackling it was really good.”
While PFF had Tranquill leading the Irish with four missed tackles, he’s been a key contributor against the option (when healthy). And against an Army attack that’ll likely pressure the edges more than Navy, the junior will be asked to play a key role in slowing down Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw.
One position where things don’t look quite as optimistic is defensive tackle. Junior Daniel Cage is set to meet with a concussion specialist after leaving the Miami game with a concussion.
“He’s made some progress, but anytime that somebody’s in their second week and has not fully gone through the stages as we see them, we’d like to get a second opinion and make sure that everything is good,” Kelly said.
That leaves the Irish needing more from the position, with Jarron Jones being the likely answer there. Jones played just 12 snaps against Navy, a decision that looked preventative more so than strategic, when you consider the fact that the Irish defense forced a stop in both series that the fifth-year senior played. When pressed for details on Jones’s absence on Tuesday, Kelly sounded like that might change in a must-win scenario like this Saturday.
“I think he wants to play a lot this week,” Kelly said, steering away from specifics when pressed. “We’ve got Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and we’ll see what happens.”