As Notre Dame struggles to find contributing receivers, the option have diminished by two. Irish coach Brian Kelly said graduate student Freddy Canteen will undergo season-ending surgery this week to repair a torn labrum and sophomore Javon McKinley is likely to preserve a year of eligibility this season.
Canteen started Notre Dame’s first two games before injuring his shoulder against Georgia. The Michigan transfer made one catch for seven yards. He does have another season of eligibility remaining, making a 2018 return likely, though not guaranteed.
In Canteen’s place, the Irish will turn more to sophomore Chase Claypool, though that may have been the case, regardless. Claypool made two catches for eight yards in Notre Dame’s 49-20 victory over Boston College on Saturday.
“He’s big, he’s physical, he’s got speed,” Kelly said of Claypool. “He needs to continue to grow at that position. We just like that he blocked very well for us. He was assignment correct. We saw him really grow in the areas that we wanted him to grow in.”
Kelly said Claypool will see time more on the outside of the field, rather than Canteen’s position in the slot. That alignment could hint at increased usage of the already often seen two tight end packages.
McKinley saw action in six games during his freshman season, recording no statistics.
“We didn’t get enough of his year last year, so I try to save a year under those circumstances for those guys,” Kelly said. “… If they’re still growing, still learning — I don’t want to accelerate them through the program unless they are squared away in terms of all of your traits.”
With or without Canteen and McKinley, the Irish still need to find reliable receivers, currently a vacuum best-exhibited by the passing total of 96 yards amassed against the Eagles.
“In terms of all the receivers, they just have to make more plays for us, contested catches, and they will,” Kelly said. “[The passing game] hasn’t gotten off to the kind of start we want, but it’s a long season.”
How the Irish stopped Harold Landry
Boston College senior defensive end Harold Landry was a point of focus for the Notre Dame offensive line, and understandably so considering Landry’s penchant for taking down the passer. The Irish held him to zero sacks and a total of one sack. To do so, they used two different strategies.
Whenever Landry lined up on the offensive line’s left side, manned by fifth-year left tackle Mike McGlinchey and senior left guard Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame allowed things to unfold relatively naturally.
“Any time he was to McGlinchey’s side, we were going to fan, so that was going to get a double team with both McGlinchey and Quenton,” Kelly said. “So we weren’t too concerned about that.”
Whenever Landry faced the right side of the Irish offensive line, an area anchored by the right tackle rotation of sophomore Tommy Kraemer and freshman Rob Hainsey, Notre Dame devoted a few more resources to supplement the lack of experience.
“We were going to get inside help with a tight end or a back when [Landry] was [on the right], and let the tackles just worry about the speed rush,” Kelly said. “They did not have to worry about any countermove inside … It allowed them to think fast and play only one move upfield, and they were protected inside. It helped us out.”
Kelly confirmed the only injury the Irish suffered against the Eagles was sophomore running back Tony Jones’ sprained ankle. Jones is “day-to-day” with the sprain.