SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame lost fifth-year left guard and captain Alex Bars for the season during Saturday night’s 38-17 victory against No. 7 Stanford. Bars looks to have torn both his ACL and his MCL in the third quarter when multiple players rolled up on his leg from behind.
Irish head coach Brian Kelly said Sunday further testing will be needed to confirm that diagnosis, but team doctors are convinced of the worst.
“Our doctors feel the worst is possible here with the knee,” Kelly said. “Which is devastating for us, because we’re losing a captain, and we’re losing somebody that is respected and revered by so many in the program. …
“This is more I just feel so bad for the kid because he comes back as a graduate student and then you lose him. We’ve got other players that will go in and play and play at a high level, but to lose him in his senior year is really hard on us.”
Bars has served as a one-two punch of leadership along with fifth-year center Sam Mustipher. As much as his blocking will be missed, that intangible aspect may be even more difficult to replace.
Without Bars, Notre Dame will insert senior Trevor Ruhland — who stepped in Saturday night — as well as give some snaps to sophomore Aaron Banks. Banks has primarily worked at tackle during his career, but Kelly said the Irish coaching staff is convinced he can contribute at both positions.
“We don’t have to alter our game plan or calls when Trevor is in,” Kelly said. “He’s very reliable. He doesn’t have the size, necessarily, as Alex does, but he brings some other strengths to the position. … He’s a really solid player, very instinctive, very smart. You’re going to see him quite a bit in there.
“You’re going to see Banks in there, as well. We’re going to give him an opportunity. He’s been playing really well. I would not discount having him as part of that rotation as well.”
Bars had started 30 consecutive games, though at three different positions. He spent 2016 starting at right tackle before moving inward to right guard last year, more similar to the position he had started his career at in a reserve role, left guard, where he even made two starts as a sophomore before a broken ankle cut short his season. Bars moved back to left guard this year to provide some experience next to first-time starter junior left tackle Liam Eichenberg.
Bars will not be eligible for a medical redshirt; this injury ends his collegiate career.
TRANQUILL WITH A BROKEN HAND
Fifth-year linebacker Drue Tranquill broke a metacarpal last night, but Kelly said he will be able to play with a cast on and should not miss any time moving forward.
“Tranquill has a metacarpal fracture which we’ll cast on Tuesday, but will not need to be surgically repaired at this time,” Kelly said.