No news is good news for No. 4 Notre Dame (3-0, 2-0 ACC). For the first time in five weeks, the Irish have no players in quarantine or isolation, per head coach Brian Kelly on Thursday.
Adjectives such as “just” and “only” can have ambiguous connotations, so leaving out those attempts at a transition: It took 23 days for Notre Dame to go from halting all football activities because of a growing outbreak to having its entire roster full-steam ahead.
“This felt as back to normal as we’ve had,” Kelly said. “Even more so than the Duke week, this really felt like a normal workweek that you would have during a non-COVID season. Our guys felt a lot more comfortable.
“We had a number of tests where they were negative, so that wasn’t the topic of conversation. It was back to work from that perspective.”
Even if only sophomore linebacker Jack Kiser and senior defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa were unavailable due to these concerns in the 42-26 win against Florida State, the Irish were without a myriad of players during the week of practice, most notably three of their top-four cornerbacks. Filling in for those players during the week took its toll, lessening needed legs come Saturday.
“As we worked hard to get back, the workload was not balanced,” Kelly said. “We were getting guys back, but some had to carry a lot more of the load and it affected guys on how they performed on Saturday because they carried way too much workload to get others back. They had to take a lot more reps than they normally did.”
Now, depth is restored. Typical practice periods are followed.
“You feel complete, you’ve got your team together,” Kelly said. “You have depth, you have competition, you have practices that are a lot different because they’re structured in a manner that brings that competitiveness out during your preparation.”
The obvious and acknowledged example of that added load and its effect was on Shaun Crawford, but logic pretty easily understands it also applied to #NotreDame's linebackers and defensive line, where multiple contributors were known to be sidelined for two weeks.
— Douglas Farmer (@D_Farmer) October 15, 2020
All those necessities, once taken for granted, are no longer assumed. Notre Dame changed its testing procedures over the weekend, intending to avoid another outbreak.
Campus itself is back to bordering on unquestioned trouble. The University Dashboard reported 19 new coronavirus cases from Wednesday, 12 on Tuesday and 10 on Monday. The seven-day moving average of positive tests of 7.5 is the highest it has been since Sept. 3 The 19 new cases in a single day is the highest total since Aug. 28. Campus had been holding only remote classes and encouraging students to quarantine as much as possible from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2.
Lawrence Keys — CONCUSSION
Junior receiver Lawrence Keys is in concussion protocol, per Kelly, the only member of the roster not currently available.