Notre Dame appears to be without one of its starting members of the secondary for today’s season opener vs. Rice and possibly longer. 5th Year senior and Notre Dame captain Austin Collinsworth is reportedly out for today with a sprained MCL.
Irish Illustrated reported the news earlier this afternoon:
A source tells Irish Illustrated that Austin Collinsworth has a strained MCL and is likely out a couple weeks.
— Irish Illustrated (@NDatRivals) August 30, 2014
This is a blow for an Irish defense that is already going to be heavily reliant on a lot of underclassmen across the two deep in Brian VanGorder’s new defense.
With Collinsworth out today and possibly longer, Matthias Farley figures to move back into the starting line up. Kelly mentioned earlier in fall camp that if anything happened to Collinsworth, Farley would step in and made the defensive calls as the quarterback of the secondary.
Notre Dame is already undermanned in the secondary with the playing status of Keivarae Russell and Eilar Hardy still up in the air pending the results of the academic investigation that has reported concluded but is not yet fully resolved. Sophomore Devin Butler figures to play in the nickel position today while junior Elijah Shumate’s role figures to expand as well. True freshman Nick Watkins is almost a certainty to play early now as well given the growing number of defensive backs the Irish will be without today and possibly longer.
For today’s contest against Rice the Irish should be able to get by just fine, but next week’s contest versus Michigan could be trickier now if Collinsworth is out when the Wolverines come to town. Michigan tight end Devin Funchess had 7 catches for 95 yards and 3 touchdowns at half-time in their season opening tune up against Appalachain State.