With two games left in the regular season, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish find themselves in a middle of a national championship race. Unfortunately, the final stretch of the race will have to go on without John Carlson, the starting tight end and pass receiving threat on offense.
Carlson went down with an injury to his right knee in the second quarter of Notre Dame’s match up with Air Force on Saturday. He was helped off the field and returned in street clothes for the second half.
”I’m being practical saying it’s a long shot that we’ll have him back for USC,” said Coach Charlie Weis, “but we’ll have him back for whatever game we end up playing at the end of the season.”
Carlson was in the midst of a breakout season when the injury hit on Saturday in the Irish’s win over Air Force. In 10 games the tight end has amassed 46 receptions for 621 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Notre Dame will look to senior Marcus Freeman to make up the difference during Carlson’s time on the sidelines. Freeman was on the receiving end of a 23-yard touchdown throw from quarterback Brady Quinn in the third quarter. The score was the tight end’s first career touchdown reception.
The Irish will need Freeman to stay healthy and be productive over the next two games. Backing him up on the depth chart are a pair of true freshman; Konrad Reuland and Will Yeatman. Neither have had significant playing time so far this season.
There is little time for adjustment in the new starting role with just two regular season games remaining. The Irish match up with Army on Saturday for senior day in Notre Dame Stadium before heading out west to Los Angeles for the annual rivalry with the USC Trojans.
Kickoff for this weekend’s game against Army will be at 2:30 pm (EST) and will be nationally broadcast on NBC.