Lo Wood Reportedly Out for Year

lo wood injury
Notre Dame suffered its first major injury of the 2012 season Monday when starting corner Lo Wood reportedly went down for the season with an apparent ACL injury. (Photo - Robin Alam/Icon SMI)

Notre Dame’s already thin depth at cornerback reportedly suffered a crushing blow on Monday when junior corner Lo Wood suffered was is being called a season ending Achilles injury leaving the Irish precariously short on numbers at the critical position.

Lo Wood was considered a major question mark as a starting corner heading into the season but has been one of the most pleasant surprises in fall camp up until this point receiving high praise from head coach Brian Kelly, defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, and secondary coach Kerry Cooks along the way.

With Wood lost for the season, Notre Dame will be forced to start someone opposite converted wide receiver Bennett Jackson that has little or no experience.  The candidates right now are sophomores Josh Atkinson and Jalen Brown and freshmen Elijah Shumate, a converted safety, and Keivarae Russell, a converted running back.

Of the four candidates vying for the starting position, only Atkinson has seen the field at this point and his experience includes all of two collegiate tackles.

On the surface, Notre Dame’s first opponent of the season would appear to be a great way to break in a new starter lacking experience at the position, but at the same time, facing an offense such as Navy’s requires a lot of discipline and almost requires more experience than a traditional offense to defend.  With that in mind, look for the Midshipmen to attack the edge of the Irish defense and run right at whoever ends up starting opposite Jackson.

Given the nature of Navy’s offense, it is also very possible that whoever starts the season in Wood’s now vacated position may not be the long term answer for the Irish at corner.  I could see the Irish throwing Shumate out there against Navy given his size and physicality as opposed to say Atkinson who is faster but not as big.  When the Irish face a more traditional offense in week two, Purdue, it would also not be surprising to see Diaco and Kelly tap Atkinson to be there man given his speed and brief experience.

At the same time, throwing a true freshman onto the field against an offense such as Navy’s isn’t necessarily an ideal situation.  So the bottom line here is that Notre Dame just suffered it’s first major injury for 2012 at a position they could ill afford to have injuries this season.

Wood’s injury throws the recruiting shortcomings of last year back into the spotlight.  Had Notre Dame been able to hold on to Ronald Darby before he flipped to Florida State or kept Tee Shepard on campus after he enrolled early, the Irish would still be in pretty solid shape at corner since both were expected to challenge for a starting position this fall.  With neither on campus, Notre Dame faces the real possibility of started two corners who started their careers at other positions and have little or no experience playing the position on this, or any level.

Achilles injuries generally take a while to fully recover from – especially at a position like cornerback which requires so much lateral quickness and quick cuts.  Notre Dame already has cornerback commitments from Devin Butler and Rashad Kinlaw and was expected to continue to recruit the position.  Look for that to definitely be the case now as Wood’s status for 2013 could be uncertain as well as most athletes admit it takes a full year back in action to fully recover from an ACL injury.


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  1. ND has consistantly not played younger players until very recently and then it is limited and prompted usually by injuries. A ton of other teams have bucked this trend and have had amazing results. As it stands the secondary with the exception of Slaughter who is a junior is riddled with freshmen and sophomores with little to zip game experience. This simply does not bode well when you look at the upcoming season. I see the front line likely being gassed in the 4th quarter trying to get after the ball to take heat off the secondary. Not a good situation.

    The confidence BK had in the kids at Cincy is gone since he arrived at ND. The coach I saw on the sidelines at Cincy is not the same coach prowling the Irish sidelines. I think last year he was effectively neutered after the PC backlash on his emotional style on the sidelines. One can agrue if that is good or bad but the end result is BK is lacking the balls to the wall attitude he had at Cincy. The Irish knew what they were getting when they hired him and perhaps they felt they could mold him into more of a CEO than a coach which seems apparent to me what has transpired.

    The fall off of emotion, urgency and a fast paced offense since the first year is glaringly obvious. This program seemed to have done a 180 in 3 years to me – just my opinion. he first year was incredibly fun to watch. The huury up offense seemed to be just what ND needed – they really clicked and played with much more confidence. It still bothers me how Michigan can hire Hoke and in one year- the first year they are real contenders and have their confidence back. I think most of that started with putting full confidence in Denard Robinson much like ND should do with Golson. Golson is the spark the Irish need. Start him and stick with him. Hopefully BK doesnt shatter another kids confidence like he did with Rees when he started Crist last year which to me was also a very politically correct thing to do. It still would not surprize me if he started Hendrix vs Navy. BK has become very predictable and safe. The urgency to turn this program around seems gone.

  2. C-Dog,

    In a way I agree and in a way I disagree. My brother-in-law is an LSU fan and talks about their team speed all the time, however when I bring it up to him that ND has classes ranked as high as LSU he scoffs at ND having team speed. I explain to him that ND has the atheletes to compete. He than says it’s your coaching than. Do a degree he is correct.

    One of the problems identified by BK when he came to ND was the lack of speed on the edge. This is evident in the players he had at those positions last year. He Darius Flemming at Dog and Shembo at CAT. Shembo was confused because it was the first time he ever played CAT/Drop LB. Also he had Troy Nikolas and Isaq were playing out of position. He also wanted a proto type back being 6’5″ and about 240 playing those positions. Part of the problem with BK’s team is the fact he didn’t have the personell for his system. The primary job of drop LB is to cover the flat and redirect receivers. The drop LB’s last year did a horrible job of that, hence the reason for all of the intermidiate passes. Diaco counter this with moving Slaughter up as the drop LB and going to a 4-3 front. It will be interesting to see if the Council who played drop LB in high school in a similiar system can fill that void.

    At DB I am not worried as much as everyone else. ND primarily plays a zone defense, splitting the field into thirds with the field corner usually playing shallow with a saftey over top. There is no need to worry about corners matching up man to man in Diaco’s defense. In the USC game they tried to play like a man box concept in basketball with Lo Wood trying to man up with Woods, it didn’t work. If the DB’s are able to understand the concepts and stay in their zone and cover the receiver in their zone they should be okay.

    Now to finally address your main concern which is coaching. Most of the players starting at these positions were either recruited by Kelly or in his system for 3yrs. We will see how it works, I am trying to be an optimist, but I can see this possibly going south.

    Offensive commentary will come later as I am excited about some things.

  3. This defense has not been lucky. If you hear coaches talking about simplifying the playbook, then you just heard codeword for, “we’ve got issues”. They won’t be able to apply the heat like they wanted to, given that Lynch is gone. Lo Wood showed promise and hopefully will return as soon as reasonable. What should be pointed out is that regardless of who is available, the coaches need to be able to teach each unit effectively in a short timeframe. Davie and Willingham ignored the offense other than keeping a decent running attack. But since Weis and sometimes seemingly with Kelly, you begin to feel that certain units on the team just aren’t taught properly.

    Niether the linebackers nor the corners seem to be able to handle a typical passing attack. It looks like confusion rather than a talent problem. That is a coaching issue. Notre Dame players are more intelligent than most other teams. They should be able to learn the playbook. Can the coaches intelligently teach? That’s the question.

  4. I beleive ND will run the ball very well this year and will defend against the run well but even before this unfortunate injury, the secondary was gonna get lit up. Not good news at all! Not thinking there will be any coverage sacks this year boys which means the D line may be gassed by the fourth trying to get to the ball. Hope Lo the best!

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