Brian Kelly confirmed what looked painfully obvious to everyone watching the Notre Dame – Texas game at home on television – Tarean Folston has been lost for the year after suffering a MCL injury in the first half of Notre Dame’s season opener.[UPDATED: Folston’s injury is an ACL, not a MCL as originally reported. ]
Folston went down on what looked like a routine tackle, but limped off the field and was on the trainer’s table shortly after. NBC reported that Folston was visibly emotional on the sidelines with his teammates and by the second half, Folston was in street clothes and on crutches.
Before falling to his injury, Folston had picked up 19 yards on three carries including 15 on the ill-fated tote that has now cost him his 2015 season.
With Folston lost for the year, Notre Dame is in a major bind at running back. The Irish were already without Greg Bryant after his year long suspension and subsequent transfer and are now left with a depth chart featuring a converted wide receiver (CJ Prosise) and two true freshman (Josh Adams & Dexter Williams) – one of whom (Adams) is coming off an ACL injury of his own.
Prosise, in his first game as a running back, filled in well for Folston with 98 yards on 20 carries. Adams meanwhile took his first touch as a collegiate athlete 14 yards into the endzone for a touchdown. He later added a 25 yard touchdown run as well showing little signs of his ACL injury from a year ago. Williams saw action in the second half as well picking up 24 yards on 7 carries.
Adams and Williams are going to have to be quick learners for Notre Dame to truly make a playoff run since both will now we called upon on a weekly basis to provide rest for Prosise and both will be getting playing time in crucial spots along the way. Both looked up to the task in their limited action last night, but having to rely on two true freshmen backs so much is a dicey situation for a team with playoff hopes that looks to have the weapons to make a run.
For Folston, because the injury occurred so early in the season, he will be eligible for a medical red-shirt but that silver lining is likely of little consolation for the junior back today. Folston was set to be the go-to, work horse back in a high powered offense this season. A big season from Folston could have easily propelled him into the 2016 NFL Draft. Instead, Folston will now have a long off-season of rehab and recovery ahead of him and will miss out on what could be a special season.
Folston’s injury is the second significant injury to a core member of the 2015 Fighting Irish. Jarron Jones was lost for the season as well during training camp. Both injuries are big blows for a team that was ravaged by injuries a season ago and puts Notre Dame in a precarious situation at both positions.