The status of both Torii Hunter Jr and Avery Sebastian for this weekend’s Nevada game is still up in the air as the two go through the University’s concussion protocol. As of Monday, Brian Kelly had no further update on either other than they are going through the process.
Torii Hunter Jr was knocked out of Sunday’s game on what appeared to be a clear cut case of targeting in the end-zone. As Hunter tried to secure a potential touchdown grab he was rocketed in the helmet and neck and had to be helped off the field. No flag was thrown on the play and replay officials did not replay the hit as they are able to do under new rules this season.
On Monday, Brian Kelly said Notre Dame sent a tape to the ACC Officials and received confirmation that targeting probably should have been called on the play.
Avery Sebastian meanwhile was knocked out of the game in the second overtime attempting to tackle Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes. The 6th year graduate transfer started in place of Max Redfield who was kicked off the team two weeks ago and struggled in his Notre Dame starting debut prior to the injury.
Considering Notre Dame is working on a short week already after playing Sunday vs. Saturday and since it’s rare for a player to return the next week after a concussion these days, it’s probably safe to assume both will likely be “doubtful” at best this weekend for the home opener.
What if Torii Hunter Is Out This Weekend?
If Hunter can’t play this weekend, the Notre Dame passing game could be in some trouble. Following Hunter’s departure from the Texas game, the Irish passing attack that had been firing on all cylinders in the third quarter stalled.
Notre Dame inserted true freshman Kevin Stepherson in Hunter’s place and the true frosh simply wasn’t ready for such a prominent role. In fact, Stepherson struggled so much just with lining up that Equanimeous St. Brown ran up to hit and slapped him to get him in position at one point.
Should Hunter be out this week, Notre Dame’s best bets would be to move Corey Holmes to the outside to start in place of Hunter or move St. Brown over to Hunter’s “X” position and have Miles Boykin start at the W. Stepherson has great speed and hands, but it was very clear against Texas he wasn’t quite ready for prime time yet. Holmes as a junior and Boykin as a sophomore should be more than capable of filling in against Nevada.
What if Avery Sebastian is Out This Weekend?
Even if Sebastian is healthy this weekend, he might not be a lock to start. Sebastian had a rough season opener to say the least with several missed tackles. Kelly and Brian VanGorder went with the veteran duo of Drue Tranquill and Sebastian because of their experience and steady play. Neither was steady and neither played well.
By the last drive of the game, Notre Dame was playing two true freshmen at safety – Devin Studstill at strong and Jalen Elliot at free safety. Should Sebastian be out, Kelly could give Tranquill another chance at strong safety and have Studstill play free where he had been practicing much of the fall or he could role the dice with two true freshmen safeties as he did on the game’s deciding play.
Either way, Notre Dame’s safeties will be a concern moving forward. For all the talk from the hot air filled likes of Colin Cowherd, kicking Max Redfield off the team was indeed a big deal for Notre Dame as Redfield was the best safety on the Notre Dame roster this year and it showed on Sunday night.
Obviously more on the status of both as we learn more.