Notre Dame played the entire first half without its starting DROP end Daelin Hayes on Saturday after the junior suffered a stinger against Stanford. They ended up playing the entire second game without their backup DROP as well after Julian Okwara was flagged for targeting. Okwara is back this weekend for Pitt, but it is unclear when Hayes will be back in the lineup as well.
“It’s simply a brachial plexus, so it’s the C-6, which is as we all know, a stinger,” Brian Kelly said on Sunday when asked about the injury to Hayes.
A simple injury, but not a simple return to the field according to Kelly.
“We’re very cautious and careful in making sure that we get consultations and make sure that everything is clearly presented. But this is just a matter of calming down this injury to the point where we can get him back out on the field,”Kelly said. “They usually calm down in 24 to 36 hours. If they don’t, then the window opens up to six weeks. So once he’s asymptomatic, then he’ll be cleared to play. Then we’ll go from there. He was out obviously practicing non-contact because he was still symptomatic. Had some tingling in his hand.”
Not exactly the most clear answer there from Kelly, but in terms of coachspeak, it certainly sounds as though the Irish will be without Hayes this weekend when Pitt comes to town. It might even be prudent for the Irish to rest Hayes this weekend even if he is cleared to ensure there isn’t a flare up of the injury. Notre Dame has a bye week after this weekend’s contest with Pitt, so Hayes would in theory have been three full weeks removed from the injury.
That is all of course if Hayes is ready for action this week. Kelly opened up the window to six weeks on Sunday which would place Hayes back in the Notre Dame lineup not until the Florida State game in November.
If Hayes is out again this week, Okwara will get the start and will be backed up by Jamir Jones and Justin Ademilola. Junior SDE Ade Ogundeji also filled in a bit at DROP this weekend even though it’s a position he has not played in the past. Assuming a full 60 minutes from Okwara, Ogundeji liekly stays at SDE this weekend.
Notre Dame did a great job replacing both Okwara and Hayes this weekend, but long term Notre Dame needs Hayes back in the lineup. Before the injury Hayes had 10 QB pressures this year even though he did not have any sacks. Those pressures though are what makes the Irish pass rush so effective even if it doesn’t get home and produce a sack.
Outside of the Hayes injury, it didn’t sound like there were any other major injuries this weekend though Troy Pride Jr was limping around a bit at the end of the game. Kelly was not asked about other injuries on Sunday though and it should be noted as well that no one knew of the Hayes injury until a few hours before kick-off on Saturday when news broke that Hayes didn’t make the trip to Blacksburg.