Notre Dame will be getting two important players back this week as the Irish exit their bye week and prepare for Navy. Both running back Jafar Armstrong and cornerback Troy Pride Jr are expected to return to action on Saturday when #3 ranked Notre Dame travels to San Diego for their yearly matchup with Navy.
News of Armstrong missing the Stanford game surfaced the night before the Cardinal were run out of Notre Dame Stadium by the Irish. We later learned that an infection in Armstrong’s knee would keep him out of action for a few weeks leaving the Irish thin at running back the last three games with Tony Jones Jr nursing an ankle injury as well.
With Armstrong back in action this weekend, Notre Dame will be able to get both he and Dexter Williams on the field at the same time for the first time this season. Williams’s return from suspension coincided with Armstrong’s injury. While Williams has been dynamic at times as a runner, Notre Dame has been missing a receiving threat out of the backfield since Armstrong has been sidelined.
While Armstrong will be back, we don’t know what his volume of work will be. Brian Kelly was noncommittal on what Armstrong’s workload will be this weekend though he did mention that his GPS tracking numbers from his first practice back were encouraging.
Pride Returns to Irish Defense
Notre Dame will also get back Troy Pride Jr this weekend. The junior corner sat out the Pitt game after injuring his ankle in Notre Dame’s win over Virginia Tech. With Pride sidelined two weeks ago, Pitt picked on Donte Vaughn ultimately leading to Vaughn being benched in favor of true freshman Traiq Bracy.
With Pride back in action Notre Dame will have some interesting decisions to make relative to its corner rotation. Bracy showed that he could play against Pitt and given Notre Dame’s inconsistency at the nickel position, it is easy to see Clark Lea being tempted to play Love at the nickel and Pride and Bracy on the outside in some situations.
Whatever Notre Dame does at the nickel, getting Pride back is a big boost for the defense even if his cover skills might not be needed much this weekend in defending Navy’s triple option. His experience against the option will be important though so the Irish defense isn’t depending on too many true freshmen this weekend.
More Help on the Way?
Another player who the Irish could get back in a few more weeks is Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa. The sophomore defensive tackle broke his foot in Notre Dame’s season opening victory over Michigan. His initial timeframe for return was the end of the year and Brian Kelly mentioned before the bye week that that is still realistic.
The new redshirt rule which allows a player to retain a year of eligibility if they play in four or fewer games in a season regardless of when those games are make this one tricky. Let’s get a little ahead of ourselves here and say Notre Dame makes the playoffs. That leaves the Irish with seven more games to play at most. Since Tagovailoa-Amosa already has played in one, Notre Dame could be wise to hold him out until the USC game to ensure he can take a redshirt this season.