By the time Notre Dame finished its first drive on Monday night, they were down three starting offensive players. Cole Kmet and Michael Young entered the game on the injured list, and Jafar Armstrong joined them a few plays into the game. Chase Claypool looked like he might be injured late in the game as well, but it turned out to not be serious. On Tuesday Brian Kelly gave updates on them all.
Jafar Armstrong Suffered Soft Tissue Issue
The most concerning development we learned about on Tuesday is that junior running back Jafar Armstrong suffered a soft tissue injury to his groin. The injury occurred on Notre Dame’s first drive of the game. Kelly was vague regarding the injury, only stating that Armstrong will have an MRI today.
Brian Kelly says Jafar Armstrong has a “groin area” injury. MRI today. Unclear on his status right now, should have clarity in the coming days.
— Pete Sampson (@PeteSampson_) September 3, 2019
Soft tissue injuries are generally not a one week or two week type of injury. The good news here is that Notre Dame has a bye week already this weekend due to the Monday night starter. They also won’t need Armstrong much to get past a weak New Mexico squad. Should the injury prove to be serious though, Notre Dame visits Georgia in three weeks.
This injury is the latest in a series of injuries that have plagued the converted wide receiver ever since the beginning of last season when he appeared on the injury report at the 11th hour before Stanford came to town. Since then, Armstrong has not been able to stay healthy.
With Armstrong unavailable most of last night, Jahmir Smith saw a lot more action than anticipated. The sophomore running back responded well with two touchdowns and could be in line for more carries again in two weeks. Tony Jones Jr was impressive as well in leading Notre Dame with 112 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown.
Stay tuned on this one, but a soft tissue injury to a running back is cause for some concern.
Chase Claypool is OK
While the news on Armstrong wasn’t great, the story on Chase Claypool was much better. After an impressive catch and run to set up Notre Dame with a first and goal, Claypool stayed on the ground a while and looked hurt. Initially, it looked like Claypool might have taken a shot to the head, causing concern of a potential concussion. It turns out it was Claypool’s shoulder that was causing him discomfort, not his head.
Kelly said on Tuesday that the shoulder is fine and that moving forward he is good. Notre Dame could not have afforded to lose Claypool for any period with the passing game largely sputtering outside of him last night. Even though Notre Dame could get by New Mexico without him most likely, the Irish offense needs to get Book cooking to build some confidence heading into Georgia.
Cole Kmet Closer to Return than Michael Young
While Cole Kmet has been a frequent visitor to the injured list, he has also reportedly always been a fast healer. It looks like that might be the case again. Kmet suffered a broken collarbone early in camp, but he could be close to returning. Kmet has a CAT scan on Thursday, and if everything checks out, he should be cleared for full contact shortly after.
Getting back Kmet would be a huge boost for the Irish even though Tommy Tremble did look impressive receiving the ball. While Tremble is a matchup problem because of his speed, Kmet is a matchup nightmare because he combines speed with the size that Tremble doesn’t quite have yet. Tremble also struggled when called upon to block in the run game as well.
As of right now, a return for Georgia looks possible for Kmet.
Michael Young, on the other hand, isn’t moving along as fast. Combine that with the fact that Young suffered his broken collarbone a week later and his status for Georgia doesn’t look as likely – at least at this point. Kelly mentioned that he would have an X-ray in the next couple of days, which will determine if they can start getting Young moving around and catching the ball.
For Notre Dame to have a chance in Athens in three weeks; they need Young, Kmet, and Armstrong all in the lineup. Right now, it looks like that is in doubt, but we should know more on Young and Armstrong later this week.