When Shaun Crawford landed on the turf against a few weeks ago against Virginia, it looked terrible. Arms aren’t supposed to bend the way Shaun Crawford’s did that afternoon. The following day, however, Brian Kelly, surprised us all when he said that the 5th year senior corner would only be out about a month. Thursday night Kelly reaffirmed the timetable for Crawford’s return on his radio show, telling listeners that Crawford is expected back in two weeks for the Michigan game.
When Crawford hit the ground against the Cavaliers, we all feared the worst – another season-ending injury for the diminutive corner. Crawford tore his ACL in training camp in 2015, ruptured his Achillies at the beginning of the 2016 season, and then tore another ACL on the eve of the 2018 season. Three significant injuries, three comebacks. A fourth almost certainly would have ended his collegiate career since it’s been reported he likely won’t pursue a medical 6th year.
Luckily for Notre Dame and Crawford, the injury was just a dislocated elbow, and he will be back in the lineup in two weeks when the Irish take on the Wolverines in the Big House. For a kid who has suffered through more significant injuries than any other Notre Dame player I can remember, it’s great to see him being able to return from this latest injury so soon.
Before the injury, Crawford was back to his usual ball-hawking self. He recorded an interception against New Mexico in the home opener and nearly got his hands on a second. Whenever he has been on the field, he has been near the ball.
With Crawford out, Notre Dame has been using junior ROVER Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the dime package. He did fine against Bowling Green, but this weekend’s showdown with USC is a whole other beast. TaRiq Bracy has been starting at the field corner spot opposite Troy Pride and has more than handled his own. The dime package, however, is one that has been tested the most with Crawford hurt. Expect USC to test it even more, this weekend.
Getting Crawford back in time for Michigan was the best-case scenario for Notre Dame, so the news from Kelly that Crawford is on schedule to return on time is a boost for Notre Dame down the stretch. In a perfect world, the Irish would have Crawford this weekend against USC’s athletic receivers, but we knew that wasn’t a possibility when Kelly announced Crawford’s elbow injury originally.
Look for Notre Dame to cobble together a dime package this weekend that might just include Houston Griffith, who recently moved back to safety if JOK struggles in coverage against the speedy USC receivers.