Notre Dame started this season deeper at defensive end than they’ve been in decades. That depth is getting stretched pretty thin after Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly announced that senior captain Julian Okwara is out for the rest o the year with a broken fibula. Notre Dame lost senior Daelin Hayes to a season-ending injury earlier this year as well.
With Julian Okwara lost for the season, Jamir Jones figures to move into the starting lineup in his absence. Jones was initially going to redshirt this season so that he could start full-time in 2020. That plan went out the window when Hayes went down for the season. He will end the season as a starter for Notre Dame after all, though.
Outside of Jones, an increase in playing time seems likely for sophomores Ovio Oghoufo and Justin Ademilola. Ademilola is not listed as a DROP end, but at this point in the season, Notre Dame’s staff might prefer to keep a redshirt on freshman Isaiah Foskey. Should they decide against the redshirt route for Foskey, he could see more playing time over the final three games and bowl game as well. If he is as good as advertised, they won’t have to worry about preserving that redshirt season.
For next week especially though, look for Ademilola to see more playing time with Okwara out and Notre Dame set to face Navy’s dreaded triple-option attack.
For Okwara, his injury brings a rather unceremonious ending to his Notre Dame career. His senior season started with a lot of promise and All-American projections. His season, like Notre Dame’s as a whole, didn’t quite go as planned, though.
When Okwara decided against leaving early for the NFL, he set a personal goal of setting the Notre Dame single-season sack record but fell well short even when considering he will miss the final three regular-season games and bowl game. Okwara had just 4.0 sacks on the year with all but one of them coming one single afternoon against Virginia.
Opposing offenses have specifically schemed against Okwara to limit his effectiveness this season, which accounts for some of his drop in production. Still, in general, Okwara’s injury puts a disappointing ending on a disappointing season. This injury shouldn’t impact Okwara’s draft status much, but his drop in production this season likely will. At one time he was considered a potential first-round pick, but that seems very unlikely at this point.
Jack Lamb Done for Season Too
Brian Kelly also announced that sophomore linebacker Jack Lamb is out for the season as well. Lamb’s suffered through several injuries in his young career at Notre Dame already. Hopefully, this latest setback doesn’t derail his development even further. He was not available for the Duke game with Asmar Bilal filling in for him in the dime package.
Braden Lenzy Sidelined with Fatigue Issue
Braden Lenzy did not travel with the team for last night’s game either, but his future doesn’t sound quite as dark as Okwara or Lamb’s. Lenzy stayed home with what Kelly called a fatigue issue and will be further evaluated this week. Lawrence Keys saw some looks in the running game from the wide receiver position that probably would have gone to Lenzy had the sophomore been available.