Chatter around Braden Lenzy began on Saturday during pre-game warmups when Notre Dame’s new #0 was not seen on the field with the rest of the team. He was later seen in uniform prior to kick-off, but Notre Dame’s most dynamic receiver didn’t play a single down. Late Saturday night we learned why that likely was. According to Tim Prister of Irish Illustrated, Lenzy had a hamstring injury that slowed him down.
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly did not address Lenzy’s absence following the Irish’s 27-13 victory over Duke to start the year fueling speculation that perhaps Lenzy’s absence was some sort of disciplinary issue. Prister’s report, however, gives some clarification after some initial doubt.
Reports immediately following the game stated only that Lenzy “was available” but just didn’t play. That wouldn’t have made much sense if Lenzy was healthy begins as he is the most dynamic weapon in Notre Dame’s passing game – especially with Kevin Austin out with an injury for several more weeks.
A hamstring issue for a speedster like Lenzy is certainly enough reason to keep him on the sidelines though. While Notre Dame could have used Lenzy’s speed to jump-start an offense that struggled to get the ball downfield as they did a year ago, they clearly were able to get passed Duke without Lenzy’s breakaway speed.
The same could be said for this coming weekend against South Florida. Notre Dame should be OK without Lenzy, if need be, for the Bulls. It is clear, however, that Notre Dame’s offense will need both Lenzy and Austin back before they are ready for the big boys on its schedule – Clemson and North Carolina.
Notre Dame receivers caught just five passes for 48 yards. Bennett Skowronek also suffered a hamstring injury at the end of the first half leaving Notre Dame without three of its top receivers for their two-deep.
We’ll see if we get any further clarification from Brain Kelly during when he next meets with the media on Sunday.