Brian Kelly met with the media on Sunday, a departure from his typical Monday game week presser, as part of the ACC Championship media coverage. Kelly addressed various topics, as you’d expect, but he also touched on injury updates for a couple of key starters and reserves.
After starting in place of the injured Jarret Patterson, Zeke Correll himself was hurt against North Carolina. He missed the season finale against Syracuse. Josh Lugg filled in for him, and like Correll the week before, he had issues with some snaps leading to a Notre Dame lost fumble. It sounds like Correll will be available, but Kelly isn’t ready to name a starter.
This has really been about getting Zeke back to a position where we feel like he’s at 100%. I would say that he’s getting really close in practice. You know, we were on the field, as I had laid out for you guys, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and by Saturday, we all felt that he was really close to being 100%. I think it then becomes a situation where has he played enough football for us to feel like, with the one game that he played then got injured versus, you know, Josh playing two games. Can they both help us at that position? I think that’ll be a game day decision. I think they’re both going to continue to get reps at the center position, and then we’ll take that right into game day.
My take here is that it’s likely to be Correll starting on Saturday. While he, too, had issues snapping, he’s been practicing at center all year long while Lugg fills in all over the place as Notre Dame’s super-sub. Facing Clemson in your second career start is not ideal, but starting either of Correll or Lugg isn’t ideal.
Kraemer missed the North Carolina game after having an emergency appendectomy during Notre Dame’s bye week following the win over Boston College. Kelly said he would play against Syracuse in an emergency situation only. Trailing the Orange in the second quarter apparently qualified as such since Kraemer got on the field in the second quarter. Kelly later explained that it was more of a situation of Kraemer wanting to play on Senior Day. Either way, it sounds like Kraemer is all good to go.
Kraemer’s good to go. He’s been taken all the reps at the right guard position. I feel real good about where he is
Lugg is still listed as the starter on the depth chart, but it would be shocking if Kraemer didn’t start assuming he’s healthy. With uncertainty at center, Notre Dame needs Kraemer on the field on Saturday against Clemson’s front.
Backup defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola got injured before the Boston College game and hasn’t played since. It sounds like he will be available this weekend, though.
Jayson’s been getting a lot of reps, and he’ll be ready to play. We’re just rounding him back into game shape.
Ademilola is a critical component of Notre Dame’s waves of defensive linemen that have been so effective this year. Remember, the Notre Dame defensive line didn’t generate a ton of pressure on Clemson last time around until the end of the game. Their depth is what makes that possible, and Ademilola is a crucial component of that. Getting him back this weekend is big.
Another component of that depth is sophomore nose tackle, Jacob Lacey. He’s been slowed by injuries in the latter half of the year as well, but according to Kelly, he too is looking ready for Saturday.
Lacey’s much better. As you know, he was slowed a little bit, but we feel really good about the last couple of days. We were banging around pretty good on Saturday, and he came out of it in a really good place.
Notre Dame needs its pass rush sooner, rather than later this time around with Trevor Lawrence back for the Tigers. With some uncertainty in the secondary, they can’t afford to leave the corners exposed too long. Having Lacey and Ademilola back for depth is vital for Clark Lea’s defense.