Notre Dame has reportedly suffered their first significant injury for the 2021 football season yesterday when Marist Liufau went down with a significant lower-body injury according to multiple reports and first reported by Matt Freeman of Irish Sports Daily.
No timeframe for the injury has been reported at this time and Notre Dame has not confirmed the injury yet, but early reports have suggested this could cost the junior linebacker the entire season. Brian Kelly is not scheduled to meet with the media again until Monday so we likely won’t have confirmation from Notre Dame until then unless they release something between now and then.
There is no way to sugarcoat this, this is a big blow for the Notre Dame defense and their hopes in 2021. By all accounts, Liufau was expected to take a massive leap this year from part-time role player to front-line, headliner in Marcus Freeman’s defense. A few weeks ago, Matt Freeman reported to us on the UHND podcast that Liufau was lining up all over the field after the first open practice.
With Liufau out for the foreseeable future, fellow junior JD Bertrand, one of the fastest risers on the roster in fall camp, is expected to step in and fill a large role in the Notre Dame defensive front seven. Senior Shayne Simon also figures to be heavily in the mix.
Brian Kelly and Marcus Freeman have both spoke at length about the depth Notre Dame has at linebacker for 2021 so the Irish have the depth to overcome a significant injury to Liufau, but what they don’t have, at present anyway, is someone who is likely to be the same level of playmaker that Liufau was expected to be.
Freshman linebacker Prince Kollie could figure into the mix more now as well if Jack Kiser, the likely starter at ROVER, fills some double-duty by being part of the replacement plan for Liufau at WILL. Kollie reportedly looked very much like a freshman over the first few days of camp, but adjusted relatively quickly and is on the rise.