Notre Dame played the last two weeks without promising sophomore VYPER DE Jordan Botelho. According to Brian Kelly on Monday, the Irish could get Botelho back this weekend for Purdue – a final determination should be made on Tuesday. If the Irish get him back, it won’t be a minute too soon, the Irish could use the dynamic pass-rusher to bolster a defensive front that has already powered Notre Dame to ten sacks in two games.
Notre Dame’s pass rush has not been the reason the Irish have struggled giving up big plays over the last two weeks. If anything the pass rush is a big reason why the Irish are 2-0 instead of 0-2. Notre Dame’s defensive front has been getting after quarterbacks. They will need to continue to do so in order to keep producing negative plays of their own.
Every team deals with injuries, but Marcus Freeman and Notre Dame were hit pretty hard in a short period of time with injuries and players being unavailable. Between losing Marist Liufau in camp, then Shayne Simon and Paul Moala in the opener, and then missing Prince Kollie at the last minute last week. Freeman’s been plugging a lot of holes. The problem is he’s plugging holes with personnel he’s still learning about and the replacements he’s used haven’t quite done what the players they were replacing were expected to do.
Having another pass rusher like Botelho, who could play linebacker at times – something Freeman’s defense calls for but has been lacking the versatile edge players to execute. Having Botelho back would allow Freeman to continue to use some of the fronts that have been successful for him elsewhere but haven’t hit home at Notre Dame yet.
Botelho forced his way onto the field in 2020 as a true freshman on special teams and was a standout pass rusher in the spring. There were rumors that Botelho might be facing some sort of disciplinary issue this summer, but Kelly shot that down in August. The reason for Botelho’s absence haven’t been confirmed, but if he is indeed back this week, that would likely point to his absence being more protocol-related than disciplinary. Again, nothing has been reported or confirmed though.
Regardless, getting Botelho back on the field should be a boost for a pass rush that has already been generating havoc plays at an elite level. Unlike last week, he’s back on the official depth chart so hopefully, Notre Dame gets the news Brian Kelly alluded to today and we see Botelho make his season debut on Saturday. Against a talented Purdue offense that can put up some points, the more players capable of producing game-changing, negative plays the merrier.