Notre Dame will be down starting tight end Alize Mack this weekend when they make the short road trip to Evanston, Illinois to take on Northwestern. Brian Kelly told reporters on Thursday that Mack who reportedly suffered a concussion against Navy, is out this weekend.
Mack has set career highs in receptions and yards already this year with 27 for 250, but his senior season has still not quite lived up to the hype that has surrounded the athletic tight end. He’s reached the end zone just one time this season and twice in his career to this point.
In Mack’s absence, sophomore Cole Kmet should get the nod at as the starter. Kmet had a career high four receptions for 31 yards last week following Mack’s departure in the first half against Navy. It’s possible that the sophomore could seize this opportunity and not look back. Kmet was utilized downfield more in limited action than we have typically seen Mack used in the past. Notre Dame could look to utilize Kmet more in that regard this way against the Northwestern linebackers.
Fifth year senior tight end Nic Weishar and sophomore Brock Wright figure to be more heavily involved this weekend as well. Both already have caught touchdowns this season with the pair combining for three scores on just five catches. In fact, Kmet is the only Notre Dame tight end to catch a pass and not score a touchdown this season.
The Notre Dame tight ends as a group have been effective this year, but have still not been the weapons that Notre Dame fans had gotten used to before the last few years. They have specifically been disappointing with the ball in their hands and have been taken down by the ankles much more frequently than the tight end position should be at least up until this point in the season.
As the Notre Dame offense continues to evolve the tight end position is one area in which the Irish are looking for more production out of. They will need to get that production without Alize Mack at least for this weekend.