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Notre Dame Football: Hainsey to Have Surgery Thursday, Jones Jr. Expected Back for Saturday, Ruhland Loves Notre Dame

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Another gritty win for the Irish but questions remain

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Brian Kelly met with reporters this afternoon to recap yesterday’s thrilling victory Notre Dame had over the Virginia Tech Hokies. Kelly discussed a variety of topics including: injuries, the final extra point snap, and Trevor Ruhland.

Injuries

-Robert Hainsey will have surgery Thursday on his fractured ankle. He will be out for the remainder of the season. Tony Jones Jr. is expected to return this weekend against the Duke Blue Devils. The only other injury from yesterday’s win involved Jack Lamb. Lamb will be receiving further evaluation of his hip this week. The injury does not appear to involve surgery, but he will be out this weekend.

Offense

-The emergence of Chase Claypool was a hot topic today. Brian Kelly noted that the biggest difference between last year and this season is Claypool’s desire for the ball in big time moments.

-Kelly seemed very confident that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish would score on their last possession yesterday. He told the team on the final drive that they just need to repeat the previous drive. Kelly said he told the team to expect the defense dropping 8 guys into coverage with an occasional blitz mixed in.

-Kelly appeared to still be miffed by the illegal chopblock call on the 2nd last drive of the game, noting that the call was “interesting”.

-Jafar Armstrong is still rounding into shape. The staff loves Jafar’s ability to make people miss in one on one situations in space. However, Jafar appears to be more comfortable trying to use his size to run people over.

-Kelly was pleased with Josh Lugg and Trevor Ruhland’s performances.

-The two players who appear to be in line to spell Trevor Ruhland during games are John Dirksen and Dillan Gibbons since the coaching staff wants to keep Ruhland on a pitch count to avoid injury.

-Speaking of Ruhland, Kelly heaped praise on the 5th year senior. The medical staff advised Ruhland against playing this season over concerns that his body could handle the pounding with lifting and conditioning to play another season. It sounds like he was told they could not add in any more modifications to his workouts. Kelly said that Trevor told him he wanted to be active and play, and Kelly has been pleased with his ability to do just that in his final season.

-As a unit, Kelly point blank stated that the blocking from the tight ends, wide receivers, and offensive line needs to improve.

-An interesting nugget is that Kelly called his team together following the fumble return for a touchdown and told them he believed they would overcome that mistake. In my opinion, this further illustrates a maturation in Kelly’s coaching style.

Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Defense

-TaRiq Bracy did not play yesterday due to the one on one match-ups the cornerbacks were going to need to play. Kelly said Donte Vaughn was inserted due to his length and bigger body.

-Vaughn has officially played his 5th game, thus ending the ability for the staff to redshirt him for next season. Kelly discussed that both Donte and Kelly wanted him to play this year. As for next year, Kelly stated they will worry about the inexperience on the cornerback room when the time comes.

-Although the sack numbers may not be there, Brian Kelly is extremely pleased with his veteran defensive line’s ability to force quarterbacks out of rhythm and deliver the ball quicker than they want to.

-Ja’Mion Franklin was forced into action yesterday due to an injury to Jacob Lacey. Mike Elston was pleased with Franklin’s performance in his limited number of snaps. Lacey is expected back this week per Kelly.

Special Teams

-Brian Kelly said that yesterday’s final extra point snap is the only bad snap he can ever remember John Shannon having.

Yesterday was a further illustration of Notre Dame’s development as a program. How many times have we seen that exact game play out and end in a Notre Dame loss. It was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination, and the offense still seems to be lacking any sort of identity. However, in November, you just need to win. Notre Dame kept its hopes alive for a Cotton Bowl berth and that is all that matters.

Go Irish!