Jarrett’s Grace’s injury could stir up Notre Dame’s LB depth
ARLINGTON, Texas — Kendall Moore has two tackles this season for Notre Dame. Joe Schmidt has eight.
The two reserves could be called on for larger roles, along with freshman Michael Deeb, to add depth at inside linebacker in the aftermath of Jarrett Grace’s season-ending leg injury.
Grace had surgery Sunday in Dallas after suffering a fibula fracture in his right leg in the second quarter of Saturday’s 37-34 win against Arizona State at AT&T Stadium. Team surgeon Brian Ratigan stayed in Dallas and worked with the Dallas Cowboys team surgeon for the surgery, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference. The recovery time is four to six months.
“His spirits are good,” Kelly said. “… Obviously a big loss for us, but we’ve got a senior in Dan Fox that will step in at that position.”
Fox provided a big lift against the Sun Devils. He recovered a fumble in the third quarter that the Irish converted into a touchdown. He also returned an interception 14 yards for a game-clinching touchdown with 1:08 remaining in the contest. Fox finished with seven tackles.
Fox, fellow inside linebacker Carlo Calabrese and Grace are Notre Dame’s leaders in tackles. Grace and Calabrese have 40 tackles. Fox has 36.
Notre Dame will use its bye to help with the transition.
“Certainly you’re losing somebody that we had counted on as a starter, so now you’re deep into your depth and that wasn’t an area with a lot of experience,” Kelly said. “So Kendall Moore is going to have to obviously play. Schmidt is going to have to play for us. Those two guys are going to be counted on now.
“We’ll look at Michael Deeb. Those three guys, we’ll have to activate them on the bye week and start to consider all three.”
Notre Dame also lost wide receiver Daniel Smith to a season-ending ankle injury. The senior will have surgery for the fractured ankle once the swelling goes down. Kelly said Smith’s injury was discussed during halftime.
“There was a lot of emotion in the locker room, because they love Danny Smith and what he’s done for our program as a dedicated player for Notre Dame,” Kelly said. “He loves Notre Dame, and we’ve seen him grow as a person and as a player and he’s going to be sorely missed.”