Irish secondary takes another hit with Lo Wood out for season
By Mark Lazerus 648-3140 or firstname.lastname@example.org August 21, 2012 6:20PM
Updated: September 23, 2012 6:23AM
Lo Wood has never started a game at Notre Dame. He has 10 career tackes and an interception in two seasons.
And he’s the most experienced cornerback on the Irish roster.
Now, Wood is lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, futher thinning out the thinnest spot on the Irish roster.
Wood, a junior, suffered the injury while backpedaling during Monday’s practice. He’ll be out four to six months, and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly expects him back in time for spring practce.
“I feel terrible for him,” Kelly said. “He’s a young man that we all wanted to see get this opportunity that he’s worked so hard for. He’s a great young man and i just feel terrible for him. But I feel really good about the other five corners we have. We’ve got five scholarship corners that we believe can play the kind of football we need to be successful.”
Belief is all Kelly has, because none of his remaining options has had a chance to prove anything yet. Junior Bennett Jackson, a converted receiver, played primarily on special teams last year, as did sophomore Josh Atkinson. Sophomore Jalen Brown didn’t play at all. And freshmen Keivarae Russell and Elijah Shumate were recruited as a running back and a safety, respectively, before being switched to corner to bolster the team’d depth. As it stands, Jackson is a likely starter, with Russell, Atkinson and Brown battling it out for the other starting spot.
Kelly said the team previously had considered moving safety Jamoris Slaughter to corner, but that is “really off the table right now, unless we’re devastated with more injuries.” Freshman receiver Davonte Neal, who played corner in high school, is not being considered, either, Kelly said.
“We think we have enough,” Kelly said.
Fortunately for the Irish, they open the season against Navy, which runs a triple option and averaged only 85.8 yards passing per game last season. But Kelly knows every other opponent on the schedule is sure to try to take advantage of Notre Dame’s inexperienced corners. Still, Kelly insisted the remaining guys can perform well while learning on the job. He raved about the group’s speed; now he just hopes they can learn fast, too.
“All these guys have the athletic ability to play the position,” Kelly said, “Now, it’s about honing their skill. ... What we’re talking about is very talented players at that position that just need the experience, and just need an opportunity.”
In other news, Kelly said he still hasn’t settled on a starting quarterback for the Navy game. He said last week that there would be some separation in the reps for contenders Everett Golson and Andrew Hendrix beginning Monday, but that hasn’t been the case.
“We’re still prety balanced with the reps,” he said. “We had some more things we wanted to see. We saw some areas of improvement that we needed (to see). So both of those guys received very similar reps the last couple days. We’re still not there yet, but we’re moving in the right direction.”