If the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are fortunate enough to end the year in the College Football Playoff, they could have a key member of the defense back on the field just in time. Defensive tackle Jarron Jones, who was previously thought to be done for the season, could be back for any postseason game, or games, Notre Dame plays at the end of the season.
On Tuesday, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly announced Jones is still probably four to six weeks away from playing football, as reported by Keith Arnold of Inside the Irish. That timeline would have Jones back in time for any bowl game Notre Dame will be playing.
Jones tore his MCL prior to the start of the college football season. He went in for surgery before the start of the season, which led Kelly to announce Jones was to miss the entire 2015 season. The timeline mapped out by Kelly reaffirms Jones will not be available for any of Notre Dame’s final regular season games against Wake Forest, Boston College or Stanford, but clearly leaves the door wide open for a postseason game. Jones had his 2014 season end early as well due to a foot injury. Jones was Notre Dame’s second-leading tackler in 2014 with 7.5 tackles for a loss.
One of the main reasons for optimism in Notre Dame falls on the strength of its defense returning 10 starters from last season (and the return of KeiVarae Russell at cornerback). Unfortunately for the Irish, one key member of the defensive line could be dealing with a severe knee injury. Defensive tackle Jarron Jones reportedly has suffered a serious knee injury in practice this week.
Keith Arnold of Inside the Irish notes reports are suggesting Jones has a torn ACL, although that official status of the reported injury has not been confirmed by Notre Dame or head coach Brian Kelly just yet. Kelly is expected to meet with media covering Notre Dame’s practice later today, at which time it is expected we will have some form of update on Jones and his status moving forward.
Jones saw his 2014 season end early due to a foot injury. He was expected to be back in the starting defensive line this season as the Irish return a defense stacked in experience. Losing Jones would hurt the Irish up front, but considering the other players slated to return this fall it would seem Notre Dame’s defense will still be a strength of the team even without the talented Jones. Jones was second on the team last season with 7.5 tackles for a loss.
UPDATE: Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has confirmed Jones has suffered a torn MCL. The injury will cost Jones the 2015 season after he undergoes surgery next week.
Notre Dame could use a little luck of the Iris in order to play into the College Football Playoff discussion this fall, but on Friday the bad news may have outweighed the good as fall camp got underway. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly announced Friday senior linebacker Jarrett Grace is “close to being ready” to getting back and helping contribute on defense, according to College Football Talk contributor JJ Stankevitz on CSN Chicago. The same cannot be said about senior defensive lineman Tony Springmann, whose career is now over due to a back issue.
Springmann just could not catch a break at Notre Dame. Last year it was a torn ACL that held Springmann back at first, but it was a back issue that developed that would ultimately sideline him for the 2013 season in South Bend. The back issue has continued to linger and now is to blame for bringing a premature end to Springmann’s career with two years of eligibility remaining. The injury also puts a dent in the depth on Notre Dame’s defensive line, leaving the Irish with two freshmen (Pete Mokwuah and Daniel Cage) now in line to back-up starter Jarron Jones.
Kelly intends to keep Springmann around the program this fall though.
“He’ll still stay involved in the program,” Kelly said [via CSN Chicago]. “Tony has done a great job of mentoring a lot of our younger players in the program, he’s shown great leadership, great resolve coming back from his knee injury. He’ll stay connected with our program and still be part of us.”
Grace went through two surgeries to repair a broken knee last season. At the time he suffered the injury in a win against Pac-12 South champion Arizona State in the Shamrock Classic last fall, Grace was the team’s leading tackler with 37 tackles. Having him back on the field should clearly be a boost for the Irish on defense.
Notre Dame defensive lineman Louis Nix underwent season ending surgery for a torn meniscus Thursday. Irish head coach Brian Kelly announced the injury news Thursday as Notre Dame prepares for a weekend match-up against BYU.
The loss of Nix is obviously a big loss on the defensive line for Notre Dame. Nix and Stephon Tuitt gave Notre Dame one of the better defensive lines in the country, but Nix has been banged up this season. He missed a game against Air Force due to tendonitis and a shoulder injury was suffered in a game against USC.
Nix is expected to be a high draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Getting surgery now rather than waiting until after the season will give him more time to rehab and prepare for the NFL Draft. It would make sense to get it taken care of now with the Irish not competing for any big bowl game or championship and Nix still in position to be drafted highly if he is in optimum shape.
In his absence, Nix will see his position filled by Kona Schwenke and Jarron Jones. The two will split time for the Irish for the reminder of the season unless one stands out more than the other in what is left of the 2013 season for Notre Dame.