BGI Special Preview

Blue & Gold Illustrated

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 11 of 55

12 OCT. 7, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME "Fake news" has become a pop- ular term in recent years. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly suppressed using the phrase when he was asked in the days af- ter the 23-17 loss at No. 3 Georgia Sept. 21 about the supposed fak- ing of injuries by the Fighting Irish. On Georgia's first drive of the third quarter while trailing 10-7, quarterback Jake Fromm acceler- ated the pace while the Bulldogs moved from their 32-yard line to Notre Dame's 15-yard line in four plays before junior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah had to be ad- ministered to on the field. A CBS camera showed Owusu-Koramoah walking before suddenly plopping on the field, and told to do so by senior safety and team captain Alohi Gilman. It was greeted by boos from the record Sanford Sta- dium crowd of 93,246. This created some controversy during the telecast, particularly CBS-TV analyst Gary Danielson, and a firestorm on social media. "Owusu was evaluated for a concussion," Kelly responded. "He was brought to the tent … it's hard to be booing at a young man who suffered an evaluation for a concussion. "Quite honestly, Georgia doesn't play very fast, so I found that quite interesting that there would be such a number of questions on something like that." Two items stood out in the video of the play. One was Owusu-Koramoah walking in a wobbly fashion as the defense was attempting to line up, which is what prompted Gilman to rush over to him and signal to get down. "Our protocol is if any player has suffered an injury and they're not feeling right, we want them to go down," Kelly said. "We want them to get medical attention. "We have a medical spotter that is communi- cating with our trainers, and we don't want to risk anybody that's not feeling right. So I'm proud of our guys that they have made sure that that procedure is followed correctly. "We're not going to fake injuries. We're a tempo team. We're going to make sure that pro- tocol is followed based upon what our training staff wants under those conditions." The second item in the video was that when Gilman was commanding Owusu-Koramoah to "get down," fifth-year senior cornerback Shaun Crawford, who was near Owusu-Koramoah, also started to take a knee as Gilman ran toward and grabbed Owusu-Koramoah. Kelly said that might have been a case of Gilman vocal- izing to Owusu-Koramoah. "Maybe Shaun misunder- stand what was going on under those circumstances," Kelly said. Later during another drive, fifth-year senior and Buck linebacker Asmar Bilal also went down, but Kelly said that was a case of cramping. "Again, it's a non-story, a non-issue," he said. "It hap- pens in college football all the time. Guys go down and they're going to be adminis- tered to. "I've seen games played against us where [there] were many, many more." Regarding the injury up- dates for the Sept. 28 game versus Virginia, Kelly said junior wide receiver Michael Young (broken col- larbone), sophomore running back Jahmir Smith (turf toe) and sophomore wide receiver Braden Lenzy (reportedly concussion protocol) all were "probable." Meanwhile, junior running back Jafar Arm- strong is progressing with his abdominal surgery and a best-case projection could have him return- ing for the game against USC Oct. 12. The Irish head coach said that even though the contest at Georgia was one of the most physical games he has seen in nearly three decades as a head coach, the team remained quite healthy. "When we play physical games, we always seem to come out of it pretty good," Kelly said. — Lou Somogyi Freshman linebacker Marist Liufau (pronounced lee-Uh-fow) is one of the more conspicuous members of the 2019 Notre Dame football roster with his mane that flows well down his shoulders. But it's the way he plays with his "hair on fire" is what Notre Dame's coaching staff noticed since his arrival this summer. Liufau made his college debut at No. 3 Georgia by starting on three of Notre Dame's four special teams (kickoff coverage, kick return and punt return) and he graded out exceptionally well — which was hardly surprising to the staff. The plan was to play Liufau four games while still preserving a year of eligibility. What's unusual with Liufau is in virtually all of these cases those four games would be used against the weakest opposition, i.e., New Mexico, Bowling Green, Navy and maybe one other foe. Liufau didn't play in the first two games, even the 66-14 blowout of New Mexico, but the coaches wanted him to make his debut on the grand stage in a big-game environment at Georgia. "We made a practical decision he could handle himself against the very best opponents," Kelly said. "He's a guy that can go out there and play with anybody. … We get four games with these guys before we have to make a decision. … He had shown us from the very begin- ning that this was a young man that was going to make an impact on special teams for us." The decision now is to whether use him every game the rest of the season or limit it to three more to preserve a fifth year of eligibility. "That is still up for debate in terms of his impact," Kelly said. "If he impacts the way he does, we'll have to consider [not redshirting him]." Another freshman linebacker, Jack Kiser, also is a regular on special teams. Yet maybe the top surprise on special teams the first three games was the exceptional play of freshman punter Jay Bramblett — the Irish won the net punt average versus Georgia by 18 yards — and the consistency of junior starting kicker Jonathan Doerer. "The two kickers really have really been so much more than we could have hoped for at this point," Kelly said. — Lou Somogyi MARIST LIUFAU LETS HIS HAIR DOWN ON SPECIAL TEAMS Brian Kelly Addresses 'Fake Injury' Insinuations Georgia fans reacted loudly when junior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah went down with an injury during a third-quarter drive in the red zone. When he left the field, how- ever, he was evaluated under Notre Dame's concussion protocol. PHOTO BY KEN WARD/WPG LIUFAU

Articles in this issue

view archives of BGI Special Preview - Blue & Gold Illustrated