Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2015

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

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play, many "recruitniks" clamored for freshman Nyles Morgan's play- ing time to increase in place of the former walk-on. Despite the unfortu- nate method, they finally got a closer look at Morgan after Schmidt suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the 49-39 win against Navy Nov. 1. Morgan started the following three games — he was held out of the first half of the regular-season finale at USC due to a targeting penalty from the previous week — but served as a reminder that top-notch talent rarely best represents itself on day one. Notre Dame's defense became a sieve, with opponents averaging 244.2 rushing yards per contest in November. Only against Arizona State did the Irish allow fewer than 200 rushing yards during that stretch, but even the Sun Devils came close with 188 yards. Each of the three levels of Notre Dame's defense suffered season-alter- ing losses. Defensive lineman Jarron Jones suffered a Lisfranc foot injury in the 31-28 defeat to Louisville Nov. 22, prematurely ending his junior cam- paign. Fellow junior lineman Sheldon Day missed the final two games of the regular season with an MCL strain. In the defensive backfield, standout junior cornerback KeiVarae Russell never suited up due to the academic investigation. Fifth-year senior cor- nerback Cody Riggs was plagued by a stress reaction in his foot throughout November, an ailment that prevented him from playing in two of the last four games and severely limited him in the other three. At safety, Notre Dame struggled to put together a full two-deep by the end of the season. Fifth-year senior captain Austin Collinsworth missed the first four games with an MCL strain, played briefly in two games and then was knocked out for another three with a shoulder dislocation. He returned to action wearing a shoulder harness, but aggravated the injury in the 49-14 loss to USC Nov. 29 and will miss the bowl game after undergoing another surgery. Sophomore Max Redfield (broken rib) is expected to play against LSU, but freshman Drue Tranquill's season ended after he suffered an ACL tear against Louisville. One positive devel- opment was the return of senior Eilar Senior linebacker Joe Schmidt anchored the Irish defense in the first eight games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury versus Navy Nov. 1. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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