Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 26, 2016

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 9 of 55

10 SEPT. 26, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME Torii Hunter Jr. has seen the re- plays of the vicious third-quarter hit in the end zone that knocked him out of the Texas game. The blow from Longhorns safety DeShon Elliott — which was not called targeting, much to the dismay o f N o t re D a m e coaches and fans — k n o c k e d t h e Irish senior wide re c e i v e r u n c o n - scious and kept him sidelined for the Nevada game Sept. 10. During the week of preparation for t h e s h o w d o w n with Michigan State Sept. 17, Hunter Jr. continued to go through strict con- cussion protocol but was able to begin practice on Tues- day and expressed confidence three days before the con- test that he would be ready to play. It was the first diagnosed concussion for Hunter Jr. "I'm feeling a lot better. I'm feeling like myself again," said Hunter Jr., who admitted he felt slow and slug- gish the week of the Nevada game. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said after a player is cleared, he puts the decision to play in their hands. That was the case with Hunter Jr., who took the advice of those close to him and sat out the Nevada game. "Everybody agreed that it would be best for me to not even play, even if I did feel good enough, just to make sure," Hunter Jr. said. "It was also a good time for the younger guys to make some plays and put some pres- sure on them, get them some experi- ence and everything like that." Hunter Jr. spoke with former team- mate and current senior student as- sistant Corey Rob- inson, a 2013-15 Irish wide receiver who stepped away from the game this year after numer- ous concussions. Robinson told him that what was im- p o r t a n t w a s t o come back only when he's ready and not feel the pressure to come back too soon. "It's definitely different because it's my brain and not a body part that you can rehab really hard," Hunter Jr. said. "I had to take a step back and not do anything, and I had a lot of help. "My family came down and made me turn off TVs and sit in a dark room and things like that just to get my brain back to where I was. I at- tacked it the same way I would any other rehab just to try to get myself back on the field as soon as I could. And I knew I had to be a cheerleader and a coach on the sidelines as much as I could. I wasn't new to that. "I think going through something that keeps you off the field definitely can help you through it later on." Hunter Jr.'s concussion suffered at Texas led him to sit out the Nevada game and cautiously approach the Michigan State contest. PHOTO BY ANDREW IVINS NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL TICKETS ALL HOME AND AWAY GAMES AVAILABLE 1-800-925-2500 Notre Dame Defense Resting Better With Daniel Cage's Progress When Notre Dame recruited and eventually signed Cincinnati nose guard Daniel Cage late in the 2014 recruiting cycle, he was catego- rized as a "sleeper." Actually, he was anything but that. Since his high school days at Winton Woods, Cage has battled sleep apnea, a condition where breathing — or the lack of thereof — disrupts sleeping patterns. In tests last spring, it was discovered that approximately every half hour Cage stopped breathing for 30 seconds and was able to average only four hours of sleep per night. Consequently, it made him much more fatigued and lethargic during the day. "In high school, it didn't really affect me because of the schedule I was on," Cage said. "In college … sleep is very important." To pass the time when he couldn't sleep, Cage would engage in his favorite pastime of writing — "I'm working on a novel right now" — including poetry. During this spring, the Notre Dame medical staff had him use a CPAP machine in which distilled water is used and air is pumped through his nasal passages via a mask he wears. "It helps me sleep 100 percent better," he said. "I really have no problems now. I had difficulty adjusting to it — I was not used to having something on my face when sleeping — but then after a week it was a lot better." That was only part one of the equation for his surge this year that led head coach Brian Kelly to say the junior Cage played his two best games of his career, first in the opener at Texas and then versus Nevada. "Back-to-back weeks is usually the first level of finding a player that is elevating," Kelly said. "He's getting the kind of rest that he needs to be the kind of player that we thought he could be." Part two was a better and more dedicated approach to nutrition. "Last year I was really overweight at 330 [pounds]," admitted the 6-1 Cage, who said he is more in the 310-pound range now. "I couldn't play like that, I couldn't be as effec- tive for the team at that weight. I had to go down and went on a high-protein diet." With Jarron Jones sidelined last year as a senior because of a knee injury, Cage and then-freshman Jerry Tillery tag-teamed at nose guard. Cage started seven times but took only 262 snaps, or about 20 per game at the physically demanding nose guard slot. This year, Cage averaged 38 snaps against Texas and Nevada while helping anchor the middle. TORII HUNTER JR. BACK IN COMMISSION AFTER HEAD INJURY

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Sept. 26, 2016