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Football: Blocked out

Douglas Farmer | Wednesday, October 27, 2010

If the Irish defense wasn’t suffering enough after giving up 367 rushing yards to Navy during Notre Dame’s 35-17 loss Saturday, news on Monday certainly set that mood further back.

During his weekly press conference Tuesday, Irish coach Brian Kelly confirmed reports that senior nose tackle Ian Williams will miss the next four to six weeks with a sprained MCL.

“It seems to be the worst-kept secret in America,” Kelly said. “Ian Williams will be out four to six weeks, and we will be able to modify any of those comments based upon when we can get him moving around again.”

Williams had registered 37 tackles heading into Saturday’s game, and he added six more to that total before suffering the injury in the third quarter.

“I think somebody just got rolled up into me,” Williams said. “Just like a freak accident, things like that happen sometimes.”

Kelly said Navy double-teamed Williams throughout the game, so it would be hard to determine where the block that injured him came from.

“It’s hard to look at any particular block and say, well, that was high or low,” he said. “I didn’t feel that way. Our coaches didn’t feel that way, and he was in there battling a couple of guys virtually every play.”

Williams has not watched the play in which he was injured either, and does not plan to.

“It’s kind of painful, but I didn’t want to start second-guessing what if I’d have done this or that,” Williams said. “So I chose not to watch it again.”

The MCL sprain, Williams’ first football injury in his career, will not require surgery, and Williams insisted his season is not over, even if Notre Dame will only have one game left four weeks from now.

“I’ll be alright though, I’ll be back soon,” he said, citing a return date of “as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, junior Sean Cwynar will start in Williams’ place, after spelling Williams for spurts of plays throughout he first eight games of the season.

“Sean’s been a consistent performer in there when Ian came out of the game, so we feel good about Sean stepping in for that position,” Kelly said. “The next player for us is [junior] Hafis [Williams], and Sean can’t play the whole game. He doesn’t have the work volume to do that yet. So Hafis and Sean, together, can get that done.”

Ian Williams said his two back-ups look as if they will be able to fill his void without much of a problem, after watching them in practice Tuesday.

“Watching them today out here, they looked pretty good,” he said. “Came off the ball pretty hard, they knew what they were doing, so I think they’ll be fine.”