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Joe Schmidt out for season with ankle injury

| Sunday, November 2, 2014

Irish senior linebacker and leading tackler Joe Schmidt is out for the season with a fractured and dislocated left ankle, Irish head coach Brian Kelly said Sunday.

Schmidt, who handles a bulk of the communication and play-calling responsibilities from the “Mike” linebacker position, suffered the injury in the third quarter of Notre Dame’s 49-39 victory over Navy on Saturday in Landover, Maryland, at FedEx Field.

“Everybody is going to have to pick up the slack for the loss of a guy that really did most of the work,” Kelly said Sunday. “He’s a big loss. But I think our guys understand that it’s a next-man-in, and let’s roll.”

Schmidt came back to the sideline in uniform, on crutches and with a boot on his left foot. Kelly said Schmidt will have surgery Tuesday.

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 10.49.00 PMScreenshot from the CBS broadcast
Through eight games, Schmidt leads Notre dame with 65 tackles.

Kelly said freshman linebacker Nyles Morgan, who replaced Schmidt for the remainder of Saturday’s game, “will be in there for sure” and Notre Dame will further determine the depth later Sunday. Morgan notched four tackles after replacing Schmidt. Irish sophomore linebacker Michael Deeb will be considered as well, Kelly said.

“His strength is physical,” Kelly said of Morgan, who was 247Sports’ No. 3 inside linebacker in the country in the class of 2014. “And that trait shows itself. He made some real, big physical plays for us. He’s gonna be a good player. He’s just a young guy that just needs to continue to grow. And he’s going to get that opportunity because he’s going to be put into that position now.”

The “Mike” linebacker position generally consists of leadership responsibilities, Kelly said, such as understanding all the fronts and adjustments and getting everybody lined up.

“We certainly are going to have to take some of that load away from Nyles and really disperse it to others because we’re not going to heap that all on him,” Kelly said.

Irish sophomore “Will” linebacker Jaylon Smith, the defensive line and the safeties, Kelly said, will be needed for greater responsibilities in Schmidt’s absence.

Kelly said “yeah, you can make that assumption on both” when asked if it’s safe to assume senior linebacker Jarrett Grace is too far away from being able to help the team this year and if Schmidt will return for a fifth season.

Notre Dame faces Arizona State on Saturday in Tempe, Arizona.

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About Mike Monaco

Senior Sports Writer Mike Monaco is a senior majoring in Film, Television and Theatre with a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy as well as Business Economics. The O’Neill Hall native hails from the Boston area and is an aspiring play-by-play broadcaster.

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