Kelly discusses Prosise injury, senior class
Mary Green | Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Senior running back C.J. Prosise’s status for Saturday’s game against Wake Forest is still unknown, Irish head coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday.
“C.J.’s in the next stage of the protocol for concussions, and we’ll see where he is after practice [Tuesday], and then we’ll be able to know more about where he is,” Kelly said, adding the “next stage” was activity in practice.
Though he didn’t know by Tuesday whether Prosise would see the field for Senior Day after suffering a concussion against Pittsburgh last Saturday, Kelly said they should know soon.
“There’s a test that he has to get through by Wednesday. So Wednesday would be probably the deadline,” he said.
While Prosise’s ability to play is still surrounded by question marks, Kelly did have good news related to another injured Irish player, announcing senior defensive lineman Jarron Jones might see playing time this season.
Jones tore his ACL in the preseason and was ruled out for the year, but Kelly said he has progressed enough that he could potentially play in the postseason if Notre Dame needs him.
“Jarron is now at that stage where it’s building quad and hamstring strength,” Kelly said. “We think that’s going to take about anywhere from four to six weeks with him.”
Kelly also added that graduate student safety Avery Sebastian had been cleared for activity Monday and would participate in Tuesday’s practice. Because Sebastian also missed last season with an injury, he would be eligible for a sixth year if he did not play for the rest of this season.
“If we need to play him, because we need to win games, we’re going to play him,” Kelly said. “But I’m not going to run him down on the kickoff team, you know. We would preserve his year unless he needs to go in there and start for us and help us win these last three games.”
While his recovery from a broken ankle is going smoothly, junior quarterback Malik Zaire will not be among those players who could make a comeback to finish out this season, Kelly said.
“He won’t be back this year, but he’s active to the point where he’s out there already moving around, throwing the football, getting his arm in shape,” he said. “But in no shape or fashion is he going to be able to compete.”
Moving on up
The Irish moved up a spot in the College Football Playoff rankings from No. 5 last week to No. 4, with the latest poll announced Tuesday night.
Notre Dame took the spot vacated by LSU, who fell from No. 2 to No. 9 after losing to Alabama last Saturday.
If the Irish stay at their current spot or move up the chart, they will be eligible for a slot in the College Football Playoff in January. Even if the team does win out, however, there is the possibility that one-loss Notre Dame could be jumped by an undefeated team currently ranked behind it, such as No. 5 Iowa, No. 6 Baylor or No. 8 Oklahoma State.
Discussing that hypothetical situation, Kelly said he wouldn’t have a problem with a one-loss team earning a playoff spot over an undefeated one.
“If I’m sitting there looking at the teams, I think being in it now for 25-plus years, you’re looking at strength of schedule, the eye test, who they played, how they’ve played, and I think we all want to get it right, get the four best teams and have them play,” he said. “I don’t think that you can stumble more than once. I think that’s where the cutoff point is. You can’t be inconsistent and be really good, because that can’t be part of the equation. But I have no problem with one loss in that group.”
Saturday’s home finale also marks Senior Day for Notre Dame, the final time the team’s most veteran players will compete at Notre Dame Stadium. The team will commemorate a class that has gone 37-11 in its four years with the Irish, with three bowl game trips and an appearance in the 2013 BCS Championship Game that kicked off their collegiate careers.
Kelly said the strong three-plus seasons this class has contributed to affects how he views it.
“I would evaluate them in a sense that they’ve been a part of some great successes and have built this program back to national prominence, and that is a great feat that they should feel great about, and I know they do,” he said. “That’s why they came here. They’re also representing Notre Dame on a day-to-day basis, and I know they’ll be able to take all of them with them when they leave here.”
However, even with the light at the end of the tunnel now visible in their time with the Irish program, Kelly said this group hasn’t let up, adding that some of his best players, like seniors Sheldon Day and Ronnie Stanley, are also some of his best leaders.
“It gives you great resolve that they’re difficult to beat because they’ve invested so much, you know?” he said. “They’ve invested on the practice field. They’ve invested in the weight room. They were in here this morning at 7 a.m., 65 of them lifting weights. Why are you here at 7 a.m. in November? You’ve invested. And they want to get the benefits of that investment, and that’s winning football games.
“So I think that’s probably more than anything else why you feel good when you have that kind of leadership from your seniors and your leaders that they avoid the noise. They want to win badly.”
One thing Kelly said he hasn’t discussed is whether Saturday will also mark the final home game for junior standouts Jaylon Smith and Will Fuller, who could be candidates for early entry in the NFL Draft based off their strong careers at Notre Dame.
“No, we talk about that stuff at the end of the season,” Kelly said.