Injuries are unavoidable in all sports, especially football. As the season goes on, the wear and tear of the previous 2-3 months starts to catch up with players. Although the Irish got cornerback Troy Pride and running back Jafar Armstrong back after the bye week, a few key players suffered injuries last week that could sideline them vs Northwestern.
The most notable injury that happened last week involved senior linebacker and team leader Drue Tranquill. In the first quarter, he left the game after getting his leg caught under a Navy offensive lineman. Initial replays of the injury coupled with being taken off in a cart did not warrant any positive thoughts and reactions. Thankfully, it turned out to be an ankle sprain and he returned to the sideline shortly after in a walking boot.
Brian Kelly said he feels ‘optimistic’ about Tranquill playing this weekend, but there is still a solid chance he doesn’t play. If he were to miss this week’s contest, Jordan Genmark Heath, Drew White and Asmar Bilal will all take on the roll of filling his spot and production on the field.
A bit of a surprise last week came at the kicker position where senior and all-time Irish points leader Justin Yoon was scratched with a nagging groin injury. It has been an injury he’s been fighting most of the season, but re-aggravated it when he took over kickoff duties from Jonathan Doerer during the Pittsburgh game.
Doerer replaced Yoon as the place kicker, and that change was immediately felt when Doerer shanked the first PAT wide right. He would eventually bounce back and hit the remainder of his PATs and even knocked through his first career field goal late in the game.
Regardless, not having Yoon takes away Kelly’s trust in the medium to long range field goal game and impacts how the offense is ran when the Irish are nearing the redzone. Punting the ball instead of attempting long field goals or going for it on 4th down and not converting takes points off the board and shifts momentum.
There is no word yet on if Yoon will be back this week, but if not, expect to see a conservative kicking game and the offense on the field on 4th down much more.