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Irish Insights


Notre Dame backup linebacker Ben Councell to miss first half


SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame will not have backup outside linebacker Ben Councell for the opening half when the Irish (3-2) play No. 22 Arizona State (3-1) in the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium on Saturday at Arlington, Texas.

Councell was ejected from last weekend's 35-21 loss to No. 11 Oklahoma in the second half when his helmet-to-helmet hit with running back Brennan Clay was ruled to be "targeting."

Because the play happened in the second half, Councell was also suspended for the first half of Notre Dame's next game. Coach Brian Kelly said Sunday the Irish would try to appeal the first-half suspension, because he believed Councell's hit was inadvertent.

But that appeal wasn't successful, Kelly said Tuesday.

"It was not overturned, so he will sit out the first half," Kelly said.

Kelly said sophomore Romeo Okwara, who two tackles in five games, will backup starting linebacker and former Bishop Luers standout Jaylon Smith in the first half. Smith has started every game this season and has 18 tackles with one for loss, and Councell has six tackles.

Kelly also said he is hopeful that defensive end Sheldon Day will be able to play against the Sun Devils.

Day has missed the last two games after suffering a sprained ankle against Purdue on Sept. 14.

"He's better than he was last week," Kelly said. "We thought he had a chance to play (against Oklahoma), and then he didn't look very good in pregame. A lot of reasons for it I don't want to get into, some of the things in pregame. And then I didn't feel like he could give us … the way the game was going to be played, it was four open, and it was kicked out on the perimeter. We just didn't feel like it was the kind of game that he was going to be able to help us with.

"We think that he's going to be able to help us this weekend, though."