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Injuries pile up for Notre Dame

Notre Dame is starting to run out of options as the team deals with a rash of injuries, especially on defense.

"We are running out of next man," coach Brian Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference. "We are at that point, from a defensive stand point, in particularly the defensive line, we are left with very few options. It becomes an issue now where we have to be very creative in what we are doing and how we are doing it.

"We will figure something out. We'll get 11 guys out there."

The Irish lost another linebacker for the season when Ben Councell suffered a "significant" knee injury in Saturday's 38-34 home win over Navy.

Notre Dame already lost linebacker Jarrett Grace for the season because of a broken leg suffered against Arizona State on Oct. 5.

The injury news Sunday didn't get better from there.

Kelly said defensive lineman Kona Schwenke suffered a high-ankle sprain against Navy and will not play when the Irish (7-2) travel to play Pittsburgh (4-4) on Saturday, and nose guard Louis Nix III, who missed the last two games with tendinitis in his knee along with a small meniscus tear, was getting an MRI on Sunday and remains questionable to play.

Notre Dame will also be without linebacker Ishaq Williams, who suffered an ACL injury against Air Force, for Saturday's game against Pitt. Kelly said Williams should start rehab this week and could return for the Nov. 3 home game against BYU.

The Irish are also waiting to find out the status of safety Austin Collinsworth, who suffered a neck strain against Navy and will undergo an MRI Monday.

"When he came in today, he was a lot more sore than we anticipated," Kelly said.

These injuries come on the heals of Notre Dame already dealing with the losses of defensive linemen Tony Springmann, a Bishop Dwenger graduate, and Chase Hounshell and linebacker Danny Spond and safety Nicky Baratti to injuries before the season

There was some good news about defensive injuries as Kelly said defensive end Sheldon Day, who re-tweaked the high-ankle sprain he suffered against Purdue on Sept. 14 against Navy, should be able to play Saturday.

Kelly also said safety Elijah Shumate, who missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, is 100 percent and will be activated this week.

On offense, Kelly believes starting left guard Chris Watt could return this weekend. Watt didn't play against Navy because a PCL injury proved to be too restrictive to play against Navy. Conor Hanratty made his first start in Watt's place Saturday.

"I think (Watt) is going to feel a lot better this week, be able to make some of the compensation that he is going to have to make with no PCL," Kelly said. "I'm pretty confident he will be able to get back into the lineup this week."

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.