Nov. 8, 1999
NOTRE DAME,Ind. – Head coach Bob Davie has more than just bowl game issues to worry about, presently he has to wonder about the status of his team.
The Irish are not only nursing the 38-14 loss against Tennessee but nursing a serious amount of injuries.
Notre Dame finds itself hit the hardest at the tailback slot. Sophomore Tony Fisher and freshman Julius Jones are the only two tailbacks left. Tailback Terrance Howard went down early in the Tennessee game with a hamstring injury. He is out for at least the next three games. With the dismissal of Tony Driver, the slot has no backups left.
Davie plans to solve that problem with the switch of sophomore David Givens over from the flanker position. Givens saw action on Saturday on kick returns as well as at his new position. Also Davie plans to switch freshman Courtney Watson over from cornerback. Watson has yet to see any playing this year.
Also missing the last three games will be sophomore tackle Jordan Black. He sprained his medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
The strong safety position will be without reserve Ron Isreal who fractured his hand. The starter A’Jani Sanders still is not completely healed from a stomach injury he suffered in the Navy game. Davie expects freshman Justin Smith to return after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee back in the middle of October. Freshman Gerome Sapp will see some time at the strong safety position instead of his usual spot at free safety.
Both cornerback Albert Poree and Defensive end Jason Ching suffered knee injuries and will also be out the rest of the regular season.
Senior Raki Nelson will be back for the game against Pitt. He has been sidelined since the Oklahoma game.
Numerous players may even sit out practices trying to heal the minor injuries after Saturday’s battle.
“Looking at our schedule, who we played, looking at the youth of our team, knowing you played at Michigan, at Purdue, at Tennessee, I knew what this season was going to be,” Davie said. “We’ve got to continue to improve and that’s hard when you can’t practice the way you want to practice.”
Notre Dame needs solid efforts in its last three games to insure a bowl game. The team must secure a win over Pittsburgh this weekend and Boston College next weekend to secure an invitation to the Insight.com bowl in Tucson, Ariz.