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Leftovers & Links: Notre Dame loses RG Tommy Kraemer for at least a month

Tommy Kraemer

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 21: Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer (78) during the game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on September 21, 2019 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In name, No. 16 Notre Dame dodged a season-ending injury to senior right guard Tommy Kraemer, but in practice, an MCL sprain may cost Kraemer the rest of the regular season. Irish head coach Brian Kelly put Kraemer’s timeline at 4-to-6 weeks on Monday, meaning he would possibly be able to return for the last game of the regular season, but unlikely any earlier.

Without Kraemer, Notre Dame (5-2) will turn to fifth-year Trevor Ruhland and/or junior Josh Lugg. The former was the first off the bench Saturday at Michigan, while the latter has greater long-term potential.

Either way, the reserve offensive linemen will still be blocking for senior running back Tony Jones, despite a cartilage injury to his ribs. That sidelined him for the entirety of the second half at Ann Arbor while junior Jafar Armstrong and sophomore Jahmir Smith split the workload. Armstrong saw more action than Smith, though he was less effective on the day as a whole.

Armstrong in the first half: One carry for no gain.Armstrong in the second half: Two carries for three yards with one catch for four yards on three targets.

Smith in the first half: Two carries for four yards.Smith in the second half: Three carries for 11 yards, though two of those carries came after the Irish waved the figurative white flag by inserting sophomore quarterback Phil Jurkovec, and one catch for six yards.

The six chances were double the number of snaps Armstrong managed against USC in his return from an abdominal muscle tear. If not counting those three snaps or the first drive at Louisville, upon which he was injured, Armstrong had gone nearly 10 months without competitive action before facing the Wolverines. Some time to get back into the physical swing of things makes sense.

“He is still finding himself,” Kelly said. “A young man that’s been out for a while trying to get back into the flow of the game. He’ll be better as we go down the line here and get him involved in the game more. We expect a little bit from him each week.”

The junior receiver has entered the transfer portal, meaning his time at Notre Dame is essentially over. He could theoretically still return to the Irish roster, but that is very unlikely, obviously. Young finishes his Irish career with 17 catches for 177 yards, including six for 21 this season.

Upon graduation in the spring, he will be immediately eligible with two years remaining.

Amidst a blowout led by the opposing rushing attack, noting Notre Dame’s leading tacklers is not high on the to-do list, but junior linebacker Drew White led the Irish with 11 tackles and fifth-year senior linebacker Asmar Bilal had nine. Of Michigan’s big runs, none come to mind as blown run fits from White, and Bilal was the obvious liability on only one. The two remain surprises to the Irish season, shoring up a position that was expected to be an utter liability.

Of course, that is all hard to fathom coming off an evening with 303 Wolverines rushing yards.

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