CULVER — It was not the week Notre Dame football was hoping for in Culver.
By the time the Fighting Irish left Culver Academies Friday, two players were out with significant injuries and another is set to transfer out of the program. Offensive lineman Quinn Carroll suffered a season-ending knee injury. Tight end Cole Kmet broke his collarbone. And safety Derrik Allen is reportedly transferring.
Kmet’s injury, first reported by Irish Illustrated, will have the most impact on the 2019 season. The 6-6, 250-pound junior was expected to be the Irish’s No. 1 tight end this year. Kmet had 15 catches for 162 yards in 2018 playing behind Nic Weishar and Alize Mack. Reports says Kmet will be out between three and six weeks.
At his opening press conference Aug. 2, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly listed Kmet as a player to look to have a big season on offense for the Irish.
“I hope there’s 10 guys that can impact our football team. Look, there’s certainly a number of players, but I think you always look toward your veterans. Chase Claypool is going to be a guy that I think is going to make a huge impact on our football team,” Kelly said. “Cole Kmet, Brock Wright. I think there’s a number of guys who are poised to really have an impactful season.”
Carroll’s injury was first reported by Irish Illustrated as well. A freshman from Minnesota, Carroll was expected to play in some games this year for Notre Dame before ultimately being redshirted. The new redshirt rule allows teams to play athletes in four games while still maintaining redshirt eligibility. It is unclear what the specific injury to Carroll is, but it will sideline the 6-7, 305-pound lineman for the season, per reports.
On Friday, Blue and Gold Illustrated reported that Allen, a sophomore safety from Georgia, will be transferring. Allen was expected to be either a second- or third-string safety for the Irish this season. Kelly even mentioned him as a player who could see considerable playing time at the position this year.
“Here’s a young player that got a lot of reps in the spring. Look, he’s a guy that’s going to have to be part of that evaluation process. He’s part of it, so he’s going to get a chance, and he’ll have an opportunity to make a statement,” Kelly said last week. “That’s the great part about camp. Got a lot of cameras on you. Got a lot of eyes on you, and there’s no place to hide.”
Kelly will meet the media for the first time since all three of these instances occurred on Saturday.
YEAR 10 IN SOUTH BEND
The 2019 season marks Kelly’s 10th season coaching Notre Dame. In that time, he’s led the Irish to two undefeated regular seasons, 2012 and 2018, which were capped off by BCS National Championship Game and College Football Playoff appearances, respectively. He’s only had one losing season during his time in South Bend, a 4-8 season in 2016.
With nearly a decade under his belt, though, Kelly isn’t satisfied with finishing runner-up in terms of a national championship.
“I mean, 10 years anywhere is a journey that you just have to be able to learn, keep working on yourself, and keep pushing the envelope too at the same time. Never get satisfied,” Kelly said. “We got a taste of what it’s like to be in the playoffs. I want to win the darn thing.
“So, I think probably never be satisfied with where you are and never get to the point where you think you know it all. Always be working on yourself and trying to get better at your job.”
Most might assume the Irish are motivated after last year’s 30-3 playoff loss to Clemson, but Kelly noted that there isn’t much difference in the team’s demeanor this year compared to last year. The goal has always remained the same at Notre Dame, according to Kelly.
“I think most of the teams I’ve coached here believe that they can win a national championship. They’ve tasted a little bit. So, I think that maybe a little bit more, but I think they’ve all, each team that I’ve had, has been driven for that goal because there’s no conference championship,” Kelly said. “They’re all driven the same way, and that’s to win a national championship.”
Austin Hough can be reached at email@example.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 325. Follow Austin on Twitter @AustinHoughTGN