Senior nose guard Louis Nix practiced this entire week and will play Saturday when Notre Dame travels to Pittsburgh, head coach Brian Kelly said Thursday.
Louis Nix returned to practice this week and will play at Pittsburgh on Saturday after missing the Navy and Air Force games with knee tendinitis.
“He had a full week of practice, moved around well,” Kelly said. “He was in the training room all week. Thursdays are our 48-hour meetings with the staff, which is where we get our pretty definitive idea of if our guys are gonna be full strength and everybody feels like he’s gonna be good to go.”
Kelly said he is unsure if Nix took out insurance as many NFL-bound players do in case of a career-threatening injury. He added that the nose guard is looking forward to returning to action after missing the past two games with knee tendinitis that might require surgery after the season.
“He was antsy last week,” Kelly said. “I think the first week he was okay. He needs to be around the team. He’s a guy that obviously football is so important to him and obviously he’s close to finishing his degree and so a lot of his focus is being with his teammates and being around football. I think [the first] week is kind of a ‘Hey, this is some time off.’ The second week he was around and on the sideline this past weekend went to the ballgame. If you asked him, he’s back to where he likes to be.”
With Nix unlikely to be on the field for his usual number of plays, sophomore defensive lineman Jarron Jones will serve as the backup nose guard, where he played in the win over Navy.
“[He was] pretty good,” said Kelly, who added that it is a “good possibility” that he is moved to nose guard next season. “He played pretty good against Navy. We were pleased with his play. He’s a big kid that we just need to continue to develop. We feel like he can hold his own and contribute.”
In other injury news, Kelly said senior safety Austin Collinsworth has been cleared to play and that the team has moved past its concerns over sophomore safety Elijah Shumate’s hamstring injury. Fifth-year senior guard Chris Watt (PCL tear in knee) and sophomore defensive end Sheldon Day (ankle sprain) are both healthy and will play Saturday.
As far as players who will not play at Pittsburgh are concerned, senior defensive lineman Kona Schwenke will wear a cast for 10 days in order to expedite the recovery process. When it is taken off in 10 days, Kelly said it will be clear whether or not he will be able to play against BYU. Kelly is also hopeful that junior linebacker Ishaq Williams will suit up against the Cougars on Nov. 23.
“Ishaq’s in week two,” he said. “This week he started range motion, specifically leg lifts, begin some strengthening. You don’t want atrophy in the quad and that area. In week two, he begins weight training regiment. Next week he’ll begin running. Next week it will be a week for him to begin some heavy cardio, running, and our expectation is he will be practicing for BYU.”