Nix's Season Over

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly discussed tonight the loss of senior nose guard Louis Nix to knee surgery as well as Kelly's desire to pit Everett Golson in competition with redshirt-freshman Malik Zaire this spring.

Brian Kelly

Finished up preparation. Couple of announcements: First of all, (senior defensive tackle) Louis Nix had surgery today to repair a meniscus that has been one that has been troublesome for him. He'll get a chance to address you folks when I'm done and talk about his incredible run here at Notre Dame. Suffice to say, he battled through this knee injury and just could not answer the bell.

Again, (team surgeon) Dr. (Brian) Ratigan performed surgery today and repaired that meniscus. We did another PRP-treatment as well. He's up, moving around.

Again, very disappointing for him. I think what he's done for our program and what he's battled through, we'll remember him as a great teammate and what he's tried to accomplish here these past few weeks in trying to get out on the field. We all know what he's accomplished in helping us build our success on the field.

As for our other guys that are banged up, they battled through the week. I think, in particular, we're talking about Kona Schwenke, Jarron Jones, Isaac Rochell and Ishaq Williams, all practiced this week in varying degrees. They will participate. We'll hope for the best and try to get as much as we can out of them on Saturday. They're all game. They're all anxious to contribute the best way they can.

Guys had a great week of practice. Really like the focus, the intensity, like the way we finished up this week, especially today. All very positive from my perspective in terms of you can't expect to win unless you prepare the right way, and our guys did a great job preparing this week for BYU.

Q: I'm assuming, but looking for confirmation, that this ends Louis's season "Yes, he's done for the season."

Q: No bowl game? "No, he would not be available for a bowl game."

Q: When did you or him or whoever reach this decision?

"We had workouts last week. Thursday we ran him on the woodways, it was problematic. He was sore. He was trying to get through it the best he could. I think it was pretty apparent there that it was easy to discern at that point that we needed to get another MRI. We got another MRI, and although it didn't show that it was at a point where we did further damage, we just felt at that point, it was in his best interest that it get taken care of."

Q: What has he meant to the program?

"There's a lot of things. We could talk about a lot of things. On the field, his competitive spirit. Just a great competitor. He's also that marquee defensive lineman that Notre Dame has not had in a long time, that physical presence on the defensive line. I think that was talked about a lot when I got here, that Notre Dame couldn't get. I think he's set a great precedent in the sense that you can get those players to Notre Dame and they can succeed. He's going to have his degree here.

"I think he's meant a lot both on and off the field in that respect."

Q: He has danced around the fifth year question. Is it safe to assume that he'll be declaring for the NFL Draft?

"I'll let him speak to that. We're so focused on the immediate in terms of preparing the team that I have not asked him that point-blank question. I think he's certainly weighing all of his options.

"We'll give him all of the information necessary to make the best decision. I know his mom is here this week, and I'm sure this is probably the time to do some serious consideration of it."

Q: Without him, going back to Kona, how confident are you that he can play?

"He's not 100 percent. Jarron Jones will have to play a lot in there. Jarron's had a great week. Really pleased with his practice. Kona is going to give it all he has. He really wants to play. It's important to him to play. He's going to play. How much do we get out of him, we'll see. But, Jarron has done a great job this week."

Q: Any other options at that position?

"It'll be Jarron, Kona and we'll get whatever we can get out of him. Hopefully Kona can give us as much as he can, and then Tyler Stockton. Those will be three guys right now.

Q: Was it the tendonitis or the meniscus with Nix, or a combination of the two?

"I think it was a combination of the two. The meniscus needed to get repaired. That was the source of the immediate inflammation.

"We worked out hard last week, and I think we just came to the realization. He's tried really hard to make it work the best he could. He just couldn't go."

Q: On the good side of the injury ledger, Nick Martin talked like just had a boo-boo. He didn't have a broken hand. Were you surprised at how well he moves with that?

"At first, yes. But then, it's Nick Martin. That family, Nick and Zack Martin are pretty unique. They're tough-minded kids. They make it seem like it's nothing.

"It's a pretty significant injury that he's fighting through. He did a really good job this week of doing the things necessary. It's a real injury that he's working through and he had a good week of practice."

Q: Having Nix is a lot better than any rallying point you could get, but I assume his defensive line mates are really rallying around him in this situation with Senior Day and the disappointment that he's not playing?

"I think there's definitely that element there that Louis along with all of the seniors, it's important that they finish their last home game with a win. The last three senior classes have. They're aware of that. They certainly want that, and Louis is part of that.

"Wanting to win for the seniors, and in particular, him not being able to play, I think adds to that. You have Danny Spond also who's not playing as a senior. Jaylon Smith is going to be wearing Danny Spond's number on Saturday in a manner to thank him for his mentorship this year. There's a lot of that. A lot of the young guys are really indebted to this senior group for their leadership."

Q: Switching gears, BYU's tempo, when they get going, does it put you in a position where your dime package is hard to get on the field? Do your corners need to stay right and left instead of field and boundary?

"Sure. I think their tempo is clearly set up for keeping situational substitution at a minimum. Certainly, incomplete passes allow you to get personnel in and out of the game. There will be times where we'll have to match-up with our regular personnel on the field.

"On the other hand, they've had over 50 three-and-outs. We feel like on both ends, we have to be prepared for that tempo."

Q: The Martin family, Zack is about to tie the record for most consecutive starts this weekend. Has there been stuff he's played through?

"Yeah. I think that we don't talk about it on a day-to-day basis is probably the story. Here's a guy who's going to tie the record for most consecutive starts, but he's played through a myriad of shoulders, knees, ankles, elbows and back. He keeps playing. I'm not saying a lesser guy would be out of the lineup, but his mental and physical toughness is off the charts. That's why he's going to have a long career in the NFL. He's not going to come out of the lineup."

Q: Louis mentioned a few weeks ago that he would eventually need surgery. Is that something that got worse over the past couple of weeks or was he just trying to put that off as long as he could?

"We were trying to put it off. We felt like it was something -- again, each situation is different. We probably have about half a dozen guys that are going to need surgery after the season. It's fairly typical in most football programs that some guys are going to need some surgery after the season. It's how your body responds, training from week to week, some that need that attention immediately.

"It just got to the point where Lou really tried to fight through it the best he could, but it was such that he was not going to be able to play at a level that would help the team. He did not want to hurt the team."

Q: Who are those other guys?

"There's a number of guys. I couldn't tell you who they are. We're going to have probably two or three shoulder guys. We're going to have a couple of guys get scoped. It's normal, end of the year, those surgeries that you have.

Q: Will Louis be able to walk onto the field Saturday?

"Yes, absolutely. That's a good question. He'll be able to do that. We contemplated whether we would have the surgery today based upon that, but he's up and you'll see him here in a little bit. He should be over her in a few minutes. You'll get a chance to talk to him. That was certainly one of his concerns that he wanted to be sure he could walk out with his mom. That's very important to her.

Q: With Malik Zaire, what do you feel like he's gotten out of this year?

"Quite honestly, without sugar-coating it and coating through it, I wanted to red-shirt him. I wanted a quarterback that was going to be a fifth-year guy. Throughout it all, we wanted that more than anything else, and we're going to get that with Malik.

Q: What do you feel like he's pulled out of this year?

"I took him on every trip. He got to see the different venues. He got to see the pre-game and the atmospheres across the country. He really got a chance to see what it's like to prepare on the road, really give him that sense of what it's like and the preparation necessary to be the starting quarterback here.

"He's been in every meeting. He did not go down on scout team for one second. He's been involved in every game planning session. He just hasn't taken the reps, which he'll get a ton of reps when we break and get into the spring. So, gave him everything that we could give him and got him that quote-on-quote red-shirt year.

Q: The last thing on that line, there are people that say, wouldn't it have been better to play him a little bit just in case something happens to Everett (Golson)? "I'm not being cute, but that's assuming that's Everett the starter, right?"

Q: That's assuming Everett is the starter.

"We think there's going to be very good competition for that position with him. Certainly, those two young men and then we have to sit down with Andrew (Hendrix) and find out where we're going to go there, we have to have a conversation with Andrew, and find out where we move from there. Those two guys and then Andrew, that's what we're talking about right now from the three quarterbacks." Top Stories