Smythe lost for the season
Notre Dame’s offense lost more than Malik Zaire last weekend. Multiple sources tell Irish Illustrated that starting tight end Durham Smythe won’t play again this fall after suffering shoulder and knee injuries during the season’s opening weeks. Smythe hurt his shoulder against Texas but played through the pain last weekend, only to injure his knee against Virginia. The schedule for Smythe’s surgeries will likely be set this week. He is expected to make a full recovery and rejoin the roster for spring practice. Smythe was viewed as a worthy next man in at tight end for Notre Dame, where the Irish have turned out more high draft picks than any other college program during the last decade. Smythe made one catch for six yards against Texas and was targeted twice. He made one catch for seven yards at Virginia and played extensively as a blocker while the Irish run game thrived. Without Smythe, the Irish must turn to Tyler Luatua, Nic Weishar and Alize Jones at the position. None of the three have caught a pass in a college game, with Weishar and Jones playing sparingly this season. Jones, a five-star prospect on Scout.com last year, dropped his only target this fall. Luatua has been thrown to just once. Chase Hounshell could factor as a blocker too. Notre Dame’s versatility and depth at tight end have been under the radar this season, something head coach Brian Kelly wanted to change moving forward. “I think it's really how the game has gone thus far and how we're being defended in particular,” Kelly said. “I think a lot of the catches have happened on the perimeter, and so they haven't gotten as many opportunities. But I think you'll see that it will balance itself off as the season kind of progresses.” It’s hard to see how that will happen now, at least in the short term, with Smythe lost. The junior will have two years of eligibility when he returns. He joins Zaire, Jarron Jones, Tarean Folston and Shaun Crawford on the season-ending injury list.
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