Seconds after the best moment of Drue Tranquill’s sophomore season came the worst.
Just before halftime Tranquill played a big part in blunting any potential Georgia Tech momentum when he broke up a Justin Thomas pass in the end zone, swatting away a ball headed toward slot back TaQuon Marshall. After the play Tranquill celebrated with Joe Schmidt, but upon landing the safety tore his right ACL, screaming in pain on the turf.
Tranquill watched the rest of the game on crutches and won’t play again this season. Tranquill missed the final two games of his freshman year with a torn left ACL.
“Drue Tranquill was a very important player at the back end of our defense because of his versatility,” Kelly said. “There is a break point. We’ve got to be able to stem the tide at some point.”
Because he only played in two-and-a-half games this season, Tranquill will be eligible for a fifth season of eligibility due to medical hardship.
Losing Tranquill means Notre Dame is down two-and-a-half safeties heading toward next week’s date with winless Massachusetts with No. 10 Clemson to follow.
Graduate transfer Avery Sebastian remains out following a broken bone in his foot. Sebastian was still fitted with a walking boot on Saturday and likely won’t return until mid-October. Max Redfield, who didn’t see the field against Georgia Tech, remains fitted with a cast on his right hand to help heal a broken thumb.
Redfield broke the thumb against Texas and played with the cast at Virginia, where he struggled in virtually every tackling opportunity. When Tranquill went down Saturday, Kelly swapped in Matthias Farley instead of Redfield for the second half.
It’s not clear if Redfield will return next week.
“We obviously didn’t play very well the week before with (the thumb) so that’s what put him in a back up position,” Kelly said. “We’ll see how he feels. Go to work on Tuesday, see how he is out on the field.”
Tranquill is the sixth frontline player lost for the year, following Jarron Jones (MCL), Tarean Folston (ACL), Shaun Crawford (ACL), Durham Smythe (MCL, shoulder) and Malik Zaire (ankle).