"I told him I was going to wait right until bye week," Weis said after practice on Wednesday about Schwapp. "From watching him today, he's not going to be able to play in this week's game. There's no sense in waiting another day because everyday I wait getting him fixed is another day longer before I get him back. So we're going to get him fixed. I don't know the extent of it because the injury really is an old injury. It just recurred. We don't know the severity of it. We're not positive. But when they go in tomorrow and fix it, we'll know for sure what it is."
Weis did not want to guess on the type or severity of injury. He told the media he would let them know on Thursday about the extent. But it is likely that Schwapp has seen his last down of the 2006 season. In his brief Irish career, he's appeared in 14 games with a main focus of clearing a wide path for running back Darius Walker. It's the sophomore's left knee that has been bothering him.
"It just kind of locked up," Weis said. "I don't know how old it is but it wasn't when I was here. He locked up in practice one day then locked up in a game. I guess whatever it is will continue to lock up unless we get it fixed.
"The doctors thought that once the swelling went down, he would be able to play and get through the year. He hasn't made any significant progress."
The knee had actually locked up once prior to the Nittany Lion contest but Schwapp was held out for only a few plays and there were no after effects. The swelling has gone down since the Penn State game, Weis said. But for the past three-plus weeks, Schwapp has been relegated to running straight ahead and not participating in drills that require side-to-side movement. The two have been talking about this for weeks and finally it came to a point where surgery was the best option.
There is some good to this: Schwapp got injured in the second game of the year. Weis said that with the new 12-game schedule, a player can play into the third game of the season and still be eligible for a medical redshirt. Schwapp can qualify for an extra year and if he doesn't play another down in 2006, he'll have three more years with the Notre Dame football program.
"What I don't want to do is put him in there for a couple of plays and have him not be able to go and lose the possible opportunity to gain another year out of this," Weis said. "Because he can apply for a medical year since he got hurt the second game of the year. That would not be very good foresight on my part putting somebody in there for a couple of plays and then pull out and lose out on getting that year back.
Surgery on the left knee was going to happen at some point for Schwapp, whether it be now or after the season concludes.
"By having it now, you have a chance at having him for the spring," Weis said. "If you waited until January to have it done, now you wouldn't have him until training camp. It's not a question of "if" we had to go in and get it checked. The question was when."
This makes senior Ashley McConnell the firm starter at fullback. Weis credited him on Tuesday with a solid performance in the three games Schwapp has missed. The big question is who backs up McConnell? The two-deep depth chart only has Schwapp and McConnell listed. Freshman Luke Schmidt seems to be the obvious choice to fill in at the backup role.
"He's been steadily on the rise the whole time," Weis said of Schmidt. "He's more ready to play fullback than halfback. For him to be a halfback, I'd have to tailor the offense around what he does best. When you a 240-pound guy, it's different than when you have a 210-pound guy. You'd have to tailor for him. Until he's the feature guy, you're not tailoring anything around him as the single back. Until he gets to be one of the lead dogs, he's fit in better at this point as a fullback. He's made steady progress."
On other injury news, it appears that offensive lineman Bob Morton and kickoff specialist Bobby Renkes are full go for the Stanford contest this weekend. Morton was banged up a bit vs. Purdue while Renkes sat out the contest with a muscle strain but both are on target for Saturday. Cornerback Ambrose Wooden was running around during practice today and was in the interview room after the session, a good sign he'll be ready for the weekend. The same goes for David Grimes, who missed the Boilermaker contest. The sophomore also played sparingly against Penn State. Weis said he was 95 percent sure Grimes would be a go for Stanford.
This situation might not be the case for Travis Thomas. The senior linebacker hurt his ribs in the last play in the win over Michigan State. Thomas did not play last weekend as senior Joe Brockington filled in at the weak side spot. Weis said he's still taking reps but not involved in contact.
"The only guy who is iffy is maybe Travis," Weis said. "And that's not because he didn't look great in practice. When you have a questionable sore ribs, running around is not the issue. Hitting is the issue."