Notre Dame notched a much-needed win, knocking off Arizona State for its fourth victory of the season, but the Fighting Irish also suffered a pair of unfortunate losses in the process. ND linebacker Jarrett Grace and receiver Daniel Smith both left in the first half of the team's 37-34 win and will not return this season.
Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday that Grace broke his right fibula and underwent surgery for the injury. The junior is expected to take four to six months to recover, ending his 2013 season.
Grace leads the Irish with 40 tackles on the season. In his conference call Sunday, head coach Brian Kelly identified several potential replacements for his leading tackler:
Obviously a big loss for us, but we've got a senior in Danny Fox that will step in at that position.
Certainly you're losing somebody that we had counted on as a starter. Now you're deep into your depth and that wasn't area with lot of experience. Kendall Moore is obviously going to have to play, (Joe Schmidt) is going to have to play for us. Those two guys will be counted on now. And obviously we'll look at (freshman) Michael Deeb. We'll have to activate them over the bye week and start to consider all three guys.
Kelly provided some details on Grace's procedure. The surgery was preformed by ND surgeon Brian Ratigan—with assistance from the Dallas Cowboys' team surgeon—while the game took place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Grace will remain in Dallas until he is fit to travel back to South Bend.
Kelly also filled reporters in on the status of Smith, who suffered a fractured left ankle. Once the swelling recedes, he too will undergo surgery which will end his career at ND.
The South Bend native had just one catch for nine yards this season, but Kelly still had plenty to say about the senior receiver.
"His impact is a local player that was on a 12-0 undefeated regular season team and he's left an impact on younger receivers as to how to work every single day and how to handle himself on and off the field," Kelly said of Smith.
As Kelly mentioned, the bye week is the only positive for the Irish. They'll have a full week to regroup and make adjustments before they have to prepare for their Oct. 19 meeting with USC.