The Notre Dame Fighting Irish open the 2021 college football season in the Florida State Seminoles on Sunday, but have already suffered a costly loss.
According to ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly told reporters that linebacker Marist Liufau underwent surgery to repair a broken and dislocated ankle he sustained in practice last Wednesday and will likely miss the entire season. Kelly compared it to the setback that former Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jaylen Waddle faced last fall.
Liufau, a junior, recorded a total of 22 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss during the 2020 campaign. Irish Illustrated named him the 12th “most impactful player” on the team for the coming season.
Junior linebacker JD Bertrand is expected to start in Liufau’s place in the state of Florida.
According to Irish Illustrated, Kelly recently had a lot of credit for fellow linebacker Drew White.
“He’s a man for whom it will be difficult to take him off the field,” Kelly said of White last week. “Drew is in the best shape of his life. He has experience. He is a great leader. He has the right assignment. Just mentioned, right third down.
“I think there will be times when he will be on the pitch and be third and I think there will also be times when he will not be on the pitch, but he has put himself in a great position thanks to his experience and the way he has worked.”
Sunday’s showdown between Notre Dame and the state of Florida kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET.