When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
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FORT WAYNE — Notre Dame’s secondary became thinner and younger after Saturday night’s 20-3 victory over Michigan State.
Safety Jamoris Slaughter, a fifth-year senior, tore his left Achilles tendon and will miss the rest of the season, coach Brian Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference.
Slaughter was the No. 11 Irish’s most experienced player in the secondary. The 6-foot, 200-pounder started 19 of the 39 games he played in, has 98 tackles and two interceptions, and broke up six passes for his career.
Notre Dame (3-0) will likely turn to sophomore Matthias Farley to start in Slaughter’s place when it plays host to No. 18 Michigan (2-1) on Saturday night.
“You lose a Jamoris Slaughter, you’re losing an ‘A’ player,” Kelly said. “Matthias is certainly not at the level yet of a Jamoris Slaughter. He has to continue to develop, but we have a lot of confidence and trust in him. He’ll be getting a lot of work back there.”
Farley, a converted receiver, isn’t the only inexperienced defensive back to be getting a lot of work for the Irish this year because of injuries.
Notre Dame lost junior cornerback Lo Wood, who was expected to start, to an Achilles injury in training camp, and junior safety Austin Collinsworth is out for the year because of offseason shoulder surgery.
The Irish have used first-year starters Bennett Jackson, a junior, and KeiVarae Russell, a freshman, at corner, and along with Farley, Notre Dame will count on freshmen Elijah Shumate and Nicky Baratti at safety along with senior starter Zeke Motta.
Kelly said he isn’t concerned about the inexperienced players in the defensive backfield.
“I think what we’re seeing is the development of some really young players that can be really good players for us,” Kelly said.
“I think you’re worried if you feel like you have to hide them out there. We don’t need to hide them. They just need to continue to develop.”
Kelly also provided updates on some other players who are nursing injuries.
He said defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore is still not 100 percent after the calf injury he suffered against Purdue, and defensive end Sheldon Day suffered a bone bruise in the game and was not celebrating on the sideline Saturday.
Kelly also said receiver DaVaris Daniels, who is recovering from a sprained ankle, had a setback Friday, but he hopes the sophomore will be “full go” for this weekend’s game against Michigan.
Kelly is also hoping his team has developed the right mindset to deal with success. Notre Dame rose nine spots, from No. 20, in the AP Top 25, and it also went from No. 19 to No. 15 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.
“We’ve got to avoid the noise and stay disciplined on the process,” Kelly said. “If we do that, we’ll be pretty good in November.”
Note: Linebacker Manti Te’o, whose grandmother and girlfriend died in the days leading up to Saturday’s game, was named the Walter Camp national defensive player of the week. He had 12 tackles, broke up two passes and recovered a fumble against Michigan State. Kelly said Te’o will likely return to Hawaii during Notre Dame’s bye week after this weekend’s game.