Pete DiPrimio, sports columnist and college beat writer for The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Ind., takes his best shots on the world of Notre Dame football.

Wednesday, October 4

Decision Coming on Schwapp

If you’re wondering what’s going on with fullback Asaph Schwapp, be patient. We’re about to find out.

Schwapp has been sidelined since the Penn State game after aggravating a previous knee injury. He’s shown improvement, but not enough to return to the lineup. Coach Charlie Weis said it looks like surgery will be necessary. The big question is whether he can play with the injury the rest of this season and then have surgery, or just have surgery now and take a redshirt.

That will likely be decided this week.

“If I feel he can’t play with it, I’m better off to get it fixed. Then I lose him for the season.”

Fullback, of course, is never going to be the featured back in the Notre Dame attack, but that doesn’t diminish the position’s importance. Somebody has to block for Darius Walker or protect Brady Quinn while occasionally getting to run or catch.

With Schwapp out, seldom-used senior Ashley McConnell has stepped in. His numbers don’t impress –- two carries for 2 yards, one catch for three yards –- but that’s not the point. McConnell is playing ahead of freshman Luke Schmidt because he’s playing better and one of the reasons that he’s playing better is because he lost 15 to 20 pounds, to a listed 239.

“He dropped a bunch of weight on his own (in the offseason),” Weis said. “It wasn't mandated by me. I did tell him he was fat, but that's the pot calling the kettle black. He was 250ish and came back 230ish, and all of a sudden he played himself into the picture.”

When you consider McConnell had played just three total games and nine total minutes in the previous three years, his emergence is surprising.

“(McConnell) wasn't even on the radar," Weis said. “All of a sudden, you're No. 2, and you're in good shape and you have a good attitude. Our philosophy is if somebody gets hurt, you put in the next guy. He's the next guy. He's taken it and run with it."


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