The injury situation for Clemson seems to be clearing up a little bit as the third-ranked Tigers get close to playing No. 2 Notre Dame Saturday in the ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Linebacker James Skalski, who had to leave the Virginia Tech came after three plays on Dec. 5, will more than likely play, according to defensive coordinator Brent Venables on Monday. It appears the Tigers could get wide receiver Frank Ladson back as well, offensive coordinator Tony Elliott indicated.
Venables thinks Skalski, the Tigers’ starting middle linebacker, will play in the rematch with the Fighting Irish. Of course, the senior did not play in the first matchup between the two teams at South Bend on Nov. 7 due to a groin injury.
“I don’t ask that question. Sometimes, you have to be careful to ask questions that you are not prepared to hear the answer to. So, I live in a positive world,” the Clemson coach said. “We are hopeful. He is practicing today. He was very ambitious getting back as early as he did. And just a wonderful job, Danny Poole and his staff and are training room has done with him. Certainly, Jamie, having the love for the game and the passion for the game and wanting to be out with his teammates, is a huge credit to him as well getting back.
“We feel like he is going to be close to, if not, a hundred percent.”
Elliott was not totally sure about the status of Ladson, but he is very optimistic the sophomore will be available to play on Saturday. However, he does not expect Ladson’s wide receiver teammate, Joseph Ngata, to be back this week.
“We will know more this week on those guys. I anticipate that Joe may need a little bit longer because he is coming off surgery,” Elliott said. “I am optimistic about Frank, but I still got a week to go. We have to get those guys back involved.”
Elliott says he is not sure what the situation will look like with those two receivers, so at the moment they are planning to play with what they have.
“What we got is what we got,” he said. “And we are going to go into it and, obviously, [Cornell Powell] has to lead us. [Amari Rodgers] has to lead us. Lean on [E.J. Williams] to make some clutch plays like he has been doing and get [Brannon Spector] involved and [Davis Allen] and [Braden Galloway] have to be special and then the running backs have to be special. Both in the pass game, the run game and from a protection standpoint.
“Whoever we got, that is who we got and will do the best we can with them.”
Clemson had no official word on the status of safety Lannden Zanders, who left the Notre Dame game early. He has missed the Tigers’ last two games because of the injury. There is no official word on the status of Andrew Booth, who suffered a deep thigh bruise the Tuesday before the Virginia Tech game.
Linebacker Jake Venables, Skalski’s backup, is out for the season, according to his dad. Jake Venables broke his arm at Virginia Tech and had to have a medal plate put in with nine screws.
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