Irish lose Battle indefinitely
By TIM CASEY
Assistant Sports Editor
After a heartbreaking loss on Saturday, the miserable weekend continued for the Irish on Sunday.
Quarterback Arnaz Battle fractured the navicular bone in his left wrist and is out indefinitely, possibly for the season. Defensive end Grant Irons, a senior captain, dislocated his right shoulder and will miss the remainder of the 2000 campaign.
Irons will have surgery within the next 10 days and may receive a medical redshirt and return for a fifth year, coach Bob Davie said. If Battle, a junior, misses the final nine games, he may also gain an extra year of eligibility. Davie said that Battle may have surgery and that they will "exhaust all options" and gather advice from several doctors and trainers.
The fourth-year head coach was informed of Battle's injury Sunday morning around 11:30, less than two hours before announcing the news at his weekly press conference.
"We all realize what a blow this is," Davie said. "You've all seen how we've evolved as a football team and how much work has gone into this offense. This is a tremendous blow."
When reached in his Carroll Hall room Sunday night, Battle refused comment, saying he still has to meet with doctors today.
"I'll talk about it after practice [on Monday]," Battle said.
In a prepared statement, Battle did speak of his ordeal.
"When I left the locker room Saturday night, I had no idea it was any more than a sprain," Battle said. "When they told me it was fractured, it was a shocker. It is a tough deal."
The Irish had a team meeting yesterday at 4 p.m. where they were told of the situation.
"A lot of people didn't even know," backup quarterback Gary Godsey said Sunday. "We all felt really bad for them. They play their hearts out all the time. They worked so hard to get to this point."
Battle, senior captain Jabari Holloway and receivers David Givens and Joey Getherall went to Godsey's O'Neill Hall room to inform the sophomore signal caller.
"I talked to him [Arnaz] after the game and he said he felt all right," Godsey said. "Then the next thing you know he was knocking on my door. I was pretty shocked."
Battle injured his wrist following an incompletion of a bootleg pass intended for Holloway on the first play of Saturday's 27-24 overtime loss to Nebraska. He played the remainder of the game with a broken wrist but struggled in the passing game, completing only 3 of 15 attempts.
According to Davie, Battle was able to grip and make a fist after the game but the wrist swelled on Saturday night.
On Sunday morning, Battle could not make a fist so he was given an X-ray that showed a crack in the navicular bone.
"When we left [on Saturday night] we thought it was a slightly to moderately sprained wrist." Davie said. "We didn't think it'd be a problem."
Now, the Irish face the unthinkable six days before taking on No. 13 Purdue. As of Sunday, Davie had not named a starter for Saturday's home game and may not name one for a few days. The starter for the Purdue game may not necessarily be the long-term No. 1 quarterback.
Godsey, whose older brother George starts at quarterback for Georgia Tech, will compete with freshmen Jared Clark, Carlyle Holiday and Matt LoVecchio. None of the four have ever taken a snap in a college game.
"I'm not trying to be evasive in any way," Davie said. "It's just that we don't know what we're going to do. It depends on what we have to do to beat Purdue offensively once we look at their defense. If you knew that one did have a significantly better grasp of the system or if you knew one was significantly better as an athlete or a thrower, then it's easier to make that decision."
The four quarterbacks begin their game-week preparation this morning at 6:45 when the Irish will meet and watch film on Purdue.
At least one of the potential starters seems confident.
"I know all the plays," Godsey said. "I'm fine with the system. I can't wait. This is what you play football for."
And despite the severity of the two injuries, Davie remains confident.
"Although this is a major, major blow it's not going to be an excuse," Davie said. "No one should feel sorry for us. We have some talented players and we've got to go forward."
All Sports Stories for Monday, September 11, 2000