Planning for success: Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Film study still offered Nick Martin few clues as to when or how exactly he broke his hand in his last outing.

"It happened early on in the second quarter," Martin said. "When you're out there, the adrenaline is pumping, so you're good. Finished off the second quarter, got to halftime, I could feel it a little bit after a little break at halftime. But as long as I could get the ball to Tommy (Rees), I knew I would be able to finish."

Martin was cast-free Wednesday when speaking with reporters, and he will need only a splint to protect the snapping hand Saturday when Notre Dame hosts BYU. No surgery is needed, as the boxer's fracture will only test the pain tolerance of the center, who suffered a similar injury as a middle-schooler. Martin and the rest of the Irish have come to know that feeling all too well in recent weeks.

But things might finally be starting to look up for Notre Dame as it relates to its injury woes. A practice-free bye week has helped Martin and several others heal up in time for their home finale, with other possible reinforcements on the way.

Kona Schwenke practiced early this week after missing the Nov. 9 game at Pittsburgh with a high ankle sprain suffered a week earlier against Navy. So, too, did fellow defensive linemen Jarron Jones and Isaac Rochell, who suffered ankle sprains against the Panthers.

The lack of bodies actually forced linebacker Carlo Calabrese to make a brief cameo at nose guard, a position he had never played before.

"I was pretty excited, I was hoping I'd get a couple sacks," Calabrese quipped.

Then there is the whole matter of preseason All-America nose guard Louis Nix III getting a chance to rest after making his return from a two-game absence caused by knee tendinitis and a small meniscus tear -- not to mention getting fellow touted lineman Stephon Tuitt for presumably four quarters, as he was ejected for targeting early in the second quarter at Pitt.

"Definitely a good feeling having everybody out there, participating in practice," defensive end Sheldon Day. "It just feels good."

Day himself is feeling about as well as he has since earlier this season, when a high ankle sprain forced him out of nearly three full games. The sophomore estimated that he played more than 60 snaps against the Panthers on the re-aggravated ankle, but felt no sorer than usual the following day.

Linebacker Ishaq Williams' status remains up in the air after missing two games with an ACL injury. But the lines, at least, appear to be nearing full strength, a fresh change-of-pace for the first-team defensive line, which has yet to really be healthy all this season.

"Sometimes we do, we reminisce on just the little things, about how we all could've played together, things like that, joking around with each other," Day said.