Notre Dame remains optimistic on C.J. Prosise's Fiesta Bowl availability


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — As it begins Fiesta Bowl practice in earnest this week, Notre Dame remains hopeful it’ll get 1,000-yard running back C.J. Prosise back for its New Year’s Day date with Ohio State at University of Phoenix Stadium. 

Prosise, who suffered a high ankle sprain Nov. 21 against Boston College, is “doing much better,” associate head coach Mike Denbrock said Monday. 

“He ran around yesterday quite a bit in practice (on Sunday),” Denbrock said. “Hopefully he’ll continue to progress. He’s got a couple more days to get himself ready to roll, so we’re hopeful.”

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Notre Dame didn’t wear pads in practice on Sunday. Prosise didn’t participate in contact portions of practice while the team worked out in South Bend. 

Getting Prosise back in the fold will be key for an Irish offense that’ll have to establish the run to soften up Ohio State’s secondary, which has been a key cog in a defense that’s only allowed 4.39 yards per play (fourth among FBS teams). But with defensive tackle Adolphus Washington suspended and his backup, Tommy Schutt, injured, there could be some opportunities for Prosise and Josh Adams to get into the second level of the Buckeyes’ defense up the middle, which could force star safety Vonn Bell into the box and open up some deep passing lanes to Will Fuller & Co.

If Prosise is able to return to taking contact and ultimately game action, Denbrock doesn’t think he’ll need much time to re-acclimate himself to the Irish offense.

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“He knows what we’re doing gameplan-wise,” Denbrock said. “He’s very gifted. It’s just a matter of how far along his progression from a health standpoint can come between now and game time to how much we’ll use him.

“We’ll use whoever is playing that position in a number of ways in our offensive game plan this week.

He’s a pretty dangerous man with the ball in his hands, so we hope to have him as much as we can. We’re going to have to judge that as the week goes.”

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