Notre Dame's problem in the secondary this spring centered around its lack of numbers at cornerback. The Irish will have no such problems this fall at safety, but the news that safety Austin Collinsworth may miss the season is a big blow to the deep unit.
In addition to his work on special teams, Collinsworth was turning into a valuable piece in the secondary, and he figured to see plenty of time there when Notre Dame went into its nickel formations. Starter Jamoris Slaughter is as versatile a player as the Irish defense has, and the team even tried Slaughter at corner a bit this spring to help that green unit, which would have allowed for even more playing time for Collinsworth.
That scenario is likely out of the picture now with Collinsworth probably out for 2012. (And with the rising junior having yet to take a redshirt season, it is likely the Irish would not rush his return near the end of the season and burn another year of eligibility.) Zeke Motta, the starter alongside Slaughter, is more than capable. And, as mentioned above, the unit is awfully deep, though inexperienced.
Bringing back Dan McCarthy for a fifth year has proved to be a great move in hindsight, as he and former walk-on Chris Salvi look like the best bets to move into Collinsworth's role. In addition, the Irish return Eilar Hardy and likely welcome back Chris Badger from his Mormon mission. And, of course, their 2012 recruiting class is loaded at the position, with Nick Baratti, C.J. Prosise, Elijah Shumate and John Turner expected to arrive this weekend.
Numbers are not an issue at safety for the Irish. But experience is, and playing time is now up for grabs with Collinsworth sidelined.