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Notre Dame to appeal Councell's targeting suspension

Notre Dame will try to have junior outside linebacker Ben Councell eligible to play when the Irish (3-2) kickoff against No. 22 Arizona State (3-1) on Saturday.

Councell became the first Notre Dame player to be penalized for "targeting" this season when he hit Oklahoma running back Brennan Clay in a helmet-to-helmet collision in the second half of the Irish's 35-21 loss Saturday.

Under the new NCAA rule, Councell was given a 15-yard penalty and ejected from the game, and because the hit occurred in the second half, Councell will have to sit out the first half of Notre Dame's next game.

Coach Brian Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference the Irish will appeal the suspension because he feels Councell's hit was unavoidable and not intentional.

"It was a bang-bang play, and the rule is clearly in intent," Kelly said. "There was no intent; he was trying to make a play on the ball. We'll obviously discuss it with the commissioner of the ACC (John Swofford), and we'll make our case that in video as we've looked at it, we clearly don't see any intent for him to lead and intentionally try to strike with his helmet."

Councell backs up freshman and former Bishop Luers star Jaylon Smith at the "drop" outside linebacker position. Kelly said no final decision has been made, but sophomore Romeo Okwara will likely get the first chance to backup Smith.

Okwara has two tackles in five games.

"We are going to have to have that discussion about personnel," Kelly said. "I haven't gotten to that point where I've sat down with (defensive coordinator Bob) Diaco and talked about the personnel."

In other personnel matters, Kelly said defensive end Sheldon Day missed the game against Oklahoma after the sophomore "just did not look good" during warmups. Day didn't play two weeks ago against Michigan State because of a sprained ankle he suffered in a win over Purdue in Week 3.

Kelly said receiver TJ Jones was held out of a series against the Sooners because the senior rolled his ankle. Jones isn't expected to miss any practice time this week, according to Kelly.

Kelly also addressed a post by the Palm Beach Post's Jeff Greer, who wrote that freshman running back Greg Bryant's father said his son could be redshirted this season for medical reasons. Greer also tweeted that Notre Dame said Bryant's father's information wasn't accurate.

"I don't know where that came from," Kelly said. "Greg didn't play this week because of a knee injury. When you start talking about medical redshirts and you talk about redshirts here at Notre Dame, we are way down that line. We got to slow down a little bit here."

Bryant has played in three games this season and has run for 14 yards on three carries.