Kelly said confirmation will come later, but he called the expected loss of one of the four Irish captains “devastating.”
The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Bars earned preseason All-America honors after starting all 13 games last season at right guard and surrendering just one sack in 830 snaps. Bars started 12 games at right tackle in 2016.
The injury occurred in the third quarter.
“Our doctors feel the worst is possible here with the knee,” Kelly said Sunday. “Which is devastating for us. We’re losing a captain and we’re losing somebody that is respected and revered by so many in the program.
“I feel so bad for the kid because he comes back as a graduate student and then you lose him. We’ll have other players that will go in and play, and play at a high level, but to lose him in his senior year is really hard on us.”
Redshirt junior Trevor Ruhland will fill in for Bars. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Ruhland started at right guard at Wake Forest.
“We don’t have to alter our game plan or calls when Trevor’s in there. He’s very reliable,” Kelly said. “He doesn’t have the size that Alex does, but he brings some other strengths. He’s very instinctive, very smart.”
Kelly said redshirt freshman Aaron Banks will also get an opportunity.
Another captain, linebacker Drue Tranquill, has a fractured hand.
“We’ll cast (it) on Tuesday, but (it) will not need to be surgically repaired at this time,” Kelly said. “He will not miss any time for us.”
Notre Dame is also banged up at running back. Tony Jones Jr. has an ankle injury.
“We don’t think it’s a serious one; we’ll see how things play out during the week,” Kelly said. “We’ll have to be careful with him during the week, but we expect him to play with Dexter (Williams).”
Running back Jafar Armstrong will likely miss the Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh games as he recovers from a left knee infection that sidelined him for the Stanford game.
“We have to go in there surgically and clean up the infection,” Kelly said Saturday. “That wound has to heal. It was a bursa sac infection. That’s going to be a couple of weeks. If we’re really truthful here, I’d say that we probably don’t get him back until after the bye week.”