It’s an interesting metaphor - playing Enter Sandman as the Virginia Tech Hokies enter their stadium for a night game.
The Hokies are the Sandman, there to steal the sleep of their opponents. The raucous atmosphere in Lane Stadium and scrappy, well-coached Virginia Tech teams are supposed to rattle their opponents.
And for a half of football against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, it seemed to work. After two quarters, it was 17-16 in favor of the Irish. That score did not tell the whole story though, as the Hokies had largely stifled the 5-0 Irish. Bud Fosters defense had held the Irish to -2 rushing yards going into the third quarter.
After halftime, however, Kelly’s squad blew it open.
It all started with a magnificent - nay, electric! - 97 yard touchdown scamper by Dexter Williams.
Kelly said of Williams in his Sunday Teleconference, “Dexter has waited for his opportunity, and he’s certainly making the best of it.”
From that point forward, it was without a doubt Notre Dame’s game.
The Irish would go on to outscore the Hokies 28-6 in the second half. It was a exclamation point answering a multitude of question marks posed by the first half. If there was any doubt that this Irish team is a contender, there shouldn’t be any now. They throttled a solid Virginia Tech team a week after doing the same to Stanford.
On a night in which the Hokies were trying to be the Sandman of college football, it was Notre Dame who assumed that role.
This Notre Dame team will bring restless nights to every opponent left on their schedule, from lowly to Pitt to USC. And outside of teams that they play, the Irish look to thieve a spot from a Power 5 conference champion. This is a Notre Dame team that - for the first time in a long time - strikes fear into its opponents.
This time around, they are the Sandman.
Notes from the Teleconference:
- Kelly touched on defensive line depth: “You’re down without your two starting drop ends... The kids didn’t let the situation control things. We’re better than Julian and Daelin, but those guys stepped up with next man in. It’s not about playing, but playing well.”
- On Ian Book’s feel for the position: “I think a lot of the things at the quarterback position require a sense and feel for the game. He’s completing over 70-percent of his passes, and that comes with feel.
- Touching on a 40 yard pass from Ian Book to Miles Boykin, Kelly quipped, “I’d like him to throw the dig, first of all.”
- Kelly stressed the importance of remaining focused despite moving into the top-5, “They are aware of it, fine, that doesn’t impact defeating your opponent on a day-to-day basis. The know what moves the needle, and that is defeating an opponent one play at a time.”
- On what Kelly can take away from the 2012 team: “It’s such a different club. It was constructed differently... The similarities are that these teams know how to win and the preparation. In terms of teams, they are different teams. This [team] is much more complementary in the way they work.”
- Kelly hit on the personality of this team compared to the 2012 team, “It is a younger group - a loose group - but they do a great job.”
- In regards to Daelin Hayes’s injury, “Once he’s asymptomatic, he’ll be cleared to play and we’ll go from there.” The time-frame given by Kelly ranged from availability against Pitt to being out for six weeks.
- Kelly praised Justin Ademilola and Jamir Jones on how they filled in for Julian Okwara and Daelin Hayes: “We’d like to see more, but we were pleased with their discipline in the way they played.”
- On the loss of Alex Bars and the effect that had on the game: “We had some missed opportunities. We’d love to have Alex in there, but it wasn’t on one guy.”
- Kelly touched on the team’s identity again, “We are still trying to find our identity. We weren’t complementing the defensive presence with an offense that is scoring points. We’re getting offensive production now that we weren’t getting earlier in the season.”