Notebook: Notre Dame Stadium expansion turns up the decibels
SOUTH BEND — The end of Notre Dame Stadium’s construction phase is still almost two years away.
Saturday night, the Irish football team already began to realize an unintended, but quite pronounced, benefit of the Campus Crossroads Project.
Just as the recent additions at similarly designed Michigan Stadium significantly altered the acoustics inside that facility, that appears to already be the case at ND Stadium, with more construction to come that would seem to only increase it.
“We were all a little bit taken aback by the loud noise that was on that stadium floor,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday. “I think the construction had something to do with that.”
So unexpected were the increased decibels that Notre Dame committed four illegal procedure penalties in its 38-3 waxing of Texas Saturday night, when offensive linemen couldn’t hear decidedly not-soft-spoken QB Malik Zaire’s cadence.
“So we have to kind of change our approach in terms of cadence,” Kelly sad. “We had never used non-verbal (signals) at home before. We're going to put that in this week. Obviously, we're on the road, so we're doing it anyway.”
The Irish, up two spots in the AP poll to No. 9, play their first-ever game in the commonwealth of Virginia Saturday, as the University of Virginia (0-1) hosts ND at Scott Stadium.
That leaves just 14 states remaining in which Notre Dame hasn’t played a football game.
Good first impression
Notre Dame was one of four schools nationally that made the first weekly honor roll for the inaugural Joe Moore Award.
The annual award will recognize the best offensive line unit in the nation, and it’s named after the legendary former ND offensive line coach.
Arkansas, Alabama and Northwestern also drew recognition in the weekly honor roll.
The Irish rolled up 214 rushing yards on 52 carries in the win over Texas, despite losing starting running back Tarean Folston to a knee injury midway through the first quarter. ND’s 527 total yards were the ninth-most in the Brian Kelly Era.
Faith in Adams
Notre Dame’s scholarship offer to now-Irish freshman running back Josh Adams in the summer of 2014 came after a season-ending knee injury Adams’ junior year at Central Bucks South in Warrington, Pa., and before he was able to show off his recovery/rehab as a senior.
“We were just really confident in a lot of the things that we had seen prior to (the injury), and then we were just sold on him as a person and knew that the surgery had gone well,” Kelly said of the lack of hesitation on ND’s part. “We just felt like all the boxes were checked, and it wasn't a real big gamble for us with him.
“Just the way he took care of himself all the way down to his family — his mom, his siblings. There were just so many other factors there that we never felt like we were taking a risk.
“There have been other times where there's been somebody with a knee injury, and you don't know some of these other factors, that you kind of back off a bit. But in this case, because of all the other circumstances, we never felt that way.”
Adams was tagged as a three star prospect by Rivals.com and garnered only two scholarship offers outside the Northeast Corridor — ND and Stanford.
But he quickly made an impression in August training camp, and Saturday night against Texas he scored on his first college touch, a 14-yard run. The 6-foot-2, 212-pounder finished with 49 yards on five carries and two TDs and will be counted on more heavily moving forward, with junior Tarean Folston’s season-ending knee injury on Saturday.
“We loved his makeup, and his makeup was extremely competitive,” Kelly said of Adams. “Just had no fear. And we saw that on Saturday when he was called. There was no hesitation when he went into the game. It was, ‘Let's go.’
“Sometimes when a freshman's called, he kind of looks like, ‘Me?’ He was anxious to get in there and expecting to succeed.”
• Kelly had a simple explanation of why he opted for redshirt freshman punter Tyler Newsome to handle kickoffs over freshman placekicker Justin Yoon.
“We had a competition for it, and in our competition in preseason camp, we felt like Tyler was able to get the ball specifically where we wanted it, and that was pinning it inside the hash consistently,” the Irish coach said.
“We feel we could go to Yoon at any time as well, but we just liked (Newsome’s) hang time a little bit better and his ball placement.”
• The Notre Dame-Texas game was a ratings hit on NBC, amassing the largest TV audience (4.1 million viewers, 2.42 rating) for an Irish home opener since the 2006 Irish-Penn State game.
It’s a 95 percent increase in viewership over the 2014 home opener with Rice.
• Las Vegas odds aren’t created in a vacuum and yet Notre Dame’s 38-3 win over Texas resulted in the Irish moving from 12-1 odds to win the national title on Sept. 2 to 14-1 odds Tuesday, per Bovada.LV.
Meanwhile, LSU, which had its opener with McNeese State canceled because of the weather, saw its odds improve from 25-1 to 20-1 without playing.
Texas, 100-1 last week, did take a significant hit and is now a 500-1 long shot.
As far as Heisman Trophy candidates, Irish quarterback Malik Zaire is now listed at 14-1, tied for the eighth-best odds in the field. He was at 33-1 last week. That 33-1 figure is where former ND QB Everett Golson, now at Florida State, finds himself this week — the same as last week.
Ohio State (7-4) and Buckeye quarterback Cardale Jones (7-1) lead the national title and Heisman odds, respectively.