Weather or not? Notre Dame-N.C. State moving forward as planned — for now
SOUTH BEND —It’s all wrapped up in computer weather models and contingency plans, but for now Notre Dame’s second-ever football matchup with North Carolina State is moving forward as planned.
The path and veracity of Hurricane Matthew could eventually change that. Or not.
As it stands, the game between the Irish (2-3) and N.C. State (3-1) at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., is scheduled for a noon EDT kickoff (ABC-TV) on Saturday.
N.C. State issued an official statement Tuesday afternoon: “We are monitoring the path and potential impact of weather in our region this weekend due to Hurricane Matthew.
“While we will make every effort to play our much-anticipated game with Notre Dame this Saturday as scheduled, the safety of both teams and our patrons is our first priority. We had a conference call earlier today with the ACC and Notre Dame, will remain in communication and monitor the potential conditions.”
“Living down here, you kind of get used to this,” N.C. State spokesperson Annabelle Myers said. “I was researching the ‘hurricane’ games we’ve played in, and there are so many of them over the years where a tropical storm came through or a hurricane was in the vicinity.
“As of now, the forecast is for rain, with 15- to 20-mile-per-hour winds. Beyond that, it’s just too early to know anything.”
What is known on the Notre Dame end of things, per head coach Brian Kelly, is that the school has been in contact with Atlantic Coast Conference officials and has let them know a Sunday noon kickoff is the absolute latest the Irish are comfortable playing.
“We feel like anything after noon on Sunday starts to encroach on our ability to prepare for Stanford,” Kelly said of ND’s Oct. 15 home matchup with the Cardinal.
“So there is quite a bit of flexibility. We feel like we've secured accommodations and flights and such to leave a big window of availability to play this game.”
A possible move to Friday night had not been discussed as of Tuesday afternoon, and Myers said it would create some logistical problems if that became a reality.
Carter-Finley Stadium shares parking with PNC Arena, home of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina hosts the Washington Capitals Friday night at 7:30 EDT.
“Really the message from the meetings we’ve been involved in today is just to keep in constant communication,” Myers said.
If all this sounds a little déjà vu, Notre Dame and Clemson went through this last year with Hurricane Joaquin.
Heavy rains, strong winds, massive flooding and a state of emergency in South Carolina all came to pass last Oct. 3, though it was a result of a strong low pressure system tapping into Hurricane Joaquin’s moisture plume and not the storm itself that created the monsoon-like conditions in ND’s 24-22 loss at Clemson.
“I think for us it's always about wind more so than it is about precip,” Kelly said.
Mike Denbrock, ND’s associate head coach and offensive-player caller, said on Monday’s SportsBeat radio show on WSBT that the Irish will cobble together two separate offensive game plans, as they did last year against Clemson.
“One would be a bad-weather game plan, where we may have to pull in the ranks a little bit and play a little more with some tight ends on the field, that sort of thing,” Denbrock said. “And then maybe our normal way of playing in a normal game plan.”
Against Clemson, the Irish were down 14-0 after the Tigers’ first two offensive possessions and trailed by 18 points in the fourth quarter before quarterback DeShone Kizer brought the Irish back to within 24-22 with seven seconds left in regulation. His two-point conversion run to send the game into overtime came up short.
“The way the game went, especially after the first quarter, the weather be damned,” Denbrock said. “We had to go and score some points. We kind of used a combination of both of those game plans in that game.
“And the kids did a nice job for the most part. We dropped a few balls in that game that would have put us in a little bit better position, but I thought overall we threw the ball with pretty good effectiveness, even though the weather wasn’t as great as you’d like it to be.”