Brian Kelly proselytized multiple abstract concepts this spring. By the end of the 15 practices and subsequent media sessions, even the Irish coach knew some of his references to “grit” would be met by muted eye rolls from the press. If a questioner included the word in their query, Kelly reacted with tongue-in-cheek approval, “You’ve been listening.”
In his press conference the day before spring practices commenced, Kelly used the phrase “attention to detail” six separate times. While he was referring to his players on the football field, Kelly could have also been discussing the ongoing—but supposedly close to finished—construction at Notre Dame Stadium known as Campus Crossroads.
The three buildings around the exterior of the Stadium, the added suites and the video board above the south end zone have garnered the headlines. On a macro level, those are the changes of note. On a micro level, however, other details have trickled into the public stream of knowledge as the work nears its conclusion.
Over the weekend—and now reignited by a column from the South Bend Tribune’s Mike Vorel—the image of the newly-added visitors’ tunnel delighted Irish fans. Vorel likens the narrow entry to “the spot they’d stash the gladiators before feeding them to starving tigers in The Coliseum.” Assuredly, Vorel is going for dramatic effect, and it must work considering its citation here, but even a realistic view of the tunnel’s effects bodes well.
If nothing else, Notre Dame players should enjoy something of a psychological boost when racing out of their adult-sized tunnel and seeing their opponent trickle out of a tunnel seemingly-sized for ants. (Yes, the north end zone tunnel is at least three times bigger than the visitors’ tunnel.)
That pale, slanted staircase holds none of the luxuries of the home team’s entrance, something Kelly went out of his way to praise after using it in Saturday’s Blue-Gold Game.
“All of the renovations look tremendous,” Kelly said, seemingly setting himself up to praise the video board. “Particularly, the north end zone, what they have done down there. It’s going to be a great feel for us to come out of that tunnel the way it’s put together.”
That view should only improve once a highlight video is displayed on that black rectangle in the distance. Frankly, attention was paid to the details of that black rectangle, too. It is large enough for function, but far from sizable when it comes to fashion. To this memory, Oklahoma’s video board is at least twice that size, if not larger.
Per director of athletics Jack Swarbrick during the Blue-Gold Game broadcast, much interior work remains to be finished over the summer, including both locker rooms and most of the football operations space. Why isn’t that a quick finish? Because of attention paid to details. The impetus to these thoughts was not Vorel’s column or the video board, and it certainly wasn’t the false brick wall covering concrete. It was where the Stadium’s replaced wooden bleachers ended up. Rather than sell those by the foot, Notre Dame repurposed them for decorative purposes.
That touch is far from necessary, and it is certainly a rare example of lost revenue, but it is the creative aspect that can bring such a large project to an understandable size, figuratively speaking. It is reminiscent of one of the lesser-known quirks on Notre Dame’s campus.
Within the tassels of the Columbus murals in the Main Building, the mural restorers hid a belly dancer, Kermit the Frog, a fishing lure and a bowling pin. Within the wood grain of one of the main doors in the same hallway, a close look reveals the cowardly lion from “The Wizard of Oz.” In this instance, one supposes boredom may have played as large a role as attention to detail, but the images remain nonetheless.
Notre Dame Stadium has grown, it has advanced with technology, and it will seat fewer. It has also, apparently, slipped in a few unique aspects to provide an authentic touch.
Sometimes comments show up in these threads begging for statistical verification. The data can serve to correct the premise or to support it.
Commenting on “Where Notre Dame was & is: Defensive Line,” fnc111 posted: Just close your eyes when ND is on defense this year. However, that can be said for about 90% of D1 teams these days. Not many teams can actually play defense. That’s why ND has to have a big time offense for only the second time in eight years.
Under Kelly, ND’s red zone offense has been below average at best. That needs to change drastically with the lack of ability on the D-Line.
When compared to the rest of the country, the Irish red-zone offense has been lacking under Kelly. Last season, Notre Dame turned 48 red-zone possessions into 40 scores, including 30 touchdowns, for a success rate of 83.3 percent—the highest during Kelly’s seven seasons—good for No. 72 of the 128 FBS teams.
Over those seven seasons the Irish have scored on 80.6 percent of their red-zone possessions with touchdowns on 58.7 percent of them. That former number, if applied specifically to the 2016 season, would have slotted Notre Dame as No. 93 in the country, just behind West Virginia and ahead of North Texas and Duke.
The Irish offense most struggled in the red zone in Kelly’s second year at Notre Dame, converting only 77 percent of 2011’s opportunities.
Suffice it to say, the numbers show fnc111’s premise to be correct. The Irish have room for improvement in the red zone.
NFL DRAFT REMINDER
Former Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer did not hear his phone ring during the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday. With this posting at 4 p.m. ET, the draft reconvenes in three hours. Be surprised if Kizer lasts long.
He should wake up Saturday morning readying to catch a flight to his new team, but given the precedent set by last night’s trades, it is difficult to project where Kizer will land. Presumably, someone in the first quarter of the second round will either be calling the fourth quarterback of the draft or another team will shake up the proceedings by trading up to do so.
In other words, the elongated drama of Kizer’s draft buildup should finally resolve itself in about four hours. How to celebrate the ending of this unnecessary exercise? Well, this posted at 4 p.m. on a Friday. You should know what to do.