Notre Dame Michigan 2014
Getty Images

30 Years of Notre Dame on NBC: Irish wave goodbye to Michigan, 31-0, in 2014

13 Comments

A fist pump, a shutout, a touchdown taken off the scoreboard. FieldTurf, a smoke-filled entrance, a student-section serenade.

The dramatic memories of Notre Dame’s 31-0 shutout of Michigan in 2014 have outlasted the Irish worries of that evening, and understandably so. Their visuals are hard to top.

Notre Dame BYU
By the end of the 2013 season, Notre Dame’s grass had become mostly dirt. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

In chronological order …

Notre Dame warmed up on a field with artificial turf for the second time in the Stadium’s history, the first being the previous week’s opener. After years of unnecessary angst about such a modern switch, the pitiful state of the grass to end 2013 sealed the coming reality. It was not the difference for the Irish against the Wolverines, but the improved surface did help showcase a speed advantage.

Notre Dame took the field beneath smoke pumped into the tunnel, another piece of college football in the 21st century that took a while to get to South Bend.

Notre Dame smoke
Smoke machines welcomed Notre Dame to the field for the first time in this 2014 night game. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

And then came the fist pump. In only his second game as Irish defensive coordinator, Brian VanGorder was the toast of Brian Kelly’s coaching staff, brought in to replace Bob Diaco (freshly-departed to a doomed tenure at Connecticut) and maintain defensive excellence. He had kept things close to the vest in the 48-17 season-opening win against Rice, but with playmakers like Jaylon Smith and Sheldon Day at his disposal, VanGorder was off to a strong enough start.

When freshman defensive end Kolin Hill combined with then-safety Drue Tranquill for a second-quarter sack to force a punt, Notre Dame held a 14-0 lead, in command but not yet dominating, but it stood out for Hill’s contribution as an unheralded recruit suddenly finding playing time. It also bought the Irish time, as they hardly dominated this rout anywhere but the scoreboard and the turnover margin, out-gained by the Wolverines 289 yards to 280. Plays like Hill’s, however, played a part in Notre Dame starting its possessions an average of 15 yards better than Michigan did.

When Hill sacked Gardner again to halt a Wolverines drive late int he fourth quarter just shy of the Irish red zone, it seemed to seal the shut out. VanGorder’s excitement was understandable. His manic celebration raised no eyebrows.

That defense had forced four turnovers from Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner, the year after he torched it for five touchdowns. Handing Michigan its first shutout in 30 years set a dangerously high precedent for VanGorder, a height he never again reached. To be fair, Notre Dame did not shut out another opponent until Bowling Green in 2019.

“Shutting out any opponent in college football is an enormous task with offenses today,” Kelly said. “A great performance by our defense, great performance by our coaches, the preparation was outstanding.”

Praise like that led this space, then authored by the esteemed Keith Arnold, to write, “That preparation included a masterful job by VanGorder, who received a gigantic bear hug from athletic director Jack Swarbrick on the field after the game.”

Hindsight being 20/20, one might argue “masterful” was a bit strong, particularly since the Wolverines missed two first-quarter field goal attempts that would have at least ruined a shutout and at most changed the momentum of the final scheduled game in the rivalry dating back to 1887. Then again, VanGorder’s defense controlled a game in which the Irish offense rushed for only 54 yards on just 1.7 yards per carry. It deserved applause.

“Give Notre Dame credit for how they played,” Michigan head coach Brady Hoke said, presumably not yet realizing that would be his final season in that role. “It was a total butt-kicking all the way around that we all took.”

That butt-kicking would not have been complete without a blow to Gardner’s chest. The Irish student section was already deep into its third minute of the refrain to Steam’s “Kiss Him Goodbye” when Elijah Shumate intercepted Gardner’s final pass attempt. You know the refrain; you just never knew it was by a one-hit-wonder band like Steam.

Na na na na
Na na na na
Hey hey hey
Goodbye.

A notable cheer from the student section for its sustained longevity alone, it was a fan base’s retribution for Michigan Stadium playing the “Chicken Dance” after beating Notre Dame 41-30 the year before. Two years earlier, in 2012, Swarbrick had delivered his counterpart a letter just before kickoff, executing an Irish exit from the series with three-games notice (with not much time to spare before the first of the three) to free up scheduling space to fulfill Notre Dame’s newly-agreed upon five-game ACC commitment. Hoke told some boosters that was the Irish “chickening out” of the series.

“After you guys interviewed me about the Chicken Dance, I actually asked some of the players that actually heard it, and they told me about it,” Smith said after racking up 10 tackles that evening. “So hearing the ‘Na, na, na, na’ tonight, it was just a great revenge.”

Na na na na
Na na na na
Hey hey hey
Goodbye.

In saying goodbye, Irish safety Max Redfield had an idea for a parting gift, turning upfield to provide Shumate a sideline escort to the end zone. The closest Wolverine to Redfield happened to be Gardner, wearing No. 98, a Michigan honor that has since gone by the wayside. If Redfield had squared up any other player, a personal foul flag likely does not get thrown after his aggressive block. If Gardner had been wearing a single digit, perhaps Redfield does not size him up. All the same, Shumate was sprinting down the sideline to put an exclamation point on the rout.

“I was running down the sideline screaming my head off,” Notre Dame linebacker Joe Schmidt said. “Then I was completely discombobulated in the end zone, punching the air. I was not sure if Elijah thought we were losing because he was moving so fast.

“I met him in the end zone, and then he got mauled. I just took off my helmet and took it all in. It was an incredible way to finish the game.”

No one had much idea what was happening anymore, a personal statement as much as anything else, having been standing on the 15-yard line as Shumate dashed by. The student section was too delirious to resume its anthem. The Irish sideline had moved to the back of the end zone. The scoreboard read 37-0.

The referees were called back the return thanks to Redfield’s roughing of Gardner.

The scoreboard returned to 31-0, where it ended.

A reasonable mind could argue taking that touchdown off the scoreboard made the game all the more memorable for Notre Dame fans, giving them a rallying cry of “Remember the Six,” somehow assuming Kyle Brindza would miss the PAT.

Headlined by that mantra and the visual of VanGorder’s fist pump, the dramatic memories indeed overshadow such practicalities. Others jump off the screen when going through the box score. The Irish were without five players, including three starters, due to an academic scandal that would preclude them from playing at all that season, sapping VanGorder’s defense of depth it never had, a weakness exposed in November as Notre Dame lost its last four regular-season games, giving up 44.5 points per game in that stretch.

Suffice it to say, VanGorder’s honeymoon was short-lived.

Senior quarterback Everett Golson’s second game back from a 2013 suspension due to his own academic issues featured him throwing for 226 yards and three touchdowns on 23-of-34 passing; Irish hype was increasing across the country — this win would jump Notre Dame from No. 16 in the polls to No. 11 — largely thanks to Golson. Arnold wrote, “Don’t look now, but Notre Dame has a star quarterback.”

That star’s collegiate career ended turnover-prone wearing Florida State’s garnet-and-gold.

Redfield’s block foreshadowed a career spent stubbing his toe, a turn of phrase chosen only because “shooting himself in the foot” feels too on the nose for a player later arrested in a car with a handgun along with four underclassmen, part of 2016’s undoing.

But for one final night, VanGorder, Golson, Redfield and the Irish gave Michigan a raucous sendoff complete with a soundtrack and a coda.

“It only counts for one,” Kelly said. “I’d be lying if I told you that it didn’t feel great to shut out Michigan, 31 to nothing.”

Kelly stressed the 31, thus acknowledging a different number might have been more accurate.

30 Years of Notre Dame on NBC
Lightning strikes twice in South Florida’s first visit
Three overtimes, two No. 2s, one goal-line fumble
Te’o’s emotions & interceptions overwhelm No. 18 Michigan
Night games return, ‘Crazy Train’ debuts
Blowing out USC completes Irish return
Tommy Rees’ first career start, an upset exaggerated
The Irish fell, but more importantly, football returned after 9/11
Godsey heroics provide Davie hope
Last-minute Golson-to-Koyack TD beats No. 14 Stanford in the rain
A dramatic, Pyrrhic victory over LSU in 1998
Beginning with ‘ultimate greed’ in 1990 and Indiana in 1991
Honorable Mentions

Notre Dame’s Opponents: South Florida postponement a foreboding sign

11 Comments

ESPN opened the season with a minute-long video thanking Notre Dame for arguably saving the college football season when it joined the ACC and thus kept a third Power Five conference on the field throughout the summer. There was a leap of logic to the bit, but the appreciation was well-placed.

It is increasingly possible the Irish will now also be responsible for the discovery of on-field community transmission between teams, a development that if realized would jeopardize this entire season.

That is not the case yet, as of early Thursday morning. South Florida has not announced any new coronavirus cases as a result of playing No. 7 Notre Dame (2-0, 1-0 ACC) on Saturday, but the Bulls (1-1) are worried enough to have not only paused football activities but to also have postponed their game at Florida Atlantic this weekend.

“Given the outbreak among team members of our most recent opponent and subsequent contact tracing within our team, postponement of this Saturday’s game at FAU is the right thing to do,” South Florida athletic director Michael Kelly said in a statement.

The key note there is that the Bulls did not announce any new positive tests after their entire roster tested negative both before and after playing the Irish. Team-wide Wednesday testing could change that, at which point football will have its first case of on-field community transmission between teams. Working around that to mitigate the spread of coronavirus between programs may not be tenable, at which point college and conference administrators will once again have to decide how much risk they are willing to tolerate.

South Florida may have postponed the game due to a lack of practice this week, a shortcoming tied to the uncertainty of awaiting further testing results. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has said he would have trouble preparing his team to play if it lost multiple early-week practices. But if it turns out South Florida’s concern is not merely contact tracing and a lack of practices, but also positive tests courtesy of the Irish on Saturday, all aspects of this held-together-by-tape season will need to be reevaluated.

That does not mean it will be canceled — the momentum is strong enough to outright doubt that — but the thanks offered to Notre Dame will have been premature, at the least.


Duke (0-2, 0-2 ACC): The Blue Devils gifted a 26-6 victory to Boston College, turning over the ball five times, turning what should have been a close game into a bit of a snooze. They will have a chance to get on the right track in Virginia’s season opener (4 ET; ACCN) as a 5-point underdog with a combined point total over/under of 46. Intriguingly, Duke opened as a 9-point underdog, suggesting sharp minds think the Blue Devils have a decent chance, particularly given they have played two more games this season than the Cavaliers.

South Florida (1-1): See above.

Wake Forest (0-2, 0-2): The Demon Deacons lost a shootout with North Carolina State, 45-42, in no small part because they gave up 270 rushing yards on 5.5 yards per carry. You can be forgiven for wondering what Notre Dame and its three-headed ground game could have done against that defense this weekend. Hopefully, come Dec. 12, Kyren Williams & Co. will get that chance.

Florida State (0-1, 0-1): The Seminoles had an off week, giving them time to watch now-No. 12 Miami win in primetime last weekend, setting up a week of “Is the U Back?” talk before Florida State heads to South Beach (7:30 ET; ABC) as an 11-point underdog with a 54-point over/under. Given the Seminoles’ continued offensive line issues, it is hard to believe they can do much better than a 32-21 loss.

Louisville (1-1, 0-1): That primetime Hurricanes victory came at the expense of the Cardinals, 47-34. Louisville’s offense was humming, with quarterback Micale Cunningham throwing for 307 yards and three touchdowns while the team rushed for 209 yards, but its defense repeatedly left Miami receivers uncovered, giving up touchdowns of 75, 75 and 47 yards in the second half alone.

That debacle has left the Cardinals as field-goal underdogs at Pittsburgh this weekend (12 ET; ACCN), with a 55-point over/under calling for a 29-26 conclusion.

Pittsburgh (2-0, 1-0): Speaking of the Panthers, they lucked into recovering two of their three fumbles, those bounces of an oblong ball helping Pittsburgh top Syracuse 21-10. Some might credit the Panthers for giving up only 171 yards, but that is more a reflection of the Orange ineptitude than anything else.

Georgia Tech (1-1, 1-0): The Yellow Jackets’ momentum came to a screeching halt in the second quarter against Central Florida, giving up 21 points in the frame before giving up another 21 in the fourth quarter in a 49-21 loss. Georgia Tech remains a deeply-flawed team as it begins its second year removed from the triple-option, but then again, those flaws were not deep enough to stop the Yellow Jackets from beating Florida State in their opener.

Nor should those flaws be deep enough to prevent Georgia Tech from beating Syracuse (12 ET) by more than a touchdown.

Clemson (2-0, 1-0): The Tigers had The Citadel down 49-0 at halftime and subsequently offered to shorten the third and fourth quarters. With only four games on its schedule this season, The Citadel declined that common courtesy and then held Clemson to a 0-0 tie in the second half. It may not be a moral victory, but it should be something for those players to hang their hats on in years to come.

The Tigers will score as many points this weekend as they did in that second half, with an off week on the schedule.

Phil Jurkovec
Former Notre Dame quarterback Phil Jurkovec made a strong impression in his debut at Boston College, leading the Eagles to an easy 26-6 win at Duke on Saturday. (Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports)

Boston College (1-0, 1-0): Former Irish quarterback Phil Jurkovec began his career as a starter with 300 yards and two touchdowns on 17-of-23 passing, along with one interception, in the Eagles’ 26-6 win against Duke. As impressive as Jurkvoec’s stat line is, Boston College’s defense wreaking such havoc to force those five turnovers is an even more encouraging sign for head coach Jeff Hafley’s first year.

More havoc should be in store against Texas State (6 ET), with the Eagles 17.5-point favorites.

North Carolina (1-0, 1-0): The Tar Heels have been sitting at home since Charlotte had to cancel their game last weekend due to a single positive test led to enough contact tracing to rob the 49ers of an offensive line. North Carolina will continue to sit at home with an off week on the schedule.

Syracuse (0-2, 0-2): The Orange are bad. How bad are the Orange? Let me count the ways. In two weeks, Syracuse has gained a combined total of 373 yards. Of FBS teams with two games under their belts, only the woeful Middle Tennessee State is within 100 yards of that paltry number, at 425 yards. In fact, 16 teams with only one game in 2020 have outgained the Orange.

That misery continues against Georgia Tech on Saturday.

CURRENT ACC STANDINGS:
Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame, Pitt: 2-0, 1-0 ACC
Boston College, NC State, North Carolina: 1-0, 1-0
Georgia Tech: 1-1, 1-0
Virginia, Virginia Tech: 0-0
Louisville: 1-1, 0-1
Florida State: 0-1, 0-1
Duke, Syracuse, Wake Forest: 0-2, 0-2

Inevitable postponement (to Dec. 12) tilts, but shouldn’t topple, Notre Dame’s season

25 Comments

UPDATE: The ACC announced early Wednesday that the Notre Dame at Wake Forest game will be rescheduled for Dec. 12, after Tuesday’s indefinite postponement. The below story has been updated to reflect that, largely via changes in conditional verb tenses.

At first glance, Notre Dame postponing a game feels drastic, dramatic, a worst-case scenario. In 2020, it is not. Postponing the trip to Wake Forest is not only prudent, patient and necessary, but also inevitable, manageable and expected.

An optimistic and arguably foolish reliance on football obscured those expectations, but if taking a step back, they existed all along. That anticipation is the exact reason the ACC built two idle weeks per team into this truncated season, not to mention a week before the conference championship if it is necessary, and it is necessary..

To quote Irish head coach Brian Kelly after beating South Florida on Saturday, “We live in this world where right now, you’re never prepared for it, but we are aware of it and we know it could happen.” Kelly was referring to replacing two defensive starters on short notice due to positive coronavirus tests and subsequent contact tracing, but he might as well have been discussing this game of Schedule Jenga.

Notre Dame has moved one block, but the tower can still stand steadily. How long it does so all depends on how soon the Irish have to move another block, admittedly a decision that may not be up to them.

Each move reduces the options moving forward while tilting the tower a degree further. But there will be more moves, they are inevitable. It is quite literally the basis of the game within this metaphor as well as the only feasible means to a 2020 season.

The ACC opted not to adjust Clemson’s, Boston College’s and North Carolina’s schedules to fit Notre Dame into Wake Forest’s idle week on Nov. 7, but instead turn to the final scheduling block of a slate of ACC games on Dec. 12, already featuring Virginia at Virginia Tech and now including the Irish and the Demon Deacons.

The convenience of Notre Dame and Wake Forest meeting on their mutual idle week, next week, Oct. 3, depended on a few untenable factors, most of all the breakdown of the 23 Irish players currently in isolation or quarantine. If a glut of offensive or defensive linemen is within those 23, then it is most likely Notre Dame needs to take at least two weeks off from competition, only hoping to host Florida State on Oct. 10. The unofficial national standard mandates seven scholarship offensive linemen and four scholarship defensive linemen.

If the trenches did remain somewhat intact, and this rash of 13 positive tests did not extend much further in Wednesday’s testing of the entire roster, then the Irish would have been able to return to practice by the end of this week and be ready for next. It is that uncertainty that jeopardized the trip to North Carolina so early in the week.

“I would say that if you’re out of business Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, you’re in trouble for having a team that can practice and be prepared,” Kelly said at the start of the month. “That’s assuming a lot of things go wrong.

“If they do, my answer to the question would be if you lose two or three days early in the week, you’re hard-pressed to get your team ready.”

Until Notre Dame can ascertain exactly how far this outbreak spreads, it can not justifiably hold practice. Thus, Kelly had lost Tuesday and Wednesday, and therefore the Irish were hard-pressed to face the Demon Deacons even if the 23 presently removed from the team remain only 23.

Positive tests will add to that. Contact tracing will add to that. The passing of any time in this never-ending year will add to that, not to mention weekends with a line to get into The Linebacker Lounge, downtown South Bend bars all at capacity and supposedly non-transferrable football tickets that are, in fact, easily-transferred all threatening the stable status of the broader Notre Dame community.

But once the Irish have a handle on how much to add to that total of 23, they can return to practice and, then in time, games.

Games are, quite possibly, the safest part of the week. To date, reports of community transmission on a Saturday are nil. To wit, the timing of these newest positives suggests they were most likely infected but not yet contagious when they beat South Florida, and the Bulls’ postgame tests yielded no new positives. South Florida’s tests would not yet show any infection picked up at Notre Dame Stadium, so it is taking a pause from practice “out of an abundance of caution” until such an infection can be ruled out, but that set of negative results affirm the Irish did not pick up this problem from their guests.

UPDATE 5:15 P.M. ET: South Florida has now postponed its game this weekend at Florida Atlantic. It is unclear if the Bulls have ruled out swaths of their roster via contact tracing or if they are dealing with the same lack of practice issue that was the initial concern for the Irish, but either way, if positive tests turn up in Tampa via Notre Dame, this all gets much dicier.

Obviously, games remain the goal, as well. When asked about his halftime comments this weekend urging his team to shutout the Bulls in the second half, Kelly pointed out how hard these 18- to 22-year-olds work to get to the weekend.

“I wanted our guys to have a mindset that we have to do so many things to get to Saturday,” Kelly said. “It’s really hard with all that is going on that I didn’t want our guys to get distracted at any time. I wanted them to stay locked in, stay focused and get after it for four quarters.”

Admittedly, part of the reason for a lack of community transmission is a shortage of fulfilling that goal. Through two “full” weeks and one light opening weekend, 34 games have been played between FBS teams while 17 have been postponed or canceled, not including this bump to December.

The entire college football landscape is filled with Jenga towers, some (Houston, Virginia, Virginia Tech) already leaning wildly and others (Clemson, Miami, Pittsburgh) standing solidly. They will all tilt at some point, as Notre Dame’s is right now. It’s inevitable in 2020, but not so daunting as to topple this endeavor just yet.

Notre Dame postpones Wake Forest game scheduled for this weekend

Notre Dame
Getty Images
37 Comments

Notre Dame tested its entire roster Monday, and of those 94 tests, seven players tested positive for the coronavirus. Combining those results with the positive tests and subsequent contact tracing from last week and the weekend, the Irish now have a total of 13 players in isolation with another 10 in quarantine.

As a result, all football activities have been paused and Notre Dame until further testing is completed, the ACC and Wake Forest are in the process of rescheduling the game originally scheduled for this Saturday.

“With student-athlete health and safety our primary focus, we will continue to follow our prevention protocols and ongoing testing procedures,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in a  statement. “We managed an increase in positivity rates in August, and the players handled it wonderfully.

“We knew COVID would present challenges throughout the season, and we’ll always put student-athlete health and safety at the forefront of our decision making. We look forward to resuming team activities and getting back on the playing field.”

On Sept. 14, Notre Dame (2-0, 1-0 ACC) announced two positive tests and two more players in quarantine following contact tracing. On Saturday, seven players within the Irish two-deep were deemed unavailable against South Florida. On Monday, Notre Dame announced four positive tests and six more players in quarantine via Sunday testing.

Contact tracing following Monday’s seven positive tests is still in process.

Both the Irish and the Demon Deacons have an off week on Oct. 3, but before the game can be conveniently pushed to then, Notre Dame has to be able to resume football activities in general.

Players in isolation (after testing positive) remain there for a minimum of 10 days, per CDC guidelines and ACC requirements. Those in quarantine (via contact tracing) remain there for 14 days, again following CDC guidelines and ACC requirements. Maintaining fitness in either situation is difficult, though Kelly said the Irish have protocols to counteract that concern.

“When they come back after 14 days on their own, they have a modified quarantine program that gets them back in pretty good shape,” Kelly said Monday.

Those in isolation, however, must undergo a bit more rigorous testing before they can lean into training.

“Obviously if you’ve tested positive for COVID, you have to go through a different procedure and protocol,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to have an EKG and certainly a number of different evaluations first, before you can come back.”

If rescheduling for Oct. 3 becomes untenable, the ACC intentionally left an open week for all teams on Dec. 12, as well. Notre Dame is scheduled to host Florida State on Oct. 10.

Notre Dame cancels practice due to COVID-19 positives

Brian Kelly Notre Dame
Getty Images
6 Comments

Days after No. 7 Notre Dame first held seven players out of a game due to positive coronavirus tests and subsequent contact tracing, days after Irish head coach Brian Kelly then used the immediate postgame celebration of a 52-0 romp to plead with his team to remain vigilant about their actions and wearing masks, the day after the program announced four positive tests and six additional players in quarantine due to contact tracing, Notre Dame (2-0, 1-0 ACC) has reportedly canceled Tuesday’s practice.

At the very least, the Irish are without those 10 players, almost assuredly including the seven from the two-deep depth chart that were sidelined against South Florida — sophomore cornerback Tariq Bracy, junior Buck linebacker Shayne Simon, sophomore Buck linebacker Marist Liufau, junior defensive end Ovie Oghoufo, sophomore quarterback Brendon Clark, junior running back Jahmir Smith and junior receiver Lawrence Keys. Those seven are also expected to miss this weekend’s scheduled trip to Wake Forest (12 ET; ABC).

RELATED READING: Notre Dame cannot mask expectations
Notre Dame’s depth provides relief amid quarantine concerns

Pending the results of subsequent testing, that number could have grown since Monday, obviously. Or, this Tuesday decision could be out of an abundance of caution while awaiting test results.

“It’s always an evolving situation,” Kelly said Monday. “We’re learning about things daily about how to attack this virus and utilizing all the procedures and protocols, including testing.”

The ACC requires three tests a week, including one within 72 hours of the game. That yields some uniformity in a mid-week test and a Friday test for every program, as well as a test most likely on Sunday.

“Then you kind of fill in the blanks from there,” Kelly said. “Do you follow a model of then antigen test every day? Do you antigen test and then follow it up if you suspect anything? Do you follow it up with a PCR? I think that’s where the individual schools kind of then have some flexibility to do what they want to do.”

In Notre Dame’s case, that includes some specific groups getting more tests.

“From our standpoint right now, certain segments of our team are getting tested every day,” Kelly said. “The higher risk areas, which are generally speaking those that fall under the close contact, which would be the linemen.”

While the ACC has not put out positional minimum requirements to play a game, both the SEC and the Big 12 have, with the SEC mandating a quarterback, seven offensive linemen and four defensive linemen be among the 53 minimum scholarship players available. Otherwise, a no contest is considered due to compelling reason.

Before the season, Kelly pointed to Tuesday and Wednesday practices as the most vital in a week, suggesting if his team missed them both, it would be tough to play the following weekend.

“If you’re out of business Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, you’re in trouble for having a team that can practice and be prepared,” Kelly said. “… If you lose two or three days early in the week, you’re hard-pressed to get your team ready.”

Those are the hurdles in place right now, on Tuesday. That does not factor in who will step in to replace the quarantined and isolated — “These guys are really engaged and know that they can be called upon at any time.” It does not fret over maintaining the fitness of those in quarantine and isolation so they can quickly return to action upon clearing all protocols — “They have a modified quarantine workout program that gets them back in pretty good shape.”

Nor does it include the added layers of concern involved in traveling to a game on the east coast.

The Irish plan to practice in South Bend on Friday, as well as hold all meetings and have dinner before flying to North Carolina. Normally, all those events would take place after the flight.

“Get in there in the evening, get off the plane and go to bed to lessen the contact in the hotel,” Kelly said. “Our guys will be in individual rooms and wake up in the morning, throw on a Superman cape and go beat Wake Forest.”

At best, Notre Dame will need to pack fewer capes. If not that, the flight can be rescheduled to next weekend, when both the Irish and the Demon Deacons currently have an off week.

AN EXACT TIMELINE
To clear up any confusion, the exact dates and numbers of the data the Irish have released:
Sept. 14: Two positive tests and two players in quarantine due to contact tracing.
Sept. 19: Notre Dame declares seven players from the two-deep unavailable to play against South Florida.
Sept. 21: Four positive tests and six players in quarantine due to contact tracing.

COACHING SUCCESSION PLANS
This rash of positive tests and quarantines could very well include some Irish coaches. Note: There is no knowledge it does; this is simply acknowledging the clear possibility. Notre Dame has a plan in place to replace the duties of any coach necessary, including Kelly.

“We have a succession plan in place for myself and each and every coach on the staff, in terms of the responsibilities and the duties,” Kelly said Monday. “Mine are not singular in terms of one coach taking over.”

OTHER INJURY UPDATES
Neither graduate transfer receiver Ben Skowronek nor sophomore safety Kyle Hamilton played against the Bulls, but their concerns were of a more traditional variety. Despite a balky hamstring, Skowronek was able to run Monday, now considered “day-to-day.”

Hamilton (sprained ankle) “looks pretty good,” per Kelly. “The expectation there is that he would start to ramp it up and probably get into some practices this week.”