Notre Dame, N.C. State discuss contingency plans for potential inclement weather
Marek Mazurek | Wednesday, October 5, 2016
After weathering the storm that came from the firing of defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, Notre Dame may have to weather a more literal storm this weekend.
Hurricane Matthew is projected to hit Raleigh, North Carolina, this Saturday at noon, right when the Irish (2-3) are scheduled to kick off their contest with North Carolina State.
In his press conference today, Irish head coach Brian Kelly said the team will be ready to play anytime between Saturday at noon to Sunday at noon, if the game needs to be rescheduled.
“We’ve talked at great length, [the] Commissioner of the ACC has spoken with us about — really everything is on the table right now,” Kelly said. “We’ve given them a window that we’re available to play this game from [noon Saturday] until noon on Sunday. We feel like anything after noon on Sunday starts to encroach on our ability to prepare for Stanford.
“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.”
N.C. State released the following statement Tuesday afternoon regarding the possible conflict.
“We are monitoring the path and potential impact of weather in our region due to Hurricane Matthew,” the University said in a statement. “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 [Tuesday] afternoon with the ACC and Notre Dame, will remain in communication and monitor the potential conditions.”
Kelly said there has been no talk yet of moving the game up to Friday, but he did, however, mention that “everything is on the table.”
Last year, Notre Dame’s contest with Clemson was affected by Hurricane Joaquin. The game was played as scheduled — despite South Carolina declaring a state of emergency — but the rainy conditions led to four Irish turnovers as then-No.12 Clemson knocked off an undefeated Notre Dame squad, who was ranked sixth at the time.
Even if the game versus the Wolfpack (3-1) winds up being wet and rainy, Kelly said his team should be able to handle the field conditions.
“Just try not to turn it over and get too far behind in the game,” Kelly said. “I think for us, it’s always about wind more so than it is about precipitation. We should be able to be fine relative to the field conditions. But, you know, we are very good at moving the ball and throwing the football in most conditions, unless the wind becomes at a point where the ball just can’t be moved through the air. Then, we get into formations that we already have in our system, and we’ll employ those.”
Last week’s matchup against Syracuse saw a number of new faces receive playing time for the Irish defense. Freshmen cornerbacks Julian Love, Donte Vaughn and Troy Pride Jr. and sophomore safety Nicco Fertitta all saw extended snaps. Love is listed as a starting cornerback on the most recent depth chart for the team, and Kelly liked what he saw out of his young defensive backs but said he needs to make sure everyone gets in the rotation.
“I really was impressed with [Pride Jr.],” Kelly said. “I wanted to play him. And I thought we should have played him, so I’m making those personnel decisions. We played him a little too much, [and] quite frankly, we played Nicco Fertitta a little too much. He had 90 snaps, more than anybody because he had 18 snaps on special teams.
“So we gotta do a better job of balancing those things out from a defensive perspective. Of course, we lost [freshman safety] Devin [Studstill] early and that changed it up a little bit, but we should have used [sixth-year graduate student safety] Avery [Sebastian] a little bit more in that situation to save all those snaps.”
Alongside Love, Studstill, junior safety Drue Tranquill and senior cornerback Cole Luke will round out the starting secondary against the Wolfpack.