Hamilton shines out but returns credit to teammates
Jimmy Ward | Sunday, September 19, 2021
On a day that saw few offensive fireworks, a Notre Dame defense that spent most of the day bending but not breaking deserves a large share of the credit for the Irish win over Purdue. That defense had a vast array of contributors, but junior safety Kyle Hamilton sealed the win for the Irish on Saturday.
The free safety played like a free safety, allowing the defense in front of him to play freely and cleaning up any of their mistakes. Hamilton combined with junior linebacker JD Bertrand for 22 total tackles accounting for a quarter of the 86 Irish tackles on the day. The Irish stood up to an explosive Purdue offense exceptionally well, allowing the Boilermakers to reach the end zone on only one occasion. In his post-game interview, Hamilton made it known that he is not the only member of the Irish defense that deserves credit.
“Guys like [senior safety] DJ Brown really stepped up, [senior cornerback] TaRiq [Bracy], [sophomore cornerback] Ramon Henderson, really everybody on the back end was just really tight today,” Hamilton said. “Didn’t really give up too many big plays, attacked the ball when we needed to. I think that just goes to show how deep we are as a secondary and as a whole defense — I mean there’s a couple guys who get a lot of the praise on defense but I feel like we’re really strong as a unit.”
Hamilton was able to make plenty of plays that changed the dynamic of the game, like pinning the Boilermakers perfectly on their own one-yard line on special teams early in the fourth quarter. But Hamilton put the game on ice with just over two minutes remaining. The Boilermakers had gotten inside the Irish 15 when Purdue’s junior quarterback Jack Plummer dropped back on second down, eyeing the goal line. He fired a bullet to his tight end in the end zone, but the ball bounced off the intended receiver’s hands. Hamilton jumped up from the turf with his third interception of the season in hand and epic celebration already in motion.
Hamilton made the play that defined the game for the Irish, but the support the rest of the Irish defense lent him was the best we’ve seen this season. DJ Brown pulled down an interception a few drives later to really put the game on ice. Graduate student defensive end Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and junior defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey combined on a big sack that built some Irish momentum early on in the fourth quarter.
And, while they may not have stuffed the stat sheets, players like junior defensive end Nana Osafo-Mensah, senior defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola and junior cornerback Cam Hart all contributed plays that, had they not been made, might have made this matchup against the Boilermakers a different story. With this newfound sense of security on defense and an Irish win, Hamilton will be satisfied for the time being. Even his head coach, Brian Kelly refused to sell his star safety short of the praise he believes he deserves.
“I would pay to watch him play,” Kelly said of Hamilton after the game. In this new era of NIL, the star safety with the same last name as the first United States Secretary of the Treasury would be remiss not to hold his coach, with fairly deep pockets of his own, to his word.