Avery Davis!  Quarterback, running back, cornerback, nickel back, wide receiver, 5 positions in 5 years, oh my!  Perseverance and class oozes from the young man. Avery Davis is the kind of guy you want to see succeed, and Saturday with Kevin Austin and Michael Mayer practically shut out, Davis was the man:  5 catches 120 yards and a 62 yards TD reception.  When he hauled in a deep post in the 3rd quarter and sprinted the rest of the way into the end zone for a 62-yard score, a lot of folks were happy for the cool Captain.

Brian Kelly commented post game about Davis’s impact as a Captain over the last week, “as captain he led by example this week. His standard of preparation is what everybody needs to model after.” Jack Coan seemed to admit post game that he needed to be looking to Davis  a little more often on the field.

Good idea.

I’d pay to watch hIm play too. Late in the 1st quarter Purdue was hanging on to a 3-0 lead and they faced a 4th and 1 from the 34 inside ND territory.  A jet sweep play quickly developed and looked to be pretty well defended, but a 3-4 yard gain and first down had already been conceded by my brain, after all I had seen that situation a zillion times.   But then from outside my brain’s perception, Kyle Hamilton struck like a shot and made a tackle for a loss. I didn’t even know where he came from. The stunning play, was so good that it elicited a audible murmur in an other wise “no cheering’ press box.

Brian Kelly who had a sideline view of Hamiltons’s exploit singled the play out and capped off his praise for his star safety with, “I would pay to watch him play.”

Undoubtedly someday a lot of people are going to pay to watch him play.

Mission accomplished by the Offensive Line Critical among the concerns prior to the game was how the underperforming and banged up Irish offensive line would deal with Boiler all-world pass rusher George Karlaftis. 

Post game Kelly admitted that Karlaftis was a huge concern of his, and he knew they would have to get creative. “If we didn’t do some things, George was going to wreck the day….the guy is good.  He’s really good.”

So when one tackle wasn’t going to be enough to slow down the pass rush, the Irish played two.  Freshman Joe Alt normally donning #76, was outfitted with a special #35 which made him eligible to effectively line up as a TE next to Tosh Baker.  With half a sack, a quarterback hurry and a tackle for loss Karlaftis had a good day.

But he didn’t wreck it.

Big Play Turnabout Everyone was worn out after two weeks talking about the Irish defense giving up 4 big plays in excess of 60 yards each that had all by themselves kept the first two games in nail biter territory. This week the Irish Defense cleaned that habit up and gave up no such plays. And for good measure the offense came up with some some big plays of their own.

One Final observation on “The Drum” After hours of discussion, and extensive observation and consideration, I am convinced that the absence of the iconic, “World’s Largest Drum” inside Notre Dame stadium Saturday, had no impact on the game.

Knute and Brian. When I was a kid I would spend hours reading anything I could get my hands on about Notre Dame football. Books, magazines, game programs, media guides, record books, if there was an “ND” on the front, I was in it.  It was easy to Christmas shop for me, actually it still is! 

Anyway, one number that always stuck in my head was 105, as in Knute Rockne won 105 football games as head coach at Notre Dame.  That number of wins was unfathomable to a kid whose own age was in the single digits.  That coupled with the fact that Knute Rockne had lived decades before I was even born gave that big number and Knute himself a mythical aura.   

Well let this sink in, Brian Kelly has now coached Notre Dame to 105 victories. And different from the 105 that Knute won, I have lived through and covered every single one of those games.  Brian Kelly is as real to me as my next-door neighbor. 

Asked about the feat post game Brian Kelly credited ND President Father John Jenkins and Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick for their consistent leadership. But it is a tremendous personal accomplishment to win 105 games at a pressure cooker place like Notre Dame. It is a tribute to Brian Kelly’s political acumen, perseverance, and coaching prowess. No doubt, I have had a front row seat to some remarkable Notre Dame football history.

Would other Coaches have been able to do the same thing given such a long tenure?  Maybe, but not many. Brian Kelly is an elite Coach and has been the right man at the right time.

I am asked all the time if Brian Kelly will ever win a National Championship.  With all my being, I hope so, but I don’t know. One of the things that makes Brian Kelly such a great Coach is his ability to across the board control those things that he can. But there are some things you can’t control, so no one knows if he will win it all. What I do know however, is that the Notre Dame Football program is on firm footing and is enjoying consistent success like it has not seen since about 1995.

Winning is fun, and 105 career wins, 26 straight at home and a 46-8 record since 2017, has been a lot of fun.

Next week, Brian Kelly will look to break the all time win record at Soldier Field against Wisconsin. That stadium is a place Knute was very familiar with.

And somewhere, Rock is smiling and having fun because the Irish are 3-0.

ByPhil Houk

For over 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

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