Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Khalid Kareem: 'We want to dominate and punish our opponent'

August 30, 2019

Notre Dame entered the 2018 season with somewhat unknown expectations after a successful 2017 campaign where the Irish were in the College Football Playoff race.
The Fighting Irish made the playoff last season and now expectations are clear and as high as they have been during the Brian Kelly era.
Captain Khalid Kareem has experienced the lows and highs of college football during his first three seasons in South Bend. The Michigan native will start his final season in the blue and gold on Monday night, but it could also be the beginning of a lasting legacy for Kareem and his senior class.
“For me, I’m treating it like any other game,” the 6-foot-4, 265-pounder stated. “It’s another faceless opponent. I’m excited to get back on the field and play ball against someone who isn’t my teammate. I feel if we go into it level-headed and it’s another opponent in our way of getting to a National Champion, we’ll be successful. We can’t get too high or too low.” 
It’s well known Louisville went 2-10 last year and are adjusting to first-year head coach Scott Satterfield. The Irish are heavily favored and while the objective is to leave with a win, Kareem also wants to set a tone for the season as habits, good and bad, can be formed from week one.  
“It’s really big to come out and make a statement so you can build on it,” explained Kareem. “You don’t want to come out sluggish, soft, or not making tackles. That stuff bleeds into the season. If you come out strong and make a statement, you can build on it. 
“We can send a message to everyone that we’re here and ready to play. We’re going to have a warrior dominating mindset. We want to dominate and punish our opponent.” 
While it’s not ideal to start a season on the road, the good news is Notre Dame is playing a team looking for an identity and getting used to a new coaching staff. It also could pay off in a few weeks as the Irish head to Athens. 
Notre Dame Director of Football Performance Matt Balis took it upon himself to make sure his team was prepared to start the season with two road games in the first two weeks. The final workout of the summer included stations with reminders of trips to Louisville, Athens, Michigan, Duke and Stanford at them. 
“We worked on being road warriors the whole summer,” said Kareem. “We had a workout dedicated to all the road games we had. I think guys on this team will be ready for that challenge.” 
Kareem and classmate Julian Okwara have received all the headlines for the last eight months, but as head coach Brian Kelly stated earlier in the week, another classmate is on the rise in Daelin Hayes. 
The two have a relationship dating back to high school, so it comes as no surprise that Kareem has supreme confidence in Hayes. 
“I feel like we have the next man in mentality,” stated Kareem. “We have Daelin, Julian, Ade (Ogundeji), Jamir (Jones) and me. All of us are very capable of playing a prominent role in this defense. It shows how much we’re willing to work. It doesn’t matter what your role is as long as you embrace it for us to be successful.” 
When it comes to the big picture, Kareem hasn’t forgotten the Cotton Bowl and it has served as motivation for every player on the roster. 
“We were right there,” said Kareem. “We tasted it. We were a game away from a National Championship. We’re hungry and ready. This group of guys is a very talented group of people. We can go out and show the world what we can do.” 

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