Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Kareem Wants Defensive Line to Set Tone on Saturday

November 7, 2019

It wasn't an easy week for Notre Dame prior to hosting Virginia Tech. 

Captain Khalid Kareem knew it was a turning point for the team in the present, but also in the future.

The Irish started the game with the world on their shoulders and fought through it to get the win. 

"We were probably a little tight," Kareem stated. "I feel like we're back to playing our style of football. We're playing for each other out there. 

"The important people are the guys in this room and that's who we do it for. You got to block out the noise. There are always going to be doubters and haters, but the most important guys are to your left and your right and in the locker room." 

Notre Dame tried to block out the noise, but it was also hard for it to be completely miss it as it was everywhere following the loss to Michigan. 

Kareem knows Saturday's game wasn't pretty at times, yet the Irish still accomplished the ultimate goal. 

"It was a test for us to see if you could come back from that," explained Kareem. "We showed we could. It took a lot out of us and it went down the wire, but that showed all the preparation with Coach Balis and Coach Kelly has paid off. 

"When it comes down to it, we can play our style of football and get the win." 

The Irish defense more than held their own as the Hokies offense struggled to move the ball all day. 

Virginia Tech finished with 240 total yards, which included going three-and-out on six of the nine drives.

"We just bowed up and played our brand of football," said Kareem. "We were flying around, having fun and making plays. 

"We got the offense the ball back to win the game. I feel like that was probably one of our best defensive games." 

Kareem came up with perhaps one of the biggest plays of the year in the fourth quarter as he sacked quarterback Quincy Patterson II to give Notre Dame momentum back. 

18 plays later, the Irish scored the game-winning touchdown. 

"That was huge, but I couldn't have done it without my guys - without Julian, Kurt and Myron clogging it up and the defensive backs giving me time with great coverage," Kareem stated. 

"Without them, it wouldn't have happened." 

With the sack, Kareem jumped into the team lead with 4.5 sacks. It's a number the Michigan native is proud of, but at the same time, Kareem knows it could be higher. 

"Honestly, I wouldn't be upset with how I'm playing," Kareem said of this season. "I would be a little frustrated with my - I'm back there and I'm getting pressures. I want to hit home a little more. That's probably my only critic of mine this season. 

"I could be a little better in the run game and hustle to the ball. I'm happy. This is my senior year and I'm having fun with my guys." 

Notre Dame will travel to Duke on Saturday and Kareem expects the defensive line to set the tone. 

"It will be a great test for our defensive line," said Kareem. "They get the ball out fast. We have to get our hands up to try to deflect the ball. 

"It all starts with us upfront. If we can do our job and make it easier on the guys in our back seven, it will be a fun game for us." 

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