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Notre Dame Football

'Gritty' Lenzy makes tough statement in Irish road-win

November 14, 2021

The uniform had dirt on it. Grass stains, even.

Braden Lenzy, among Notre Dame's fastest players, helped transform Saturday night's game at Virginia with both his speed and a bit of a rarely seen tenacity.

Lenzy, listed by the Irish at just below 6 feet tall and 182 pounds, played above those dimensions in Notre Dame's 28-3 win against the Cavaliers.

Coach Brian Kelly noted as much in his postgame.

"Braden Lenzy got a lot of recognition from us,” Kelly said. “He was gritty tonight. That was a gritty performance from him as a senior.

“The reverse, he finished that run strong. The touchdown catch, he launched into the end zone. Even the PI, he fought back for the football.”

Targeted three times, Lenzy caught three passes for 23 yards that included a 4-yard score in which Lenzy leaped over and through Virginia defenders to help the Irish double their early lead to 14-0.

"Those are gritty catches,” Kelly said. “I use that word in the sense of you can easily give up on those plays, but he got himself dirty tonight and that goes a long to winning football games.

“He was a heavy contributor for us."

Lenzy, as did freshman wideout Lorenzo Styles, also burned the Cavaliers as a ball-carrier; he took a reverse handoff and scooted 31 yards into Virginia territory. Styles' scamper covered 37 yards.

After the game, Lenzy revealed that his play had been forecast by second-year Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees almost as soon as the Irish had started their preparations for the Cavaliers.

“Going into the week, Coach Rees dialed it up,” Lenzy said. “He thought if I got past the first couple defenders that I'd probably be unguarded and be able to capitalize. ...

“Credit to him, he called that probably Monday or Tuesday.”

The Irish offense called more on Lenzy, as well as superlative tight end Michael Mayer and emerging big-play wideout Kevin Austin in the unit's first game since captain Avery Davis endured a season-ending ACL injury last week against Navy.

The trio combined to catch 13 of the 18 completions from Notre Dame quarterbacks Jack Coan (15-for-20) and Tyler Buchner (3-4).

“Seeing results, I just think we continue to develop because we don't have a choice,” said Lenzy, who departed Tigard High School (Oregon) as the track program's record-holder in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter runs. “There's no stop. We have to win. That's just Notre Dame.

“We have to win in November.”

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