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Notre Dame Football

Captain Notes with Khalid Kareem | NC State 2016 & First Road Game

September 8, 2023

Notre Dame might have a road trip to Ireland under its belt, but this weekend will be different as it will be the first true road game for Marcus Freeman’s squad this season. 

Carter-Finley Stadium is somewhat of an unfamiliar place for Notre Dame has made one trip to NC State and it was the 2016 game where the game was played in hurricane conditions. 

It’s a game most Notre Dame fans want to forget, but due to the wild weather, it’s hard to forget. Former Notre Dame captain and Chicago Bears defensive end Khalid Kareem experienced the game firsthand as a freshman for the Irish. 

“All I can remember about that weekend is that it did not stop raining for two whole days,” Kareem recalled. “All of us were thinking are they really about to make us play in the middle of a hurricane? There was talk all week about potentially moving the game up or even back a day or two, but Saturday rolled around and we were suiting up to play in a monsoon.” 

Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame at NC State 2016

NC State won the game 10-3 and despite the loss, it’s a game Kareem and his teammates likely will talk about for years. 

“It was one of the most miserable times playing football,” explained Kareem. “Don’t get me wrong it was fun being out there, basically playing backyard football. Nothing was normal about that game, fumbles left and right, guys making a tackle and waves of water just flying everywhere.

“After the game, you take off your cleats and gloves and it looks like you’ve gone swimming instead of playing football. It was cold, wet and we lost. All I was thinking about was going home and not standing around in a hurricane for a few hours.” 

31 players have made their Notre Dame debuts over the first two games and that includes 14 true freshmen. 

This weekend’s trip will also be an eye-opener for Notre Dame’s freshmen and those who haven’t made a travel roster as NC State will provide a hostile atmosphere with the Irish arriving at a top ten ranking.

Kareem also remembers his first road trip as it was the season-opener in 2016 as No. 10 Notre Dame traveled to unranked Texas. 

“My first road game was incredible,” stated Kareem. “I believe it was a Sunday night game at Texas in 2016. One of the craziest environments I played in while at Notre Dame. It was a shootout that winded up going to double OT. We lost that one but it’s a game that I’ll remember forever.” 

Now, the good news for Notre Dame is there won’t be over 100,000 fans juiced up for a primetime matchup, but there will be distractions from the crowd to the wolf howl inside the stadium. 

“I would say the only thing that caught me off guard as well as most of the guys on the sideline was the cannon that Texas would fire off after they scored,” Kareem said. “I remember it was the first kickoff of the game and it went off while we were returning the ball and had everyone on the sideline shook, like ‘What is going on here.’”

Entering the season, Notre Dame’s defensive line was a hot topic as Al Washington had to replace the program’s all-time leader in sacks and the experience of the Ademilola twins. 

Through two games, Washington’s group has played at high level as Notre Dame has yet to give up a touchdown while limiting opponents to just 2.5 yards per carry on the ground and 2.9 yards per play. 

Yes, Notre Dame hasn’t played a Power Five program, so the Irish will get tested this weekend, but they’ve also had no choice but to grow as they face one of the best offensive lines every day in practice, including All-American Joe Alt. 

Kareem knows a thing or two about facing a top tackle every day in practice as he went against Mike McGlinchey and company for most of his career in the blue and gold. 

“Iron sharpens iron is one of the main reasons why I chose to go to Notre Dame,” said Kareem. "Going against NFL-caliber linemen and tight ends for four years only elevated my game. Those guys brought it every single day and I wasn’t about to let them get the better of me so I had to bring my hard hat and lunchpail every day because I knew it was going to be a long day at practice.

“It only made me better. When your practices are tougher/more difficult than the opponents that you see on Saturdays it makes the game so much easier.” 

You can catch Kareem make his Bears debut Sunday afternoon against the Green Bay Packers. 

Navy Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2023 Motivate Half-Zip Top

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