Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Kareem Looking For More Dominance From Defensive Line

October 11, 2018

Notre Dame defensive end Khalid Kareem was expected to have a big season after a preseason full of hype. The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder has lived up to the expectations and probably surpassed them to a point, as the junior has recorded 21 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. 

However, it’s not just Kareem having a big year. The entire Notre Dame defensive line is playing at a high level, which also includes defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, who is second in the country with seven sacks. 

“It’s expected,” Kareem said of the improved play in 2018. “We’ve been working really hard since the offseason, and our work is starting to show.”

“We’re aware, but we have to come with the mentality no one can stop us, and we’ll win every game. If we do that, we should be fine.” 

It’s been a while since the Irish defensive line has received national attention and while it’s nice, Kareem knows there is more work to be done as playoff talk is starting with Notre Dame sitting at 6-0.

“We have to come with the mentality no one can stop us, and we’ll win every game,” stated Kareem. “If we do that, we should be fine.”

Pitt comes to South Bend this weekend, and Notre Dame knows they can’t take the Panthers lightly. The Panthers have to big wins in the last two years over then No. 1 Clemson fell 43-42 in 2016 and also No. 2 Miami fell 24-14 last season.

“Pitt is going to play their best against us, so we have to be ready,” explained Kareem. “They knocked off Clemson and Miami in the past. We have to bring our A-game for this one.” 

Notre Dame bringing its A-game starts with the defensive line. Pitt will test the Irish front in the run game, but a developing a pass rush will be crucial as it is every week.

“We can be even more dominant,” Kareem said. “We can clean up the messy mistakes. If we can fine tune everything, we can be elite.

“We believe in what our coaches have been telling us. We can be the best if we work hard and stay the course.” 

The Irish might have actually gained more confidence last weekend as the Notre Dame defense stepped up in the second half despite losing co-starters Daelin Hayes (injury) and Julian Okwara (targeting).

“I feel everyone is confident in whoever is behind them,” said Kareem. “There isn’t a second or third string. There isn’t a drop off on the depth chart, and we have each other's back.” 

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