SOUTH BEND – It is a little noisy this week around the Notre Dame campus, and it has nothing to do with the undefeated start by the sixth-ranked Fighting Irish.
It has everything to do with their first visit ever to Virginia Tech, where the 24th-ranked Hokies will enjoy the advantage of playing in a packed and deafening Lane Stadium after running onto the field to Metallica's “Enter Sandman.”
After dominating both sides of the line of scrimmage against Stanford in a 38-17 victory last weekend, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wants to see a similar performance on the road against the Hokies (3-1), who are coming off a 31-14 victory at Duke.
“We've got to be able to do that on the road against a quality opponent and in an incredible atmosphere,” Kelly said Tuesday. “(This) is something that we knew we were going to face. We get a chance to work on the things that have embedded in our program over the last seven months in terms of handling these tough environments.”
Less than a year ago, one of those environments was too much for Notre Dame: Last Nov. 11, the third-ranked Irish were blown out 41-8 on the road by No. 7 Miami after Hurricanes fans taunted Notre Dame's buses on the way to the stadium.
“I was public in saying that I don't think I even handled it the right way and giving them enough information about the situation,” Kelly said. “I can't be caught off guard, and maybe I was caught off guard because I didn't prepare them the right way. We won't be caught off guard going into Lane Stadium.”
Kelly plans to show his team video clips of the stadium, where fans are being asked this week to color coordinate their outfits to specific sections.
“They will be much more accustomed to the situation,” Kelly said of his players. “They know there will be a lot of orange. The decibels will be loud.”
When asked if he talked to his team about Miami, Kelly said he hadn't. But things were awfully noisy at times during spring practice and are expected to be again this week before the team flies to Blacksburg on Friday.
“It will be as loud as allowable,” Kelly said. “On campus, we have some restrictions, but you'll definitely know that there's a practice going on.”
Kelly expects his team won't see the Virginia Tech team that was stunned 40-35 last month at Old Dominion.
“Virginia Tech has really shown under coach (Justin) Fuente the ability to score points and (defensive coordinator Bud) Foster can do about anything from a defensive standpoint,” Kelly said.
Note: Notre Dame offensive guard Alex Bars, a fifth-year senior and team captain will have surgery to repair a knee injury next week and will miss the rest of the season, coach Brian Kelly confirmed Monday.
Bars suffered the ACL/MCL injury Saturday against Stanford when another player rolled up his leg from behind. He was a preseason All-American.
The Nashville, Tennessee native participated in the Irish's captains meeting Monday morning, Kelly said. He won't travel with the team to Blacksburg, Virginia this weekend, but will be at every other game the rest of the season.