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Leftovers & Links: The ‘Lights’ at Notre Dame, and a Kyle Hamilton injury update

USC v Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 23: Kyren Williams #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates a touchdown during the first half against the USC Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium on October 23, 2021 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — My opinion doesn’t matter. Neither does yours. Don’t take offense, it is just an honest reality. When it comes to Notre Dame’s in-stadium atmosphere and the means of achieving it, the only opinions that really matter are from those on the field.

And when Notre Dame Stadium went dark before the fourth quarter against USC on Saturday, those players very clearly enjoyed the moment, soundtracked by “All of the Lights” by Kanye West.

Personally, trotting out the same song and visual effects utilized by Michigan as far back as 2010 seemed lacking. It isn’t that Notre Dame can do better than that, it’s that nearly anyone should be able to do better than that. But again, my opinion doesn’t matter. Irish head coach Brian Kelly’s opinion barely matters in this regard.

“I’m just glad the lights came back on,” Kelly said after the 31-16 win against the Trojans, Notre Dame’s fourth straight victory against its biggest rival.

“I think it’s a big advantage for our football team,” he added on Monday. “Third-down was loud. The energy that’s provided in that Stadium, the guys on offense keep that energy, too.”

This exact fourth-quarter hype approach will hardly become a weekly tradition in South Bend. The green lighting from the video board and the ribbon boards along the lengths of the field will stand out again this week against North Carolina (7:30 ET; NBC) if so desired, and maybe November dusks are even dark enough for it to fit those two home games, but the first half of next year’s home slate will be too plagued by sunlight for those lights to stand out. At which point, “All of the Lights” will hardly remain appropriate.

But for one week the Irish took on the look of a Georgia home game, though in green and with a much less wired crowd. Red or green, complete insanity or tempered enthusiasm, the only crowd that matters loved the moment.

Again, I don’t matter. But if it were up to me, I would remember less is more. To cause true chaos, all you really need is “the beat and shouting.” West’s decade-old song may fit the lights motif, but it is not much of a song for shouting.

“Jump Around” in Madison and “Enter Sandman” at Virginia Tech work so well because they are kept simple. The songs are turned on and the crowd takes care of the rest.

Find that mixture and then the time of year will hardly matter when trying to manufacture such energy.

Notre Dame will be without star junior safety Kyle Hamilton this week after he suffered a pinched fat pad in his knee in the first quarter against USC. Kelly does not expect it to be a “long-term situation.”

“I don’t want to get into the specifics, because there’s a lot of moving pieces here, but I can tell you there’s some confidence here that we’ll have him back,” Kelly said Monday. “Our medical people have done their due diligence. We want to be sure to give everyone a chance to weigh in on this matter.”

Without Hamilton, the Irish will turn to seniors Houston Griffith and DJ Brown to lead the way at safety with Isaiah Pryor joining them. Griffith and Brown had to step in for Hamilton at North Carolina a year ago after a targeting penalty cost Hamilton the second half on Black Friday. Notre Dame held the Tar Heels scoreless in that second half.

Pryor saw more work at safety last week than he had in the last year and a half after transferring as a safety from Ohio State. The weekend’s look was planned, not a result of Hamilton’s injury, part of the Irish relying on five defensive backs on most snaps, but Kelly said Monday that Pryor may be a piece of the safety rotation this week to help fill in during Hamilton’s absence.

Sophomore running back Chris Tyree remains a game-time decision as he comes back from a turf toe injury. Junior left guard Zeke Correll missed Saturday as he was in the concussion protocol, and sophomore defensive tackle Alexander Ehrensberger was sidelined by back spasms.

Those latter two injuries were gameday surprises to the outside world, but in a very real way, them being traditional injuries is a relief.

In unusually normal manner, Notre Dame has no trouble with USC, 31-16Highlights: No. 13 Notre Dame 31, USC 16 — Bo Bauer and Kyren Williams lead the IrishThings We Learned: ‘Hurry-up Jack’ not just a two-minute drill for Notre Dame anymore

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