SOUTH BEND — In 2014, a home-and-home football series was announced between Notre Dame and Texas A&M for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. When asked for comment on the announcement at that time, Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly said “I’ll be sipping a Mai Tai on the beach somewhere. Watching that game.”
Well, there’s a good chance Kelly is coaching in the 2024 game after his latest contract extension.
Announced during the Duke game Saturday, Kelly and Notre Dame reached an extension to keep him as head coach through the 2024 season. The deal was made in Dec. 2019 and was going to be announced during the spring game in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the game to be canceled and plans altered.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” Kelly said. “Blessed that the university has given that trust in me to continue to lead this program. I feel blessed to have that opportunity, obviously, knowing the great history and tradition of Notre Dame football. To be entrusted with that, I take that quite seriously. When we discussed this, I needed to have the energy, the enthusiasm and the want to continue to lead this program, and I really feel like there was more to accomplish. So, all those things had to align.
“And it still doesn’t mean I can’t have a Mai Tai in July on the beach. So, I’m not lying. We can still do both.”
The 2024 game against Texas A&M will be in College Station.
Notre Dame could be without two of its starters from week one for its week two game against South Florida this Saturday (2:30 p.m., USA Network).
The status of graduate senior wide receiver Ben Skowronek (hamstring) and sophomore safety Kyle Hamilton (ankle) are still unknown, according to Kelly. The coach said Skowronek “probably” won’t play, while Hamilton will be in a walking boot until Wednesday. They will take the boot off then and start moving him around to see if he will play Saturday against the Bulls.
Skowronek wasn’t on Monday’s updated depth chart, but Hamilton was still listed as the starter at free safety.
“Our team docs, orthopedic guys feel like (Hamilton) is day-to-day,” Kelly said. “This is a matter now of pain management and how he feels, but we’ll get him out of the boot mid-week, start moving him around and see how he feels. Kyle, he wants to play on Saturday, so we’re not going to rule him out. We’re going to let him kind of dictate where we go.”
Replacing Skowronek at the starting wide receiver role on the depth chart was Braden Lenzy. The redshirt junior was listed as a backup to graduate senior Javon McKinley last week but didn’t see any action against Duke. Kelly did not comment on Lenzy’s status Saturday but said Monday that the speedster didn’t play because of a hamstring injury.
Kelly said Lenzy should be 100 percent this week in the leadup to the South Florida game.
“You can’t take a guy like Braden Lenzy, who’s a speed guy, and have him not 100 percent healthy,” Kelly said. “It looks like he’s going to be healthy for us, and if he is, he’s going to be able to help us. We all know what kind of speed he has.”
WILLIAMS WINS WEEKLY AWARD
Kyren Williams made an impact in his first collegiate start, rushing for 112 yards, accumulating 93 receiving yards and rushing for two touchdowns in the Irish’s 27-13 win over Duke.
For his efforts, the redshirt freshman was named the ACC Running Back of the Week Monday. He had the second-most rushing and fourth-most receiving yards of any ACC player in week one. He’s the first Irish running back to record 90-plus rushing and 90-plus receiving yards in a game since 1996.