Sept. 8, 2009
Michigan (1-0) vs. #18/20 Notre Dame (1-0)
Saturday, September 12, 2009
3:36 p.m. ET
Michigan Stadium (106,201); Ann Arbor, Mich.
Saturday’s game is officially sold out. Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 71 of its last 80 road games. In fact, the Irish have now played in front of sellout crowds in 214 of its previous 246 games, including 89 of its last 98 contests dating back to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the end of the 2000 season (the 2001, ’03, ’05 and ’07 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy at the Meadowlands, the 2005 and ’08 game at Washington, the 2007 game at UCLA and the 2008 Hawai’i Bowl were not sellouts).
ABC national telecast with Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Matt Millen (analysis), Holly Rowe (sideline), Bo Garrett (producer) and Mike Roig (director).
ISP Sports is the exclusive national rights-holder for Irish football radio broadcasts. ISP manages, produces and syndicates the Irish national football radio network. Notre Dame games will be broadcast by Don Criqui (play-by-play), former Irish great Allen Pinkett (analysis) and Jeff Jeffers providing pre-game, sideline and post-game reports. This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 159) and XM Satellite Radio (channel 117).
- All Notre Dame games may be heard in South Bend on Sunny 101.5 FM and NewsTalk 960 WSBT-AM.
Notre Dame (und.com), Michigan (MGoBlue.com)
Live in-game statistics will be provided through CBS College Sports Gametracker via each school’s respective official athletic website.
Notre Dame enters the game ranked No. 23 in both the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls, while Michigan is receiving votes in the coaches polls.
This meeting will be the 37th all-time between the rivals. It is Notre Dame’s sixth-most played series and the third most frequent with any school in the Big Ten. Michigan holds a 20-15-1 lead in the series, but the Irish took last year’s meeting, 35-17, in South Bend. The Wolverines captured the last meeting in Ann Arbor, 38-0, in 2007, while the Irish took the 2005 game, 17-10. Michigan leads the all-time series in Ann Arbor, 11-7.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Notre Dame will look to open its second consecutive season with a 2-0 mark following a victory over Michigan. The Irish routed the Wolverines, 35-17, last year at Notre Dame Stadium. Michigan shutout Notre Dame, 38-0, in the last visit for the Irish to Ann Arbor.
A WIN THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Improve the Irish to 2-0 for the second consecutive season.
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 73-21-6 (.760) the week following a season opening victory.
- Give the Irish their fourth 2-0 start to a season over the past five years.
- Give Notre Dame a three-game winning streak dating back to last season.
- Improve the Irish to 16-20-1 (.446) in the all-time series with Michigan.
- Improve Notre Dame to 8-10 (.444) in the all-time series with the Wolverines in Michigan Stadium.
- Improve the Irish to 219-112-15 (.655) all-time against the Big Ten.
- Improve Weis’ record to 31-21 (.596) overall and 8-8 (.500) against the Big Ten.
- Improve Weis’ road record to 12-8 (.600) overall and 4-4 (.500) against the Big Ten.
- Improve Weis’ record to 12-8 (.600) in September games.
- Improve Weis’ record to 25-16 (.610) in afternoon games.
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 833-284-42 (.737).
- Improve the Irish all-time record on the road to 292-141-22 (.666).
- Improve Notre Dame to 96-71-9 (.571) all-time on the road against the Big 10 Conference.
- Improve the Irish to 83-48-4 (.630) all-time against schools from the state of Michigan.
- Improve Notre Dame 76-34-5 (.683) all-time in road openers.
A LOSS THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Drop the Irish to 1-1 for the first time since 2002.
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 72-22-6 (.750) the week following a season opening victory.
- Deny the Irish their fourth 2-0 start to a season over the past five years.
- Drop Notre Dame to 15-21-1 (.419) in the all-time series with Michigan.
- Improve the Irish to 7-11 (.389) in the all-time series with the Wolverines in Michigan Stadium.
- Drop the Irish to 218-113-15 (.652) all-time against the Big Ten.
- Drop Weis’ record to 30-22 (.577) overall and 7-9 (.438) against the Big Ten.
- Drop Weis’ road record to 11-9 (.550) overall and 3-5 (.375) against the Big Ten.
- Drop Weis’ record to 11-9 (.550) in September games.
- Drop Weis’ record to 24-17 (.585) in afternoon games.
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 832-285-42 (.736).
- Drop the Irish all-time record on the road to 291-142-22 (.664).
- Drop Notre Dame to 95-72-9 (.565) all-time on the road against the Big 10 Conference.
- Drop the Irish to 82-49-4 (.622) all-time against schools from the state of Michigan.
- Drop Notre Dame to 75-35-5 (.674) all-time in road openers.
ON THIS DATE
Notre Dame has played three previous games in its history on Sept. 12. The Irish are 2-1-1 all-time on this date. The Irish were ranked inside the top 20 on all four previous occasions.
1998 L (10) Michigan State (NT) 23-45 A1992 T (3) Michigan (5:28-ND) (6) 17-17 H1987 W (16) Michigan (9) 26-7 A1981 W (4) LSU 27-9 H
Beginning with the 1936 season, the number in front of the opponent name indicates Notre Dame’s ranking in the Associated Press poll coming into the game. The number following the opponent name indicates its ranking; NT – indicates night game; 0:00 – time remaining in games decided in the final minutes (in case of ties, time followed by team scoring last).
Sept. 12, 1992: Barring a change in the rules, the last tie game at Notre Dame Stadium will go down as being played on September 12, 1992. That’s when the third-ranked Fighting Irish and sixth-ranked Michigan Wolverines battled to a 17-17 draw. In 1996, the NCAA introduced overtime to Division I-A to resolve games that end in a tie.
Sept. 12, 1981: Notre Dame rushed for 246 yards in a 27-9 victory over LSU in former head coach Gerry Faust’s debut on the Irish sidelines. Stacy Toran picked off a pair of passes and helped Notre Dame limit the Tigers to just 61 yards in the air.
OPENERS AN INDICATOR?
Notre Dame is 101-15-5 in season openers, but have they been foretelling of the season ahead? Take a look:
- The 100 previous seasons Notre Dame has won its opener, the Irish went on to post winning records 92 times (92.0%), with four losing seasons and four .500 records.
- The 15 seasons Notre Dame has lost its opener, the Irish posted winning records six times and a losing mark eight times (with one .500 season).
- The five seasons Notre Dame registered a tie in its opener, the Irish had four winning records and one losing record.
MORE ON OPENERS
- Notre Dame posted its first shutout in a season opener since blanking Maryland, 22-0, on Aug. 31, 2002.
- Notre Dame posted its first shutout in a season opener inside Notre Dame Stadium since Sept. 22, 1973 when the Irish beat Northwestern, 44-0.
- The 35-point margin of victory was the largest for Notre Dame in a season opener since the Irish routed Kansas, 48-13, on August 28, 1999. In fact, a Notre Dame team has not registered a larger margin of victory in a season opener since Sept. 10, 1986 when the Irish hammered Purdue, 52-6.
- Notre Dame scored first in a season opener for the first time in eight seasons. The Irish last scored first in a season opener against Maryland on Aug. 31, 2002 en route to a 22-0 shutout triumph over the Terrapins.
- The 28 first half points against Nevada were the second most for an Irish team in a season opener under Weis. Notre Dame registered 35 points in the opening 30 minutes in his coaching debut against Pittsburgh in 2005.
- The 28-point halftime lead was the largest for the Irish in a season opener since Notre Dame led 33-0 over Virginia at intermission of the 1989 Kickoff Classic.
- The Irish have captured their last 12 season openers when scoring first, a span that dates back to the 1986 opening year defeat to Michigan.
- Notre Dame dropped both the 1985 and 1986 openers against the Wolverines, both times opening with the game’s initial score.
- Since 1958 (when play-by-play became available), the Irish are 31-3 when scoring first and 13-5 when the opponent takes the game’s first lead.
EVEN MORE ON OPENERS
At Home 72-10-3On The Road 24-4-2Neutral Site Games 5-1In Overtime 1-0*Both teams are AP-ranked 13-2-1*Neither team is ranked 20-2-1*ND is ranked higher 32-5-1*Opponent is ranked higher 8-4Vs. In-state Opponents 21-1-1On Television 31-7On NBC 9-2On ABC 16-3On ESPN 2-1On CBS 3-1On Raycom 1-0Afternoon Games 90-12-5Night Games 11-3Decided By 7 or Less 17-9-5Scoring First (since 1958) 31-3Opp. Scores First (circa 1958) 13-5Scoring 40+ Points 32-0Scoring 30+ Points 51-0Scoring 20-29 Points 27-2Scoring 0-19 Points 23-13-5Allowing 40+ Points 0-0Allowing 30+ Points 0-2Allowing 20-29 Points 8-6Allowing 0-19 Points 93-7-5* post 1936 when the AP instituted national rankings
- Nevada became the 64th different team to visit Notre Dame Stadium (since its opening in 1930), with the Irish owning a 55-8-1 mark (.867) in games when the opponent was making its first visit to the Stadium. Thirteen of those teams previously had played at Notre Dame (prior to 1930), with the Irish owning a mark of 41-6-1 (.865) since 1930 versus teams making their first overall visit to Notre Dame.
- The six teams that have travelled to South Bend for the first time and come away with a victory at Notre Dame Stadium include (AP poll began in 1936): USC (1931), Texas (1934), Iowa (1940), Missouri (1972), 14th-ranked Clemson (1979) and 20th-ranked Florida State (1981). Michigan (1942) and Penn State (1982) also won their first games at Notre Dame Stadium but previously had played the Irish at Cartier Field.
- Since the 1981 loss to Florida State, 12 consecutive opponents have lost in their first trip to South Bend: Colorado (1984), Mississippi (1985), Boston College (1987), BYU (1992), Vanderbilt (1995), Rutgers (1996), West Virginia (1997), Arizona State (1999), Texas A&M (2000), Washington State (2003), San Diego State (2008) and Nevada (2009).
- Seven teams that were ranked at game time in the AP top-25 poll (which began in 1936) have lost in their first visit to Notre Dame, with the Irish being lower ranked in four of those games:
#22 West Virginia (lost to unranked ND in '97, 21-14)#10 Alabama (lost to #18 ND in '76, 21-18)#7 LSU (lost to #2 ND in '70, 3-0)#10 Syracuse (lost to unranked ND in '61, 17-15)#4 Oklahoma (lost to #10 ND in '52, 27-21)#20 North Carolina (lost to #1 ND in '50, 14-7)#9 Army (lost to top-ranked ND in '47, 27-7)
- The Notre Dame football program has played home games versus a total of 116 different teams, at primarily old Cartier Field (pre-1930) or Notre Dame Stadium, with an overall home record of 101-11-4 (.888) in games versus all first-time visitors to Notre Dame (regardless of the site).
ROAD SEASON OPENERS
- The Irish are 75-34-5 (.680) in road season openers, but have dropped nine of their last 12.
- Notre Dame is 2-2 in road season openers under head coach Charlie Weis. The Irish captured their road season openers in 2005 (W, 42-21, Pittsburgh) and 2006 (W, 14-10, Georgia Tech), but dropped such games in 2007 (L, 31-10, Penn State) and 2008 (L, 23-7, Michigan State).
- Notre Dame owns a 4-6 (.400) record when its first road game of the season comes against Michigan.
- Many have discussed the difficulty (or lack thereof) of Notre Dame’s schedule for the 2009 season. However, looking at the top 15 pre-season rankings from the four most popular season previews (Athlon, Lindy’s, Phil Steele & Rivals) shows that Notre Dame’s slate is very comparable to the other top 15 teams in the nation.
- Notre Dame is one of eight schools with an average opponent ranking between 51 and 56, while being ranked ninth over all.
- In addition to having a strong average ranking among the best teams in the nation, Notre Dame plays fewer teams on the bottom levels of college football. Notre Dame is one of six schools in the group to play no FCS teams (along with Texas, USC, Virginia Tech, Ohio State and LSU). In addition, Notre Dame’s only opponents that ever appear in the bottom 40 of college football are still members of a major BCS conference, a distinction no other program can claim.
- Mark Schlabach and Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com recently released their first bowl projections list of the 2009 season. The two both picked the Irish to play in the Gator Bowl, but more interesting was the APPEARANCES of seven of Notre Dame’s opponents in bowl games on Feldman’s list and six on Schlabach’s.
ONLY THE BIG BOYS
Notre Dame is one of just four NCAA FBS programs to have not faced a non-FBS opponent since the current setup was established in 1978. The three other remaining schools that have yet to play a non-FBS opponent are USC, UCLA and Washington. The list shrunk from five following Michigan State’s contest with Montana State on Sept. 5.
Junior offensive tackle Matt Romine changed his uniform number from #70 to #77. Mike Turkovich previously wore #77 before graduating after the 2008 season.
HOW DO THEY STACK UP?
Average weight of the offensive and defensive lines:
Notre Dame OL 315.0 lbs. vs. Michigan DL 275.3 lbs.
Notre Dame DL 273.8 lbs. vs. Michigan OL 288.8 lbs.
Average height of the receivers and the secondaries:
Notre Dame WR/TE 6′ 2 2/3″ vs. Michigan DB 5′ 11 1/4
Notre Dame DB 6′ 1″ vs. Michigan WR/TE 6′ 3/4″
NOTRE DAME IN SEPTEMBER
- Notre Dame is 124-48-4 (.716) all-time during the month of September.
- The Irish are 79-18-2 (.808) in September home games.
- Notre Dame has an all-time mark of 40-28-2 (.586) in road games during September.
- The Irish went 3-1 in September last season (San Diego State, W, 21-13; Michigan, W, 35-17; at Michigan State, L, 7-23; Purdue, W, 38-21). Notre Dame was 0-5 in the first month of the season in 2007.
LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE ’09
Junior QB Jimmy Clausen, senior SS Kyle McCarthy, senior OC Eric Olsen and senior LB Scott Smith have been selected captains of the 2009 Notre Dame football team.
Voting was conducted Friday, Aug. 14, with the results announced to the team by head coach Charlie Weis. Clausen and Olsen will captain the offense, McCarthy will serve as the defensive captain and Smith will represent the special teams. The results from the vote also helped form the leadership committee. Joining the four captains on the leadership committee are: senior fullback James Aldridge, senior cornerback Mike Anello, senior safety Sergio Brown, sophomore wide receiver Michael Floyd, junior defensive end Kerry Neal, sophomore tight end Kyle Rudolph, senior defensive end John Ryan, junior linebacker Brian Smith and senior offensive tackle Sam Young.
The following players made their Notre Dame debuts this past weekend against Nevada: sophomore LB Anthony McDonald, freshman S Zeke Motta, freshman RB Theo Riddick, senior TE Bobby Burger, freshman LB Manti Te’o, sophomore LB David Posluszny, sophomore CB Jamoris Slaughter, sophomore DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, sophomore QB Dayne Crist, freshman PK Nick Tausch, freshman LS Jordan Cowart, freshman WR Shaquelle Evans, sophomore DT Hafis Williams, sophomore WR Deion Walker, freshman TE Tyler Eifert, sophomore OT Lane Clelland, sophomore WR John Goodman, sophomore DB Dan McCarthy, junior WR Chris Gurries, sophomore OC Mike Golic, Jr. and sophomore DT Sean Cwynar.
LEAVE NO DOUBT
Notre Dame dominated Nevada in every facet of the game, including, and most importantly, the scoreboard. The 35-point margin of victory is the largest under head coach Charlie Weis and the largest since Sept. 25, 2004 when the Irish defeated Washington 38-3.
IRISH RETURN 46 MONOGRAM WINNERS
- Notre Dame opened the season with 46 returning monogram winners from 2008, including 22 on offense, 21 on defense and three on special teams.
- It is the most returning monogram winners under head coach Charlie Weis.
Number (Breakdown) Year46 (22 on offense, 21 on defense, three specialists) 200937 (20 on offense, 17 on defense) 200837 (15 on offense, 20 on defense, two specialists) 200636 (20 on offense, 14 on defense, two specialists) 200530 (10 on offense, 18 on defense, two specialists) 2007
18 RETURNING STARTERS HIGHLIGHT 2009 ROSTER
- Eighteen starters return from the 2008 Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl championship squad, including 10 offensive starters, six defensive starters and two specialists.
- The 18 returning starters are the most at Notre Dame since 2001 (also 18 returning starters) and according to Phil Steele, only nine out of the 120 teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision return more starters.
Teams With 20 Returning Starters: Indiana, Minnesota and Toledo
Teams with 19 Returning Starters: UAB, Arkansas, Baylor, Central Michigan, Florida and ULM
Teams with 18 Returning Starters: East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Middle Tennessee State, North Texas, Notre Dame, Temple, Utah State, Vanderbilt and Wyoming
- It is the most returning starters under head coach Charlie Weis and the most at Notre Dame since the 2001 squad also returned 18 starters.
Number (Breakdown) Year18 (10 offensive, six defensive, two specialists) 200917 (nine offensive, seven defensive, one specialist) 200817 (seven offensive, nine defensive, one specialist) 200615 (10 offensive, three defensive, two specialists) 200510 (three offensive, five defensive, two specialists) 2007
UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME GRADUATES
The 2009 Notre Dame roster features eight players who have already earned their undergraduate degree from the University. Paul Duncan, Evan Sharpley, Mike Anello, Ray Herring, Kyle McCarthy, Scott Smith, Barry Gallup and Chris Stewart all graduated from Notre Dame in May of 2009. Here is a list of the graduates on the 2009 Notre Dame football team.
- OT Paul Duncan: degree in management-entrepreneurship from the Mendoza College of Business.
- QB Evan Sharpley: degree in history from the College of Arts and Letters.
- CB Mike Anello: degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business.
- S Ray Herring: degree in sociology from the College of Arts and Letters.
- S Kyle McCarthy: degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business.
- LB Scott Smith: degrees in management from the Mendoza College of Business and sociology from the College of Arts and Letters.
- WR Barry Gallup: degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business.
- OG Chris Stewart: degree in history from the College of Arts and Letters.
- Notre Dame’s eight graduates is tied with Auburn, Penn State, Texas Tech, UNLV and East Carolina for the fourth-most graduates on a 2009 FBS roster.
Alabama 12Boston College 10Virginia Tech 10Notre Dame 8Miami, Fla. 8Auburn 8East Carolina 8Penn State 8Texas Tech 8UNLV 8UCF 7Texas A&M 7
THREE NEW COACHES ADD TO EXPERIENCED STAFF
- Head coach Charlie Weis added three experienced assistant coaches to the Irish coaching staff this offseason giving Notre Dame a coaching staff with 189 years of coaching experience.
- Running backs coach Tony Alford (14 years), defensive line coach Randy Hart (39 years) and offensive line/running game coordinator Frank Verducci (27 years) combined to add 80 years of coaching experience to Notre Dame’s coaching roster.
- Head coach Charlie Weis adds the second-most years coaching to the staff (30 years), followed by Jon Tenuta (28 years), Rob Ianello (22 years), Brian Polian (12 years), Corwin Brown (eight years), Bernie Parmalee (seven years) and Ron Powlus (two years).
YOUNG PUPS NOW GROWING UP
- Notre Dame had 20 scholarship players make their respective Irish debut last weekend. That group included seven freshmen and 12 more sophomores for a total of 19 first-year players.
- Of the 24 players that started the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl (including punter and placekicker), 18 players return in 2009 and 11 of those players have at least two seasons of eligibility remaining.
- Freshman DB Robert Blanton picked up his first career start against Navy in 2008. Blanton was the sixth different Irish rookie to start a game last season. Blanton joined WR Michael Floyd, TE Kyle Rudolph, OG Trevor Robinson, DE Ethan Johnson and LB Darius Fleming.
- Notre Dame’s duo of WR Michael Floyd and TE Kyle Rudolph each established school records for receptions and receiving yards by first year players at their respective positions. Floyd’s total was also a freshman record for any position.
- The Irish scored 40 touchdowns in 2008 and 33 came from either freshmen or sophomores, including six of the seven touchdowns against Hawai’i in the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl. The only touchdowns scored last season by upper classmen were RB James Aldridge (3), WR David Grimes (3) and LB Toryan Smith.
- The 33 of 40 touchdowns by underclassmen did not include QB Jimmy Clausen, who tossed 25 touchdown passes last season.
IRISH DON’T GIVE IT AWAY FOR FREE
- Since Charlie Weis became head coach at Notre Dame, the top priority of every game has been to win the turnover battle. In games the Irish have won the turnover battle, Notre Dame is 21-8.
- Last season, the Irish did not commit a turnover in five games. In fact, Notre Dame has not turned the ball over in 16 games since 2005. Here’s how that ranks nationally (thanks STATS, LLC):
Most Games with 0 Giveaways in 2008No. School6 Ball State6 Baylor6 Florida6 Oklahoma5 Notre Dame5 Four other teams
Most Games with 0 Giveaways since 2005No. School20 West Virginia18 Florida17 Ball State16 Notre Dame16 Memphis16 Buffalo
- Quite often in a season opener a team is sloppy in terms of penalties and turnovers, but the Irish committed just three penalties and did not commit a single turnover. Notre Dame was one of two schools in the county among FBS teams that had fewer than three penalties and no turnovers on opening day. In addition, only seven FBS schools had fewer penalties in its season opener than the Irish.
IRISH OFFENSE ROLLS IN SEASON OPENER AGAINST NEVADA
- Notre Dame finished with 510 yards of total offense, the most since recording 663 yards at Stanford on Nov. 26, 2005.
- The Irish recorded those 510 yards on just 61 plays, good for an average of 8.36 yards per play (best in the Charlie Weis era). Notre Dame set new highs for the Weis era in most passing yards per attempt (16.6), yards per completion (19.5), highest passing efficiency (290.44) and yards per play (8.4).
- The Irish have now eclipsed 500 yards of total offense in eight games under Weis.
- Notre Dame not only converted both of its third downs of nine or more yards (nine and 16 yards) in the first half, but did so each time with touchdown passes. Jimmy Clausen’s touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph in the first quarter came on a third and 16, while Clausen’s second quarter touchdown pass to Michael Floyd came on a third and nine.
- The Irish totaled exactly 300 yards on 34 plays in the opening half, good for an average of 8.8 yards per play.
- Notre Dame averaged just 3.3 yards per rush in 2008. Weis and the Irish coaching staff have established 4.5 yards per carry as a standard for the season. Notre Dame equalled that mark prior to its final drive of the game against the Wolf Pack (158 yards on 35 carries). The Irish also accomplished the feat against a Nevada defense that ranked sixth in the nation against the run in 2008 (88.62 yards per game). Notre Dame finished the afternoon with 178 yards on the ground.
- The Irish offensive line did not allow Nevada register a single sack. The Wolf Pack ranked 10th in the nation in sacks a season ago, averaging 2.85 per game.
- Notre Dame registered touchdowns on four of its first five drives against Nevada. The Irish marched 67, 78, 79 and 80 yards. In fact, Notre Dame added a school record-tying 99-yard drive for its fifth and final touchdown of the game. The average scoring drive by the Irish went for 80.6 yards on seven plays.
- Notre Dame was limited to just one three and out over the course of the entire game.
- The Irish quarterbacks completed passes to seven different receivers.
IRISH OFFENSE RETURNS 10 STARTERS
- Notre Dame’s offense will be one of most experienced units in college football in 2009 as 10 starters are slated to return this fall. The Irish only opened two games in 2008 with a fullback on the field, choosing to open most contests with at least three wide receivers on the field. The only offensive starter replaced in ’09 will be left tackle following Mike Turkovich’s graduation.
- The 10 returning starters on offense are the most at Notre Dame since 2005 when the Irish returned 10 starters that year. According to research conducted by Phil Steele, only one school returns more starters on offense than the Irish and just three schools return as many offensive starters as Notre Dame.
Most Returning Offensive Starters in NCAA FBSNo. School11 UAB10 Notre Dame10 Indiana10 Middle Tennessee State10 Minnesota
IRISH OFFENSIVE LINE HITS CENTURY MARK FOR CAREER STARTS
- First-year offensive line coach Frank Verducci is charged with improving the Irish rushing attack in 2009 and will attempt to do so with one of the most experienced offensive line units in Notre Dame’s recent history.
- Six players having starting experience for the Irish, led by right tackle Sam Young’s 38 starts. Eric Olsen (19 starts), Dan Wenger (18 starts), Paul Duncan (12 starts), Chris Stewart (10 starts) and Trevor Robinson (three starts) help bring the Irish total to 100 combined career starts. That total is the second most in the past decade at Notre Dame.
Starts (No. of Players with Starting Experience) Year 102 (Six) 2005 100 (Six) 2009 91 (Four) 2006 79 (Six) 2002 60 (Five) 2008 60 (Six) 2001 49 (Seven) 2000 46 (Two) 2007 46 (Six) 2004 21 (Three) 2003
HIGH RETURNS ROLLING IN FOR IRISH OFFENSE
- The Irish offense returns an unprecedented high percentage of its 2008 offense. All 3,190 passing yards (including senior Evan Sharpley’s 18 yards) return this fall as quarterback Jimmy Clausen guides the Irish attack again.
- Almost 99 percent of the rushing yards from 2008 return and over 89 percent of the receiving yards are available this year. In fact, Notre Dame totaled 4,616 total yards of offense in 2008 and only 17 yards of total offense will not suit up for the Irish this fall.
- The only skill-position players lost from the ’08 squad are wide receiver David Grimes and fullback Asaph Schwapp.
Returning Irish Offense in 2009Category Returning Yards/Points Pct.Rushing 1,409 of 1,426 yards 98.8Passing 3,190 of 3,190 yards 100.0Receiving 2,850 of 3,190 yards 89.3Scoring 303 of 321 points 94.4Total Offense 4,599 of 4,616 yards 99.6All-Purpose 5,730 of 6,205 yards 92.3
IRISH 2008 UNDERCLASSMEN AMONG NATION’S ELITE
- Notre Dame’s freshmen and sophomores in 2008 proved to be not just the most productive classes in school history but also one of the best in the country. Led by sophomore Golden Tate and freshman Michael Floyd, Irish underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) combined to record 2,793 receiving yards, third most in the nation.
Most Receiving Yards by Underclassmen in 2008Yards School3,582 Texas Tech3,524 Houston2,793 Notre Dame2,244 USC2,214 Kansas(according to STATS, LLC)
IRISH OFFENSE MOST IMPROVED IN 2008
- No offense improved more in 2008 when compared to the production in 2007 as Notre Dame’s offensive attack. The Irish 112.83 yards-per-game improvement in 2008 was best in the nation, ahead of a list that included Oklahoma, Georgia and Penn State. Here is a look at last year’s top 10 most improved offenses:
Rank School 2007 2008 Improvement1. Notre Dame 242.25 355.08 112.832. Oklahoma 448.42 547.86 99.443. Akron 311.67 369.67 85.004. Eastern Michigan 337.50 417.50 80.005. Rice 404.00 470.92 66.926. Mississippi 345.25 407.62 62.377. Houston 501.92 562.77 60.858. Iowa State 326.92 386.83 59.919. Georgia 375.62 426.00 50.3810. Penn State 400.08 448.92 48.84
IRISH PITCH SHUTOUT
- Notre Dame posted its first shutout since blanking Rutgers 42-0 on Nov. 23, 2002 — a span of 76 games.
- Notre Dame posted its first shutout in a season opener since blanking Maryland, 22-0, on Aug. 31, 2002.
- Notre Dame posted its first shutout in a season opener inside Notre Dame Stadium since Sept. 22, 1973 when the Irish beat Northwestern, 44-0.
- Nevada was shut out for the first time since Dec. 12, 2007 versus New Mexico. The shutout was also just the third in Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault’s 25-year coaching career at Nevada. This comes after Nevada averaged 37.6 points, 509 total yards and 278 rushing yards per game (school record) last season.
- Notre Dame limited the Wolf Pack to 307 total yards and 153 yards rushing, well below their explosive output from a year ago, and, obviously, no points.
- Notre Dame was one of two FBS schools, Kentucky being the other, to shut out another FBS school in its season opener last week.
TENUTA AND BROWN’S BOYS MAKE QUITE AN IMPRESSION
- Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick not only threw two interceptions in the game after throwing just seven all of last year, but he also averaged only 3.9 yards per rush compared to his near 7.0 yards per carry average in 2008.
- Notre Dame forced three Wolf Pack turnovers, including two in the red zone, and denied another possible scoring opportunity for Nevada on a 4th and short stop.
- Notre Dame ranked 20th in the country in 2008 in third down defense (32.76%). The Irish continued their success on third down against Nevada. Notre Dame limited the Wolf Pack to just 2-for-11 last weekend.
- The Irish red zone defense was equally impressive. Notre Dame did not allow Nevada any points despite the Wolf Pack’s three trips in the red zone. The Irish were the only team in the FBS last week to deny their opponent points on three drives that crossed the 20-yard line.
TENUTA AWFULLY TOUGH IN SEASON OPENING GAMES
Notre Dame co-defensive coordinator and play-caller Jon Tenuta has had his way over his career in season-opening games. A Tenuta defense has limited its opponents to 14 points or less in 11 of his 16 years as a defensive coordinator.
NOTRE DAME’S DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT ALSO ONE OF BEST IN THE NATION
- The vast improvements were not exclusive to the offensive side of the ball. The Notre Dame defense also made major leaps from a season ago. Here is a look at last years’s top 25 most improved scoring defenses:
Rank School 2007 2008 Improvement1. Navy 36.4 22.0 14.42. Northern Illinois 30.8 18.0 12.83. Florida 25.5 12.9 12.64. Minnesota 36.7 24.8 11.95. Northwestern 31.0 20.2 10.86. Florida International 39.1 28.3 10.87. Tennessee 27.3 16.8 10.58. Duke 33.2 23.4 9.89. Rice 42.9 33.3 9.610. Mississippi 28.5 19.0 9.511. Nebraska 37.9 28.5 9.412. Boise State 21.6 12.6 9.013. Bowling Green 32.1 23.2 8.914. Kentucky 29.6 21.5 8.115. Ball State 28.3 20.5 7.816. Alabama 22.0 14.3 7.717. Baylor 37.0 29.3 7.718. San Jose State 29.3 21.6 7.719. TCU 18.7 11.3 7.420. USC 16.0 9.0 7.021. California 26.8 19.9 6.922. Central Michigan 36.9 30.2 6.723. Notre Dame 28.8 22.2 6.624. Marshall 34.3 27.7 6.625. Army 30.3 23.7 6.6
- Notre Dame was one of two schools (Mississippi the other) that ranked in the top 10 in most improved offense and top 25 in most improved scoring defense.
IRISH DEFENSE STINGY OUT OF THE GATE
- Notre Dame was quite impressive defensively coming out of the lockerroom in 2008. The Irish only allowed three touchdowns in the first quarter in 2008 and just one over their last nine games. Notre Dame continnued that trend, blanking Nevada last weekend over the first 15 minutes.
- The Irish have allowed just 19 points in the first quarter over their last 10 games.
- Notre Dame has surrendered just 61 total first half points over the last eight games.
KICKOFF RETURN DEFENSE UNIT PICKS UP WHERE LEFT OFF IN `08
- Notre Dame led the NCAA FBS in kickoff return defense last season allowing only 16.5 yards per return and became the first Irish special teams unit to lead the nation in this category. It was also the first time Notre Dame led the NCAA in a statistical category since 1988. What made the feat even more impressive was the fact that the Irish registered just one touchback during the season. The 16.5 yards allowed on kickoffs was the best by a Notre Dame squad since 1975 when that team permitted only 14.9 yards per kick return.
2007 2008 ImprovementKickoff Return Defense 22.75 (89th) 16.38 (1st) 6.37 yards (28.5%)
- The Irish did not miss a beat in the opening-season victory over Nevada. Notre Dame limited the Wolf Pack to just 17.6 yards per return last week.
IRISH SPECIAL TEAMS HAVE SHINED OVER PAST FOUR SEASONS
- Notre Dame’s special teams have been solid over the past four seasons and have made critical plays to help turn games several times since 2005.
- Irish special teams have scored seven touchdowns, forced seven turnovers and deflected or blocked 22 kicks in the past four years.
- Notre Dame has scored three TDs on punt returns, one on a kickoff return, one on a blocked punt return, one on a blocked field goal return and one on a fake field goal.
- The Irish have tallied 10 blocked punts, nine blocked field goals and three blocked PATs since 2005.
- Over the past four years, Notre Dame has averaged 10.0 yards per punt return, allowed 7.6 yards on punt returns and permitted 19.9 yards on kickoff returns.
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