Aug. 31, 2009
Nevada (0-0) vs. #23 Notre Dame (0-0)
Saturday, September 5, 2009
3:30 p.m. ET
Notre Dame Stadium (80,795); Notre Dame, Ind.
Saturday is the 206th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Since 1966, every Irish home football game has been a sellout except one – a 1973 Thanksgiving Day game vs. Air Force. Notre Dame has now played in front of sellouts in 254 of their last 255 home games.
- Notre Dame has now played in front of sellout crowds in 213 of its previous 245 games, including 88 of its last 97 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).
NBC national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Pat Haden (analysis), Alex Flanagan (sideline), Rob Hyland (producer) and David Michaels (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 home games may be heard in South Bend on Sunny 101.5 FM and NewsTalk 960 WSBT-AM.
Notre Dame (und.com), Nevada (nevadawolfpack.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 2009 season ranked No. 23 in both the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls, while Nevada is receiving votes in both polls.
Notre Dame and Nevada will meet on the gridiron for the first time in the 121-year history of Irish football. The Wolf Pack are the 136th different opponent in Notre Dame football history. The Irish opened last season with another inaugural foe, San Diego State. Notre Dame knocked off the Aztecs, 21-13, to open the season.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Notre Dame is 70-8-3 (.883) in season openers inside Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame will open a season at home for the third straight year after opening the 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons all away from Notre Dame Stadium.
A WIN THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Give Notre Dame a victory in their season opener for the fourth time in five years.
- Make the Irish 101-15-5 (.855) all-time in season openers and 96-19-5 (.821) in home openers.
- Be the 19th victory in the last 23 season openers and 11th win in the last 14 home openers.
- Improve Notre Dame to 72-10-3 (.865) when opening a season at home.
- Be the seventh victory in the last eight seasons when the Irish open the year at Notre Dame Stadium.
- Improve Notre Dame to 1-0 in the all-time series with Nevada.
- Improve the Irish to 4-0 all-time against the WAC.
- Improve Weis’ record to 30-23 overall and 2-0 versus the WAC.
- Improve Weis’ home record to 16-11.
- Improve Weis’ record to 11-8 in September games.
- Improve Weis’ record to 24-16 in afternoon games.
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 832-284-42 (.737).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record at Notre Dame Stadium to 303-98-5 (.752).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record in a season opener following a bowl game victory the previous year to 11-2.
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record in a season opener following a bowl game appearance the previous year to 24-5.
A LOSS THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Give Notre Dame a defeat in their season opener for the second time in five years.
- Make the Irish 100-16-5 (.847) all-time in season openers and 95-20-5 (.813) in home openers.
- Be the fifth defeat in the last 23 season openers and fourth loss in the last 14 home openers.
- Drop Notre Dame to 71-11-3 (.853) when opening a season at home.
- Be the second defeat in the last eight seasons when the Irish open the year at Notre Dame Stadium.
- Drop Notre Dame to 0-1 in the all-time series with Nevada.
- Drop the Irish to 3-1 all-time against the WAC.
- Drop Weis’ record to 29-24 overall and 1-1 versus the WAC.
- Drop Weis’ home record to 15-12.
- Drop Weis’ record to 10-9 in September games.
- Drop Weis’ record to 23-17 in afternoon games.
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 831-285-42 (.736).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record at Notre Dame Stadium to 302-99-5 (.750).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record in a season opener following a bowl game victory the previous year to 10-3.
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record in a season opener following a bowl game appearance the previous year to 23-6.
- This game will mark the start of the 121st football season at the University of Notre Dame dating back to 1887 … The Irish did not field teams in 1890 or 1891.
- Notre Dame enters the 2009 season with an all-time record of 831-284-42 (.736 winning percentage).
- Notre Dame and Nevada will meet on the gridiron for the first time in the 121-year history of Irish football. The Wolf Pack are the 136th different opponent in Notre Dame football history. Nevada is the first inaugural foe for the Irish since Notre Dame upended San Diego State, 21-13, to open last season.
- The Irish are 70-8-3 (.883) in season openers inside Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame will open a season at home for the third straight year after opening the 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons all away from Notre Dame Stadium.
ON THIS DATE
Notre Dame has played three previous games in its history on Sept. 5. The Irish are 3-0 all-time on this date. The Irish were ranked inside the top 25 on all three previous occasions.
1998 W (22) Michigan (5) 36-20 H1996 W (6) Vanderbilt 14-7 A1992 W (3) Northwestern 42-7 NBeginning with the 1936 season, the number in front of the opponent name indicatesNotre Dame's ranking in the Associated Press poll coming into the game.The number following the opponent name indicates its ranking.
Sept. 5, 1967: One of the most dynamic and successful quarterbacks in Notre Dame history, Tony Rice, was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He would become an elusive runner, a strong-armed thrower, and a steel-hearted leader in Lou Holtz’s option-oriented offense in the late 1980s. As a junior in 1988, Rice would quarterback the Irish to a 12-0 record and a national championship. He would follow that up by guiding the Irish to a 12-1 mark in 1989.
Sept. 5, 1998: Autry Denson rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns as Notre Dame scored 30 points in the second half en route to a 36-20 victory over defending national champion and No. 5 Michigan.
- The Irish are 100-15-5 (.854) in season openers and have taken 18 of the last 22.
- Notre Dame is 95-19-5 (.819) in home openers and has won eight of its last 11.
- Michigan State (2001, 2005) and Georgia Tech (2007) have been the Irish opponents in those home opening losses.
- There were no home games in 1929 due to construction of Notre Dame Stadium.
- When playing their season opener in Notre Dame Stadium, the Irish are 70-8-3 (.883).
- When Notre Dame’s season and home openers are one and the same, the Irish are 71-10-3 (.863).
- Notre Dame has captured six of its last seven such openers (five-game winning streak was snapped against Georgia Tech in 2007).
- The Irish previously last lost a season opener at home on Sept. 2, 1995 when Northwestern (who eventually captured the Big Ten title and appeared in the Rose Bowl) knocked off Notre Dame, 17-15.
OPENERS AN INDICATOR?
As stated previously, Notre Dame is 100-15-5 in season openers, but have they been foretelling of the season ahead? Take a look:
- The 100 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 has failed to score first in its last six season openers, but have posted a 4-2 mark along the way. The Irish last scored first in a season-opener on Aug. 31, 2002 in a 22-0 victory over Maryland. In fact, that 2002 game is the only time this decade that Notre Dame scored first in a season opener.
- The Irish have captured their last 11 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 30-3 when scoring first and 13-5 when the opponent takes the game’s first lead.
- Nevada will become the 64th different team to visit Notre Dame Stadium when the Wolf Pack face the Irish in the 2009 season opener. San Diego State in 2008 became the 63rd different opponent to face the Irish in Notre Dame Stadium (since its opening in 1930), with the Irish owning a 54-8-1 mark (.865) 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, 11 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) and San Diego State (2008).
- 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:
#9 Army (lost to top-ranked ND in '47, 27-7)#20 North Carolina (lost to #1 ND in '50, 14-7)#4 Oklahoma (lost to #10 ND in '52, 27-21)#10 Syracuse (lost to unranked ND in '61, 17-15)#7 LSU (lost to #2 ND in '70, 3-0)#10 Alabama (lost to #18 ND in '76, 21-18)#22 West Virginia (lost to unranked ND in '97, 21-14)
- Prior to the 2009 season, the Notre Dame football program had played home games versus a total of 115 different teams, at primarily old Cartier Field (pre-1930) or Notre Dame Stadium, with an overall home record of 100-11-4 (.887) in games versus all first-time visitors to Notre Dame (regardless of the site).
- 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 of 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 apperances of seven of Notre Dame’s opponents in bowl games on Feldman’s list and six on Schlabach’s.
- Bowl Projected Opponents Of Potential Top 15 Teams
Georgia 10, Oklahoma 9, Texas 8, USC 8, Alabama 8, California 8, Ohio State 8, Virginia Tech 8, Oklahoma State 8, Notre Dame 7, Florida 7, Mississippi 7, Penn State 7, LSU 7, Boise State 6, TCU 6
ONLY THE BIG BOYS
As of Sept. 5, Notre Dame will be 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 will shrink 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:
ND OL 315.0 lbs. vs. Nevada DL 262.5 lbs.
ND DL 273.8 lbs. vs. Nevada OL 299.0 lbs.
Average height of the receivers and the secondaries:
ND WR/TE 6′ 2 2/3″ vs. Nevada DB 6′ 1 1/2
ND DB 6′ 1″ vs. Nevada WR/TE 6′ 2 1/3″
NOTRE DAME IN SEPTEMBER
- Notre Dame is 123-48-4 (.714) all-time during the month of September.
- The Irish are 78-18-2 (.806) 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.
HISTORIC NOTRE DAME STADIUM
The 2009 football season marks the 79th year of Irish football in fabled Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have played 405 games in the facility to date and own a 302-98-5 (.752) record in the “House that Rockne Built.” The most wins in a season by the Irish at home is seven by the 1988 national championship team and the longest home winning streak in Notre Dame football history is 28 games (from 11/21/42 through 9/30/50).
IRISH RETURN 46 MONOGRAM WINNERS
- Notre Dame opened fall practice 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 fifth-most graduates on a 2009 FBS roster.
Alabama 12Boston College 10Virginia Tech 10Miami, Fla. 9Notre Dame 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
- 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 does 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 20-8.
- Last season, the Irish did not commit a turnover in five games. In fact, Notre Dame has not turned the ball over in 15 games since 2005.
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
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 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.
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 2008 (according to STATS, LLC)Yards School3,582 Texas Tech3,524 Houston2,793 Notre Dame2,244 USC2,214 Kansas
NOTRE DAME’S OFFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT BEST IN THE NATION
- 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
NOTRE DAME’S DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT ALSO ONE OF THE 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 year’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 IN 2008
- USC’s first quarter touchdown on Nov. 29 was the first allowed by the Notre Dame defense in the opening quarter since Sept. 27 against Purdue — a span of eight games.
- In fact, Notre Dame allowed just 16 points in the first quarter over its last eight games.
- Hawai’i’s second quarter touchdown was the sixth offensive score allowed by the Notre Dame defense in the opening half over its final nine contests. The Irish defense surrendered just 61 total first half points over the last seven games.
KICKOFF RETURN DEFENSE UNIT SHOWED MAJOR IMPROVEMENT 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%)
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.
— ND —