Sept. 2, 2000
By TOM COYNE
Associated Press Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – The Battle plan worked.
Notre Dame coach Bob Davie kept things simple early in Arnaz Battle’s first start at quarterback. As Battle’s confidence grew, so did his production. So did his coach’s confidence in him.
“I just thought we gained a little bit of confidence at the end of the first half,” Davie said after Saturday’s 24-10 victory over No. 25 Texas A&M. “I think Arnaz got in sync a little bit.”
Battle threw a 9-yard scoring pass on the Irish’s final possession of the first half and a 46-yard score on the second possession of the second half to put Notre Dame in the lead.
“It took a little time time for me to get my feet wet, get adjusted, and get the bugs out,” he said. “They missed some tackles and I was able to make some plays.”
Battle frustrated the Aggies with his ability to scramble out of trouble.
“They took advantage of his strengths, his ability to run and scramble,” A&M coach R.C. Slocum said.
Battle, who rushed for 50 yards on 12 carries, said he wasn’t nervous early. He said he just played too conservatively.
“It was difficult to go out there and try not to force things and just let things happen,” he said.
The first series he tried one pass and was sacked for a 5-yard loss. The second series he overthrew fullback Tom Lopienski on a short pass and then threw behind tight end Dan O’Leary, although O’Leary was able to catch the pass for a 5-yard gain.
It wasn’t until late in the second quarter that Battle began to settle down. Battle started the drive with an 18-yard pass to Lopienski. He kept the ball on an option the next play and gained 11 yards. He ran for 6 yards on the next play and hit Lopienski on a 7-yard pass on the next, then scrambled for another six.
“I started to get more and more comfortable,” Battle said.
He then hit Lopienski with a 16-yard pass. Following a 3-yard run by Tony Fisher, Battle found Joey Getherall for a 9-yard touchdown pass.
“That was when I started feeling really comfortable. That play was one of the plays that I had been shaky on during camp,” he said.
After completing 6-of-11 passes for 54 yards in the first half, Battle completed 4-of-5 passes in the second half for 79 yards.
“You can see how explosive he is,” Davie said. “If you look at Jarious (Jackson’s) first game against Michigan two years ago, Arnaz is further along than Jarious was at the game.”
Battle said he got a phone call from Jackson on Friday night.
“He just told me to go out there and put Notre Dame back where it should be,” he said.