Sept. 20, 1999
With a smashing hit, junior Anthony Denman provided a glimmer of hope in another tough Irish loss.
This week?s Unsung Hero registered a total of nine tackles in Notre Dame?s 23-13 loss to Michigan State.
He teamed up with Grant Irons to give the Irish their first shot at scoring before the end of the first half.
On second down and eight, Michigan State?s Bill Burke handed off to Lloyd Clemons. He started up the middle but fumbled when Denman puts a crushing hit on the Spartan tailback. The ball popped up in mid-air and Notre Dame?s Grant Irons recovered, leading to the only Notre Dame touchdown of the game.
Irish quarterback Jarious Jackson lobbed a high pass in the corner of the end zone to receiver Bobby Brown who made the acrobatic touchdown reception.
Heading in at half, the Irish felt a shift in momentum as they scored with just seconds remaining, knotting the score at 7-7.
?I was just trying to make something happen,? Denman said about the turnover.
Denman also made his presence felt on special teams. The junior did not allow Michigan State sensation Geri Scott a chance to return freshman Joey Hildbold?s 34-yard punt. Denman landed a crushing hit on Scott for a gain of a single yard.
Denman shifted from outside linebacker to inside at the beginning of this season. He trained behind former Irish player Kory Minor. With the graduation of Minor, Bobbie Howard and Jimmy Friday, Denman has stepped forward as one of the defense?s leaders.
At the annual Blue-Gold scrimmage, he won defensive MVP honors. His performance included six tackles and a sack. He also returned an interception 34 yards.
Denman has made strong impressions on more than just the Spartans. Against the Jayhawks, he returned a Zac Wegner fumble for a touchdown with in the third quarter of Notre Dame?s opener. That play marked his first fumble recovery of his career and first career touchdown.
Denman turned in a solid effort on Saturday. He registered his first sack of the season, surprising MSU?s Burke with a late blitz. Denman sacked him for a seven-yard loss.
Despite solid performances from several players and a forced turnover from Denman, the Irish still were unable to break the losing streak.
?On thing that you can guarantee is that when you have five turnovers, you?re not going to win,? head coach Bob Davie said.
With no opponents scheduled for this weekend, Denman and Co. are looking to regroup. The squad is anxious to get some wins under their belts and prove that this season isn?t a loss.