Oct. 16, 2000
The Date and Time: Saturday, Oct. 21, 2000, at Noon EDT (11:00 a.m. EST in South Bend).
The Site: Mountaineer Field (63,500/artificial turf) in Morgantown, W.Va.
The Tickets: They’re all sold -? with this game marking the 124th sellout in the last 144 games involving Notre Dame, including the first 10 games of 1998, the first 11 in ’99 and the first five in ’00.
The TV Plans: CBS Sports national telecast with Craig Bolerjack (play-by-play) and Dean Blevins (analysis).
The Radio Plans: For the 33rd consecutive season, all Notre Dame football games are broadcast nationally on radio by Westwood One with Tony Roberts (play by play) and Tom Pagna (game analysis) and Paul Hornung (pregame/halftime analysis). The Westwood One network includes nearly 200 stations. A live broadcast from the Notre Dame student radio station, WVFI, is available through the Notre Dame athletic department web site at www.und.com.
Websites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), West Virginia (www.msnsportsnet.com).
The Head Coach Fourth-year Irish head coach Bob Davie owns a 25-18 (.581) career record at Notre Dame. Davie was one of 10 finalists for the 1998 Walter Camp Foundation/Street and Smith’s Coach of the Year Award. His 1997 squad beat No. 11 LSU and No. 22 West Virginia to mark the first time a Notre Dame team beat ranked foes on consecutive weeks since November ’92, while the ’98 opening win over No. 5 and defending national champion Michigan gave him three wins over a ranked teams. He led the Irish to another season-opening ranked win this year against No. 23 Texas A&M, and the win over 13th-ranked Purdue marked the earliest the Irish have beaten two ranked opponents since 1990. The 2000 season marks Davie’s seventh year at Notre Dame overall, after serving as defensive coordinator and inside linebacker coach from 1994-96. He coached nine seasons at Texas A&M (’85-’93), two at Tulane (’83-’84), four at Pittsburgh (’77, ’80-’82) and two at Arizona (’78-’79), spending both years at Tulane as defensive coordinator and the last five at Texas A&M in that role.
NOTRE DAME-WEST VIRGINIA GAME NOTES Saturday’s game marks the third meeting between the Irish and Mountaineers. Notre Dame leads the series 2-0 and will be making its first trip to West Virginia.
The Irish won the 1988 national championship with a 34-21 win over the Mountaineers in the 1989 Fiesta Bowl. Nine years later, Notre Dame welcomed 22nd-ranked West Virginia to Notre Dame Stadium in a 21-14 win.
For more Notre Dame-West Virginia series notes, see pages 2-3.
THE IRISH TRAVEL PLANS Notre Dame will be headquartered at the Holiday Inn Meadow Lands, 340 Race Track Road, Washington, PA 15301, (724) 222-6200. The Irish are scheduled to depart by TWA charter flight Friday morning. A brief walk-through at the Mountaineer Field will be held at a time to be announced.
IF NOTRE DAME WINS … The Irish will snap a two-game losing streak to BIG EAST teams. Notre Dame will win its 12th straight game in October, dating back to a ’97 loss to USC. The Irish will win on an opponent’s home field for the first time since a ’98 win at Boston College.
IF WEST VIRGINIA WINS … The Mountaineers will defeat the Irish for the first time in the teams’ three meetings.
WVU will snap an 11-game Notre Dame winning streak in October, dating back to a ’97 loss to USC.
The Mountaineers will beat a ranked team for the first time since a 35-28 win over 15th-ranked Syracuse on Nov. 7, 1998, at Mountaineer Field.
SERIES NOTES Notre Dame and West Virginia will meet again on Oct. 13, 2001, at Notre Dame Stadium.
In the first meeting in the 1989 Fiesta Bowl, top-ranked Notre Dame capped off its perfect 12-0 season by beating the nation’s only other unbeaten team in its 34-21 win over third-ranked West Virginia. Tony Rice completed seven of 11 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns, and the Irish ground game ran amassed 245 yard and two TDs. Notre Dame built a 23-3 lead, before West Virginia rallied to cut the lead to 26-13. The Mountaineers then intercepted Rice at the Notre Dame 26-yard line with a chance to continue the comeback, but the Irish defense — which limited WVU to 282 yards of total offense — forced West Virginia into a loss of 14 yards in the series and forced a punt. Rice engineered a seven-play, 80-yard drive for a TD, a two-point conversion and a 34-13 lead.
In the second meeting and the first in the regular season on Nov. 22, 1997, Notre Dame used a key interception from Ivory Covington, then broke up a scoreless second half with a 78-yard scoring drive that enabled the Irish to defeat 22nd-ranked West Virginia 21-14 in Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame rallied from 7-0 and 14-7 deficits, with Covington’s interception at the Irish five-yard line with 7:32 left in the game proving to be the decisive play of the game. Autry Denson then ran for 36 of his 144 yards on the first play, Ron Powlus found Bobby Brown for the score with 4:56 left. The Irish survived giving up 234 rushing yards and two TDs to Amos Zereoue –still the most rushing yards against Notre Dame since 261 by USC’s Charles White in 1979.
ND-WVU CONNECTIONS Fourth-year Irish running backs coach Desmond Robinson served in that same capacity at West Virginia in 1995 and 1996 and also coached with the Mountaineers in 1988-91 (first three with the defensive line, with running backs in ’91).
Second-year Irish offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers and first year WVU quarterbacks coach Bill Stewart coached together at William & Mary in 1981 and 1982 and at Navy in 1984. WVU defensive coordinator Steve Dunlap was a member of the 1983 Navy coaching staff with Rogers.
First-year WVU wide receivers coach Frank Kurth is a native of Elkhart, Ind.
Irish sophomore TB and special teams standout Chris Yura is a native of Morgantown, W.Va., and attended Morgantown High School. His parents Catherine and Michael both work at West Virginia as psychologists.
Irish freshman WR Ronnie Rodamer also hails from Morgantown and was a teammate of Yura’s at Morgantown High School.
Mountaineer sophomore C Josh Kelly played with Yura and Rodamer at Morgantown High School.
Irish fifth-year TE Dan O’Leary and WVU junior OT/G Jason Brooks both attended St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio.
WVU junior TB Cooper Rego was a member of the 1997 Notre Dame football team but did not see game action before transferring to West Virginia following the season.
STATE SURVEY Notre Dame’s traditionally national schedule has taken the Irish from coast to coast and 34 states but never to West Virginia, which becomes the 35th different state in which the Notre Dame football team has played a game in its 111-plus seasons.
Notre Dame’s trip to West Virginia marks its first to a new state since a 45-20 win over BYU in Provo, Utah, in 1993.
The Irish have never played games in only 15 states: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming. Kentucky — which borders Indiana to the south — is the closest state in which the Irish have never played.
In addition to 34 states, Notre Dame also has visited two foreign countries, beating Miami 40-15 in the 1979 Mirage Bowl in Tokyo, Japan, and defeating Navy 54-27 in 1996 in Dublin, Ireland.
DRIVER ‘RETURNS’ TO RECORDBOOK In the first 12:47 of the Navy game, Tony Driver became just the second player in NCAA Division I-A history to return a pair of fumbles for touchdowns — since a 1992 NCAA change permitting defensive players to advance fumbles regardless of where on the field they occur. He joined Minnesota’s Tyrone Carter who returned a pair of fumbles for TDs against Syracuse on Sept. 21, 1996.
Driver also became the first Irish player in a season or a career to return a pair of fumbles for TDs, let alone in one game or one quarter.
The last Irish defensive player to score two touchdowns was Dave Waymer, who ran back two interceptions in a 40-15 win against Miami (Fla.) in the 1979 Mirage Bowl in Toyko.
WEAVER LEADS STRONG DEFENSE Notre Dame’s defense — currently ranked 30th in scoring defense (18.8) and 33rd in passing defense (230.8) — has been tough on opposing quarterbacks this season with 18 sacks in six games, in addition to numerous hurries and knockdowns. The play of junior DE Anthony Weaver has been a significant part of the Irish defensive pressure. Weaver has seven tackles for losses and four sacks — tops on the team in with senior LB Anthony Denman and junior DE Ryan Roberts and leading in tackles for losses with Denman. Through six games, the Irish have equaled their 18 sacks last year.
Weaver also has an interception (vs. Michigan State to set up go-ahead TD) and a fumble recovery (vs. Stanford with the Cardinal threatening to score on ND’s 15-yard line) this season.
Junior RE Ryan Roberts had at least one sack in each of the first four games, becoming the first Irish player since Kory Minor in 1996 (vs. Boston College, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and USC) to have at least one sack in four consecutive games.
Notre Dame’s six sacks against Michigan State stand as the most under head coach Bob Davie and the most since the Irish had nine sacks against Rutgers in 1996.
IRISH DEFENSE GETS OFFENSIVE Of Notre Dame’s 20 touchdowns — in addition to the two scored from kickoff and punt returns and the two set up by blocked punts — the Irish defense has scored or set up short drives on five other TDs. Shane Walton had a 60-yard interception return against Purdue, while Anthony Weaver’s interception at the Michigan State two-yard line was followed one play later by a Julius Jones TD run. Brock Williams had an interception against Stanford before it took Jones three plays (three-yard run, 24-yard shovel pass and seven-yard run) to score on a short 34-yard TD drive. Tony Driver’s record day with two fumble returns for touchdowns against Navy brought the total to five touchdowns scored or set up by the Irish defense.
BOIMAN NAMED TO THE SPORTING NEWS TEAM The Sporting News has selected Irish junior OLB Rocky Boiman to its list of Great Unknowns — “you probably won’t recognize their faces, but you should recognize their efforts.” Boiman has played a key role in the resurgence of the Notre Dame defense this season. He already has 35 tackles — third most on the team — and two-and-a-half sacks, compared to 39 tackles and two sacks in all of 1999.
IRISH IN OCTOBER Notre Dame enters the West Virginia game with an 11-game winning streak in October, dating back to a 20-17 loss to USC in 1997. The Irish have a 12-2 mark in October under Bob Davie. Since the 1988 season, Notre Dame is 43-7 in October and was 32-7 in October in the 1990s.
THE NAVY REVIEW Notre Dame amassed 447 yards of total offense ? its most since 524 against Navy last year ? and took advantage of two Tony Driver fumble returns for touchdowns, as the Irish beat Navy for an NCAA record 37th consecutive time by a 45-14 score at the Florida Citrus Bowl. The Irish defense forced the Midshipmen to punt the ball nine times and held Navy to 58 yards rushing ? its fewest against Notre Dame since a 28-yard ground game in the 1994 game and the fewest for an Irish opponent since Baylor gained 33 yards in ’98. The Irish offense controlled the clock for nearly 37 minutes. After the teams exchanged punts to open the game, Tyreo Harrison stripped Raheem Lambert of the ball, and Driver picked up the ball and ran 24 yards for a 7-0 score. Julius Jones rushed for 20 yards on the final five carries of a nine-play Irish drive for a 14-0 Irish advantage. On Navy’s next possession, Terence Coleman fumbled a pitch, and Driver plucked the ball out of the air, dashing 22 yards for another TD return and a 21-0 first quarter lead. A Nick Setta 23-yard field goal capped an 18-play, 76-yard drive that gave Notre Dame a 24-0 halftime lead. The Irish extended their lead to 38-0 with a pair of touchdown passes from Matt LoVecchio to Dan O’Leary (11 yards) and Tony Fisher (32 yards) in the third and fourth quarters. After the Midshipmen scored on a 46-yard TD pass, the Irish came back with their own 46-yard TD pass from Gary Godsey to Jay Johnson. Navy rounded out the scoring with a nine-yard TD pass for the 45-14 final score.
SCOUTING THE IRISH OFFENSE
Line — The veteran Irish offensive line in ’00 — with the only untested position at the start of the season being center — has remained intact with the same five starters in the first six games of the season. Senior guards Jim Jones (left guard) and Mike Gandy (right guard) combined to start 21 games at their respective positions last year, while Gandy has made 21 consecutive starts. Junior Jordan Black is back at the left tackle position where he started the first nine games in ’99, while senior Kurt Vollers moved into the starting role at right tackle following backup action at left tackle in ’99. Sophomore Jeff Faine is at center after seeing no game action as a freshman. Senior John Teasdale started 10 games in ’99 at mostly right tackle and provides experience as a backup to Vollers. The other reserves are sophomore Brennan Curtin at tackle, juniors Sean Mahan and Ryan Scarola at guard and at center senior JW Jordan.
Backs — After his second career start on Saturday against Navy, freshman Matt LoVecchio (24-39 for 326 yards, 4 TDs, 46 yards rushing) has settled into the starting quarterback position — the third starting Irish QB this season. He made his first career start against the Cardinal after first coming off the bench against Michigan State in the second half. Junior Arnaz Battle (13-31-173, 2 TDs, 157 yards rushing vs. Texas A&M and Nebraska) suffered a fractured left navicular (wrist) against Nebraska — an injury that required surgery and will keep him out indefinitely — thrusting sophomore Gary Godsey — who brings a physical presence as backup quarterback at 6-7, 239 — into the starting spot against Purdue (14 of 25 for 158 yards in first career game) and Michigan State (4-15 for 20 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). Godsey — whose brother George is the starting QB at Georgia Tech — did not see varsity action as a freshman and has served as LoVecchio’s backup. Freshman Jared Clark has taken on a larger role as a backup to LoVecchio and Godsey. Freshman Carlyle Holiday is fourth. A trio of tailbacks — sophomore Julius Jones (104-428, 5 TDs, 4-42 receiving) and juniors Tony Fisher (43-141, TD) and Terrance Howard (26-124) — give the Irish a talented and diversified running attack as each started at least once in the first four games. The elusive Jones has had two 100-yard rushing games this season (126 vs. Michigan State and 105 vs. Navy). Jones ranks 30th in the country in all-purpose yards with 133.8 per game. Fisher started all 12 games last year and has started three games this season. Howard (career-high 13-68 vs. Navy) adds a combination of quickness and power. Sophomore Chris Yura (first four carries of his career vs. Navy) also helps out at tailback. Junior Tom Lopienski (7-14 rushing, 3-41 receiving) moved into the starting fullback spot after carrying the ball 25 times for 76 yards in all 12 games last year but missed the Stanford game with a shoulder nerve injury before returning against Navy. Senior Jason Murray (3-9, 2 catches for 12 yards, TD) moved into the starting spot vs. Stanford with Lopienski out with a shoulder injury. Junior Mike McNair also helps out at fullback after recovering from an injury-plagued ’99 in which he played only in the opener against Kansas.
Receivers — One of the more competitive spots on the Irish depth chart comes from the receiving corps. Senior Joey Getherall (7-57, TD) continues to be a steady performer for the Irish, while junior David Givens (16-221) shares time with Getherall at flanker and had career bests for receptions and yards against Purdue (6-86) and touchdowns against Stanford (2). Junior Javin Hunter (5-122, TD) moved into the starting position at split end after playing in every game last year (13 for 224 yards). Senior Jay Johnson (2-58, TD) played in the final 11 games of ’99 and will see time behind Hunter. Freshman Omar Jenkins has been in the rotations, while freshmen Jerome Collins, Lorenzo Crawford, Ronnie Rodamer also could contribute. Another strength for the Irish is at tight end where senior All-America candidate Jabari Holloway (5-80) and fifth-year and ’99 honorable mention All-American Dan O’Leary (6-47, TD) give the Irish a pair of talented and experienced tight ends.
SCOUTING THE IRISH DEFENSE
Line — After making a slight adjustment on the defensive line in ’00 ? going from a two end-two tackle alignment to one featuring two ends, a tackle and a nose guard — the Irish were forced to shift one end position after losing senior RE Grant Irons (4 tackles, 1 for loss) for the season with a dislocated shoulder against Nebraska that required surgery. Sophomore Ryan Roberts (14 tackles, four sacks) moved into Irons starting spot at right end and has been a great addition to the Irish pass rush. All-America candidate junior and two-year starter Anthony Weaver (35 tackles, 7 for loss, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery) has starred at left end through five games. Fifth-year B.J. Scott (13 tackles, 3 for loss, 1.5 sacks) made his first career against Nebraska at defensive tackle, while senior Andy Wisne (8 tackles, sack) backs up Scott after starting against A&M. Senior Lance Legree (29 tackles, 3 for loss) entered ’00 the starter at nose guard after starting the final seven games of ’99 there. The reserves are sophomore Darrell Campbell (fumble recovery) at right end, Cedric Hilliard at nose guard and junior John Owens at left end.
Linebackers — Led by senior Anthony Denman (team-high 50 tackles, 7 for loss, 4 sacks) and junior Rocky Boiman (35 tackles, 5 for loss, 2.5 sacks, forced fumble), the Irish linebackers have played a large role in Notre Dame’s improved defense. Denman starts at inside linebacker for the second straight year, while Boiman anchors the outside spot. Junior Tyreo Harrison (34 tackles, 3 for loss, two fumbles forced and one recovered) moved into a starting spot at inside linebacker after playing all 12 games in ’99 with two starts. Junior Carlos Pierre-Antoine fills in at inside linebacker. Fifth-year Anthony Brannan backs up Boiman on the outside, while sophomore Courtney Watson (7 tackles) plays behind Denman.
Backs — Old faces and new faces make up the Irish secondary starters. Seniors Tony Driver (44 tackles, two fumble returns for TDs, INT, pass deflected) and Brock Williams (26 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 3 passes deflected) returned to starting roles, while senior Ron Israel (20 tackles, 3 for loss) and junior Shane Walton (23 tackles, 1 for loss, 2 INTs, 60-yard INT TD, 3 passes deflected) moved into starting spots. Driver plays at free safety for the first time since ’98 after playing seven games in ’99 at tailback. Williams is back at left cornerback where he started eight of the last 10 games in ’98. Israel moved from top reserve in ’99 to starter at strong safety in ’00. Walton — who had his first career interception against Nebraska and had a 60-yard INT return against Purdue’s Drew Brees — won the starting spot at right cornerback after playing in nine games in ’99 following a freshman season in which he starred on the Irish men’s soccer team. The reserves are sophomore Jason Beckstrom (3 tackles, pass deflected) at left cornerback, junior Clifford Jefferson (14 tackles, forced fumble) at right cornerback, sophomores Gerome Sapp (20 tackles, 1 for loss) and Glenn Earl (9 tackles, blocked punt) at strong safety and junior Donald Dykes (11 tackles) at free safety.
SCOUTING THE IRISH SPECIAL TEAMS Fifth-year newcomer Matt McNew — who joined the team in the spring after four years with the Irish men’s soccer team — handles the kickoffs and has allowed an average opponent starting position of less than 25 yards through 29 kickoffs in ’00. Sophomore Nick Setta (19-20 PATs, 6-9 FG) has shined as the Irish placekicker through six games and nailed the game-winning FG from 38 yards against Purdue as time expired. Sophomore Joey Hildbold (37-1546-41.8) ranks 30th in the NCAA in punting average, has 10 punts of at least 50 yards and has allowed an average return of 2.6 yards per punt. Sophomore Julius Jones is sixth in the nation in KO return (10-298-29.8, 100-yard TD return against Nebraska), while junior David Givens (5-99) and senior Tony Driver (2-46) also share duties returning kickoffs. Joey Getherall (15-221-14.7 with 83-yard TD return against Nebraska) returns punts and is 18th in the country. Dan O’Leary (punts) and John Crowther (PAT and FG) share the snaps. Adam Tibble does the holding.
IRISH ALONE WITH NO FUMBLES LOST, ON NCAA RECORD PACE For the second consecutive week Notre Dame remains the only team in NCAA Division I-A football without a fumble lost this season and leads the country with just four turnovers in its six games. The Irish have fumbled the ball just four times in 2000 and have not lost any of those fumbles. The school record for fewest fumbles lost in a season is five by the 1993 Irish.
With four turnovers in six games, the Irish are on pace for just over seven turnovers this season. The NCAA record for fewest season turnovers is eight, held by Clemson in 1940 and Miami (Ohio) in 1966. Notre Dame’s record for fewest turnovers is 10 in ’93 with the ’97 team second best with 13.
The six consecutive games without a lost fumble marks the longest streak for Notre Dame since a seven-game streak during the last six games in ’93 (BYU, USC, Navy, Florida State, Boston College, Texas A&M in Cotton Bowl) and the first game of the ’94 season vs. Northwestern.
IRISH SPECIAL TEAMS TRULY SPECIAL Along with Notre Dame’s success with returns (see below), the Irish special teams have helped set up two key touchdowns following blocked punts. Against Purdue, sophomore Glenn Earl blocked Travis Dorsch’s punt as the Irish took over at the Boiler four-yard line — leading to the first Irish touchdown in the 23-21 win. Against Stanford, junior David Givens blocked Mike Biselli’s punt as the Irish took over at the Stanford 10-yard line — leading to Notre Dame’s second touchdown in the 20-14 win. Other special team highlights for the Irish this season include Nick Setta’s 38-yard, game-winning field goal against Purdue as time expired, six other field goals and 19-20 in PATs.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS FOR NOTRE DAME The Irish have totalled 874 return yards this season compared to 542 for its opponents — a margin so large due in large part to the stellar performances of punt returner Joey Getherall, punter Joey Hildbold, kickoff returner Julius Jones, placekicker Matt McNew. Notre Dame’s kicking game has limited its opponents to 5.4 yards per punt return and 18.7 yards per kickoff return. Based on the rankings of the 114 NCAA I-A teams, these averages would place the Irish opponents 103rd in punt returns and 75th in kickoff returns, while Notre Dame stands third in KO returns (26.35) and 14th in punt returns (14.00). Notre Dame also ranks 10th in net punting at 39.30, while its opponents’ net punting of 32.98 would place them 81st, according to the latest NCAA national statistics. Notre Dame also is one of just five schools (Alabama, Kansas State, Miami (Fla.) and TCU) ranked in the top 20 in kickoff returns, punt returns and net punting. Here’s a breakdown of the returns:
DENMAN, DRIVER, FISHER, HILDBOLD EARN TROPHY CONSIDERATION Four Irish players have been selected for considerations for the annual position-specific trophies. Senior linebacker Anthony Denman joins the preliminary list of 70 candidates for the Butkus Award — presented annually to the best linebacker in college football by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando. The list will be trimmed to 10 semifinalists on Oct. 19, and three finalists will be announced on Nov. 9. Senior free safety Tony Driver has been picked one of 40 players on the “watch list” for the Jim Thorpe Award — presented annually to the best defensive back in college football by the Jim Thorpe Association in Oklahoma City, Okla. Junior tailback Tony Fisher has been selected one of 35 candidates for the Doak Walker Award presented by Vectrix — given annually to the nation’s top college running back by the Southwestern Bell-SMU Athletic Forum in Dallas. The Southwestern Bell Athletic Forum Board of Directors will select eight semifinalists on Nov. 8, and the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee will vote on the winner in late November. The National Selection Committee consists of former All-Pro and All-America running backs, media members and selected special representatives. Sophomore punter Joey Hildbold has been added to the watch list for the Ray Guy Award — presented to the best punter in college football as determined by an executive committee comprised of sports writers, college football coaches, former punters and members of the Greater Augusta Sports Council. Ten semifinalists will be named by Nov. 8.
THE POLLS Following Notre Dame’s overtime loss to top-ranked Nebraska on Sept. 9, the Irish moved up two spots in the Associated Press poll, going from 23rd that week to 21st following the game. That marked only the second time in the history of Notre Dame football and the AP rankings that the Irish have moved up following a defeat. The other time came in 1986 following Lou Holtz’s first game as Irish head coach. Notre Dame came into that campaign unranked, but after a 24-23 loss to third-ranked Michigan in the season opener at Notre Dame Stadium, the Irish moved to 20th in the AP poll the following week. In fact, that marked the first time in the history of the AP poll that a team entered the season unranked, lost its first game and moved into the rankings.
NUMBER CHANGES The Irish have made five number changes from the original media guide roster: senior FS Justin Smith will wear No. 4 (instead of 39), junior HLD Adam Tibble is wearing No. 80 (instead of 73), freshman TE Billy Palmer is wearing No. 85 (instead of 96), junior walk-on center John Crowther is wearing 56 (not 64) and junior walk-on TE/DE Jeffrey Campbell is wearing 64 (not 85).
LoVECCHIO 3RD STARTING QB IN FIRST FIVE GAMES, JUST 4TH FROSH QB IN 49 YEARS Freshman Matt LoVecchio became Notre Dame’s third starting quarterback in five games this season against Stanford, marking the first time since 1987 the Irish have had three starting QBs in one season and have had a starting freshman quarterback. After senior starter Terry Andrysiak broke his left collarbone in the fourth game of the ’87 season, sophomore Tony Rice started six of the last seven games of the regular season. Freshman Kent Graham started against Boston College (6-8 for 111 yards, INT in the 32-25 win) in the eighth game of the season. Andrysiak returned as the starting QB in the Cotton Bowl.
Steve Beuerlein started his fourth game as a freshman against Colorado (8-12 for 133 yards in 27-3 win) in 1983. Beuerlein took over for senior Blair Kiel — who, in 1980, became the first Irish freshman to start at quarterback since Ralph Guglielmi in 1951 vs. North Carolina. Kiel made his first start in the fourth game of the season against Miami (4-17 for 35 yards in 32-14 win).
LoVECCHIO FIRST STARTING QB FROM NEW JERSEY SINCE THEISMANN
GODSEY STANDS TALL IN IRISH HISTORY Sophomore QB Gary Godsey has taken his place in the Notre Dame recordbook as the tallest quarterback in Irish history. The 6-7 Tampa, Fla., native has a towering two inches over four former 6-5 Irish QBs: Kevin Smith (1983), Tom Byrne (1986), Kent Graham (1987-88) and Thomas Krug (1994-95). Most of Notre Dame’s offensive line looks up at Godsey in the huddle, as sophomore Brennan Curtin, at 6-8, is the only Irish player taller than Godsey. Senior LT Casey Robin and senior RG Kurt Vollers also stand 6-7.
IRISH CONTINUE QB’S FIRST-START MAGIC For the third time in five games in ’00, an Irish quarterback making his first career start led Notre Dame to victory. Freshman QB Matt LoVecchio began his first start by leading the Irish on a 91-yard drive in 11 plays in the 20-14 win over Stanford. Three weeks earlier, sophomore QB Gary Godsey engineered a game-winning drive that ended with a field goal as time expired in the 23-21 win over 13th-ranked Purdue. Two weeks before that game, junior Arnaz Battle — out indefinitely with a broken left navicular suffered against Nebraska — made his first career start in Notre Dame’s 24-10 win over 25th-ranked Texas A&M. Battle became the 10th, Godsey became the 11th and LoVecchio became the 12th of the last 13 Irish quarterbacks to be victorious in their first career starts.
From 1985-98, Notre Dame was victorious in nine straight games in which an Irish quarterback was making his first career start, including four coming in a season opener. Notre Dame’s nine-game, first-start streak ended in the 10-0 loss at USC on Nov. 28, 1998, when Eric Chappell started in place of the injured starter Jackson (then-freshman Arnaz Battle also played a large chunk of that game).
Battle also became the 10th consecutive Irish quarterback making his first start to lead the Irish to victory in a season opener, a streak dating back to 1965: Bill Zloch (vs. Cal, ’65), Terry Hanratty (vs. Purdue, ’66), Pat Steenberge (vs. Northwestern, ’71), Tom Clements (vs. Northwestern, ’72), Rick Slager (vs. Boston College, ’75), Rick Mirer (vs. Michigan, ’90), Kevin McDougal (vs. Northwestern, ’93), Ron Powlus (vs. Northwestern, ’94) and Jarious Jackson (vs. Michigan, ’98).
TWO-SPORT STANDOUTS Junior cornerback Shane Walton — less than two years removed from earning all-BIG EAST honors as a freshman forward on the ’98 Irish men’s soccer team — entered the 2000 season as Notre Dame’s starter at right cornerback and has 22 tackles, one tackle for a loss, two interceptions — including a 60-yard INT return for a touchdown against Purdue — and three passes deflected this season. Walton joined the Irish football squad in the spring of ’99 and saw action in three games in the secondary during the ’99 season. He played in nine games overall with 61 appearances on special teams, earning his second ND monogram in as many years and in as many sports.
While Walton underwent a less traditional soccer-to-football transition, fifth-year Matt McNew made the more natural switch from soccer player to placekicker. After exhausting his four years of eligibility with the Irish men’s soccer team, McNew tried out in the ’00 spring season and was invited to join the team in the fall. In his first collegiate football game, McNew boomed five kickoffs for the Irish against the Aggies, including three kickoffs touchbacks. His 29 kickoffs in ’00 have resulted in average opponent starting position just short of the Irish 25-yard line.
Junior walk-on Chad DeBolt – who has made 31 special teams appearances in ’00 and was one of just four walkons on the Michigan State Navy trip — also stars for the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team. The Waterloo, N.Y., native played in all 14 games last year as a defensive midfielder and won over 60 percent of the faceoffs he attempted for the men’s lacrosse team – which turned in one of its best seasons ever in ’00 by reaching the NCAA quarterfinals for the second time in its history.
COACHING IN THE CLUTCH Knute Rockne owns the best career winning percentage among Notre Dame coaches in games decided by seven or fewer points, at 21-1-5 (.870). Among Irish coaches with 14-plus “close games,” the other top winning percentages in tight games belong to Elmer Layden (22-7-3, .734), Frank Leahy (17-5-8, .700), Ara Parseghian (13-6-4, .652), Dan Devine (15-9-1, .620), Bob Davie (13-9, .591) and Lou Holtz (20-18-2, .525).
JULIUS JONES NAMED TO “HALF-AMERICA TEAM” Sophomore Julius Jones has been named the best kickoff returner in the country, according to CNNSI/com’s “Half-America Team” — a list of the nation’s top players through the first half of the season. He currently is ranked second in the country with an average of 35.75 yards per return and is one of just three second-year players on the list, joining redshirt freshman CB Michael Jolivette (Arizona) and sophomore kicker Jonathon Ruffin (Cincinnati). Jones had a 100-yard return for a touchdown against Nebraska and, with 901 career KO return yards already, could move into fourth place on all-time Irish KO return yards list against West Virginia.
JULIUS JONES TAPPED FUTURE STAR Athlon Sports recently projected a National Football League ?All-Decade? team for 2000-2009 and current Irish sophomore Julius Jones was one of two running backs named to the squad, joining current Indianapolis Colts star Edgerrin James. The 26-player team included just four other current college players: tackle Michael Munoz (Tennessee), linebacker D.J. Williams (University of Miami), linebacker Saleem Rasheed (Alabama) and punt returner David Allen (Kansas State).
JONES, GETHERALL, GIVENS GO LONG DISTANCE AGAINST HUSKERS Julius Jones, Joey Getherall and David Givens combined for 317 return yards (4 punts for 113 yards, 4 kickoffs for 204) against Nebraska — including an 83-yard punt return by Getherall and a 100-yard kickoff return by Jones for touchdowns. The 317 return yards were the second most kickoff and punt return yards for the Irish since the start of the 1980 season. Notre Dame had 336 return yards (231 punt, 71 kickoff and 34 interception) against Pittsburgh in ’96.
Notre Dame’s 204 kickoff return yards established a modern Irish record for single-game kickoff returns, eclipsing the 192 by Notre Dame (all by Raghib Ismail) against Michigan in 1989. The Irish had 354 kickoff return yards against Kalamazoo in 1922.
Jones’ 175 return yards were the most for a Notre Dame player since Clint Johnson returned two kickoffs vs. Stanford for 179 yards and one touchdown. Jones’ 100-yard TD return marked the first kickoff touchdown return of his career, the longest since Johnson went 100 yards vs. Stanford and the first for the Irish since Jarious Jackson returned an onside kick for a TD against Pitt in ’97.
Getherall’s 83-yard punt return tied Allen Rossum’s 83-yard punt return against Pittsburgh in 1996 for the eighth-longest in Irish history. The last Irish player to return a punt longer was Ricky Watters who set the record with a 97-yarder vs. SMU in 1989.
Givens started the Nebraska game with a 41-yard kickoff return, the longest of his career.
THREE FORMER IRISH PLAYERS NAMED TO ABC SPORTS ALL-TIME ALL-AMERICA TEAM Three former Notre Dame football greats have been selected to the ABC Sports College Football All-Time All-America Team, as featured in a recently-published book by Hyperion. Receiver Tim Brown was named to the second team, as was defensive lineman Alan Page, while tight end Dave Casper was chosen to the third team.
Brown, from Dallas, Texas, won the 1987 Heisman Trophy and finished his Notre Dame career as the all-time Irish leader in reception yardage (2,493). He keynoted his Heisman bid in ’87 by returning two punts for 66 and 71 yards for TDs against Michigan State. Brown continues to star as a receiver for the NFL Oakland Raiders.
Page, from Canton, Ohio, earned consensus All-America honors as a senior in 1966 while helping the Irish to the national championship. A three-year starter at defensive end, he made 63 tackles as a senior in ’66 and finished with 134 career tackles. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in ’93 ? and was an NCAA Silver Anniversary award winner in ’92. A former NFL MVP during his career with the Minnesota Vikings, Page now serves as a Minnesota Supreme Court judge.
Casper, from Chilton, Wis., was a consensus All-America selection as a senior in 1973 on Notre Dame’s national championship team. A three-year starter from 1971-73, he opened at offensive tackle for two seasons, then switched to tight end as a senior. His career totals included 21 catches for 335 yards and four TDs. He served as co-captain of Notre Dame’s ’73 national title squad. After 11 years in the NFL, Casper was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 1993 and was an NCAA Silver Anniversary award winner in 1999.
THEISMANN TO SERVE AS GUEST SPEAKER AT 81ST ANNUAL FOOTBALL BANQUET Former Notre Dame All-America quarterback and current ESPN analyst Joe Theismann will serve as guest speaker for the 81st annual University of Notre Dame Football Banquet. The banquet, sponsored by the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley, will be held Friday, Dec. 1, 2000, in the north dome of the Joyce Center on the Notre Dame campus. A reception on the concourse begins at 5:45 p.m. EST and the dinner begins at 7:00 p.m. The program will include video highlights of the 2000 season and a special tribute to senior members of the 2000 Irish squad. Ticket information will be announced within the next few weeks. In addition to the dinner, all senior members of the 2000 Irish team will be available for autographs on the concourse during the reception. There also will be a silent auction of Notre Dame football photographs and memorabilia during the reception.
2000 Notre Dame SCHEDULE AMONG TOUGHEST Notre Dame’s schedule — which had been rated the fourth toughest in the country in the first four weeks of the season — currently is rated by the NCAA as the 29th toughest in the country. Irish opponents have posted a 36-25 overall record — a figure that does not include their games vs. Notre Dame — so far this season for a .590 winning percentage.
IRISH LIFE SKILLS PROGRAM HONORED AS ONE OF NATION’S BEST The Notre Dame CHAMPS/Life Skills Program has been identified as one of the best in the nation by the NCAA Division I-A Athletic Directors’ Association. Notre Dame received one of four program of excellence awards at the Association’s Sept. 25 awards dinner in Dallas. Honored along with Notre Dame were Arizona State University, the University of Iowa and Michigan State University. Notre Dame’s Life Skills Program currently is under the direction of Bernard Muir, associate athletic director for student-athlete welfare.
In existence since August 1996, Notre Dame’s Life Skills Program is committed to the total development of the University’s student-athletes. It fosters the cultivation of skills that allow for their maximization on and off the playing field. The program develops and implements events and activities which are designed to facilitate learning in five key areas: academic excellence, athletic success, career preparation, community involvement and personal development. By the time a Notre Dame student-athlete graduates, he or she will have participated in approximately 40 hours of required skill building and development workshops in each key area. All freshmen and their parents participate in orientation sessions designed to assist in the transition into the University and to inform them about the Life Skills Program as well as other support services.
FRIDAY FOOTBALL KICKOFF LUNCHEONS Tickets are available for the 2000 Notre Dame Football Kickoff Luncheons, held in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse (north dome). The luncheons are held at the same day and time before every Irish home game this season. The 2000 football luncheons are sponsored by the Irish Athletic Department and the speaking program each week includes a combination of special guests, head coach Bob Davie, members of his coaching staff and members of the Irish squad, in addition to video features. Tickets are $16 each (plus $3 handling charge per order) and are available by calling (219) 272-2870.
GERMANY GAME GETS RAVE REVIEWS Eight members of Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship football team?including ’88 tri-captain Mark Green and standout inside linebacker Wes Pritchett?helped comprise the list of 55 former Irish football players who participated in Charity Bowl 2000. The former Irish players traveled to Hamburg, Germany, for a July 8, 2000, game against the Hamburg Blue Devils football club, at Volkspark Stadium. A memorable six-day trip was capped by a 14-10 victory for the Notre Dame alumni team, with the game ending on Ivory Covington’s interception in the end zone after the Blue Devils had marched to the seven-yard line. QB Steve Belles had a hand in both Irish scoring drives, hitting Clint Johnson with a 50-yard bomb to set up his own two-yard option keeper for the first TD before connecting with Johnson for a 23-yard TD pass later in the game. The game benefited Kinder Helfen Kindern (Kids Helping Kids) and the Notre Dame Brennan-Boland Scholarship Fund, which provides need-based assistance to sons and daughters of members of the Notre Dame National Monogram Club. The coaching staff included former Notre Dame assistant coaches Brian Boulac, Skip Holtz, Peter Vaas, Brian White and Tony Yelovich and former Irish player Mike Haywood while current defensive coordinator Greg Mattison served as head coach. Feature stories detailing the alumni team’s experiences in Germany?including a full recap?are posted on the ND athletic website (www.und.com).
FRESHMAN WALK-ONS Notre Dame’s freshman class includes 17 scholarship players and two walk-ons: quarterback Matt Krueger (who will be sharing No. 8 with wide receiver Lorenzo Crawford) and tight end Brendan Hart (who is sharing No. 83 with walk-on kicker Josh Gentile). Hart is the grandson of former Notre Dame end and 1949 Heisman Trophy winner Leon Hart and the son of former Irish tight end Kevin Hart. Krueger prepped at South Bend’s Marian High School as did his brother Ryan, a junior walk-on QB.
BIG CROWDS EVERYWHERE The Irish have played in front of capacity crowds in 123 of the last 142 games, including the first five games in 2000. Each of the first 10 regular-season games involving Notre Dame during the ’98 season ? and the first 11 in ’99 ? was played in front of a sellout crowd.
GIVING BACK Four former Notre Dame football players currently are employees of the University: flanker Mike Favorite (’81-’83), defensive back D’Juan Francisco (’86-’89), quarterback Tony Rice (’87-’89) and offensive tackle Larry Williams (’81-’84). Favorite joined Notre Dame in 1993 as assistant director of the auditing department, recently served as associate director for ?Y2K? compliance and currently is a strategic consultant in the office of information technologies. Francisco joined the Notre Dame Alumni Association in 1992 and assumed the role of director of constituency groups, alumni clubs and student programs (he now coordinates 210 domestic and 30 international alumni clubs). Rice was appointed assistant director of regional development for Notre Dame in the Chicago area on Feb. 1, 1999, while Williams was named Notre Dame’s director of licensing in November of 1999.