Sept. 20, 2004
Game No. 4
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-1) vs. Washington Huskies (0-2)
The Date and Time: Saturday, Sept. 25, 2004 at 2:30 p.m. EST.
The Site: Notre Dame Stadium (80,795/Natural Grass) in Notre Dame, Ind.
The Tickets: They’re all sold — with this being the 175th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium (the first 130 coming at the old 59,075 capacity). The Washington game marks the 223rd home sellout in the last 224 games (dating back to 1964). It also is the 165th sellout in the last 189 Irish games and the 29th in the last 30 games involving Notre Dame, dating back to the end of the 2001 season (only last year’s game at Stanford was not a sellout).
The TV Plans: NBC national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Pat Haden (analysis), Lewis Johnson (sideline), Jim Bell (producer) and John Gonzalez (director).
The Radio Plans: For the 37th consecutive season, all Notre Dame football games are broadcast on more than 300 stations in all 50 states by Westwood One with Tony Roberts (play-by-play), former Irish running back Allen Pinkett (analysis), Larry Michael (pregame/halftime) and Al Smith (producer). A live broadcast from the Notre Dame student station, WVFI, also is available via the Notre Dame athletics web site at www.und.com. All Notre Dame football games may be heard in South Bend on U93-FM (92.9) with pre- and post-game analysis featuring Sean Stires, Shawn Lewallen, Jack Nolan, Mirko Jurkovic, Reggie Brooks and Vince DeDario. All Irish games also are carried live in the Chicago market on ESPN Radio 1000.
Real-Time Stats: Live in-game statistics, courtesy of College Sports Online’s GameTracker, will be made available for the Washington game, via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) and Washington (www.gohuskies.com) athletics web sites.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), Washington (www.gohuskies.com).
IRISH RETURN FROM A ROAD WIN TO TAKE ON WASHINGTON
Notre Dame (2-1) will play host to Washington (0-2) at Notre Dame Stadium for the first time since 1996 on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (EST). The game will be televised nationally by NBC, marking the 140th consecutive Irish football game to be shown on one of the four major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN).
Notre Dame will enter Saturday’s game on an upswing after rebounding from a 20-17 loss at BYU on the first weekend of the season to defeat two Big Ten Conference opponents in a row (Michigan 28-20, at Michigan State 31-24). The Irish offense has received a shot in the arm from freshman running back Darius Walker (213 yards in two games, two TD) and a bevy of talented receivers. It was Matt Shelton’s turn to shine last weekend at Michigan State, exploding for 123 receiving yards and one touchdown. Sophomore wideout Jeff Samardzija was also effective, setting new career highs with a team-best four catches for 65 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn rushed for his first career touchdown in Notre Dame’s victory at Michigan State, while sophomore safety Tom Zbikowski provided one of the highlights of the college football weekend by stripping Jason Teague and returning a fumble 75 yards for a touchdown. Zbikowski also had an interception, nine tackles and two forced fumbles in the contest. Shelton’s 35-yard touchdown grab, a six-yard touchdown run by senior running back Ryan Grant and senior kicker D.J. Fitzpatrick’s 23-yard field goal rounded out the scoring for Notre Dame at MSU.
Washington will enter Notre Dame Stadium this weekend with a misleading 0-2 record. The Huskies have lost their first two games this season, both at home and both in heartbreaking fashion. UW saw Fresno State return two interceptions and a fumble for touchdowns in a 35-16 Bulldog victory, followed by a tough 37-31 loss to UCLA last Saturday. The Huskies held a 24-7 lead in the contest against UCLA, before the Bruins rattled off 27 consecutive points and rallied for the victory. The UCLA- Washington game ended with Husky receiver Charles Frederick being stopped at UCLA’s one-yard line as time expired.
NOTRE DAME-WASHINGTON SERIES NOTES
â€¢ Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Washington, 4-0, including wins in both previous matchups at Notre Dame Stadium (46-0 in 1948 and 54-20 in 1996).
â€¢ Washington is one of eight NCAA Division I-A opponents against which Notre Dame has never lost, with a minimum of four games played in the series. The others in this select group include: California (4-0), Illinois (11-0-1), Minnesota (4-0-1), Rice (4-0), Rutgers (4-0), Tulane (8-0) and West Virginia (4-0).
â€¢ Washington is one of three Pac-10 Conference schools on the 2004 Notre Dame schedule, and one of two that will visit Notre Dame Stadium this season (Stanford comes to town on Oct. 9).
â€¢ Notre Dame has outscored Washington in its four previous games by an aggregate score of 156-48, or an average score of 39-12.
â€¢ In two prior series games at Notre Dame Stadium, the Irish have outscored the Huskies, 100-20, or an average of 50-10.
â€¢ Notre Dame has been ranked in three of the four series games entering this season (all but 1949), while UW was ranked in each of the last two meetings (1995 and 1996).
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
â€¢ Notre Dame will improve to 5-0 all-time against Washington, keeping the Huskies on the list of eight NCAA Division I-A teams who have never defeated the Irish (minimum of four games played).
â€¢ The Irish will pick up their eighth home victory in nine meetings with a Pac-10 Conference team since 1998 (only loss was to USC last season).
â€¢ Notre Dame will improve to 71-36-6 (.655) all-time against Pac-10 teams, including a 41-13-1 (.755) mark at Notre Dame Stadium.
â€¢ Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham will earn his first career victory over Washington in six career matchups (0-5 at Stanford).
IF WASHINGTON WINS …
â€¢ Washington will pick up its first-ever win over Notre Dame, becoming just the fifth Pac-10 team to defeat the Irish (others are Arizona, Oregon State, Stanford and USC).
â€¢ Notre Dame will drop two consecutive home games to Pac-10 opponents for the first time since 1982 (L, 14-7 vs. USC in ’81; L, 16-13 vs. Arizona in ’82).
NOTRE DAME-WASHINGTON SERIES HISTORY
â€¢ Notre Dame and Washington began their abbreviated series in 1948, when the Huskies came to South Bend and lost to the Irish, 46-0.
â€¢ Notre Dame turned around and ventured to Seattle the following season, once again besting UW by a 27-7 score.
â€¢ The two teams would not meet again for 46 seasons until Notre Dame made its way to Husky Stadium in 1995 and pulled out a 29-21 victory.
â€¢ Once again, the teams met again the next year, with the 11th-ranked Irish dispatching No. 16 Washington, 54-20. â€¢ In that most recent matchup in 1996, Notre Dame piled up 650 yards of total offense, marking the last time the Irish have topped the 600-yard mark in offensive production. â€¢ Notre Dame and Washington are scheduled to meet again next season in Seattle.
NOTRE DAME-WASHINGTON CONNECTIONS
â€¢ Notre Dame offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bill Diedrick is quite familiar with the Washington program, having spent four seasons (1994-97) as the Huskies’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, working with such UW and NFL standouts as brothers Damon and Brock Huard, as well as Marques Tuiasosopo. In fact, Diedrick was on the Washington coaching staff the last two times the Huskies played the Irish (1995 and 1996).
â€¢ Diedrick also has a longstanding relationship with Washington head coach Keith Gilbertson that dates back nearly 35 years. It began when Diedrick was a graduate assistant and Gilbertson played at Hawaii in 1970. The pair reunited from 1986-88 at Idaho, where Gilbertson was the Vandals’ head coach and tapped Diedrick to be his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks/receivers coach — the tandem would help Idaho make three NCAA Division I-AA playoff appearances and reach the national semifinals in 1988.
â€¢ The defensive coordinator and linebackers coach on that 1986 Idaho squad was none other than current Notre Dame defensive coordinator Kent Baer, who also worked with Gilbertson at Utah State from 1977-81.
â€¢ Baer also served alongside Washington defensive coordinator/safeties coach Phil Snow on two occasions under veteran head coach Bruce Snyder — at California (1987-91) and Arizona State (1992-94). When Baer left ASU to join Tyrone Willingham’s staff at Stanford prior to the 1995 season, Snow succeeded him as the Sun Devils’ defensive coordinator.
â€¢ Notre Dame running backs/special teams coach Buzz Preston worked as a graduate assistant at Washington in 1983, serving on the staff of legendary UW mentor Don James.
â€¢ Washington assistant athletic director for media relations Jim Daves was an associate sports information director at Notre Dame from 1986-92 before assuming his current post in Seattle.
â€¢ Notre Dame assistant athletics director and Joyce Center manager Brian Boulac is a Olympia, Wash., native. He earned two monograms playing football for the Irish (1960 and 1961) before spending 12 seasons as an assistant coach at Notre Dame from 1970-82 and being a part of national championship teams in 1973 and 1977. Boulac later became the first head softball coach in school history from 1989-92, guiding the Irish to two Midwestern Collegiate Conference regular-season titles.
FRIEND OR FOE?
â€¢ Notre Dame junior walk-on wide receiver Mike O’Hara is the only Washington native on the Irish roster, hailing from Bellevue, Wash., and attending Newport High School.
â€¢ Notre Dame junior nose guard Derek Landri and Washington redshirt junior offensive guard Rob Meadow were teammates at De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., helping the Spartans extend a national-record 151-game winning streak that ended earlier this year (ironically, the streak was stopped by Bellevue (Wash.) High School at Qwest Field in Seattle).
â€¢ Irish sophomore defensive back Freddie Parish IV and Washington redshirt sophomore free safety Kim Taylor were teammates at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High School, helping that school to a 14-0 record and a CIF-Southern Section state championship in 2001.
â€¢ Notre Dame senior inside linebacker Mike Goolsby hails from Joliet, Ill., while Washington junior quarterback Casey Paus is from nearby New Lenox, Ill. Goolsby attended Joliet Catholic High School, while Paus matriculated from Lincoln Way High School.
NOTRE DAME VS. THE PAC-10 CONFERENCE
â€¢ Notre Dame has won more than 65 percent of its games versus Pac-10 Conference opponents, with a winning series record versus nine of the Pac-10 teams and an overall mark of 70-36-6 (.652) in 112 games against Pac-10 schools — including the ’98, 2000, ’02 and ’03 wins over Stanford, the ’98 and ’99 wins over Arizona State, the ’99, ’00 and ’01 wins over USC and the ’03 victory over Washington State. Nearly 70 percent of those games (75) have come versus USC (42-27-5) while another 16 percent have come against Stanford (12-6-0).
â€¢ Notre Dame has played a handful of games vs. California (4-0), Washington (4-0), Arizona (2-1), Oregon (1-0-1) and UCLA (2-0). Notre Dame and Arizona State met for the first time in 1998, while the Irish met Oregon State for the first time in the 2001 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Notre Dame played its first-ever game against Washington State last season, downing the Cougars, 29-26 in overtime.
â€¢ The Irish won at Washington in ’95 (29-21) and beat the Huskies at Notre Dame Stadium in ’96 (54-20), with the only other previous games in that series coming in ’48 and ’49. The most recent games vs. other Pac-10 teams are: a 16-13 home loss to Arizona in ’82, a 41-8 home win over California in ’67, a 13-13 tie at Oregon in ’82 and a 24-0 home win over UCLA in ’64.
â€¢ Notre Dame is 15-9-1 (.620) in its last 25 games vs. Pac-10 schools (4-5-1 vs. USC, 6-3 vs. Stanford, 2-0 vs. Washington, 2-0 vs. Arizona State, 1-0 vs. Washington State, 0-1 vs. Oregon State), starting with a ’92 victory over USC. The Irish also are 11-2 (.846) in their last 13 home games against Pac-10 squads, dating back to 1993.
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND WASHINGTON MET
Notre Dame’s last matchup with Washington on Oct. 12, 1996, at Notre Dame Stadium marked the end of head coach Lou Holtz’s experiment with the “Blarney” offense. The 11th-ranked Irish decided to switch from the `spread’ offense it had been attempting over the first five games of the season and returned to a tradition run-heavy offense. The results were spectacular, as the Irish rolled up 397 rushing yards on 58 attempts, led mostly by Autry Denson (137 yards, TD). Notre Dame attempted just 16 passes in the contest.
Notre Dame put up 14 points in the first half on two touchdown runs, one from Denson and the other from Jamie Spencer. Randy Kinder and Robert Farmer followed with touchdown runs in the second quarter, but Washington answered with runs from Corey Dillon and Rashaan Shehee to keep the game close.
The Irish exploded with 21 more points in the third quarter on back-to-back touchdown catches by Pete Chryplewicz and a Malcolm Johnson touchdown grab. Dillon added one more touchdown in the fourth quarter for Washington, while Shannon Stephens ended the scoring in the contest for Notre Dame by hauling in a 23-yard pass from Jarious Jackson.
1964 HEISMAN TROPHY WINNER John Huarte TO BE HONORED AT WASHINGTON GAME
Notre Dame will celebrate the 40th anniversary of John Huarte’s 1964 Heisman Trophy victory during Saturday’s game against Washington. Huarte, a quarterback from Santa Ana, Calif., set 12 Irish records in ’64 while leading Ara Parseghian’s first team to a 9-1 record and a 6.5-game improvement over the previous season (the biggest such jump in school history and tied for 12th-best in NCAA history). Huarte finished that year by completing 114 of 205 passes for 2,062 yards and 16 touchdowns, while ranking third nationally in total offense (2,069).
ZBIKOWSKI NAMED NATIONAL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Notre Dame sophomore safety Tom Zbikowski was named the Walter Camp Foundation Defensive Player of the Week on Sunday, Sept. 19, after his impressive performance at Michigan State. Zbikowski had a stellar day in the Fighting Irish’s 31-24 victory over Michigan State, recording a team-high nine tackles (six solo). The native of Arlington Heights, Ill. also forced two fumbles and recorded one interception in the victory. One of Zbikowski’s forced fumbles was a strip of a MSU ballcarrier that resulted in a fumble recovery and 75-yard touchdown that tied the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter.
SHELTON GETS IT DONE
Senior wide receiver Matt Shelton enjoyed a career day at Michigan State last Saturday, nabbing three passes for 123 yards and one touchdown. Shelton’s catches ended up at 53, 35 and 35 yards. A big-play specialist at Notre Dame, Shelton has averaged 34.6 yards on this three touchdown grabs (35 at MSU, 46 vs. Michigan, 65 at Stanford in ’03).
WINNING THE FIELD POSITION BATTLE
One of the key (and sometimes overlooked) aspects of Notre Dame’s success this season has been its ability to maintain excellent field position. After starting 11 of 15 drives against BYU at or inside their own 20-yard line, the Irish have started 23 of their last 31 drives in “plus territory” — outside their own 20-yard line — with 11 drives that began in their opponent’s half of the field.
Another key fact to note: after an average starting field position at BYU of its own 22-yard line, Notre Dame has averaged starting at its own 40-yard line in wins over Michigan and Michigan State.
THE FIVE-FINGER DISCOUNT
Notre Dame came up with a Willingham-era record six turnovers (3 FUM, 3 INT) last weekend at Michigan State, marking the third consecutive week the Irish have had at least two takeaways. That should come as no surprise to many — during the past three-plus seasons (2001-04), Notre Dame has forced two or more turnovers in 29 of its 39 games, including 23 contests where they came up with at least three takeaways.
STOPPING THE RUN IS JOB ONE FOR IRISH
The Notre Dame run defense has been exceptionally sturdy during the past three seasons. Since head coach Tyrone Willingham and defensive coordinator Kent Baer arrived on the scene in 2002, the Irish have held 16 of 28 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing, including stingy performances in the first two games this year (BYU – 22; Michigan – 56). In fact, Notre Dame opponents are averaging a meager 2.4 yards per carry through the first three games this season.
In 2002, Notre Dame was ranked 10th in the nation in rushing defense, followed by a No. 29 national ranking last year. Through their first three games this season, the Irish are 18th in the country in rushing defense, allowing an average of just 81 yards on the ground.
WALKER POSTS UNPRECEDENTED FRESHMAN PRODUCTION
After sitting out Notre Dame’s opener at BYU, freshman running back Darius Walker made a big splash in his home debut vs. Michigan, rushing 31 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-20 Irish win. He followed up with another solid effort at Michigan State, rushing for 98 yards on 26 carries. His Michigan performance was good enough for The Sporting News and Sporting News Radio to name the Lawrenceville, Ga., native as its National Player of the Week, and for Rivals.com to tab him as the National Freshman of the Week for Sept. 11. Walker’s numbers in his first two games also put him in some select company in Notre Dame history:
â€¢ First Irish freshman to rush for 100 yards in a game since Julius Jones had 146 yards against Navy on Oct. 30, 1999.
â€¢ First Notre Dame freshman to score two touchdowns in a game since Matt LoVecchio ran for two scores at USC on Nov. 25, 2000.
â€¢ First Irish rookie to score in a home opener since Sept. 29, 1979, when Tony Hunter caught a 14-yard touchdown pass in a 27-3 win over Michigan State. Walker also is the first freshman to score two touchdowns in a home opener since at least 1970.
â€¢ First Notre Dame freshman running back to score twice in a game since Nov. 18, 1995, when Autry Denson rushed for two touchdowns in a 44-14 win at Air Force. (Note: Julius Jones did score twice vs. Boston College on Nov. 20, 1999, but one of his touchdowns came as a punt returner).
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn has spread his pass completions around through the first three games of the 2004 season. Quinn has completed passes to 11 different receivers in Notre Dame’s first three contests, a breakdown of five wide receivers, two tight ends and four running backs. Junior wide receiver Rhema McKnight has been Quinn’s favorite target thus far, grabbing 11 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. Fellow junior wideout Maurice Stovall is next with 10 receptions for 122 yards. Quinn also has tossed touchdown passes to three different players this season: McKnight, senior wide receiver Matt Shelton (twice) and senior fullback Rashon Powers-Neal.
BE LIKE MIKE
Senior linebacker Mike Goolsby has made a resounding return to the Notre Dame lineup this season after missing the entire 2003 slate with an injury. Through three games this season, Goolsby has been credited with 31 tackles (10.3 per game) while leading the team in two of three games thus far. In fact, the Joliet, Ill., native rolled up career-best tackle totals his first two games of the year, tallying 11 stops at BYU and 14 tackles against Michigan.
HOYTE MAKING BIG PLAYS
Senior linebacker Brandon Hoyte has been a catalyst for Notre Dame’s physical play on defense thus far this season, making several big hits and tackles for losses. Hoyte enters the Washington game with 19 tackles to rank second on the team, but his knack for making big hits has been a hallmark of his play thus far in 2004. Hoyte has forced two fumbles this season, collected one sack and has four tackles for loss (17 yards).
The Irish have caused 11 turnovers (6 FUM, 5 INT) this season and have made the most of their opportunities. Notre Dame has parlayed those takeaways into 38 points, which accounts for 50 percent of the Irish scoring (76 points) thus far in 2004.
PAPER OR PLASTIC?
With 22 career sacks, senior defensive end and All-America candidate Justin Tuck is on the verge of becoming Notre Dame’s all-time leader in that category. The Kellyton, Ala., native set a school record with 13.5 sacks last year and has added three sacks so far this season. With one sack last weekend vs. Michigan, he passed Mike Gann (1982-84) for second place on the Irish career list behind Kory Minor’s 22.5 sacks from 1995-98. Here’s a look at the Irish career sack leaders since 1982 (when Notre Dame began recognizing sacks as a separate statistic — prior to that, they were labeled “tackles for loss”):
Player Seasons Sacks
Kory Minor 1995-98 22.5
Justin Tuck 2002-04 22
Mike Gann 1982-84 21
Bryant Young 1990-93 18
Anthony Weaver 1998-01 17
Bert Berry 1993-96 16.5
FITZPATRICK SHARP IN THE PUNTING GAME
Senior punter D.J. Fitzpatrick has shown considerable improvement through his first two games this season. Fitzpatrick currently owns a 40.5 punting average, a jump of nearly four yards per kick from last year’s average (36.84), and he also has four punts of at least 50 yards, including a career-long 56-yard boot at BYU. In addition, the Granger, Ind., product has dropped six punts inside the opposition’s 20-yard line and is helping Notre Dame to hold its opponents to only 9.0 yards per punt return.
NOTRE DAME CLOSING IN ON 800TH ALL-TIME VICTORY
The Notre Dame football program is nearing a historic milestone, needing two victories to become just the second NCAA Division I-A program to amass 800 all-time wins. The Irish currently rank second in NCAA history with 798 wins, trailing only Michigan’s 835 victories, although the Wolverines have played nine more seasons than Notre Dame. It should be noted that Yale, currently an NCAA Division I-AA institution, has 822 career wins with many of those triumphs coming before the Bulldogs’ move to Division I-AA in 1982.
Including all three games this season, Notre Dame is 11-4 (.733) in “one-possession games” (decided by eight points or less) since Tyrone Willingham took over as the Irish head coach prior in 2002. The only times the Irish have not won a close ball game under Willingham’s guidance were against Boston College in 2002 (14-7) and 2003 (27-25), Michigan State in 2003 (22-16) and BYU in 2004 (20-17).
RETURN TO SENDER
The return game has been a source of strength for Notre Dame in recent years. The Irish have logged 28 returns (punts, kickoffs, fumbles, interceptions) for touchdowns during the past six seasons (1999-2004), a figure that is tied for seventh in the country during that stretch. Here’s a look at the national leaders in touchdown returns since ’99 (research courtesy of the University of Colorado):
Team 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Bowls Total Miami (Fla.) 3 13 11 5 9 2 1 44 Virginia Tech 8 6 7 7 10 2 0 40 Kansas State 9 5 2 12 5 2 0 35 Colorado 5 4 7 7 1 3 4 31 Nebraska 6 7 5 6 4 0 3 30 N.C. State 3 2 4 9 10 1 1 30 NOTRE DAME 4 6 4 9 3 2 0 28 East Carolina 7 5 4 5 3 0 4 28 Fresno State 5 5 3 5 4 4 2 28 Texas Tech 3 7 8 5 3 1 1 28
THEY SHALL RETURN
â€¢ During the past 18-plus seasons (’86-’04), Notre Dame has produced 82 TDs via kickoff, punt, interception and fumble returns — with the most recent TD runback coming on sophomore safety Tom Zbikowski’s 75-yard fumble return last weekend at Michigan State.
â€¢ In contrast, opponents in the past 18 seasons have combined for 24 total TD returns vs. the Irish.
â€¢ Here’s a year-by-year breakdown of the Irish return touchdowns since 1986:
Year PU KO INT FUM Year PU KO INT FUM1986 0 2 0 0 1997 0 2 1 01987 3 0 1 0 1998 0 0 2 31988 2 2 3 0 1999 1 0 2 11989 2 2 3 0 2000 2 1 1 21990 0 2 0 0 2001 0 1 2 11991 1 1 2 0 2002 2 1 4 21992 0 1 0 0 2003 1 0 0 21993 2 1 2 1 2004 0 0 1 11994 0 0 1 1 ND (82) 21 17 27 171995 1 0 2 1 Opp. (24) 7 3 9 51996 4 1 0 2
CURRY NAMED TO AFCA GOOD WORKS TEAM
Senior linebacker Derek Curry has been named to the 2004 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team, the AFCA announced Sept. 15. Curry was one of only 11 football student-athletes chosen for the NCAA Division I-A Team. Another 11 student-athletes were named to the team representing schools from NCAA Divisions I-AA, II, III and NAIA.
Nominations for the Good Works Team are submitted to the AFCA by college sports information departments. Nominees must be actively involved and committed to working with a charitable organization, service group or involved in other community service activities and must display sincere concern and reliability, while also having made a favorable impression on the organizations with which they are involved. Athletic ability is not a criterion.
Curry is currently in his third season as a starting linebacker for the Irish. A three-time monogram winner at Notre Dame, Curry has distinguished himself as one of the team’s undisputed leaders. In addition to his prowess on the football field, Curry has been a three-year volunteer for the Student-Athlete Advisory Council Pediatric Oncology Christmas Party; has volunteered at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of downtown South Bend and the Robinson Community Learning Center; is in his third year of “Iron Sharpens Iron”, an interdenominational Christian group at Notre Dame that brings students together in worship, prayer and bible studies; has volunteered for two years at “There Are Children Here”; and is a huddle leader for the Notre Dame chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Curry is the third Notre Dame football player named to the squad over the past six seasons. Grant Irons received the award as a junior in 1999 and went on to be a rare five-year monogram winner and two-time captain with the Irish while playing at linebacker and defensive end. He served as president of Notre Dame’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council and was involved in numerous community service programs at Notre Dame and in the surrounding South Bend community.
All-America linebacker Courtney Watson received the honor in 2003. Watson was responsible for creating and developing the football team’s community service initiative entitled “Tackle The Arts”, an interactive approach that helps inspire children to explore different areas of the arts including reading, creative writing and poetry, drawing and music. Watson also installed a food drive dimension to the event and combined with current Irish players Brandon Hoyte and Dan Stevenson as hosts of a picnic for at-risk children in the South Bend area. He regularly made surprise visits to the pediatric floor at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, addressed the Jackson Middle School football team at its banquet and participated in the St. Joseph County City Bureau Youth Fest. On a campus level, Watson was nominated and then elected a member of the Notre Dame Student Senate in 2002-03 and served as a member of the Residence Life and Academic Council committees.
RANK AND FILE
Notre Dame’s penchant for playing the best teams in the country is well known. In fact, over the last 18 seasons (1987-2004), the Irish have played 83 games against ranked opponents, an average of nearly five games per season. Notre Dame has posted a record of 44-37-2 (.542) in these games, including a 23-12-1 (.653) mark against ranked teams at home. Here’s a breakdown of how the Irish have done against Top 25 teams since 1987:
Season Home Road/Neutral Total 1987 2-0 1-2 3-2 1988 2-0 2-0 4-0 1989 3-0 3-1 6-1 1990 2-1 3-1 5-2 1991 1-1 1-2 2-3 1992 2-1-1 2-0 4-1-1 1993 1-1 2-0 3-1 1994 0-1 0-2-1 0-3-1 1995 2-0 1-2 3-2 1996 1-1 1-0 2-1 1997 1-1 1-3 2-4 1998 1-0 0-1 1-1 1999 1-1 0-3 1-4 2000 2-1 0-2 2-3 2001 0-1 0-2 0-3 2002 1-0 3-2 4-2 2003 0-2 1-2 1-4 2004 1-0 0-0 1-0 Totals 23-12-1 21-25-1 44-37-2
IRISH HEAD COACH Tyrone Willingham
A veteran with 27 years of coaching experience at the collegiate and professional levels, Tyrone Willingham is in the midst of his third season as head football coach at the University of Notre Dame in 2004. Willingham has a record of 17-11 (.607) in two-plus seasons with the Irish, leading Notre Dame to a 10-3 record and a trip to the Gator Bowl in 2002 before a 5-7 campaign in 2003.
In 2002, Willingham became the first Irish head coach ever to win 10 games in his first season, was named the ESPN/Home Depot College Coach of the Year, the Scripps College Coach of the Year, the Black Coaches Association Male Coach of the Year and received the George Munger Award College Coach of the Year by the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia. In addition, he made history in 2002 as the first college football coach ever to earn The Sporting News Sportsman of the Year award. In nine years as a college head coach, Willingham has compiled a solid 61-47-1 (.564) record and has guided his teams to bowl games on five occasions.
Willingham was introduced as the new Irish mentor on Jan. 1, 2002, following seven seasons as the head coach at Stanford. He compiled a 44-36-1 (.549) record during his tenure at Stanford, guiding the Cardinal to four bowl games, including the Rose Bowl following the 1999 season. Willingham was a two-time Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year (1995 and 1999), the only Stanford coach to earn that award more than once, and he was a finalist for national coach-of-the-year honors in ’95 and ’99. All told, Willingham spent 10 years at Stanford, initially serving as running backs coach from 1989-91.
Between his stints with the Cardinal, Willingham coached in the professional ranks for three seasons (1992-94) with the Minnesota Vikings, helping his team win a pair of NFC Central Division championships and reach the playoffs all three years. Willingham began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Michigan State, in 1977, before moving to Central Michigan as the defensive secondary coach for two years (1978-79). He returned to MSU from 1980-82, working with the secondary and special teams units, and also served on the coaching staffs at North Carolina State (1983-85) and Rice (1986-88).
Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 164 of its previous 188 games, including 28 of its last 29 games dating back to the end of th