Sept. 18, 2000
The Date and Time:Saturday,Sept.23,2000,at 3:30 EDT.
The Site:Spartan Stadium (72,027/artificial turf)in East Lansing,Mich.
The Tickets:They’re all sold -with this game marking the 122nd sellout in the last 141 games involving Notre Dame,including the first 10 games of 1998,the first 11 in ’99 and the first four in ’00. The TV Plans:ABC Sports regional telecast with Brad Nessler (play-by-play),Bob Griese (analysis) and Lynn Swann (sideline).
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 analy- sis)and Paul Hornung (pregame/halftime analysis).The Mutual 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.
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN STATE GAME NOTES
- Saturday’s game marks the 64th meeting between the Irish and Spartans.Notre Dame leads the series 41-21-1 with a 15-12-1 edge at Michigan State and a 13-10-1 lead at Spartan Stadium.
- Both teams enter the game ranked for just the fourth time since the famous 10-10 tie in 1966 and for the 12th time in the series.
- The Irish had beaten the Spartans eight straight times from 1987–94 until a two-year break when the series resumed with Michigan State winning in 1997,’98 and ’99.
- For the fourth straight week,,the Irish are playing an undefeated team.
THE IRISH TRAVEL PLANS
Notre Dame will be headquartered at the Radisson Hotel Lansing,111 North Grand Avenue,Lansing, MI 48933,(517)482-0188. The Irish are scheduled to bus to Michigan State on Friday at noon EST with a walk-through at Spartan Stadium at 4:00 p.m.EDT and arrival at the Radisson at 5:30 p.m.EDT.Notre Dame will return to campus immediately following the game.
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
- The Irish will beat three ranked teams in a season for the first time since 1995.
- The Irish will post wins over three ranked teams the earliest in a season since three of the first four games to start 1980.
- The Irish will beat the Spartans for the first time since 1994,ending a three-game losing streak to MSU.
IF MICHIGAN STATE WINS …
- The Spartans will become the first team to defeat the Irish in four consecutive meetings since Miami (1983-85,87)and first in four consecutive seasons since Air Force (1982-85).
- The Spartans will start the season 3-0 for the second consecutive season.
- Notre Dame leads the all-time series (41-21-1),including 15-12-1 at Michigan State,13-10-1 at Spar- tan Stadium,26-9 at Notre Dame and 15-9 at Notre Dame Stadium.
- The Irish have won 23 of the last 29 meetings,17 of the last 22 and eight of the last 11 but the Spartans –after beating the Irish only three times between 1968-94 –have won the last three meetings (23-7 in ‘97,45-23 in ’98 and 23-13 in ’99).
- After 36 consecutive years,the series took a two-year break in 1995 and 1996.
- Notre Dame and Michigan State met for the first time in 1897,,a 34-6 home win for Notre Dame.The teams played 15 times from 1897-1921 before a 26-year break,resumed play in 1948 and have met 49 times over the past 53 years,including this week’s game (no games in ’53,’58,’95 or ’96).
- The Megaphone Trophy,presented by the Detroit alumni clubs of both schools,goes to the winner of the Notre Dame-Michigan State game.
SCOUTING THE IRISH OFFENSE
–The veteran Irish offensive line in ’00 –with the only untested position at the start of the season being center –has led the Irish to 456 yards rushing against three ranked teams.Senior guards Jim Jones (left guard)and Mike Gandy (right guard)combined to start 21 games at their respective posi- tions last year.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 fresh- man.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 .
–For the second time in three games in ’00 the Irish looked to a rookie quarterback against Purdue after the loss of junior Arnaz Battle (13-31-173,2TDs,157 yards rushing vs.Texas A&M and Nebraska)to a fractured left navicular (wrist)against Nebraska –an injury that required surgery and will keep him out indefinitely.Sophomore Gary Godsey –who brings a physical presence as backup quar- terback at 6-7,239 –completed 14 of 25 passes for 158 yards against Purdue in his first career game.
–whose brother George is the starting QB at Georgia Tech –did not see varsity action as a freshman but a solid spring effort earned him the backup role heading into ’00.He was 12 for 23 for 148 yards and one interception in the 2000 Blue Gold Game.Freshman Matt LoVecchio will serve as Godsey’s backup for the Michigan State game,while freshmen Jared Clark and Carlyle Holiday round out the quarterbacks.
A trio of tailbacks –sophomore Julius Jones (47-168,TD,2-26 receiving)and juniors Tony Fisher (22-59,TD)and Terrance Howard (10-35)–give the Irish a talented and diversified running attack as each has started once in the first three games.Fisher started all 12 games last year and returns as the Page 5 team’s top rusher from ’99.Howard adds a combination of quickness and power,while the elusive Jones showed more and more of his potential as the weeks went by in ’99.Jones made his first career start against Nebraska and had a game-high 227 all-purpose yards.Sophomore Chris Yura also could help out at tailback.
Junior Tom Lopienski (6-14 rushing,3-41 receiving)moved into the starting fullback spot after car- rying the ball 25 times for 76 yards in all 12 games last year.Junior Mike McNair also helps out at fullback after recovering from an injury-plagued ’99 in which he played only in the opener against Kan- sas.Senior Jason Murray (back in ’00 after missing all of ’99 with injury)could see time at fullback.
–One of the more competitive spots on the Irish depth chart comes from the receiving corps.Senior Joey Getherall’s (2-18,TD)35 catches in ’99 make him the top returning receiver,while junior David Givens (8-116)shares time with Getherall at flanker and had career bests against Purdue (6-86).Junior Javin Hunter (3-65,TD)moved into the starting position at split end after playing in every game last year (13 for 224 yards).Senior Jay Johnson played in the final 11 games of ’99 and will see time behind Hunter.Freshman receivers Jerome Collins ,Lorenzo Crawford ,Omar Jenkins ,Ronnie Rodamer also could contribute.Another strength for the Irish is at tight end where senior All-America candidate Jabari Holloway (3-48)and fifth-year and ’99 honorable mention All-American Dan O’Leary (2-10)return.
SCOUTING THE IRISH DEFENSE
–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 have been be forced to shift one end position after losing senior RE Grant Irons (4 tackles,1 for loss)for the season with a dislo- cated shoulder against Nebraska that will require surgery.Sophomore Ryan Roberts (7 tackles)moved into Irons starting spot at right end and made his first career start against Purdue,recording his third sack in as many games.Junior and two-year starter Anthony Weaver (22 tackles,3 for loss,one sack) takes on a starting role at left end.Fifth-year B.J.Scott (8 tackles,2 for loss,1 sack)made his first career against Nebraska at defensive tackle,while senior Andy Wisne (4 tackles)will back up Scott after starting against A&M.Senior Lance Legree (16 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 at right end,Cedric Hilliard at nose guard and junior John Owens at left end.
–Two of three starters return from ’99 among the Irish linebackers,senior Anthony Denman (team-high 29 tackles,3 for loss,2 sacks)and junior Rocky Boiman (24 tackles,2 sacks, forced fumble).Denman starts at inside linebacker for the second straight year,while Boiman anchors the outside spot.Junior Tyreo Harrison (22 tackles,fumble recovery)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 (1 tackle)plays behind Denman.
–Old faces and new faces make up the Irish secondary starters.Seniors Tony Driver (26 tackles,INT,pass deflected)and Brock Williams (10 tackles,2 passes deflected)returned to starting roles,while senior Ron Israel (10 tackles,one for loss)and junior Shane Walton (14 tackles 1 for loss, 2 INTs,60-yard INT TD,2 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 –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 (2 tackles,pass de- flected)at left cornerback,junior Clifford Jefferson (6 tackles,forced fumble)at right cornerback, sophomores Gerome Sapp (11 tackles,1 for loss)and Glenn Earl (blocked punt)at strong safety and junior Donald Dykes (4 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 14 kickoffs in ’00.Sophomore Nick Setta (8-8 PATs,5-6 FG)has shined as the Irish placekicker through three games and nailed the game-winning FG from 38 yards against Purdue as time expired.Sophomore Joey Hildbold (18-781-43.4)has planted eight of his 18 punts inside the Page 6 20 and allowed average return of 2.1 yards per punt.Sophomore Julius Jones leads the nation in KO return (4-184-46.0,100-yard TD return against Nebraska),while junior David Givens (4-99)and senior Tony Driver (1-14)also share duties returning kickoffs.Jones (3-30)and senior Joey Getherall (7-153 with 83-yard TD return against Nebraska)return punts.Dan O’Leary (punts)and John Crowther (PAT and FG)share the snapping.Adam Tibble does the holding.
FOUR RANKED OPPONENTS IN A ROW
- After games against 23rd-ranked Texas A&M,top-ranked Nebraska and 13th-ranked Purdue to open the season,the Irish will be playing their fourth consecutive ranked opponent on Saturday at 23rd- ranked Michigan State,marking the first time since the inception of the Associated Press poll in 1936 that Notre Dame has opened a season with four ranked opponents.
- The Irish will be playing four consecutive games against ranked opponents during the regular season for the first time since 1957 and for only the third time ever (1943 was the first time).
- Here”s here how the 1943 Irish fared against their four consecutive ranked opponents:
Oct.30 #1 Notre Dame def.#3 Navy 33-6
Nov.6 #1 Notre Dame def.#3 Army 26-0
Nov.13 #1 Notre Dame def.#8 Northwestern 25-6
Nov.20 #1 Notre Dame def.#2 Iowa Pre-Flight 14-13
- Here”s here how the 1957 Irish fared against their four consecutive ranked opponents:
Nov.2 #16 Navy def.#5 Notre Dame 20-6
Nov.9 #4 Michigan State def.#15 Notre Dame 34-6
Nov.16 Notre Dame def.#2 Oklahoma 7-0 (ending the OU’s NCAA record 57-game winning streak)
Nov.23 #8 Iowa def.#9 Notre Dame 21-13
SETTA SAILS WINNING KICK
Irish sophomore PK Nick Setta –in just the third game of his career –nailed the fifth game-winning field goal at 0:00 in Notre Dame history and the first since Jim Sanson in 1996.Setta finished the game 3-4 in field goals attempts,connecting from 47,32 and 38 and missing from 39 yards.
FINAL PLAY FINISHES A FIRST
In its last two games,Notre Dame has played in consecutive contests that have ended on the final play for the first time in its history.Top-ranked Nebraska beat the Irish 27-24 in overtime on a touchdown run, while Nick Setta’s kick against Purdue beat the Boilermakers 23-21 as time expired.
DENMAN,DRIVER,FISHER EARN TROPHY CONSIDERATION
Three 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 Associa- tion 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 Com- mittee 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.
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).
The Godsey brothers –Gary and George –went 2-0 on Saturday on the first day both were starting quarterbacks at their respective schools.Gary Godsey led the Irish on a 13-play,59-yard drive that ended with a 38-yard field by sophomore Nick Setta as time expired in the 23-21 win over 13th-ranked Purdue. Gary Godsey finished the day with game-highs in completions (14)and attempts (25).He concluded with 158 yards passing and had a nine-yard rushing touchdown on Notre Dame’s first possession.George Godsey ,a junior at Georgia Tech,was 10-19 for 166 yards and three touchdowns in Tech’s 40-13 win over Navy.George Godsey is 47-82 for 544 yards and seven TDs for the 2-1 Yellow Jackets in his first year as the starting QB.Gary is George’s little brother in age only,as the 6-7,239-pound Gary Godsey has five inches and more than 30 pounds on the 6-2,205-pound George Godsey.John and Barbara Godsey planned their travel before the season so that at least one of them could attend each of their sons’ games.Last weekend Barbara was at the Georgia Tech game,while John was at Notre Dame.Both parents will watch George on Thursday night at North Carolina St.and then travel to the ND-MSU game.
The Godsey brothers are not the only Notre Dame-Atlantic Coast Conference connection.Irish fifth-year NG Lance Legree and Clemson’s fifth-year senior Freddie James are cousins.The St.Stephens,S.C., natives are fifth-year seniors,both wear #90,and they were born just eight days apart.Legree was born three days before Christmas in 1977,while James was born five days after Christmas in ’77.James made his first career start on Saturday for the 11th-ranked Tigers and has developed into one of Clemson’s leaders on defense.Irish sophomore Julius Jones was a freshman last year while his brother Thomas earned All-America honors at Virginia in ’99 while rushing for an ACC record 1,798 yards.Thomas Jones was the sixth pick in the 2000 NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals.
GODSEY STANDS TALL IN IRISH HISTORY
Sophomore QB Gary Godsey has taken his place in the Notre Dame recordbook as the tallest quarter- back in Irish history.The 6-7 Tampa,Fla.,native has a towering two inches over four former 6-5 Notre Dame quarterbacks: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 second time in three games in ’00,an Irish quarterback making his first career start has led Notre Dame to victory.Sophomore QB Gary Godsey engineered a game-winning drive that ended with a field goal as time expired in Saturday’s 23-21 win over 13th-ranked Purdue.Two weeks before junior Arnaz Battle –out indefintely 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 and Godsey became the 11th of the last 12 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). LAST 12 STARTING DEBUT GAMES BY NOTRE DAME QUARTERBACKS
- Terry Andrysiak,,sophomore (vs.Mississippi,11/9/85,8th game of season)…win,37-14 …4-of-8 passing,60 yards,TD …2 rushes for -7 yards.
- Tony Rice,sophomore (#11 Notre Dame at Air Force,10/17/87,5th game of season)…win,35-14 …1-of-5 passing,10 yards,INT …9 rushes for 70 yards,2 TD …played due to Andrysiak’s broken collarbone injury,in previous game at Pittsburgh.
- Kent Graham,freshman (#9 Notre Dame vs.Boston College,11/7/87,8th game of season)…win, 32-25 …6-of-8 passing,111 yards,INT …3 rushes for 7 yards.
- Rick Mirer,sophomore (#1 Notre Dame vs.#4 Michigan,9/15/90,1st game of season)…win,28-24 …14-of-23 passing,165 yards,TD,INT …10 rushes for 12 yards,TD.
- Paul Failla,freshman (#8 Notre Dame at Purdue,9/28/91,4th game of season)…win,45-20 …1- of-1 passing,10 yards …2 rushes for 11 yards …started in place of Mirer due to team policy of “no practice, no start”(Mirer had pulled rib cartilage during the week)…Mirer replaced Failla beginning with the second series.
- Kevin McDougal,senior (#7 Notre Dame vs.Northwestern,9/4/93,1st game of season)…win,27- 12 …6-of-8 passing,135 yards …5 rushes for -16 yards.
- Ron Powlus,sophomore (#3 Notre Dame at Northwestern,9/3/94,1st game of season)…win,42- 15 …18-of-24 passing,291 yards,4 TD …2 rushes for 6 yards.
- Tom Krug,,junior (#8 Notre Dame at Air Force,11/18/95,11th game of season)…win,44-14 …8- of-13 passing,96 yards,INT …3 rushes for 13 yards …started due to Powlus’collarbone injury,in previous week versus Navy.
- Jarious Jackson,senior (#22 Notre Dame vs.#5 Michigan,9/5/98,1st game of season)…win,36- 20 …4-of-10 passing,96 yards,2 TDs,INT …16 rushes for 62 yards.
- Eric Chappell,junior (#9 Notre Dame at USC,11/28/98,11th game of season)…loss,10-0 …0-of- 3 passing,2 INT …7 rushes for 33 yards.
- Arnaz Battle,junior (Notre Dame vs.#25 Texas A&M,9/2/00,1st game of season)…win,24- 10 …10-of-16 passing,2 TDs …12 rushes for 50 yards.
- Gary Godsey,sophomore (#21 Notre Dame vs.#13 Purdue,9/16/00,3rd game of season)…win, 23-21 …14-of-25 passing,1 INT …7 rushes for 3 yards,nine-yard rushing TD.
AFTER AN INJURY
In light of Arnaz Battle ‘s broken wrist,here ‘s what has happened over the last quarter century in sea- sons in which Notre Dame ‘s quarterbacks suffered injuries:
— Starter Jarious Jackson sprained the MCL in a knee in the final moments of the home finale Page 9 Nov.21 against LSU.Junior Eric Chappell started in the season finale Nov.28 at USC,and was 0-for- 3 passing with two interceptions while also carrying seven times for 33 yards.He played the first four series and took 19 snaps.Freshman Arnaz Battle came off the bench in that game and was 7-for-19 throwing for 94 yards passing with two interceptions and rushed seven times for 25 yards.Jackson returned to start and play all the way against 12th-ranked Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl,and was 13- for-24 passing for 150 yards and rushed 12 times for 12 net yards and scored one rushing touchdown.
— Starter Ron Powlus suffered a broken left arm Nov.4 in the home finale win over Navy.After an open date,Thomas Krug led the eighth-ranked Irish to an impressive 44-14 win Nov.18 at Air Force, helping earn the Irish an Orange Bowl berth against Florida State.Krug against Air Force was 8-for-13 passing for 96 yards,with one interception,and rushed three times for 13 yards.In that Orange Bowl matchup between the sixth-ranked Irish and eight-rated Seminoles,Krug was 14 for 24 passing for 140 yards and three TDs (one interception)– also carrying 11 for 45 yards in the 31–26 loss.
— Freshman Ron Powlus played impressively in preseason camp until suffering a broken right clavicle after being hit in an August 28 scrimmage.That left the starting job to senior Kevin McDougal, who performed brilliantly in leading the Irish to 10 straight victories to begin the season,including a win over top-ranked Florida State.The Irish eventually finished 11-1 that season and stood second in the final polls.McDougal missed the USC game that same season due to a sprained shoulder,with Paul Failla filling in as the starter that one Saturday (6-for-9 throwing for 78 and one TD –plus six rushes for 25 yards).
— Senior starter Terry Andrysiak broke his left collarbone in the fourth game of the season,a 30- 22 loss at Pittsburgh.That opened the door for sophomore Tony Rice who led the Irish to five straight wins as the starter prior to season-ending road losses at Penn State and Miami.Rice was 35 for 82 throwing for 663 yards,with one TD and four interceptions.He rushed 89 times for 337 yards and seven TDs.Then,in the Cotton Bowl vs.13th-rated Texas A&M,Andrysiak returned and was 15 for 25 for 203 yards,with one TD pass and one interception.
–Starter Steve Beuerlein suffered a shoulder injury in an Oct.26 win over USC,then shared time the following two games with Terry Andrysiak.Beuerlein still started Nov.2 vs.Navy,but when he struggled through the first three series Andrysiak came on to complete 11 of 17 throws for 195 yards and one TD in the 41-17 Irish win.Then Nov.9 against Ole Miss,Andrysiak started and was four of eight for 60 yards and a TD in the 37-14 Notre Dame victory. *1984 –After Steve Beuerlein suffered a shoulder bruise Oct.6 vs.Miami,Scott Grooms came on to play all the way a week later vs.Air Force,completing 12 of 35 throws for 117 yards and one TD in the 21-7 Air Force victory.
— Rusty Lisch started the third game of the season in ’77 at Purdue,but with the Irish struggling Dan Devine turned to Gary Forystek who suffered what turned out to be a career-ending neck injury.That opened the door for Joe Montana,who led the Irish to victory thanks to 17 fourth-quarter points –with Montana taking over the starting role the rest of the ’77 national championship campaign as well as all of ’78.Injuries,however,also played a role in Montana ‘s career.He missed the last three games in ’75 with a broken finger (putting Rick Slager into the lineup)and also missed all of ’76 with a shoulder separation.In fact,Montana first gained a chance to play when Slager was injured in the third game of ’75 against Northwestern.Montana ‘s first significant playing time that day produced six-of-11 passing for 80 yards and a TD.
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.
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 12 tackles,one tackle for a loss,two interceptions –including a 60- yard INT return for a touchdown against Purdue –and two passes deflected through the first three games of the season.Walton joined the Irish football squad in the spring of ’99 and saw action in three SINGLE-GAME BESTS 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 14 kickoffs in ’00 have resulted in average opponent starting position near the Irish 25-yard line.
THEY SHALL RETURN
- During the past 15 seasons ((’86-’00),Notre Dame has produced 51 TDs via kickoff,punt and interception returns –including Shane Walton ‘s 60-yard interception return vs.Purdue,Julius Jones ‘100-yard kickoff return and Joey Getherall ‘s 83-yard punt return vs.Nebraska in ’00.Other recent returns for the Irish are Jones’67-yard punt return vs.Boston College (’99),A’Jani Sanders’ pair of INTs vs.ASU (’98 and ’99),Bobbie Howard’s INT vs.LSU (’98)and Deveron Harper’s INT in the ’99 opener vs.Kansas.(Those numbers don’t include several fumble returns for TDs,with recent ones coming from Deke Cooper at Michigan State in ’98,Lamont Bryant vs.LSU in ’98 and Anthony Denman vs.Kansas in ’99).
- Notre Dame”s opponents in the past 15 seasons have combined for just 11 total returns for touchdowns (on kicks,punts or interceptions).
- Since the start of ”86,the Irish have produced their most returns vs.Pittsburgh (seven),Purdue (five)and four each vs.Air Force,Michigan and Michigan State.
- The 51 returns have come from 30 players,including nine by Allen Rossum (an NCAA record),six by Raghib Ismail,five by Tim Brown and three by Ricky Watters –with current sophomore Julius Jones already with two returns just 15 games into his Irish career.