Nov. 13, 2007
GAME 11: NOTRE DAME (1-9) vs. DUKE (1-9)
Saturday, November 17, 2007
TIME: 2:43 p.m. ET
SITE (CAPACITY): Notre Dame Stadium (80,795); Notre Dame, Ind.
TICKETS: The game is officially sold out making it the 199th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Since 1966, every Notre Dame home football game has been a sellout except one – a 1973 Thanksgiving Day game vs. Air Force. The Irish have now played in front of sellouts in 247 of their last 248 home games.
TV: NBC national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play) and Pat Haden (analysis), Craig Sager (sideline), David Gibson (producer) and John Gonzalez (director). NBC will stream a live 30 min. pre-game show (2-2:30 p.m.) and post-game show on NBCSports.com.
RADIO: For the 40th consecutive season, all Notre Dame football games are to be broadcast on approximately 200 stations in 50 states by Westwood One with Don Criqui (play-by-play), former Irish running back Allen Pinkett (analysis) and Jeff Jeffers providing pre-game, halftime and post-game reports. This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 159) and will be streamed live on the Irish official athletics website at www.und.com. All Notre Dame home games may be heard in South Bend on U93-FM (92.9) and WDND-AM (1490). See page nine of this notes package for more information on Irish football radio and television shows.
WEB SITES: Notre Dame (und.com), Duke (goduke.com).
REAL-TIME STATS: Live in-game statistics will be provided through CSTV Online’s Gametracker via each school’s respective official athletic web sites.
POLLS: Notre Dame and Duke each failed to receive any votes in either the Associated Press or USA Today coaches polls.
SERIES INFO: Notre Dame and Duke will play one another for just the fourth ever time on Saturday. The Irish hold a 2-1 (.667) edge in the series, including a 64-0 shutout in the last meeting (1966, in Notre Dame Stadium). The Irish and Blue Devils met in 1958 and 1961. Notre Dame came away with a 9-7 triumph in Notre Dame Stadium in `58, while Duke picked up its only win of the series in `61 following a 37-13 in Durham (see All-Time Series Results on page 2).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Notre Dame All-American candidate Trevor Laws is putting together a record-setting season for the Irish. Laws, who leads the entire country for tackles by an defensive lineman, is on pace for 118 tackles. The 118 tackles would break Steve Niehaus’ record for most tackles in a single-season by an Irish defensive lineman (113, 1975). Laws would become the fourth Irish defensive lineman to ever eclipse 100 in a season. He not only leads the NCAA in tackles by a defensive lineman, but he is also the only DL in the top 100 in tackles.
NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH Charlie Weis: A record combined win total for the first two seasons of any Notre Dame head football coach, consecutive Bowl Championship Series appearances for the first time in Irish history, and the two most accomplished passing seasons in Notre Dame football annals – those are the most notable by-products of the first two seasons of the Charlie Weis era in South Bend. Weis (Notre Dame, 1978), owner of four Super Bowl-champion rings as products of a stellar 15-season career as a National Football League assistant coach, wasted no time putting his signature stamp on his alma mater’s program in his first two years as Irish head coach in 2005 and 2006. The Irish finished his inaugural season with a 9-3 mark and an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. Notre Dame followed that campaign with a 10-3 record last season and another BCS Bowl berth (Sugar). In addition to leading one of three schools to consecutive BCS bowl games, Weis guided the Irish to their most wins over any two-year span since 1993-94.
DUKE HEAD COACH TED ROOF: Ted Roof (Georgia Tech, 1987) became the 20th head coach in Duke gridiron history on December 6, 2003. He served as Duke’s interim head coach for the final five games of the 2003 season and, under his guidance, Duke posted a 41-17 victory over Georgia Tech on November 8, then closed out the season by defeating North Carolina, 30-22. Roof, who was nominated in 2000 for the Broyles Award given to the nation’s top assistant coach, previously served as an assistant coach at Duke from 1990-93. Before returning to Durham, Roof was the defensive coordinator at his alma mater from 1999-01. In 2002, Roof directed the Blue Devil defense to marked improvements from the previous season. After finishing ninth in the ACC against the run in 2001, Duke led the league in rushing defense a year later by allowing just 120.5 yards per game on the ground. In 2003, the Blue Devils jumped from ninth in passing defense in the ACC to a third-place standing. From 2001 to 2002, the Blue Devils moved from ninth to fifth in the ACC and from 113th to 58th nationally in total defense.
A WIN THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Be the second straight victory over Duke.
- Improve Notre Dame to 3-1 (.750) in the all-time series with the Blue Devils.
- Improve the Irish to 3-0 (1.000) in the all-time series with Duke in South Bend.
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 21-15 overall, 1-0 against Duke and 3-2 against the ACC.
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame home record to 11-9 (.550).
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 9-3 (.750) in November games.
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 6-9 (.429) following a defeat.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 1-1 (.500) all-time against Duke.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 1-0 (1.000) all-time against the Blue Devils in South Bend.
- Improve Notre Dame to 3-1 (.750) all-time against an unranked Duke s
- Improve Weis’ record to 15-12 (.556) in afternoon games.
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 823-278-42 (.738).
- Improve the Irish all-time home record to 298-96-5 (.753).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record against the ACC to 75-29-2 (.717).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time home record against the Atlantic Coast Conference to 43-11 (.796).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record on Senior Day (final home game of season) to 91-22-4 (.795).
A LOSS THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Drop Notre Dame to 2-2 (.500) in the all-time series with the Blue Devils.
- Drop the Irish to 2-1 (.667) in the all-time series with Duke in South Bend.
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 20-16 overall, 0-1 against Duke and 2-3 against the ACC.
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame home record to 10-10 (.500).
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 8-4 (.667) in November games.
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 5-10 (.333) following a defeat.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame s
- uad to 0-2 (.000) all-time against Duke.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame s
- uad to 0-1 (.000) all-time against the Blue Devils in South Bend.
- Drop Notre Dame to 2-2 (.500) all-time against an unranked Duke squad.
- Drop Weis’ record to 14-13 (.519) in afternoon games.
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 822-279-42 (.738).
- Drop the Irish all-time home record to 297-97-5 (.751).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record against the ACC to 74-30-2 (.708).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time home record against the Atlantic Coast Conference to 42-12 (.778).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record on Senior Day (final home game of season) to 90-23-4 (.786).
NOTRE DAME – DUKE SERIES NOTES
- Saturday’s game marks just the fourth meeting between Notre Dame and Duke, with the Irish holding a 2-1 series lead. The Irish have captured both of the previous meetings in Notre Dame Stadium (1966, 1958).
- In 1966, Notre Dame pounded the Blue Devils, 64-0, to improve to 8-0 on the year. Rocky Bleier scored two touchdowns and Terry Hanratty threw for two more as the Irish raced out to a 43-0 lead at halftime. Notre Dame would face second-ranked Michigan State the following week in the famous “Game of the Century” and eventually claim the national championship.
- In 1958, Bill “Red” Mack ran for a game-high 106 yards on 17 carries, while quarterback Bob Williams connected on a touchdown with Monty Stickles to help the Irish hold off Duke, 9-7. Stickles’ third-quarter field goal proved to be the difference.
- In 1961, Notre Dame grabbed an early 7-0 lead, but Duke picked off Irish quarterback Budka three times and pulled away for a 37-13 victory. The Blue Devils scored 23 unanswered points over the final 31 minutes of the game.
NOTRE DAME VS. ACC
- Notre Dame is 74-29-2 (.714) against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Irish have had more success against the ACC than any other major conference. The Irish have a .500 or better record against eight of ten conference schools (in which they have played).
- Notre Dame’s 105 games against the ACC ranks as the third-most contests against a conference trailing only the Big Ten (340) and Pac-10 (118).
- The Irish are playing three ACC schools in the same season for the first time since 2002 (Maryland, Florida State and North Carolina State) and only the third time since 1982.
- Notre Dame has faced Boston College 17 times (9-8), fourth most of any other ACC school, but 16 of the previous 17 meetings took place with the Eagles in the BIG EAST. The nine victories are the fourth-most victories for Notre Dame over an ACC foe. Miami has collided with the Irish 23 times (15-7-1), while Notre Dame has faced North Carolina 17 times (16-1). It should be noted that all of Notre Dame’s previous meetings with Miami and Boston College occurred prior to their moves to the ACC.
- Notre Dame has played a handful of games versus Florida State (2-4), Duke (2-1) and Clemson (1-1). Additionally, the Irish have met three ACC foes just once. They beat Virginia in the `89 Kickoff Classic and Maryland in the `02 Kickoff Classic, but lost to NC State in the `03 Gator Bowl.
- The Irish take on Duke for the first time since 1966. Notre Dame blanked the Blue Devils, 64-0, in the last meeting.
- Notre Dame has posted a 42-11-0 (.792) record against ACC opponents in Notre Dame Stadium.
ON THIS DATE
Notre Dame has played 13 previous games in its history on Nov. 17. The Irish are 9-4 all-time on this date. The Irish have recorded one shutout on Nov. 17 (1917).
Nov. 17, 1928: Notre Dame loses to Carnegie Tech, 27-7. It was the first home defeat for the Irish since 1905, when Notre Dame lost to the “Little Giants” of Wabash College, 5-0. The Irish had gone 93 games without a loss at home.
Nov. 17, 1951: Notre Dame picks up its 400th victory in program history by defeating North Carolina, 12-7.
Nov. 17, 1979: Notre Dame linebacker Bob Crable made a school-record tying 26 tackles in a 16-10 loss to #14 Clemson. Crable, who holds the Notre Dame career mark with 521 stops, has five of the top 10 tackle games in Irish history.
Nov. 17, 1984: Allen Pinkett scored three second-quarter touchdowns as Notre Dame crushed Penn State, 44-7. Pinkett finished the game with 189 yards on 34 carries and four touchdowns. The four rushing TDs and 34 carries rank tied for third and seventh, respectively, in Irish single-game history.
NOTRE DAME-DUKE CONNECTIONS
- Duke head coach Ted Roof spent four years (1998-01) as an assistant coach at his alma mater Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets knocked off the Irish, 35-28, in the 1999 Gator Bowl.
- Notre Dame assistant head coach (offense)/offensive line John Latina spent three years at Virginia Tech (1979-81). Duke assistant coach/defensive backs John Gutekunst spent five years in Blacksburg (1979-83).
- Gutekunst also spent eight years at Minnesota (1984-91). Notre Dame offensive coordinator/running backs coach Mike Haywood spent one year (1988) with the Golden Gophers.
- Duke offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Peter Vaas served as the Irish quarterbacks coach in 2005 and 2006.
- Notre Dame’s roster features three players from the state of North Carolina. The roster of Duke does not have a player from the state of Indiana.
- A number of players from Duke and Notre Dame either attended the same high school or hail from the same hometown. (see PDF of notes for complete chart)
NOTING THE AIR FORCE GAME
- The following Notre Dame players extended streaks for consecutive starts: senior ILB Maurice Crum, Jr. (35), senior DE Trevor Laws (35), senior C John Sullivan (22), sophomore OT Sam Young (22), senior CB Terrail Lambert (19) and senior SS Tom Zbikowski (16).
- The game was officially sold out ,making it the 198th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Since 1966, every Notre Dame home football game has been a sellout except one – a 1973 Thanksgiving Day game vs. Air Force. The Irish have now have played in front of sellouts in 246 of their past 247 home games.
- With freshman OLB Brian Smith earning his first career start for Notre Dame, 26 different Irish players (11 on defense, 15 on offense) have registered their first career starts this season.
- Freshman OLB Brian Smith became the sixth Notre Dame freshman to start this year joining QB Jimmy Clausen, HB Armando Allen, WR Golden Tate, WR Duval Kamara and OLB Kerry Neal.
- Air Force went ahead 10-0 in the first quarter following a 22-yard fumble return for touchdown. The touchdown (the third non-offensive TD by a Notre Dame opponent this season) was the 13th scoring drive this season for a Notre Dame foe that failed to cover at least 45 yards. It was the 22nd scoring drive (field goal or touchdown) for an Irish opponent in 2007 of 45 yards or less. Notre Dame’s 2007 opponents now have totaled 15 scoring drives of under 25 yards (seven for touchdowns). The Irish have also been victimized by defensive touchdowns each of the last two weeks.
- With the two first-half fumbles, Notre Dame has fumbled 22 times in 2007, losing 12. The Irish fumbled only 13 times (losing seven) over the entire 2006 season. The 22 total fumbles in a single-season are the most for Notre Dame since 2002 (when the Irish fumbled 28 times). The 12 lost fumbles are the most since the same season (when the Notre Dame lost 15 fumbles).
- Senior SS Tom Zbikowski registered his second fumble recovery of the season. Zbikowski now has been involved in a total of 18 turnovers (seven forced fumbles, seven interceptions, four fumble recoveries) during his four-year career. Zbikowski has the most career tackles ever by a Notre Dame defensive back, with the 11 players ahead of him on the list including nine linebackers and two defensive linemen (full chart in PDF of notes).
- Senior TE John Carlson grabbed a season-long 28 yard reception on the Notre Dame’s first play of the game. The 28-yard grab is the longest for Carlson since he hauled in a 30-yarder against Navy on Oct. 28, 2006. Carlson’s previous season-long reception was 16 yards. He added his second touchdown reception of the season and seventh of his career on a two-yard grab from freshman QB Jimmy Clausen with 2:32 to go before halftime tying the game, 10-10.
- Carlson’s 94 career receptions are second-most ever by a Notre Dame tight end (passing teammate Anthony Fasano this afternoon) while his 1,006 career receiving yards rank third, ahead of Dean Masztak’s 924. (full chart in PDF of notes)
- With his eighth tackle Saturday, senior DE Trevor Laws eclipsed 200 stops for his career. Laws also added his fifth pass breakup. He finished the game with 17 tackles and registered 10 or more stops for the fourth time this season (second straight game and third in the last four) and fifth time in his career.
- Laws had a career-high 17 tackles — the most for an Irish defensive lineman since Melvin Dansby had 18 against Navy on Nov. 1, 1997. He has registered 32 over the past two games (school record for total tackles in consecutive games is 45 held by Bob Golic).
- The 17 tackles by Laws pushed his season total to 98 (fourth-most ever by a Notre Dame front-four lineman).
- Sophomore P Eric Maust, filling in an for injured Geoff Price, dropped a career-long 53-yard punt at the Air Force two-yard line midway through the first quarter. Maust finished the game with five punts with an average of 43 yards per punt.
- Freshman PK Brandon Walker booted a 28-yard field goal to bring the Irish within a touchdown, 10-3, with 8:29 to go in the first half. Walker is now 6-for-10 on the season (five of his six field goals this season have come inside of 30 yards).
- Freshman QB Jimmy Clausen tossed his second career touchdown pass on a two-yard completion to senior TE John Carlson with 2:29 to go before halftime tying the game, 10-10. Each of Clausen’s first two touchdown passes this season went to Carlson. Clausen added his third career touchdown (a 21-yard pass to junior David Grimes) on a 4th-and-9 play with 13:31 to go in the fourth quarter to bring Notre Dame within two touchdowns, 31-17. Clausen’s third TD pass tied the single-game Notre Dame freshman record, matching Matt LoVecchio’s three touchdown pass performance against Air Force in 2000. Finishing 22-for-40 passing for 246 yards and three touchdowns, Clausen also had the third-most completions in a game for a freshman and fourth-best passing yards for a freshman.
- Junior WR David Grimes picked up his first touchdown reception of the season and third of his career (fourth career touchdown of any kind).
- Junior FS David Bruton recorded his second career (both this season) double-digit tackle game. Bruton, who finished with 13 tackles this afternoon, made 15 stops earlier this year against Michigan State.
- Senior ILB Joe Brockington, who recorded 13 tackles this afternoon, registered 10 or more tackles for the fourth time this season and fifth time in his career. He has eclipsed 10 tackles in three of the last four games for the Irish. Including last year’s 15 tackles game against Air Force, Brockington has totaled 28 tackles in the last two meetings with the Falcons.
HOW DO THEY STACK UP?
Average weight of the offensive and defensive lines:
ND OL 305.0 lbs. vs. DU DL 270.0 lbs.
ND DL 284.3 lbs. vs. DU OL 290.0 lbs.
Average height of the receivers and the secondaries:
ND WR/TE 6′ 1″ vs. DU DB 5′ 11 1/4″
ND DB 6′ 0″ vs. DU WR/TE 6′ 2″
IN FRONT OF A FULL HOUSE
- Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 201 of its previous 229 games, including 76 of its last 83 contests dating back to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the end of the 2000 season (the 2001, 2003 and 2005 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy at the Meadowlands, the 2005 game at Washington and the 2007 game at UCLA were not sellouts). At Michigan in 2003, the Irish and Wolverines attracted the largest crowd in NCAA history (111,726), marking the third time in the history of the series that an NCAA attendance record was set. Including last year’s game at Georgia Tech, the Irish have been part of establishing a new stadium attendance record seven times since 2001. The list also includes: at Nebraska and Texas A&M in 2001, at Air Force and Florida State in 2002, home vs. Boston College in 2002, vs. Oregon State in the Insight Bowl in 2004 (the game set a Bank One Ballpark record for football configuration). Notre Dame and Michigan played before an over-capacity 111,386 at Michigan Stadium in September of 2005. At Purdue in `05, the Irish and Boilermakers played before 65,491 football fans, a Ross-Ade Stadium record (since the renovation of the facility in 2003). Penn State drew the second largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history for the meeting with the Irish earlier this season.
- Notre Dame did not become the first school in NCAA history to ever play three regular season road games before crowds of 100,000. Both Penn State and Michigan exceeded that mark, but UCLA fell short.
- A total of 21 different players have started on offense for Notre Dame this year. Of those 21 players, only six had started in their Irish careers prior to this season. Among the six players, two had started three or fewer games at their position (Jr., FB, Asaph Schwapp – 3, Sr., HB, Travis Thomas – 2).
- Through 10 games, there have been 110 total starts on the offense. Here is a breakdown of the starts by class:
15 (13.6%); QB Jimmy Clausen – 7; HB Armando Allen – 3; WR Duval Kamara – 3; WR Golden Tate – 2.
39 (35.5%); OT Sam Young – 10; WR George West – 7; HB James Aldridge – 5; WR Robby Parris – 4; OG Eric Olsen – 4; OG Dan Wenger – 3; OG Matt Carufel – 3; TE Will Yeatman – 2; QB Demetrius Jones – 1.
34 (30.9%); OT Paul Duncan – 10; OG Michael Turkovich – 10; FB Asaph Schwapp – 6; WR David Grimes – 6; QB Evan Sharpley – 2.
22 (20.0%); TE John Carlson – 10; C John Sullivan – 10; HB Travis Thomas – 2.
Here is the breakdown of starts on offense by class:
Freshmen: 15 (13.6%)
Sophomores: 39 (35.5%)
Juniors: 34 (30.9%)
Seniors: 0 (0.0%)
Fifth-Year Seniors: 22 (20.0%)
Here is the breakdown of starts on defense by class:
Freshmen: 4 (3.6%)
Sophomores: 21 (19.1%)
Juniors: 21 (19.1%)
Seniors: 27 (24.5%)
Fifth-Year Seniors: 37 (33.6%)
The following chart breaks down the 220 starts made by the Irish this season by class:
Freshmen: 19 (8.6%)
Sophomores: 60 (27.3%)
Juniors: 55 (25.0%)
Seniors: 27 (12.3%)
Fifth-Year Seniors: 59 (26.8%)
The following chart breaks down the 286 starts made by the Irish in 2006:
Freshmen: 15 (5.3%)
Sophomores: 8 (2.8%)
Juniors: 41 (14.3%)
Seniors: 145 (50.7%)
Fifth-Year Seniors: 77 (26.9%)
NINTH-BEST IN THE NCAA SINCE 1988
Notre Dame has the nation’s ninth best record over the last 20 seasons, or since the start of 1988. The Irish have posted a 164-74-2 record.
YOUTH ON SERVE
- A total of 68 different players have seen action this fall for Notre Dame. Of those 68 players, 37 are either freshmen or sophomores. The Irish have played 11 true freshman through their first 10 games and six (Jimmy Clausen, Armando Allen, Golden Tate, Kerry Neal, Duval Kamara and Brian Smith) have started.
- Notre Dame has already had 26 (11 on defense, 15 on offense) different players register their first career starts this season. They include QB Demetrius Jones, HB Armando Allen, QB Jimmy Clausen, DB Raeshon McNeil, WR George West, WR Golden Tate, FS David Bruton HB James Aldridge, ILB Toryan Smith, OG Dan Wenger, ILB Anthony Vernaglia, OLB Kerry Neal, DE Dwight Stephenson, Jr., OT Paul Duncan, OG Matt Carufel, OG Mike Turkovich, WR Robby Parris, TE Will Yeatman, OLB John Ryan, DE Derrell Hand, NT Pat Kuntz, RG Eric Olsen, WR Duval Kamara, QB Evan Sharpley, FS Kyle McCarthy and OLB Brian Smith. The Irish have also used freshman place kicker Brandon Walker, sophomore kickoff specialist Nate Whitaker and sophomore punter Eric Maust.
- With freshmen Jimmy Clausen and Armando Allen each starting against Penn State, it marked the first time since freshmen were made eligible in 1972 that Notre Dame started rookies at both quarterback and tailback.
- In the game against USC, Notre Dame started two freshmen at wide receiver (Golden Tate and Duval Kamara) for the first time since Oct. 30, 1982, against Navy (Meadowlands). The two freshmen that started at wideout that afternoon were Milt Jackson and Mike Haywood (the current Irish offensive coordinator).
- Notre Dame played nine freshmen in the season-opening loss to Georgia Tech. It was tied for the fourth most freshmen to take the field in a season-opener since 1972.
- The Irish returned just five senior lettermen and eight junior lettermen. Of those 13 upperclassmen, only six had ever started a game for Notre Dame prior to this season.
- Notre Dame returned just 30 letterwinners to the 2007 team. The total is the third lowest (or 117th) in the nation.
- The Irish lost 28 lettermen from the 2006 team that finished 10-3 and earned a spot in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The total is tied for the fifth most in the country.
Eleven true freshmen have played for Notre Dame this season. HB Armando Allen, QB Jimmy Clausen, HB Robert Hughes, WR Duval Kamara, OLB Kerry Neal, TE Mike Ragone, OT Matt Romine, OLB Brian Smith, WR Golden Tate, PK Brandon Walker and NT Ian Williams all have made significant contributions in 2007, giving Irish fans good reason to feel optimistic about the future.
Allen (302) and Hughes (48) are second and third on the team in rushing. Allen is fifth on Notre Dame with 21 receptions for 98 yards. He has also added 32 kick returns for 687 yards (21.5 yards per return). Allen recorded his best career game to date against Navy on Nov. 3. He rushed for 91 yards on 16 carries and added three receptions for 20 yards. Allen also returned four kicks for 115 yards, including a career-best of 38 yards. Allen’s 216 all-purpose yards against the Midshipmen ranks tied for 11th in Notre Dame single-game history. He leads the Irish in all-purpose yards (1,087) — averaging 108.7 per game. Hughes, who picked up his first career touchdown against Michigan State on Sept. 22, added his second rushing touchdown against Navy on Nov. 3.
Kamara, who did not play against Air Force on Nov. 10, is third on the Irish in receiving with 24 receptions for 232 yards — good for 9.7 per catch. He became the first Notre Dame freshman since 1992 (Derrick Mayes, vs. Pittsburgh) to have multiple TD receptions in a game against Navy on Nov. 3. The 21-yard touchdown grab against the Midshipmen also was his longest reception of the season. He had six grabs for 68 yards, including his first career touchdown earlier this season against Purdue.
Tate caught three passes for 104 yards and one touchdown at Purdue. He not only became the first freshman to catch a touchdown pass since Maurice Stovall (Nov. 23, 2002 against Rutgers), but also became the first Notre Dame freshman to surpass 100 yards receiving in a game since Derrick Mayes (100 yards on two catches) against Pittsburgh on Oct. 10, 1992. He has five receptions for 126 yards — good for an astounding 25.2 yards per grab. Tate also ranks 83rd in the NCAA with a 22.85 yards per kick return.
Clausen has started seven games this fall, becoming just the eighth freshman quarterback to start for Notre Dame since 1950. He has completed 103-of-181 (56.9%) for 864 yards and four touchdowns. He put together his best game to date against Air Force on Nov. 10. Clausen went 22-of-40 for 246 yards and three touchdowns (no interceptions). The attempts, completions and yards were all career-highs. The three touchdown passes equalled the Notre Dame freshman record held by Matt LoVecchio (who tossed for three against Air Force on Oct. 28, 2000).
Williams, Smith and Neal have been major additions to the Irish defense this fall. Neal has started three of the last six games at outside linebacker. He has registered 14 tackles (six solo), including a sack. Neal has added three pass break-ups, two quarterback hurries (stat only tracked in home games), two fumble recoveries, including an 11-yard fumble return setting up an Irish field goal against UCLA. Smith has played in nine games (registered his first career start against Air Force on Nov. 10) and has registered 18 tackles (nine solo), including 2.5 for loss and one sack. He has recorded a forced fumble and became the first freshman to return an interception for touchdown since 1976. Smith raced 25 yards to bring Notre Dame within six points, 20-13, against #4 Boston College. Williams leads all Irish first-year players with 36 total tackles (16 solo). He has 1.5 tackles for loss. Williams recorded a career-best 11 tackles against Navy on Nov. 3.
Ragone has seen action in nine games, mostly on special teams, but he did pick up his first career reception (seven yards) against Navy. Romine played in two games before suffering an injury that has sidelined him the last seven weeks.
Walker has handled the kicking duties the entire season. He is 6-of-10 on the season, including a career-best 48 yard kick at UCLA. Walker is the first left-footed kicker for Notre Dame since Harry Oliver in 1981.
MORE ON THE YOUTH
Notre Dame used a total of 61 players in the season opener against Georgia Tech. An incredible 31 of those players were either freshmen or sophomores, including five that started. Just over 50% of the players on the field were in their first or second year with the Irish. On the other hand, Georgia Tech started just one freshmen or sophomore and played only 19 first or second year players.
The 31 freshmen and sophomores playing in a season opener stands as the most in Irish history. The previous high for first and second year players in a Notre Dame season opener came during the 1983 and 1989 seasons (29).
NEWCOMERS THROWN INTO ACTION
In the season opening loss against Georgia Tech, nine members of the 2007 signing class saw their first action. Armando Allen (Fr., HB), Jimmy Clausen (Fr., QB), Robert Hughes (Fr., HB), Duval Kamara (Fr., WR), Kerry Neal (Fr., LB), Matt Romine (Fr., OT), Golden Tate (Fr., KR), Brandon Walker (Fr., PK) and Ian Williams (Fr., NT) each played in their first season with the Irish. In addition to those nine players from the 2007 signing class making their Notre Dame debuts versus Georgia Tech, the following players saw action in an Irish uniform for the first time: Thomas Bemenderfer (Jr., OC), Dan Wenger (So., OG), Demetrius Jones (So., QB), Leonard Gordon (So., DS/DC), Luke Schmidt (So., FB), Paddy Mullen (So., DT) and Kallen Wade (So., DE). In all, 16 of the 61 players that played against Georgia Tech for Notre Dame were making their first ever appearance in an Irish uniform.
MORE ON THE FRESHMEN
Notre Dame used nine freshmen in its season opening loss to Georgia Tech. It was tied for the fourth most used in an opener since the freshman eligibility rule became enacted in 1972. The Irish used 11 freshmen in the 2006 opener against the Jackets. A total of 14 frosh played in the 36-13 win over Virginia in the 1989 Kickoff Classic and 12 saw action in the 52-6 blowout of Purdue in 1983.
Five offensive players and four players on the defensive side of the ball picked up their first career starts in the loss against Georgia Tech. George West (X), Paul Duncan (LT), Michael Turkovich (LG), Dan Wenger (RG) and Demetrius Jones (QB) each started the game for the first time for the Irish offense, while Pat Kuntz (NT), John Ryan (OLB), Anthony Vernaglia (OLB) and David Bruton (FS) hit the field the first play for the Notre Dame defense.
— ND —