Oct. 5, 2003
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-3)
vs. (#15 AP/#16 ESPN/USA Today) Pittsburgh Panthers (3-1)
The Date and Time: Saturday, Oct. 11, 2003 at 6:00 p.m. EDT (5:00 p.m. EST in South Bend).
The Site: Heinz Field (65,000/Natural Grass) in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The Tickets: They’re all sold < with=”” this=”” being=”” the=”” 155th=”” sellout=”” in=”” the=”” last=”” 178=”” games=”” and=”” the=”” 19th=”” consecutive=”” sellout=”” involving=”” notre=”” dame,=”” including=”” the=”” first=”” 10=”” games=”” of=”” 1998,=”” the=”” first=”” 11=”” in=”” ’99,=”” the=”” first=”” five=”” in=”” ’00,=”” the=”” first=”” nine=”” in=”” ’01,=”” all=”” 13=”” in=”” ’02=”” and=”” the=”” first=”” five=”” in=”” ’03.=””>
The TV Plans: ESPN national telecast with Mark Jones (play by play), Bob Davie (analysis), Holly Rowe (sideline), Bo Garret (producer) and Bruce Truet (director).
The Radio Plans: For the 36th consecutive season, all Notre Dame football games are broadcast on more than 200 stations in all 50 states by Westwood One with Tony Roberts (play by play), former Irish running back Allen Pinkett (analysis), former Irish quarterback and 1956 Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung (pregame/halftime analysis) 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 are heard on WDND-AM (1620) and WNDV-FM (92.9) in South Bend with pre- and post-game analysis featuring Sean Stires, Andy Budzinski, Shawn Lewallen, Jack Nolan and Larry Williams. All Irish games also are carried live in the Chicago market on ESPN Radio 1000.
Real-Time Stats: Live in-game statistics are available for the Pittsburgh game, via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) and Pittsburgh (www.pittsburghpanthers.com) athletics web sites.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), Pittsburgh (www.pittsburghpanthers.com).
After enjoying the first of two bye weeks this season, Notre Dame returns to action Saturday at 15th-ranked Pittsburgh in a 6 p.m. (EDT) game that will be broadcast nationally by ESPN. The Irish have traditionally found much success following a regularly-scheduled “off-week,” posting a 21-2 record since 1984 in games after a bye week.
Notre Dame (1-3) continued to have problems early this year, coming up short at Purdue, 23-10 on Sept. 27 at Ross-Ade Stadium. The Irish made a change at the quarterback position, starting true freshman Brady Quinn in an effort to jump-start a cold offense. The move had some success as Notre Dame piled up a season-high 346 yards on offense and Quinn completed 29 of 59 passes for 297 yards and one touchdown. However, the rookie from Dublin, Ohio, also threw four interceptions and the Boilermakers parlayed those turnovers in 10 points which proved critical as Purdue defeated the Irish for only the third time in the last 18 series meetings.
Pittsburgh (3-1) also benefited from a bye last week after a hard-fought 37-26 win at Texas A&M on Sept. 27. Panther quarterback Rod Rutherford completed 14 of 28 passes for 283 yards and five touchdowns, with three of his scoring aerials going to the nation’s leading receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The sophomore wideout finished with seven catches for 135 yards and helped Pittsburgh score 21 third-quarter points and pull away for a rare road win over the Aggies at Kyle Field.
Rutherford has been the nation’s top quarterback in terms of passing efficiency through the first five weeks of the season, posting a quarterback rating of 182.64. He also is eighth in the country in total offense, averaging 316.75 yards per game. Fitzgerald is first in the land in receiving yards per game (145.75) and fourth in receptions per game (8.00), as well as second in points scored per game (13.5).
This will be the 61st meeting between Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, with the Irish holding a 42-17-1 edge in the series. Notre Dame has won 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Panthers, including a 14-6 victory last season at Notre Dame Stadium. However, Pittsburgh won the last time the Irish visited the Steel City, charting a 37-27 victory in the final game ever played at Pitt Stadium. The Panthers are the first of three BIG EAST Conference teams Notre Dame will play (all on the road) this season.
NOTRE DAME-PITTSBURGH SERIES NOTES
- Saturday’s game will mark the 61st meeting between Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, with the Irish holding a 42-17-1 series lead. The Irish also own a 23-9-1 record against the Panthers in Pittsburgh, although Notre Dame will be making its first-ever visit to newly-constructed Heinz Field.
- Notre Dame has won 10 of its last 11 games against Pittsburgh, including a 14-6 victory in their last meeting on Oct. 12, 2002 at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish also have won 24 of their last 30 contests against the Panthers, dating back to 1964 (Ara Parseghian’s first as Notre Dame’s head coach).
- This year’s game marks Notre Dame’s first trip to Pittsburgh since the 1999 season, when the Panthers upended the Irish, 37-27 in the final game played at old Pitt Stadium.
- Over the last 11 games in the series, Notre Dame has outscored the Panthers, 414-154, topping the 40-point mark six times in that span and producing an average score of 37-14. The last five series games in Pittsburgh have been high-scoring affairs with the Irish topping the Panthers by an average score of 37-24.
- Notre Dame is 72-29-3 (.707) all-time against schools from the state of Pennsylvania, with the Pittsburgh series accounting for more than half of the games played (60) and the Irish victories (42).
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
- The Irish will earn their 11th win over Pittsburgh in the last 12 series meetings and their 25th victory in the last 31 contests with the Panthers.
- Notre Dame will record its 43rd series win over Pittsburgh, breaking a tie with Michigan State and USC for the third-most victories against one opponent behind its 66 wins over Navy and 49 wins over Purdue. Those 43 victories also will continue to rank as the second-highest total ever by a Pittsburgh opponent, topped only by Penn State, which has defeated the Panthers 50 times.
- The Irish will card their first win in Pittsburgh since Oct. 11, 1997, when they defeated the Panthers, 45-21 at old Pitt Stadium.
- Notre Dame will chalk up its 22nd win in its last 28 games against BIG EAST Conference opposition. The Irish also will move to 77-30-2 (.716) all-time against BIG EAST schools, including a 35-17-2 (.667) mark on the road.
- The Irish will improve to 22-2 (.917) in games following a bye week dating back to 1984.
- Notre Dame will claim their 21st win in their last 22 games in the month of October, and jump to 53-8 (.869) in October games since 1988.
IF PITTSBURGH WINS …
- Pittsburgh will register its second win over Notre Dame since 1987 and will cut the overall series lead for the Irish to 42-18-1.
- Notre Dame will lose to a BIG EAST opponent for only the third time in its last 10 games against that conference, dating back to the 1999 season.
- The Irish will drop their sixth consecutive game away from home, dating back to a loss at USC in the 2002 regular-season finale. The last time Notre Dame fell in six straight games outside of Notre Dame Stadium was 1998-2000 when the Irish dropped eight in a row (’98 at USC and vs. Georgia Tech in Gator Bowl; ’99 at Michigan, Purdue, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Stanford; ’00 at Michigan State). That streak ended with a 42-28 win on the road at another BIG EAST school, West Virginia on Oct. 21, 2000.
- Notre Dame will lose four consecutive games for the first time since a four-game dry spell in 2000-01 (a loss to Oregon State in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl, followed by an 0-3 record to open the ’01 season).
NOTRE DAME-PITTSBURGH SERIES HISTORY
- The teams first played in 1909, ’11 and ’12 (all at Pittsburgh’s legendary Forbes Field), with Notre Dame picking up two wins and a tie and shutting out Pittsburgh in all three contests. The series resumed from 1930-37 before taking a five-year break. It picked up again from 1943-54, took 1955 off, and then played every year in a 23-season stretch (1956-78) before taking a four-year hiatus in the series. The Irish and Panthers met in 1982 and ’83, every season from 1986-92, and then 1996, ’97, ’99, 2001 and ’02. The teams are scheduled to meet each of the next two seasons as well.
- Notre Dame was the opponent in Pittsburgh’s final game at Pitt Stadium — the Panthers won, 37-27. Pittsburgh now plays its home games at Heinz Field, also home of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers.
- Beginning in 1943, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh have met in 51 of the last 61 seasons (including 2003), with no gaps in the series of more than three years during that 61-year period.
- Pittsburgh notched its highest point total ever in the series (37) in its 1999 meeting with Notre Dame; conversely, the Irish have topped the 37-point level 20 times against the Panthers, including an eight-game stretch from 1965-72.
- Four of the 10 biggest victory margins in Notre Dame history have come against Pittsburgh: by 58 in 1944 (58-0), by 56 in both 1945 (56-0) and 1965 (69-13), and by 54 in 1996 (60-6).
- Notre Dame running backs/special teams coach Buzz Preston and Pittsburgh offensive line coach Tom Freeman worked on the same staff at Hawaii in 1980. Preston was a graduate assistant for the Rainbow Warriors, while Freeman tutored UH’s offensive line.
- Notre Dame assistant coordinator of strength and conditioning Tony Rolinski worked in the Pittsburgh strength and conditioning department from 1994-96 while attaining his master’s degree in exercise physiology from the school. He then was the head strength coach at North Hills High School in Pittsburgh before serving as the head strength and conditioning coach at Duquesne in 1997-98.
- Eighth-year Irish women’s lacrosse coach Tracy Coyne is a Pittsburgh native and a 1978 graduate of Cenevin High School (which also produced Notre Dame All-America QB Tom Clements, who led the Irish to the 1973 national title and currently is the quarterbacks coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers). In addition, Coyne worked in the Pittsburgh athletic department in 1985 as an administrative assistant to the senior woman administrator.
- First-year Notre Dame assistant strength and conditioning coach Lisa Shall served as a strength and conditioning intern at Pittsburgh in the early part of 2000.
- Notre Dame’s all-time football roster includes more than 2,500 players who have appeared in at least one career game, with 18 hailing from Pittsburgh: RG Frank Winter (1898-1901), QB Clarence Diebold (1900), LG Lee Diebold (1910), HB John McSorley (1926-27), T Joe Papa (Kiski Prep, 1938-40), QB Joe Gasperella (Vandergrift HS, 1944-45), LG Ed Fay (Central Catholic HS, 1944-45), E Ray Jonardi (Baldwin HS, 1949-50), HB Dave Flood (Langley HS, 1950-52), T Bill McCarthy (North Catholic HS, 1951), FB Don Schaefer (Central Catholic HS, 1953-55), HB Tom Mittelhauser (South Hills Catholic HS, 1963), PK Joe Azzaro (Central Catholic HS, 1964-67), OG/LB Dan Dickman (North Catholic, HS, 1967), LB John Cloherty (Churchill Area HS, 1969-71), QB Jim Bulger (Central Catholic HS, 1970-71), FB Ray Zellars (Oliver HS, 1991-94) and OG Rob Mowl (Woodland Hills HS, 1998). Of the players listed, Zellars had the longest stint as a starter (in 1993 and ’94).
NOTRE DAME’S PENNSYLVANIA QB PIPELINE
- Notre Dame’s all-time football roster includes 18 quarterbacks from the state of Pennsylvania, highlighted by some of the most noteworthy QBs in the program’s history: John Lujack (Connelsville/Connelsville HS, 1943, ’46-’47), Bob Williams (Wilkes-Barre/G.A.R., 1956-58), Terry Hanratty (Butler/Butler HS, 1966-68), Tom Clements (McKees Rocks/Cenevin HS, 1972-74), Joe Montana (Monongahela/Ringgold HS, 1975, ’77-’78) and Ron Powlus (Berwick/Berwick HS, 1994-97).
- Lujack played on three national title teams and won the 1947 Heisman Trophy while Williams backed up Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung in 1956 before starting in ’57 and ’58. Williams made some key plays on both sides of the ball in the 7-0 win at Oklahoma in ’57, halting the Sooners’ NCAA-record 47-game winning streak. Hanratty was a three-year starter and helped the Irish win the 1966 national championship. Clements also was a three-year starter and led the Irish to a national title in his junior season (1973). Montana backed up Rick Slager in 1975 and was injured in 1976 before guiding the Irish to the 1977 national title (he also started in ’78 and led Notre Dame to a legendary 35-34 comeback victory over Houston in the Cotton Bowl).
- Hanratty completed 58.9 percent of his passes in 1968 (fourth in Irish history) while his 366 passing yards vs. Purdue in 1967 remain second all-time at Notre Dame. He also ranks sixth at Notre Dame for career passing yards (4,152) and TDs (27) and fifth with 304 completions.
- Clements ranks ninth in Irish history with 265 completions (in three seasons).
- Montana ranks eighth at Notre Dame with 268 career completions (in three years) while his 141 completions in 1978 rank fifth all-time.
- Powlus owns the Irish career record for completions (558) while ranking second in season and career completion percentage (.611 in 1997, .575 career) and lowest career interception ratio (.0278, 27 of 969). He also owns Irish records for career passing yards (7,602), TD passes in a season (19 in 1994) and career TD passes (52) while sharing the school record for TD passes in a game (four, three times).
- Pittsburgh and the surrounding western Pennsylvania area have produced a number of Irish QBs including Lujack, Williams, Hanratty, Montana, Clarence Diebold (Pittsburgh, starter in 1900), Joe Gasperella (Pittsburgh/Vandergrift HS, ’44-’45), Jim Bigelow (Glenshaw/Shaler HS, ’52-’54 reserve), Pat Steenberge (Erie/Cathedral Prep, ’70-’71), Jim Bulger (Pittsburgh/Central Catholic HS, ’70-’71 reserve), Ken Karcher (Glenshaw/Shaler HS, ’81-’82), and Paul Failla (Sewickley/North Allegheny HS, ’91-’93).
- Other Notre Dame QBs from Pennsylvania have included Philadelphia natives Vince McNally (Roman Catholic HS, ’25-’26), Charles McKinney (’26-’27 reserve) and Bill Whiteside (LaSalle HS, ’49-’50), plus John Mazur (Plymouth/Plymouth HS, backup in ’49-’50, starter in ’51) and Cliff Brown (Middletown/Middletown Area HS, ’71-’73).
FRIEND OR FOE?
- Notre Dame’s 2003 roster includes eight Pennsylvania natives: freshman LB Joe Brockington (Palmyra/Palmyra HS), sophomore OT Brian Mattes (Larksville/Wyoming Valley West HS), senior OT Jim Molinaro (Bethlehem/Catholic HS), senior RB Mike Profeta (Cranberry Township/Seneca Valley HS), sophomore OL Jamie Ryan (Tamaqua/Marian Catholic HS), sophomore FB Nate Schiccatano (Coal Township/Southern Columbia HS), sophomore WR Maurice Stovall (Philadelphia/Archbishop Carroll HS) and freshman RB Travis Thomas (Washington/Washington HS). In addition, Notre Dame’s head student manager Michael Schultz is a Pittsburgh native.
- Between the two teams, eight players hail from the Tampa-St. Petersburg (Fla.) region < notre=”” dame=”” senior=”” te=””>Gary Godsey (Jesuit HS), senior CB Preston Jackson (Hillsborough HS) and junior CB Dwight Ellick (Wharton HS) join Pittsburgh freshman LB Joe Clermond (Chamberlin HS), freshman WR Greg Lee (Chamberlin HS), junior RB Darren McCray (Lakewood Senior HS), sophomore LB Charles Sallet (Armwood HS) and junior WR Joe Stephens (Armwood HS) as Tampa area natives.
- Four of the combatants in this year’s game were teammates at Coffman High School in Dublin, Ohio < notre=”” dame=”” freshman=”” wr=””>Chinedum Ndukwe and freshman QB Brady Quinn, along with Pittsburgh freshman P Adam Graessle and sophomore DL Eric Fritz. In 2001 (Fritz’s senior year), the quartet helped lead the Shamrocks to a 9-4 record, a regional championship and a berth in the state semifinals. Last season, Ndukwe, Quinn and Graessle were on hand to guide Dublin Coffman to an 8-3 record. In an interesting twist, Pittsburgh quarterbacks coach Bryan Deal was both an assistant and head coach at Dublin Coffman from 1988-94 before taking over as head coach at newly-formed Dublin Scioto High School from 1995-96.
NOTRE DAME VS. THE BIG EAST CONFERENCE
- Notre Dame has won more than 71 percent of its games (76-30-2) vs. teams that currently make up the BIG EAST Conference, with 60 of those 108 games coming vs. former independent Pittsburgh.
- This is the fourth consecutive season the Irish will be playing three BIG EAST teams < notre=”” dame=”” is=”” slated=”” to=”” visit=”” boston=”” college=”” (oct.=”” 25)=”” and=”” syracuse=”” (dec.=”” 6)=”” later=”” this=”” year.=”” this=”” season=”” marks=”” the=”” first=”” time=”” that=”” the=”” irish=”” will=”” play=”” three=”” road=”” games=”” against=”” big=”” east=”” schools=”” since=”” the=”” formation=”” of=”” the=”” big=”” east=”” football=”” conference=”” in=”” 1991.=””>
- The Irish own a winning series record against all six BIG EAST teams they have faced.
- Notre Dame owns more victories over BIG EAST opponents (76) than any other conference except the Big Ten (209).
- The Irish are 34-17-2 (.660) all-time on the road against BIG EAST teams.
- Notre Dame is 21-6 (.778) against BIG EAST teams since 1990, including a run of eight consecutive victories from 1995-98.
- The Irish have won seven of their last nine games against BIG EAST schools, including victories over Pittsburgh (14-6) and Rutgers (42-0) last season.
- The last Notre Dame-Miami game took place in 1990 and is one of the most memorable games in the series, as Raghib Ismail returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, and Craig Hentrich kicked a school-record five field goals to help the sixth-ranked Irish upset the No. 2 Hurricanes, 29-20, at Notre Dame Stadium.
- Notre Dame capped its 1988 national championship season with a 34-21 win in the Fiesta Bowl over third-ranked West Virginia.
- Notre Dame’s most recent game versus Syracuse came in 1963, a 14-7 home victory for the Orangemen. That series will be renewed on Dec. 6 when the Irish visit the Carrier Dome on Nov. 22, 2003.
- The Irish have never faced Temple or Virginia Tech on the gridiron.
- Pittsburgh stands as the fifth-most common opponent in Irish football history, facing Notre Dame for the 61st time this season.
- Notre Dame plays its five most common opponents this season (Navy, Purdue, USC, Michigan State and Pittsburgh).
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND PITTSBURGH MET
Despite being outgained on offense by a better than two-to-one margin, eighth-ranked Notre Dame kept Pittsburgh out of the end zone and did just enough to stay unbeaten, posting a 14-6 win before 80,795 fans at Notre Dame Stadium on Oct. 12, 2002.
The Irish defense was the story, maintaining the fragile balance between victory and defeat. Notre Dame bent precariously under the weight of a stout Pittsburgh passing game all day long, but snapped back with a vengeance when pushed to the breaking point. The Irish recorded eight sacks against the Panthers, their highest single-game total in nearly six years, highlighted by two-sack performances from defensive ends Justin Tuck and Ryan Roberts.
On offense, wide receiver Arnaz Battle had the finest day as a pass catcher, setting new career highs with 10 receptions for 101 yards and one touchdown. It was the first 10-catch day by an Irish wideout since Bobby Brown had 12 receptions at Pittsburgh in 1999. It also was the first 100-yard receiving day for a Notre Dame receiver since Joey Getherall had 116 yards against Air Force in 2000.
Pittsburgh tested the Irish mettle on its opening series, as Rod Rutherford hooked up with Kris Wilson for a 52-yard completion to the Notre Dame nine-yard line. However, the Panther threat died there, and David Abdul came on to kick a 29-yard field goal with 11:06 left in the first period.
Pittsburgh would make four additional forays into Notre Dame territory during the first half, but could not get within striking distance. Even more vexing, the Panthers attempted to pin the Irish deep with pooch punts, but all four of their short kicks wound up finding the end zone for touchbacks.
It took more than a full quarter, but the Irish offense got warmed up. Quarterback Carlyle Holiday led Notre Dame on a nine-play, 80-yard drive that burned more than four minutes off the clock. Holiday twice connected with Battle for key third-down conversions to keep the march alive. The tandem then joined forces to put the Irish in front, as Holiday’s fade pass was hauled in by a leaping Battle who managed to get one foot inbounds. Nicholas Setta added the PAT and Notre Dame led with 9:51 to play in the half.
Pittsburgh came back late in the second quarter, going 64 yards in only seven plays to the Notre Dame 10-yard line. However, the Panthers’ troubles in the red zone cropped again, as they managed just four yards on three plays. Abdul saved the drive with a 24-yard field goal with 23 seconds left.
Notre Dame’s primary weapon in the second half turned out to be punter Joey Hildbold. The senior pinned Pittsburgh inside its own 10-yard line twice in the final 30 minutes. The second time proved to be highly beneficial for the Irish. Backed up to his own seven-yard line on second down, Rutherford tried to scramble away from pressure, but he was hit by free safety Glenn Earl, who jarred the ball loose and recovered the fumble at the Panther 12-yard line. Notre Dame needed five plays to turn the Pittsburgh gift into a crushing score, as Ryan Grant plowed over from one yard out with 7:08 to play.
The Panthers had one final chance to tie, as Rutherford marched the visitors down to the Notre Dame 31-yard line with just over one minute remaining. But, under another heavy Irish rush, Rutherford’s pass was intercepted by cornerback Preston Jackson, sealing the win for Notre Dame.
THE LAST TIME THE IRISH AND PANTHERS MET IN PITTSBURGH
In the final game ever played at Pitt Stadium, Pittsburgh defeated Notre Dame, 37-27, on Nov. 13, 1999, in the facility that opened in 1925 and was home to Panther football for 75 years.
With Notre Dame trailing 30-27 and 7:01 left, the Irish defense forced Pittsburgh to punt. On a first-and-10 play from the Irish 37, Notre Dame quarterback Jarious Jackson completed a pass to wide receiver Joey Getherall, but Getherall was hit as soon as the ball came to him and it bounced directly to Pittsburgh’s Scott McCurley, who returned the interception to the Notre Dame 44-yard line. Ten plays later, Kevan Barlow scored his second touchdown of the game from two yards out to seal the Panthers’ victory and break an eight-game losing streak against the Irish. The loss overshadowed a superb passing day by Jackson, who completed 22 of 37 passes for 317 yards and two TDs. The bulk of those completions went to wide receiver Bobby Brown, who caught 12 passes (one shy of the school record held by Jim Seymour) for 208 yards and a score.
BIG PLAYS HIGHLIGHT THE PITTSBURGH SERIES
- Some of the biggest-gaining plays in Notre Dame football history have come in games against Pittsburgh, including the longest punt, longest field goal, second-longest pass play, fourth-longest run from scrimmage and fifth-longest punt return.
- The longest punt and field goal in Notre Dame history both have come in games against Pittsburgh (42 seasons apart). Bill Shakespeare booted an 86-yard punt versus the Panthers in 1935, while Dave Reeve connected on a 53-yard field goal in the 1976 season-opening loss to Pittsburgh (31-10). Shakespeare also had a 72-yard punt against the Panthers in 1934 (still seventh in Irish history).
- Bob Kelly ripped off an 85-yard run versus Pittsburgh in 1944 (tied for fourth in the Irish record book), while John Huarte’s 91-yard pass play to Nick Eddy remains the second-longest in school history. Other long Irish pass plays versus the Panthers have included: Joe Theismann to Mike Creaney (ninth in ND record book, 78 yards, 1970), George Izo to Aubrey Lewis (16th, 74, 1957) and Izo to Red Mack (18th, 72 yards, 1958).
- Five of the longest punt returns in Notre Dame history have also come against Pittsburgh: Joe Heap (fifth-longest, 92 yards, 1952), Lancaster Smith (seventh, 85, 1948), Allen Rossum (eighth, 83, 1996), Tom Schoen (12th, 78, 1967) and Autry Denson (15th, 74, 1996).
NOTRE DAME AND PITTSBURGH IN THE RECORD BOOK
- The following Notre Dame records were set in games against Pittsburgh: Tom Schoen’s nine punt returns (1967), 231 team punt-return yards and 38.5 yards per punt return (1996), low ND first downs (3, modern record, 1937), 31 rushing first downs (1993), 40 points in the second quarter (1996), and 49 points in the first half (modern record, 1968).
- The following are tied for first in the Notre Dame record book and were set in games versus Pittsburgh: Daryle Lamonica’s four TD passes (1962), Ken Ivan’s nine PATs (1965), Allen Rossum’s two punt returns for TDs (1996), five Irish TD passes (1944), low total offense attempts (31 in 1937), modern records of 69 points, 10 TDs and nine PATs (1965), low ND rushing first downs (1 in 1937), low ND passing first downs (0 in 1989) and no ND punts (last done in 1993).
- The first of Lee Becton’s six consecutive 100-yard rushing games (a Notre Dame record) came against Pittsburgh in 1993.
- Bill Wolski’s 30 points (five TDs) versus Pittsburgh in 1965 rank second in the Irish record book, as do Ivan’s 10 PAT attempts in 1965.
- Angelo Dabiero’s 22.7 yards per kick return average (6 for 136) against Pittsburgh in 1960 ranks fifth in Irish history, while Tim Brown’s 26.0 yards per catch ratio (6 for 156) in 1987 ranks fourth.
- Former Pittsburgh players and teams hold the following Notre Dame opponent records: 303 rushing yards by Tony Dorsett (23 carries in 1975), 754 career rushing yards by Dorsett (96 carries from 1973-76), six career TD passes by Alex Van Pelt (1989-92), 10 career PATs and five career field goals by Carson Long (tied for first, 1973-76), and 411 team rushing yards (50 carries in 1975, tied for first).
IRISH LOOK TO CONTINUE RECENT SUCCESS AFTER A BYE WEEK
Since 1984, Notre Dame is 21-2 (.913) in regular-season games following a regularly-scheduled bye week, including wins over Stanford (31-7) and Rutgers (42-0) last season. Notably, the Irish have posted seven wins over ranked teams following a bye week: 24-10 over #19 Army in 1985, 24-19 at #1 Michigan in ’89, 31-23 at #19 USC in ’92, 31-24 over #1 Florida State in ’93, 54-20 over #16 Washington in ’96, 24-6 at #11 LSU in ’97 and 34-30 over #23 Oklahoma in 1999. Notre Dame also has won its last 12 games when coming off a regular-season bye week, dating back to a 23-16 loss to #8 Florida State on Nov. 12, 1994, at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
IRISH STRONG IN OCTOBER
Notre Dame enters the Pittsburgh game having won 20 of its last 21 games in the month of October, dating back to a 20-17 loss to USC on Oct. 18, 1997. The only blemish on that record was a 21-17 loss at Boston College in 2001. Since the 1988 season, Notre Dame is 52-8 (.867) in October and was 32-7 (.821) in October in the 1990s. In addition, the Irish have won 15 consecutive October home games, dating back to the 1997 loss to USC.
SETTA NEARING SCHOOL RECORD FOR CONSECUTIVE FIELD GOALS
Senior kicker Nicholas Setta has been successful on his last nine field goal attempts after a low snap caused him to come up short on his first try of the year (a 47-yarder vs. Washington State). Setta’s current streak is the second-longest of his career, topped only by a run of 10 straight treys spanning the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Mike Johnston holds the record with 13 consecutive field goals made from Sept. 18-Oct. 23, 1982, hitting on his first 13 attempts of the year, including a game-tying kick at Oregon. Johnston saw his streak come to an end the following week on Oct. 30, 1982, when Navy blocked his 34-yard attempt in the first quarter.
THE MIGHTY QUINN
Freshman quarterback Brady Quinn made his first career start at Purdue on Sept. 27, completing 29-of-59 passes for 297 yards and one touchdown with four interceptions. His 29 completions were the most by an Irish quarterback since Ron Powlus connected 31 times at Purdue in 1997 and the 59 attempts were the second-most in school history behind Terry Hanratty’s 63 passes at Purdue in 1966. In addition, Quinn’s 297 yards passing were the most by a Notre Dame signal-caller since Jarious Jackson threw for 317 yards in a loss at Pittsburgh in 1999. Quinn’s passing yardage total also was the best by a Notre Dame quarterback in his first start since Hanratty threw for 304 yards in that game at Purdue in 1966, and Quinn’s total was the best by an Irish first-time freshman starting QB in the last 53 seasons.
Sophomore wide receiver Maurice Stovall turned in the best performance of his young Notre Dame career at Purdue, catching nine passes for 171 yards and one touchdown. It was the highest single-game yardage total by an Irish wideout since Bobby Brown caught 12 balls for 208 yards at Pittsburgh in 1999. In addition, Stovall’s 85-yard touchdown catch from Brady Quinn at Purdue was the third-longest connection in school history and the longest since Nov. 7, 1981, when Blair Kiel hit Joe Howard with a school-record 96-yard scoring strike.
Stovall now leads the Irish with 195 receiving yards this season and he is third on the squad with 12 receptions. He also is tops on the team with an average of 48.8 yards per catch.
The Washington State game was the fifth overtime contest in Notre Dame history and the first since a 34-31 win over Air Force on Oct. 28, 2000. The Irish are 2-3 when they are pushed to an extra session (2-2 at home), and have won both games in which they won the overtime coin toss.
One other OT tidbit: senior safety Glenn Earl has played a key role in each of the last two overtime wins for the Irish. Against Air Force in 2000, Earl blocked a potential game-winning field goal attempt at the end of regulation, allowing Notre Dame to go on and win on Joey Getherall’s nine-yard TD run in the extra period. Earlier this season against Washington State, Earl broke up a third-down pass intended for WSU’s Scott Lunde, forcing the Cougars to try a 34-yard field goal that missed, opening the door for the Irish to win on Nicholas Setta’s 40-yard field goal.
BACK FROM THE BRINK
Notre Dame erased a 19-0 second-quarter deficit in its win over Washington State, representing the largest comeback for the Irish since Oct. 16, 1999 against another Pac-10 team, USC. In that game, Notre Dame trailed 24-3 early in the third quarter, but reeled off 22 unanswered points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, to snatch the victory away from the stunned Trojans.
YOU GOTTA BELIEVE
Notre Dame’s 29-26 overtime win over Washington State continues a trend of remarkable victories that began last season. The Irish now are 7-2 (.778) in games decided by eight points or less since Tyrone Willingham took over as the Notre Dame head coach prior to last season. 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 earlier this year vs. Michigan State (22-16).
Fourth-quarter comebacks also aren’t anything new to Notre Dame in the Willingham era. The Irish have won five times during the past two seasons when they were tied or trailing in the fourth quarter.
FIVE O’CLOCK LIGHTNING
The 20 points scored by Notre Dame in the fourth quarter against Washington State were the most the Irish have tallied in the final period since Oct. 25, 1997, when they erupted for 21 fourth-quarter points in a 52-20 blowout of Boston College.
RETURN TO SENDER
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success last season was its ability to capitalize on an opponent’s mistakes. In fact, the Irish wound up with nine returns (punts, kickoffs, fumbles, interceptions) for touchdowns in 2002, which tied North Carolina State for second-most in the nation behind Kansas State’s 12 returns for touchdowns.
Upon closer inspection, the return game has been a source of strength for Notre Dame over the past five seasons. The Irish have logged 23 returns for touchdowns in that time, a figure that ranks eighth in the country.
THEY SHALL RETURN
- During the past 17-plus seasons (’86-’03), Notre Dame has produced 77 TDs via kickoff, punt, interception and fumble returns ?- including Vontez Duff’s 76-yard punt return vs. Maryland, Duff’s 33-yard interception return, Gerome Sapp’s 54-yard fumble return and Lionel Bolen’s four-yard fumble return vs. Purdue, Shane Walton’s 18-yard interception return and Courtney Watson’s 34-yard interception return against Stanford, Duff’s 92-yard kickoff return vs. Navy, Walton’s 45-yard interception return against Rutgers and Carlos Pierre-Antoine’s 27-yard blocked punt return at USC in ’02.
- Irish opponents in the past 17-plus seasons have combined for just 21 total returns for touchdowns.
- The ’02 Irish joined the ’93 and ’00 teams as the only squads to return at least one punt, kickoff, interception and fumble for TDs.
- Among current Notre Dame players, senior cornerback Vontez Duff has four touchdown returns (2 KR, 1 PR, 1 INT), senior running back Julius Jones has two TD returns (1 KR, 1 PR) and senior inside linebacker Courtney Watson also has two touchdown runbacks (2 INT). Allen Rossum holds the school and NCAA record for most TDs on runbacks with nine (3 KR, 3 PR, 3 INT) from 1994-97.
THE FIVE-FINGER DISCOUNT
Notre Dame has recorded nine takeaways (6 FUM, 3 INT) in its first four games this season, coming up with three turnovers in each of its first three outings. However, that shouldn’t come as any surprise to recent followers of Irish football. Over the past three seasons (2001-03), Notre Dame has forced two or more turnovers in 21 of their last 28 games, including 17 contests where they came up with at least three takeaways.
HOYTE STANDS TALL ON DEFENSE
Junior inside linebacker Brandon Hoyte has been masterful on defense in crucial situations. Coming into each of the last two seasons, Hoyte has been designated as Notre Dame’s top reserve linebacker. However, on seven occasions, he has been pressed into a starting role and he has delivered in the clutch, averaging 8.0 tackles per game, including double-digit outings in three contests (North Carolina State in the ’03 Gator Bowl, Washington State and Michigan in ’03). In addition, Hoyte has been Notre Dame’s leading tackler four times (Maryland, Purdue and North Carolina State in ’02; Washington State in ’03), including a career-best 11 tackles in the overtime win over Washington State on Sept. 6. He also registered two tackles for loss at Purdue and now leads the team with 4.5 stops behind the line this season.
Five true freshmen have played for Notre Dame this season. Defensive end Victor Abiamiri, wide receiver Chinedum Ndukwe, defensive back Freddie Parish, Jr., quarterback Brady Quinn and wide receiver Jeff Samardzija all have made significant contributions during the early portion of the year. Abiamiri has made eight tackles, including a career-high seven in his first start vs. Michigan State. Meanwhile, Parish has logged three tackles, Samardzija has caught seven passes for 53 yards (including a career-high four receptions at Purdue, the same game that saw Ndukwe catch his first career pass.
Perhaps the most high-profile rookie starter for the Irish has been Quinn, who cracked the lineup for the first time at Purdue, becoming only the seventh freshman starting QB for Notre Dame in the last 53 seasons. Quinn was 29 of 59 for 297 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions against the Boilermakers, posting the most passing yards by any rookie signal-caller since 1951. For the season, Quinn is 39 of 86 for 436 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions.
One other freshman note: all five of the aforementioned rookies played against Washington State, marking the first time five freshmen have played for the Irish in a season opener since Aug. 28, 1999. On that afternoon, Jason Beckstrom, Joey Hildbold, Julius Jones, Gerome Sapp and Chris Yura all participated in a 48-13 Irish rout of Kansas in the State of Indiana Eddie Robinson Classic. Beckstrom and Jones now are seniors on the 2003 Irish roster.
ABIAMIRI MAKES RARE FRESHMAN DEFENSIVE LINE START
Victor Abiamiri’s start vs. Michigan State marked the first time a Notre Dame freshman started on the defensive line since Anthony Weaver got the call against Georgia Tech in the 1999 Gator Bowl. Abiamiri made the most of his first starting assignment, rolling up seven tackles, including six solo stops against the Spartans. Prior to Weaver’s start against Georgia Tech, the last Irish freshmen to start on the defensive line were Germaine Holden and John Taliaferro, who both were in the lineup against Tennessee on Nov. 9, 1991.
Weaver made 10 starts during his freshman season and went on to rank second on Notre Dame’s season and career tackles-for-loss charts behind two-time unanimous All-American and National Football Foundation Hall of Fame selection Ross Browner. Weaver now is in his second season as a defensive end for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.
SETTA PULLING DOUBLE DUTY
Senior Nicholas Setta is serving as the starting placekicker and punter for the Irish this season, marking the first time a Notre Dame player regularly has filled both roles since Craig Hentrich turned the trick from 1989-92. Hentrich is now an all-pro punter with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, and even booted three field goals as the Titans’ emergency kicker in their season-opening win over Oakland on Sept. 7.
Setta is in his fourth year as the Irish placekicker, having twice been named to the Lou Groza Award Watch List. He also has been selected as a preseason honorable mention All-American by Street & Smith’s each of the last two seasons. This year, he is aiming to break several Notre Dame records, including career field goal attempts (Setta is second with 66, while John Carney holds the record of 69 from 1984-86), career field goal made (Setta is second with 46, while Carney is first with 51), and career points by kicking (Setta is third with 241, while Hentrich owns the top mark of 294). In addition, Setta has made 91 consecutive PAT kicks, the second-longest streak in school history behind Hentrich’s run of 136 straight PATs from 1989-92. Setta’s last missed PAT kick came on Oct. 7, 2000 vs. Stanford.
Setta has been one of the primary sources of offense for Notre Dame through the first three games of the 2003 season. He has connected on nine of 10 field-goal attempts (making his last nine in a row), including a perfect seven of seven on kicks inside of 40 yards, and leads the Irish with 31 points this season. His average of 2.25 field goals per game ranks fifth in the nation.
Setta got his final season at Notre Dame off to a flying start against Washington State, matching his career high (and tying the school record) with five field goals in six attempts, including the game-winning 40-yard boot in overtime. He also set a new personal best with 17 points by kicking (five field goals, two PAT), one better than his previous high of 16, set in last year’s season opener vs. Maryland (five field goals, one PAT). Those 17 points vs. WSU helped push the Lockport, Ill., product into third place on the school’s career points-by-kicking list < he=”” now=”” has=”” 241=”” points=”” and=”” is=”” within=”” sight=”” of=”” dave=”” reeve,=”” who=”” is=”” second=”” all-time=”” with=”” 247=”” points=”” from=”” 1974-77.=”” setta=”” added=”” three=”” more=”” field=”” goals=”” on=”” as=”” many=”” attempts=”” against=”” michigan=”” state,=”” marking=”” the=”” fourth=”” time=”” in=”” his=”” career=”” he=”” has=”” kicked=”” three=”” field=”” goals=”” in=”” a=”” single=”” game.=””>
While he has a wealth of experience as a placekicker, Setta comes into this season having only served as a backup punter behind two-time Ray Guy Award semifinalist Joey Hildbold. However, while filling in for the injured Hildbold against Boston College in 2000, Setta did punt four times for 160 yards (a 40-yard average), including a career-long 47-yard boot in a 28-16 Irish victory. Setta was one of 32 candidates named to the ’03 Ray Guy Award preseason watch list and has backed up that selection through the first month of the season, averaging of 41.1 yards on 25 punts with three kicks dropped inside the opponents’ 20-yard line and six kicks of 50+ yards. He also boomed a career-long 54-yard punt on his first try of the season vs. Washington State and carded a career-high nine punts at Michigan for a 43.9-yard average (including a 51-yard kick).
Courtney Watson NAMED TO AFCA GOOD WORKS TEAM
Senior All-America linebacker Courtney Watson was one of 11 people named Sept. 17 to the 2003 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Football Team. The award recognizes players for their dedication and commitment to community service and all nominees must display sincere concern and reliability, while also having made a favorable impression on the organizations in which they were involved.
Watson, who joins former defensive end Grant Irons as the only Irish players to win the award, was recognized for his extensive work within the University and South Bend communities. A native of Sarasota, Fla., Watson was responsible for creating and developing the football team’s community service initiative entitled Tackle The Arts. The program, now in its second year, partners with the St. Joseph Country Public Library in South Bend, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana and the Notre Dame Marching Band in providing an interactive approach helping inspire children to explore different areas of the arts including reading, creative writing and poetry, drawing and music. In addition to providing scholastic support with area children, Watson also installed a food drive dimension to the event to benefit the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.
In conjunction with the 2003 Tackle the Arts event, Watson along with teammates Brandon Hoyte and Dan Stevenson , also played host to a picnic for at-risk children in the South Bend area. The children, who attended the picnic and later Tackle the Arts, were identified through the NCAA’s National Youth in Sports Program, the South Bend Housing Authority, the Robinson Community Learning Center and the Urban League of South Bend.
Additionally, Watson has made many surprise visits to the pediatric floor at Memorial Hospital in South Bend and has addressed the Jackson Middle School football team at its end of the year banquet. He has participated in the St. Joseph County City Bureau Youth Fest and made hospital visits while the Irish were in Jacksonville, Fla., playing in the 2003 Toyota Gator Bowl.
Watson has also been very active in the Notre Dame community as he was nominated and then elected a member of the Notre Dame Student Senate in 2002-03. Meeting every Wednesday night, Watson and his fellow senators would discuss issues pertinent to the University community. He also served as a member of the Residence Life and Academic Council committees.
Watson is also a four-year participant, and two-time champion, in Notre Dame’s student-run basketball tournament called Bookstore Basketball, which is the largest five-on-five outdoor basketball tournament in America.
SIX IRISH PLAYERS EARN PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Senior inside linebacker Courtney Watson was a preseason first-team All-America selection by Street & Smith’s and The Sporting News. Meanwhile, senior cornerback/kick returner Vontez Duff was a preseason first-team All-American according to Street & Smith’s and a second-team choice by Athlon. The latter publication also named senior nose guard Cedric Hilliard to its preseason All-America third team. Senior safety Glenn Earl, junior running back Ryan Grant and senior kicker/punter Nicholas Setta all were awarded preseason honorable mention All-America status by Street & Smith’s.
THREE NOTRE DAME POSITION UNITS LAUDED BY NATIONAL PUBLICATIONS
Athlon named the Irish linebacking corps the fourth-best unit in the country, while The Sporting News labelled them the ninth-best group in the land. In addition, Athlon selected the Notre Dame defensive line as the fifth-best unit in the nation.
WATSON NAMED TO WALTER CAMP PLAYER OF THE YEAR PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Senior inside linebacker Courtney Watson has been named to the preseason watch list for the Walter Camp Football Foundation Player of the Year, the nation’s fourth-oldest individual accolade which is given annually by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Through a vote of the 117 Division I-A head coach and sports information directors, the list will be cut to 10 semifinalists in early November, with the winner to be announced Dec. 11 at the ESPN/Home Depot College Football Awards Show. The official award presentation is slated for Feb. 14, 2004, at the Walter Camp Football Foundation national awards banquet, which will be held in New Haven, Conn., at the Yale University Commons.
WATSON, GOOLSBY NAMED TO BUTKUS AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Senior inside linebackers Courtney Watson and Mike Goolsby have been named to the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award, which is presented each year to the nation’s top linebacker by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando. The list of 90 candidates will be pared down to 10 semifinalists on Oct. 16, with the three finalists chosen on Nov. 13. The winner will be unveiled Dec. 12 at a banquet in Orlando.
DUFF, EARL PICKED FOR THORPE AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Senior cornerback Vontez Duff and senior safety Glenn Earl have been named to the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is awarded annually to the nation’s top defensive back by the Jim Thorpe Association, based in Oklahoma City. Ten semifinalists for the award will be announced Nov. 3, with the three finalists selected on Nov. 24. The winner will be announced Dec. 11 at the ESPN/Home Depot College Football Awards Show with the official award presentation slated for Feb. 9, 2004, in Oklahoma City.
HOLIDAY TAPPED FOR O’BRIEN AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Senior quarterback Carlyle Holiday has earned a spot on the preseason watch list for the Davey O’Brien Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top quarterback by the Fort Worth Club in Fort Worth, Texas. In November, the semifinalists will be announced and the three finalists will be selected later in the month. The winner will be announced Dec. 11 at the ESPN/Home Depot College Football Awards Show with the official award presentation slated for February 2004 in Fort Worth.
TUCK EARNS PLACE ON HENDRICKS AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Junior defensive end Justin Tuck has been selected to the preseason watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top defensive end by the Ted Hendricks Foundation in Chicago. In November, the semifinalists will be announced and the three finalists will be selected later in the month. The winner will be announced Dec. 11 at the ESPN/Home Depot College Football Awards Show with the official award presentation set for February 2004 in Chicago.
SETTA APPEARS ON RAY GUY AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Senior punter/placekicker Nicholas Setta has been named to the preseason watch list for the Ray Guy Award, which is presented each year to the nation’s top punter by the Greater Augusta (Ga.) Sports Council. Ten semifinalists will be announced in early November and the three finalists will be chosen later that month. The winner will be announced Dec. 11 at the ESPN/Home Depot College Football Awards Show and will receive his award live during the broadcast.
FOUR PLAYERS NAMED TO 2003 STREET & SMITH’S AWARD WATCH LISTS
Street & Smith’s tapped senior inside linebacker Courtney Watson for spots on its Butkus Award and Bednarik/Nagurski Award watch lists (as did Lindy’s). The former honor recognizes the country’s top linebacker, while the latter awards spotlight the nation’s best overall defensive player. In addition, Street & Smith’s placed senior cornerback Vontez Duff and senior safety Glenn Earl on its watch list for the Thorpe Award (which goes to the top defensive back in the country), and the publication named senior kicker Nicholas Setta to its watch list for the Lou Groza Award (presented to the nation’s top kicker).
IRISH PLAYERS RANK HIGH IN LINDY’S AND THE SPORTING NEWS IN 2003
Senior Courtney Watson was tabbed the fourth-best inside linebacker in the country by Lindy’s and The Sporting News, while senior Vontez Duff was rated the seventh-best cornerback and ninth-best all-purpose player by Lindy’s, and the nation’s 10th best as both a cornerback and kick returner by The Sporting News. Senior nose guard Cedric Hilliard was ranked the sixth-best defensive tackle in the nation by The Sporting News, while senior safety Glenn Earl placed 14th among free safeties by The Sporting News and 19th by Lindy’s. Senior Mike Goolsby was rated 12th among the nation’s inside linebackers by Lindy’s, while junior Ryan Grant was 18th among running backs and senior Darrell Campbell was charted 19th among defensive linemen by the same publication.
IRISH HEAD COACH Tyrone Willingham
A veteran with 26 seasons of coaching experience at the collegiate and professional levels, Tyrone Willingham is now in his second season as head football coach at the University of Notre Dame after previously serving as the leader at Stanford University. In eight years as a college head coach, Willingham has compiled a solid 55-42-1 (.566) overall record, including an 11-6 (.647) mark with the Irish, and has guided his charges to bowl games on five occasions.
Willingham used his years of service in the coaching business to reverse the tides of the Irish program in ’02, leading Notre Dame to a 10-2 regular-season record and a trip to the 2003 Toyota Gator Bowl. He became the first Irish head coach ever to win 10 games in his first season, and he 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 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.
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).
SCOUTING THE IRISH OFFENSE
Line — The offensive line has been largely retooled for the Irish this season. Four of the five starters from last year were selected in the NFL Draft (and all four remain on active ’03 NFL rosters), taking with them more than 80 combined starts and nine combined seasons of starting experience. Senior right guard Sean Milligan (28:57 minutes played) is the lone holdover on the offensive line and he is being called upon to anchor the rebuilt 2003 crew. Milligan is a three-year monogram winner who played in all 13 games last season, playing a total of 266:27. He has made 19 career starts, including the first two games of 2003, but he has missed the last two contests with an injury.
Junior Mark LeVoir (96:25) earned the starting nod at left guard all four games this year (the first starts of his career) after spending the past two campaigns as a backup at both tackle positions. One of the largest linemen on the Irish roster this year (6-7, 320), LeVoir played in four games last season for a total of 10:09. Juniors Jeff Thompson and Darin Mitchell (24:09), along with sophomore Jamie Ryan (34:18) all serve as the primary reserves at the guard spot for Notre Dame. Mitchell made his first career start against Michigan State and Ryan started at Purdue, both replacing Milligan in the Irish lineup.
While Milligan is the only regular starter back this season, both of this year’s tackles saw significant playing time last year. Senior tackle Jim Molinaro (96:25) has started the last seven games for the Irish, including six on the left end. On the other side of the line, junior right tackle Dan Stevenson (96:25) was thrust in the starting lineup for last year’s Gator Bowl and played extremely well, cementing his role at that position in 2003. Stevenson played a total of 82:23 in 11 games last season, seeing time as both a reserve guard and tackle. Molinaro and Stevenson have started the first four games this season for the Irish and were instrumental in Notre Dame’s 167-yard rushing performance against Washington State. A pair of sophomores, Ryan and Brian Mattes (11 special teams appearances) are penciled in to be the backup tackles this year.
The battle to replace All-America center Jeff Faine was a tight one throughout preseason camp, with sophomore Bob Morton (64:54) and junior Zachary Giles (40:32) both competing for the starting spot. Morton earned the starting job in three of the first four games of the season, although Giles saw plenty of action against Washington State. In fact, the two ended up playing alongside one another (Giles at center, Morton at right guard) late in the WSU contest as the Irish were mounting their comeback win over the Cougars. When Morton succumbed to an injury prior to the Michigan State game, Giles stepped in against the Spartans and made his first career start. Morton returned to the lineup at Purdue.
Backs — Freshman Brady Quinn (39-86-436, 2 TD, 5 INT) has taken over as the starting quarterback for the Irish, becoming only the seventh true freshman to start at QB for Notre Dame in the last 53 seasons. Quinn made his college debut against Washington State, coming in midway through the fourth quarter when Holiday was shaken up and directing the Irish on a six-play, 80-yard scoring drive that put Notre Dame ahead for the first time. Quinn was three of 10 for 36 yards at Michigan before completing a season-best seven of 17 throws for 103 yards and his first career touchdown (a 29-yard pass to Rhema McKnight) vs. Michigan State. The Dublin, Ohio, native then made his first-ever start at Purdue, connecting on 29 of 59 passes for 297 yards with one TD and four interceptions. His 297 yards were the most by a Irish freshman QB in his debut since 1951 and his 85-yard second-quarter TD pass to Maurice Stovall was the third-longest strike in school history.
Senior Carlyle Holiday (36-73-303, 1 TD, 4 INT) now serves as Quinn’s understudy after having been the starting quarterback for Notre Dame since the third week of the 2001 season. Last year was Holiday’s first in the new West Coast offense employed by head coach Tyrone Willingham and offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick, and the veteran signal-caller thrived, setting a school record with 126 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. A 2003 Davey O’Brien Award candidate, Holiday has the fifth-lowest interception percentage in school history (.0338), having thrown just 16 picks in 474 career pass attempts. He opened this season by connecting on a career-high 21 of 34 passes for 149 yards with one TD and one interception in the win over Washington State.
Meanwhile, junior Pat Dillingham gives the Irish another experienced option at quarterback behind Quinn and Holiday. Dillingham appeared in seven games last season, completing 41 of 81 passes for 434 yards and one touchdown. He carved a place in Irish history last season at Michigan State, throwing the game-winning 60-yard TD pass to Arnaz Battle with 1:15 to play. Dillingham also made his first career start vs. Stanford, throwing for 129 yards in a 31-7 victory.
Junior Ryan Grant (46-158) leads a veteran group of Irish running backs who were the main beneficiaries of Notre Dame’s new offensive style last year. Fresh off a 1,000-yard season in 2002, Grant picked up right where he left off, rushing 17 times for 98 yards against Washington State. In his career, he now has posted four 100-yard games and four other 90-yard efforts. Senior Julius Jones (43-152, 1 TD) and junior Marcus Wilson (5-8) also will see plenty of action out of the backfield this season. After sitting out last season, Jones made a triumphant return to the Irish lineup against Washington State, carrying 11 times for 72 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown run with 5:03 to play that put Notre Dame ahead for the first time. Jones also was the team’s leading rusher against Michigan (11-42) and Michigan State (14-32).
Junior Rashon Powers-Neal (1-2) steps into the starting lineup at fullback after serving as Grant’s primary understudy at tailback last season. A bruising back who deftly complements the fluid styles of Grant, Jones and Wilson, Powers-Neal carried 77 times for 344 yards and two touchdowns last season. Junior walk-on Josh Schmidt was the surprise of this year’s preseason camp, working his way into a position for playing time, along with sophomore Nate Schiccatano, who opened some eyes with 24 yards rushing and a touchdown in the ’03 Blue-Gold Game. Schmidt has caught three passes out of the backfield this season for 26 yards.
Receivers — Despite the loss of last year’s leading receiver Arnaz Battle, the Irish receiving corps should be well-stocked in 2003. Junior Omar Jenkins (15-118) takes over as the leader of the unit after pulling in 37 balls for 633 yards and three touchdowns last season. He wasted little time in showing the way for the Irish pass-catchers, tying his career high with five catches for 46 yards vs. WSU. he had five more receptions for 29 yards in the loss at Purdue. Sophomore Rhema McKnight (team-high 18-180, 2 TD) has started the last three games for the Irish at the other wideout position, scoring touchdowns vs. Michigan and Michigan State and logging career highs of eight catches and 104 yards against MSU. Rangy sophomore Maurice Stovall (12-195, 1 TD), senior Ronnie Rodamer and junior Matt Shelton all can stretch defenses vertically and will see significant time in Notre Dame’s balanced offensive scheme. Stovall erupted for a career-high nine catches and 171 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown at Purdue. It was the highest receiving yardage total by an Irish wideout since 1999. Freshman receivers Chinedum Ndukwe (1-(-1)) and Jeff Samardzija (7-53) also could be heard from this season, with the latter amassing a season-high four catches for 18 yards at Purdue.
Senior tight end Jared Clark (9-90), a converted quarterback, has moved into the starting lineup and ranks fourth on the team in catches and yardage. He tied his personal best with four receptions for 28 yards against Washington State and also had a team-high 39 yards receiving on two catches at Michigan. Senior Billy Palmer (1-13) was the starting tight end for the Irish in the first three games of this season after appearing in all 13 games last year. He has started four times in his career and caught the second pass of his career for 13 yards against Michigan State. Sophomores Anthony Fasano (2-34) and Marcus Freeman also will contend for playing time this season < fasano=”” registered=”” his=”” first=”” career=”” reception,=”” a=”” 19-yard=”” grab,=”” at=”” michigan=”” and=”” added=”” a=”” 15-yard=”” reception=”” against=”” michigan=”” state.=””>
SCOUTING THE IRISH DEFENSE
Line — One of the strengths of this year’s Irish squad will be its defensive line, where three starters are back in the fold. Senior defensive tackle Darrell Campbell (10 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 PBU) and senior nose guard Cedric Hilliard (13 tackles, 0.5 for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery) both provide a formidable obstacle for opponents in the middle of the line. Although he did not start vs. Washington State, Hilliard was a factor, finishing with four tackles and his first career fumble recovery. He has since returned to the starting lineup against Michigan and Michigan State, carding a season-high five tackles in the latter contest. Sophomore Derek Landri (four tackles, 0.5 TFL) made his first career start vs. WSU in place of Hilliard and logged his first career tackle at Michigan before adding two tackles (0.5 for loss) at Purdue. Senior Greg Pauly (five tackles, 0.5 for loss) also has seen time in the middle of the defensive line, adding two tackles (0.5 for loss) in a reserve role against Washington State. Junior Brian Beidatsch (one fumble recovery) is the primary backup at the interior line spots and saw limited action against Washington State and Michigan, notching his first career fumble recovery in the UM contest. Senior right end Kyle Budinscak (nine tackles, 2 TFL, two sacks, one fumble recovery), the other veteran returning on the Irish defensive line, is in his second season as a starter (18 career starts). A two-time Academic All-District selection, Budinscak is second on the team in sacks after chalking up a career-high two sacks in the win over Washington State. He also added his first career fumble recovery against Michigan State. Junior end Justin Tuck (18 tackles, 2.5 for loss, team-high 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one PBU), a pass-rushing specialist with exceptional quickness, had started just one game in his career prior to this season, but cracked the lineup in three of the first four games this year, tallying four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble vs. Washington State, adding five tackles at Michigan and seven tackles and 1.5 sacks at Purdue. Highly-touted freshman Victor Abiamiri (eight tackles, one for loss) and sophomore Travis Leitko (one tackle) both serve as the top understudies at the defensive end positions. Abiamiri earned the starting nod against Michigan State and did not disappoint, registering seven tackles (six solo).
Linebackers — All three starting linebackers return for the Irish this season, led by senior inside linebackers and Butkus Award candidates Courtney Watson (team-high 35 tackles, 2 TFL, one forced fumble, 2 PBU) and Mike Goolsby. Watson, a 2002 Butkus Award finalist, led the team with 90 tackles last year despite missing three games due to injury. He sat out the Washington State game, but returned with a vengeance against Michigan and Michigan State, logging a team-high 12 tackles (one for loss) in each game. He also forced an early fumble at Michigan and now leads the Irish in tackles this season (ranks 25th in the nation in total tackles per game at 11.67). Goolsby was third on the squad with 75 tackles last season, but currently is sidelined with an injury. Junior Brandon Hoyte (29 tackles, 4.5 for loss, one fumble recovery, two PBU) has stepped in for Goolsby this season, carding a career-high 11 tackles vs. Washington State, adding 10 stops and his second career fumble recovery at Michigan and logging two tackles for loss at Purdue (he leads the team in TFL). Senior Derek Curry (19 tackles, 2 TFL, two sacks, one INT) mans the outside linebacker post and had a career day against Washington State, logging a personal-best seven tackles and his first career interception. He also chalked up a career-high two sacks in the loss at Purdue. Junior Corey Mays (eight tackles, 0.5 for loss), who started in place of Watson vs. Washington State and had a career-high four tackles at Michigan, and senior Jerome Collins (two tackles) are the main linebacker reserves.
Backs — Even with the loss of unanimous All-America cornerback Shane Walton and strong safety Gerome Sapp to the NFL, the Irish secondary should be particularly sturdy in 2003. Senior cornerback Vontez Duff (10 tackles, one forced fumble, two PBU) was a third-team All-American last year and has started the last 25 games for the Irish, while hard-hitting senior strong safety Glenn Earl (26 tackles, 0.5 TFL, one fumble recovery, one INT, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one PBU) tied for second on the team with 81 tackles last year. Both Duff and Earl are preseason candidates for the Jim Thorpe Award and both were key parts of the win over Washington State < duff=”” forced=”” a=”” critical=”” fourth-quarter=”” fumble=”” and=”” earl=”” recovered=”” the=”” loose=”” pigskin=”” to=”” help=”” ignite=”” a=”” 20-point=”” irish=”” rally.=”” earl=”” also=”” registered=”” a=”” season-high=”” 10=”” tackles=”” at=”” michigan=”” before=”” adding=”” six=”” stops=”” and=”” an=”” interception=”” against=”” michigan=”” state.=”” he=”” then=”” shifted=”” over=”” to=”” strong=”” safety=”” for=”” the=”” first=”” time=”” in=”” his=”” career=”” at=”” purdue.=”” junior=””>Quentin Burrell (13 tackles) had been used primarily as the Irish dime back in the first three games, but made his first career start at free safety against Purdue and registered a career-best five tackles. Senior Garron Bible (14 tackles, one fumble recovery) started the first three games this season at strong safety after having had only two career starts entering 2003. He tied his career high with seven tackles against both Washington State and Michigan and added his second career fumble recovery against the Wolverines. Meanwhile, the competition to replace Walton at the other cornerback position was tight between seniors Jason Beckstrom (11 tackles, one PBU) and Preston Jackson (16 tackles, 1 TFL), as well as junior Dwight Ellick (three tackles, one QB hurry). Beckstrom missed all of last season with a torn biceps, while Jackson appeared in every game last year (starting once). At the same time, Ellick is a former all-BIG EAST track standout who has played in 25 career games, mostly on special teams. Jackson has gotten the starting call in all four games this season and had a career-high eight tackles at Michigan. All three men saw extensive time in the win over Washington State, but Ellick did not play in the Michigan or Michigan State game. Beckstrom sparkled against MSU, turning in a career-high six tackles. The trio then reunited in the starting lineup at Purdue, as the Irish opened in a nickel package. Junior Lionel Bolen (one tackle) and freshman Freddie Parish, Jr. (three tackles) head up the reserve secondary unit. Parish has appeared in three of the first four contests, mainly in nickel situations.
SCOUTING THE IRISH KICKING GAME
Senior Nicholas Setta takes on the dual role of placekicker and punter in 2003, becoming the first person to hold down both positions for the Irish since Craig Hentrich from 1989-92. A two-time Lou Groza Award candidate, Setta is now in his fourth season as Notre Dame’s kicker this year, setting his sights on several school records. He has made 46 career field goals (five shy of John Carney’s mark) and is third on the Irish career points-by-kicking chart (241, record is 294 by Hentrich). In addition, Setta has made 91 consecutive PAT kicks, the second-longest streak in school history (136 by Hentrich from 1989-92). Setta got his final season off to a terrific start against Washington State, tying his career best with five field goals on six attempts, including the game-winning 40-yarder in overtime. He also established a new personal best with 17 points by kicking, one more than his previous high set in the ’02 opener vs. Maryland. The Lockport, Ill., native then made all three of his field goal attempts against Michigan State, marking the fourth time in his career he has made at least three field goals in one game. For the season, Setta is 9-for-10 on field goals, including 7-of-7 inside 40 yards, and ranks fifth in the nation with an average of 2.25 field goals per game. His nine consecutive field goals stands as the third-longest streak in school history, four away from Mike Johnston’s mark of 13 set back in 1982.
This season marks Setta’s first as the everyday punter following the departure of two-time Ray Guy Award semifinalist Joey Hildbold. Setta, a 2003 Ray Guy Award candidate, has easily slipped into his second job, averaging 41.1 yards on 25 punts this season, including a 43.9-yard average on a career-high nine punts at Michigan. Setta also has boomed six 50-yard punts this year, including a career-long 54-yard shot on his first kick of the season in the win over Washington State.
Junior walk-on offensive lineman Casey Dunn (25 special teams appearances) and sophomore Scott Raridon (14 special teams appearances) are splitting time as the Irish snappers, taking over for the departed John Crowther. Meanwhile, junior reserve kicker D.J. Fitzpatrick (14 special teams appearances) has assumed Hildbold’s role as the holder on placement kicks, while also backing up Setta at both kicking positions.
Seniors Vontez Duff and Julius Jones make up a formidable kick return crew for Notre Dame. Duff is ranked 50th in the nation in kickoff return yardage (23.17). He now has 1,032 career kickoff return yards and became the sixth player in school history to amass 1,000 yards in career kickoff runbacks with his 40-yard effort at Michigan. In addition, he has 96 career total kick returns (punts and kickoffs), tying him for third place in the Irish record books. Meanwhile, Jones leads the Irish with 264 all-purpose yards this season and ranks second in school history in four career return categories < total=”” kick=”” return=”” yardage=”” (1,969),=”” total=”” kick=”” returns=”” (104),=”” kickoff=”” returns=”” (67)=”” and=”” kickoff=”” returns=”” yardage=”” (1,547).=”” he=”” is=”” closing=”” in=”” on=”” 1987=”” heisman=”” trophy=”” winner=”” (and=”” school=”” record=”” holder)=””>Tim Brown in all four departments.
Demand for tickets to two of Notre Dame’s six home games in 2003 ranks among the top five in the history of Notre Dame Stadium. The Notre Dame ticket office received 54,244 ticket requests for the Oct. 18 game vs. USC, making it the fourth-highest requested Irish home game in history. In addition, the Nov. 1 Notre Dame-Florida State game garnered 51,051 requests, placing it fifth on the all-time list. In fact, Notre Dame set a record by refunding $5.1 million to lottery losers in the University’s ticket distribution for contributing alumni. That total easily exceeded last year’s mark of $2.1 million and outdistanced the old refund record of $3.8 million in 2001.
The Notre Dame Stadium record of 59,368 ticket requests was set in ’01 when the Irish took on West Virginia. Demand for that game was based on parents of current Notre Dame students being guaranteed four tickets for that contest < plus=”” contributing=”” alumni=”” having=”” the=”” opportunity=”” to=”” apply=”” for=”” four=”” tickets=”” instead=”” of=”” the=”” usual=”” two,=”” based=”” on=”” its=”” designation=”” as=”” an=”” alumni=”” family=”” game.=””>
Currently, the Irish have posted 169 consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium and 217 in their last 218 home games.
Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 154 of its previous 177 games, including its last 18 games in a row. On Sept. 13 at Michigan, the Irish and Wolverines helped bring in the largest crowd in NCAA history (111,726), marking the third time in the history of that series that an NCAA attendance record has been set. It also represents the sixth time in the last three seasons that Notre Dame has been a part of establishing a new stadium attendance record (at Nebraska and Texas A&M in 2001; at Air Force and Florida State, home vs. Boston College in 2002).
NOTRE DAME FEATURED PROMINENTLY ON TELEVISION THIS YEAR
In addition to continuing its streak of consecutive games played on one of the four major television networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN), Notre Dame is being spotlighted on the small screen in several other ways during the 2003 season. Here’s a thumbnail look at each of the individual TV projects which are featuring the Irish this year:
- ESPN is filming “The Season: Notre Dame Football” in South Bend throughout the ’03 campaign. Crews from the network are attending practice sessions, team meals and other team-related activities, as well as conducting regular interviews with Irish players and coaches. “The Season: Notre Dame Football” airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m. (EST) on ESPN.
- ESPN College GameDay is celebrating its 10th season of live remotes from college football’s top games. In recognition of its first-ever road trip (a Nov. 13, 1993 journey to South Bend for the game between No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Notre Dame) is airing weekly all-access features on the Irish adapted from its feature presentation, “The Season: Notre Dame Football.” Former Irish flanker and two-time All-American Raghib “Rocket” Ismail lends more of a Notre Dame flavor to “College GameDay” this year as he joins the crew for regular contributions.
- College Sports Television (CSTV), the nation’s new 24-hour cable channel devoted exclusively to college sports, highlights Irish athletics on Sunday nights (8:30-9:30 p.m. EDT) in a show called “Notre Dame Primetime.” The program, which is co-hosted by former Irish split end Derrick Mayes, focuses on all 26 Notre Dame sports and the continuing growth of Irish athletics. In addition to its regular Sunday night broadcast, the show also airs on a delayed basis Mondays at 7 p.m. (EST) on WHME-TV (Channel 46) in South Bend.
- Besides these features, Notre Dame is now in the 13th season of its unique relationship with NBC. All Irish home football games since 1991 have been televised on the network, with the current agreement slated to continue through 2005. Tom Hammond (play-by-play) and Pat Haden (analysis) are in their third full season broadcasting the action for NBC.
NOTRE DAME ON THE SMALL SCREEN
With Saturday’s Pittsburgh game slated to be televised nationally by ESPN, the Irish will extend their streak of appearances on one of four major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN) to 129 straight games, a stretch that spans 10 full seasons (1993-2002). The last time the Irish didn’t appear on one of those four networks was more than a decade ago (Oct. 31, 1992), when Notre Dame downed Navy, 38-7, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. That game was shown locally in the South Bend area on WNDU-TV.
THE 2003 CAPTAINS
For the second consecutive season and the third time in the 115-year history of football at Notre Dame, the Irish are designating captains on a game-by-game basis this season. The 2003 captains have been named as follows (career captain selections in parentheses):
Washington State: CB Vontez Duff (3), FS Glenn Earl (2), WR Omar Jenkins (1), OT Jim Molinaro (1)
Michigan: DT Darrell Campbell (3), LB Derek Curry (1), QB Carlyle Holiday (1), K/P Nicholas Setta (3)
Michigan State: RB Ryan Grant (1), NG Cedric Hilliard (3), TE Billy Palmer (1), LB Courtney Watson (4)
Purdue: CB Vontez Duff (4), SS Glenn Earl (3), WR Omar Jenkins (2), OT Jim Molinaro (2)
2003 NOTRE DAME OPPONENT UPDATE
The following is a look at Notre Dame opponents’ upcoming games. Since 1977, when the NCAA started rating strength of schedule, Notre Dame’s schedule has been rated the most difficult five times (1978, 1985, 1987, 1989 and 1995) and has appeared in the top 25 a total of 19 times in the last 26 years.
THE 2003 NFL DRAFT
Seven former Irish players were selected in the 2003 NFL Draft, the most of any school in the country with the exception of Florida and Ohio State (eight each). Leading the way was center Jeff Faine, who was chosen in the first round (21st overall) by the Cleveland Browns. Notre Dame now has had 58 opening-round selections, which ranks second only to USC (62) in the 67-year history of the NFL Draft.
Joining Faine in Notre Dame’s ’03 draft class were: offensive tackle Jordan Black (fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs), offensive guard Sean Mahan (fifth round by the Tampa Buccaneers), cornerback Shane Walton (fifth round by the St. Louis Rams), strong safety Gerome Sapp (sixth round by the Baltimore Ravens), wide receiver Arnaz Battle (sixth round by the San Francisco 49ers) and offensive tackle Brennan Curtin (sixth round by the Green Bay Packers). All seven Notre Dame players selected in the 2003 NFL Draft made the final cut and were on their teams’ opening-day rosters.
JOE THEISMANN NAMED TO 2003 COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS
Former Notre Dame All-America quarterback Joe Theismann is one of 11 former college players and two coaches named March 24 to the National Football Foundation’s 2003 College Football Hall of Fame Division I-A class by Jon F. Hanson, chairman of the National Football Foundation.
The 2003 College Football Hall of Fame class will be inducted at the 46th Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 9, 2003, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The players and coaches will be officially enshrined at the Hall of Fame in South Bend in August 2004. He also will be honored on campus on Oct. 18, 2003, in conjunction with the Notre Dame-USC game.
Theismann launched an attack on the Irish passing record books, setting 19 school marks while leading the team to its first bowl appearance in 45 years in 1969 and a 10-1 record capped by a Cotton Bowl victory in 1970 over top-rated and unbeaten Texas.
A first-team All-America selection as a senior by Associated Press, Theismann was the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1970. A participant in the 1970 Hula Bowl, Theismann set school records for passing yards in a game (526), yards in a season (2,429) and touchdowns in a season (16) among others. He ranked second in the nation in total offense as a senior at 291.3 yards per game < and=”” that=”” year=”” he=”” helped=”” the=”” irish=”” as=”” a=”” team=”” average=”” 510.5=”” total=”” yards=”” per=”” game=”” and=”” 252.7=”” passing=”” yards=”” per=”” game,=”” two=”” marks=”” that=”” remain=”” all-time=”” notre=”” dame=”” bests.=””>
In three seasons, Theismann led the Fighting Irish to a 20-3-2 record while completing 290 passes on 509 attempts for 4,411 yards, a mark that still ranks fifth in school history. Honored for his classroom prowess, he earned Academic All-America? honors in 1970 and was later named to the GTE Academic All-America? Hall of Fame.
Following graduation, Theismann embarked on a 15-year professional career, his final 12 years in the NFL as a member of the Washington Redskins. Upon retirement, he became a highly successful businessman as well as a prominent television sports analyst for ESPN. Theismann continues to support such charitable interests as the United Way, March of Dimes, American Heart Association, Cystic Fibrosis, Special Olympics, Boy Scouts of America and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Originally from South River, N.J., Theismann becomes the 40th Notre Dame player to be chosen for the Hall of Fame since inductions began in 1951. Five former Irish coaches also have been selected. No other school has produced more than those 45 enshrinees, the most recent being Ralph Guglielmi in 2001. Theismann also becomes the eighth Notre Dame quarterback selected to the Hall of Fame, joining Frank Carideo in 1954, Harry Stuhldreher in 1958, John Lujack in 1960, Angelo Bertelli in 1972, Paul Hornung in 1985, Bob Williams in 1988 and Guglielmi in 2001.
IRISH FOOTBALL NAMED ONE OF NATION’S TOP 10 MOST POWERFUL PROGRAMS
As part of its 2003 college football preview, SI.com developed its list of the top 10 most powerful programs in the nation and Notre Dame was listed second behind only Miami (Fla.). According to the website, “college football’s most recognizable program saw a return to glory under Lou Holtz, which included landing its own TV deal with NBC, and after a few down years appears to be headed in the right direction under Tyrone Willingham.”
MAKING THE GRADE
The Notre Dame football squad recently has had four of the most successful semesters in the classroom in the history of the program, based on final grades from the past four semesters (2001-03). In the fall of 2001, the Irish team finished (at the time) with its second-highest combined grade-point average on record (2.685) since statistics were kept beginning in 1992. A total of 12 players earned Dean’s List recognition and 38 players posted a “B” average or higher last fall. Then, in the spring of 2002, the Irish topped that mark with a record-setting 2.911 combined team GPA, with 13 players making the Dean’s List and another 47 averaging a “B” or better. In the fall of ’02, the Irish logged a 2.835 team GPA, followed by a 2.79 average in the spring of ’03. Eight players made the Dean’s List in both of the last two semesters, while 43 players had a “B” or better during the fall of 2002, and 50 more reached that mark in the spring of 2003.
NOTRE DAME EXCELS IN THE CLASSROOM AS WELL AS ON THE FIELD
The Notre Dame football team has earned American Football Coaches Association Academic Achievement Award special mention honors announced in August. To earn the award, a team must have a graduation rate of over 70 percent. Duke won the 2003 overall award with a 100 percent graduation rate.
Notre Dame has been recognized 22 of 23 years the award has been presented, the most of any school in the nation. Notre Dame has won the overall award six times with the most recent coming in 2001 as the Irish posted a perfect 100 percent graduation rate, becoming (at the time) the eighth school in history to graduate everyone in the class during the reporting period. Notre Dame also won the overall award in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1988 and 1991. In 1988, Notre Dame became the only school to win the Academic Achievement Award and the National Championship in the same year.
FORMER IRISH GREAT DAVE DUERSON HEADS UP NATIONAL MONOGRAM CLUB
Former Notre Dame football All-American Dave Duerson is still extremely involved with the University in a number of capacities. A former team captain, Duerson was named to the Notre Dame Board of Trustees in 2001, and was the winner of the 2001 Rev. Edward F. Sorin, C.S.C., Award from the Notre Dame Alumni Association. The Sorin Award is presented annually to a graduate who has embodied “the values of Our Lady’s University” in his service to the community. In 2002, Duerson founded his own company, Duerson Foods, after serving as president of Fair Oaks Farms, Inc., a Wisconsin-based international meat supplier that in 1999 was ranked 64th among Black Enterprise 100 companies. In addition, Duerson was a member of the advisory council for the University’s Mendoza College of Business and currently is president of the Notre Dame National Monogram Club, a post he will hold through June 2005. He also is a member of the athletic department’s student development mentoring program.
“THE SHIRT” NOW ON SALE FOR 2003 SEASON
For the 14th consecutive year, Notre Dame Student Activities and Government are sponsoring a T-shirt that benefits scholarship funds, student groups and service projects. Already, the initial run of 50,000 shirts has sold out, easily topping last year’s early sellout of 44,000. In 2002, a record-setting total of 130,000 shirts were sold, with that initial run of 44,000 selling out within six weeks of its debut (at the time, it was one of the earliest sellouts in the history of the project). As a result, Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham began labelling the Shirt-clad crowd as the “sea of green.”
Over the past 13 years, the venture has more than $2 million in net profit for worthy causes and serves the dual purpose of promoting spirit and raising funds. Some of the proceeds supported students and employees who have incurred catastrophic accidents, while others benefitted endowment funds and additional monies were given to support service projects for student organizations on the Notre Dame campus.
In a rare break from tradition, “The Shirt 2003” once again is green and features this year’s motto, “Here Come The Irish.” The short-sleeve shirt is traditionally worn by Notre Dame students and fans at the first home game of each football season. The cost of this year’s shirt is $15 and it is available on campus to the University community and the general public at the Hammes Bookstore, Irish Express, the information desk at the LaFortune Student Center, the Varsity Shop at the Joyce Center and the Alumni Association at the Eck Center. Orders also may be placed by telephone (1-800-647-4641) or on-line through the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.und.com).
TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR 2003 FOOTBALL KICKOFF LUNCHEONS
Tickets are now on sale for the 2003 Notre Dame Kickoff Luncheons held the Friday prior to each Irish home football game. The luncheons feature Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham, Irish players and assistant coaches, plus special guests and other attractions.
Tickets are $18 each, with a handling fee of $3 (payment may be made with one check for more than one luncheon). There are 10 seats per table < and=”” if=”” you=”” wish=”” to=”” sit=”” as=”” a=”” group=”” at=”” the=”” same=”” table=”” with=”” other=”” guests,=”” please=”” return=”” all=”” reservations=”” in=”” one=”” envelope.=””>
Checks should be made payable to “University of Notre Dame” and mailed to: Athletics Business Office, 112 Joyce Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Telephone and credit card reservations are not accepted. A printed reservation form also is available on Notre Dame’s athletics web site at www.und.com.
The luncheons are held in the Joyce Center fieldhouse (north dome) on the Notre Dame campus, with a noon (EST) start. Be aware that advance reservations are required for tickets, and tickets are not routinely available at the door.
Remaining luncheon dates are Oct. 17 (USC), Oct. 31 (Florida State), Nov. 7 (Navy) and Nov. 14 (BYU).
All 2003 pep rallies will be held in the Joyce Center Arena (south dome) on Fridays before Saturday home games, beginning at 6 p.m. (EST). The Irish squad enters the arena at 6:30 p.m.
“NOTRE DAME EXPERIENCE” RETURNS FOR 2003 SEASON
For years, the Joyce Center Fieldhouse has been the “pregame meeting place” for several thousand Notre Dame alumni. In an effort to add to this tradition, the Notre Dame Athletics Department is providing an interactive fan experience for each of the 2003 home football games. For the second consecutive season, the “Notre Dame Experience” will combine the Notre Dame Alumni Association Hospitality Center with interactive inflatables, photo booths, autograph sessions, Notre Dame football trivia and stage activities. Gates open three hours prior to kickoff and will stay open until one hour after the game. Admission is free for all “Notre Dame Experience” events.
ORDER THE 2003 NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL YEARBOOK TODAY
This season marks the 10th edition of the Notre Dame Football Yearbook < an=”” official=”” publication=”” by=”” the=”” university=”” of=”” notre=”” dame=”” athletic=”” department.=”” the=”” 1994,=”” ’95,=”” ’96,=”” ’97=”” and=”” ’98=”” and=”” 2000=”” editions=”” were=”” voted=”” best=”” in=”” the=”” nation=”” in=”” the=”” special=”” publications=”” competition=”” sponsored=”” by=”” the=”” college=”” sports=”” information=”” directors=”” of=”” america.=”” the=”” yearbook,=”” published=”” by=”” ave=”” maria=”” press,=”” numbers=”” nearly=”” 100=”” pages,=”” including=”” game=”” action=”” shots=”” of=”” returning=”” irish=”” players=”” and=”” coaches,=”” position-by-position=”” breakdowns=”” and=”” a=”” feature=”” on=”” head=”” coach=””>Tyrone Willingham. It’s a collectors item perfect for autographs < with=”” an=”” emphasis=”” on=”” outstanding=”” color=”” photography=”” unavailable=”” in=”” any=”” other=”” publication.=”” the=”” yearbook=”” is=”” priced=”” at=”” $8=”” (plus=”” $4=”” for=”” postage=”” and=”” handling)=”” and=”” can=”” be=”” ordered=”” by=”” calling=”” 1-800-647-4641.=””>
TRIO OF BOOKS FEATURING NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL NOW ON SALE
The rich history of Irish football is the focus of three books that recently went on sale to the general public. The first is entitled “Return To Glory” and it was written by Alan Grant, a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and a former defensive back at Stanford who played for current Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham. Grant received unique behind-the-scenes access to the Irish throughout last season and his book details Notre Dame’s remarkable 10-3 campaign in 2002, including its eight-game winning streak to begin Willingham’s tenure. “Return To Glory” is now available nationwide, including the Hammes Bookstore on the Notre Dame campus.
Also new in bookstores is a coffee table book by The Sporting News called “Fighting Irish,” a 224-page work that spotlights the unparalleled history and pageantry of the Notre Dame football program through a variety of photographs and essays. A special section is devoted to the ’02 season and the foreword to the book was written by former Irish quarterback and 2003 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Joe Theismann. In addition to appearing in bookstores across the country, it also is available at the Hammes Bookstore, as well as online through The Sporting News web site (www.tsn.com).
The third new book featuring Notre Dame to debut is entitled “Tyrone Willingham: The Meaning of Victory,” a 144-page hardcover piece on the coaching career of Irish mentor Tyrone Willingham and what his arrival at Notre Dame has meant to the program. Written by longtime Chicago Tribune sportswriter and columnist Fred Mitchell and packed with dozens of full-color photos, this book is available at bookstores nationwide, including Notre Dame’s Hammes Bookstore.