Sept. 24, 2007
GAME 5: NOTRE DAME (0-4) AT NR/#25 PURDUE (4-0)
Saturday, September 29, 2007
TIME: 12:02 p.m. ET
SITE (CAPACITY): Ross-Ade Stadium (62,500); West Lafayette, Ind.
TICKETS: The game between Notre Dame and Purdue is officially sold out, making it the 65th in the last 71 road games for the Irish that were sellouts. The 2001, 2003 and 2005 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy (The Meadowlands), the 2005 game at Washington and the 2006 game at Air Force were not sellouts.
TV: ESPN national telecast with Dave Pasch (play-by-play), Andre Ware (analysis), Erin Andrews (sideline) and Eric Posman (producer).
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) with pre-game analysis featuring Sean Stires and Vince DeDario. The post-game show is hosted by Jack Nolan and features former Notre Dame players Reggie Brooks and Mirko Jurkovic. See page 11 of this notes package (PDF version) for more information on Irish football radio and television shows.
WEB SITES: Notre Dame (und.com), Purdue (purduesports.com).
REAL-TIME STATS: Live in-game statistics will be provided through CSTV Online’s Gametracker via each school’s respective official athletic websites.
POLLS: Notre Dame failed to receive any votes in either the Associated Press or USA Today coaches polls. Purdue received 73 top 25 votes from the AP (ranked 26th) and 151 votes from the USA Today coaches (ranked 25th).
SERIES INFO: This meeting will be the 79th all-time between the rivals. It is the Irish’s second-most played series (trailing only Navy). Notre Dame holds a 51-25-2 lead in the series and took last year’s meeting, 35-21, in Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame has won five of the last seven in the series, including each of the last two seasons. The Irish have lost three of their last five in West Lafayette. Notre Dame will look for consecutive victories at Ross-Ade Stadium for the first time since 1993 and 1995. (see All-Time Series Results on page 2 of the PDF version of these notes).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Notre Dame will look for its third straight victory over Purdue in the all-time series … the Irish will also gun for their second straight victory and third in its last four trips to Ross-Ade Stadium.
NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH Charlie Weis: Charlie Weis (Notre Dame, 1978) is in his third season as the Notre Dame head coach. 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). With 19 wins over his first two seasons, Weis has captured more games than any other previous Irish coach through his first two years on the Notre Dame sidelines. 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. Weis is 2-0 vs. Purdue, picking up a 35-21 victory over the Boilermakers in Notre Dame in 2006.
PURDUE HEAD COACH JOE TILLER: Joe Tiller (Montana State, 1965) has put Purdue back on the college football map. With each passing year, Tiller further solidifies his reputation as one of the greatest coaches in Purdue football history — perhaps the greatest.
Taking the reins of a program that had just one winning season (with the help of a forfeit victory) and no bowl game appearances since 1984, Tiller has engineered nine bowl berths in 10 years, an average of 7.5 wins per season and a Big Ten championship in 2000. Tiller’s teams have qualified for nine of the 14 bowl games in school history: 1997 Alamo, 1998 Alamo, 2000 Outback, 2001 Rose, 2001 Sun, 2002 Sun, 2004 Capital One, 2004 Sun and 2006 Champs Sports.
As for Tiller, who was assistant head coach at Purdue from 1983 to 1986, his 10-year record with the Boilermakers stands at 75-49, a snappy .605 winning percentage. His 16-year head coaching record is 114-79-1, a .590 winning percentage. In Big Ten games, he is 48-32, a .600 winning percentage. On Nov. 13, 2004, Tiller won his 100th career game with a 24-17 victory over Ohio State at Ross-Ade Stadium. Tiller served as head coach of the East team in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 15, 2005, and earned a 45-27 victory. He played for the West team in 1963 and became just the fifth individual to play and coach in the Shrine Game.
During the 2002 season, Tiller became the second-winningest coach in school history, both for all games and Big Ten games. He trails only Hall of Famer Jack Mollenkopf, who had 84 wins and 57 Big Ten wins from 1956 to 1969. Tiller also ranks second to Mollenkopf with 124 games coached.
A WIN THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Make Notre Dame 1-4 for the first time since 1997 and just the fifth time in school history (1986, 1962, 1960, 1956).
- Snap a six-game losing streak for the Irish dating back to the 2006 season (second-longest in school history).
- Be the second straight over Purdue in West Lafayette, third straight over Purdue and sixth in the last eight years.
- Improve Notre Dame to 52-25-2 (.671) in the all-time series with the Boilermakers.
- Improve the Irish to 26-13-2 (.659) in the all-time series with Purdue in West Lafayette.
- Improve Weis’ record to 7-6 (.538) against teams that entered the game undefeated.
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 20-10 overall, 3-0 against Purdue and 6-6 against Big Ten foes.
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame road record to 9-3 (.750).
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 8-6 (.571) in September games.
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 5-5 (.500) following a loss.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 9-5 (.643) all-time against Purdue.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 5-3 (.625) all-time against the Boilermakers in West Lafayette.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 2-2 (.500) all-time against a ranked Purdue team.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 2-1 (.667) all-time against a ranked Boilermakers team in West Lafayette.
- Improve Weis’ record to 14-7 (.667) in afternoon games.
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 822-273-42 (.741).
- Improve the Irish all-time road record to 288-136-22 (.693).
- Improves Notre Dame’s all-time record against the Big Ten Conference to 217-108-15 (.660).
- Improves Notre Dame’s all-time road record against the Big Ten Conference to 96-69-9 (.578).
A LOSS THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Make Notre Dame 0-5 for the first time in school history.
- Be the seventh straight for the Irish dating back to the 2006 season (second-longest in school history).
- Snap a two-game winning streak against Purdue.
- Drop Notre Dame to 51-26-2 (.658) in the all-time series with the Boilermakers.
- Drop the Irish to 25-14-2 (.634) in the all-time series with Purdue in West Lafayette.
- Drop Weis’ record to 6-7 (.462) against teams that entered the game undefeated.
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 19-11 overall, 2-1 against Purdue and 5-7 against Big Ten foes.
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame road record to 8-4 (.667).
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 7-7 (.500) in September games.
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 4-6 (.400) following a loss.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame squad to 8-6 (.571) all-time against Purdue.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame squad to 4-4 (.500) all-time against the Boilermakers in West Lafayette.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame squad to 1-3 (.250) all-time against a ranked Purdue team.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame squad to 1-2 (.333) all-time against a ranked Boilermakers team in West Lafayette.
- Drop Weis’ record to 13-8 (.619) in afternoon games.
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 821-274-42 (.741).
- Drop the Irish all-time road record to 287-137-22 (.668).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record against the Big 10 Conference to 216-109-15 (.657).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time road record against the Big 10 Conference to 95-70-9 (.572).
NOTRE DAME VS. BIG TEN
- Notre Dame has faced no other conference as often as the Big Ten. The Irish have played 340 all-time games against the 11 current members of the league. Notre Dame is 216-109-15 in those meetings. The Irish have played almost three times as many games against the Big Ten as any other conference. The Pac-10 (122) and ACC (104) are the only other conferences against whom Notre Dame has played at least 100 games.
- Notre Dame has faced Purdue 78 times in school history, more all-time meetings than any other Big Ten program. Michigan State is second with 71 all-time meetings followed by Northwestern (47).
- The Sept. 8 matchup with Penn State, the 19th all-time meeting, was the second with the Nittany Lions as a member of the conference.
- Notre Dame played four members of the Big Ten in 2006 and will do the same in 2007. In addition to Penn State and Michigan, the Irish will face Michigan State and Purdue. Notre Dame has played a member of the Big Ten every single season since 1915. The Irish face Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue for the sixth consecutive season.
NOTRE DAME – PURDUE SERIES NOTES
- Notre Dame and Purdue will be meeting for the 79th time in the all-time series this Saturday. The Irish lead the series by a 51-25-2 count.
- The series started in 1896, with Purdue collecting a 28-22 victory in South Bend. The only current NCAA Division I-A schools that played Notre Dame earlier than Purdue are Michigan (1887 – first game in program history) and Northwestern (1889).
- The teams played seven times from 1899-1907 before a 11-year break (the longest hiatus in the history of the series). The teams resumed the rivalry in 1918 and met every year until 1923 before a 10-year break. The teams then met in 1933, 1934, 1939 and the series has been continuous since 1946.
- The series is tied with the USC rivalry for Notre Dame’s second-longest continuous series (Notre Dame and Navy have played every year since 1927).
- Notre Dame’s 51 series wins against Purdue are the second-most against any opponent — 69 against Navy is the highest.
- Entering the 2007 season, Purdue has beaten Notre Dame more times (25) than any other school besides USC (29) and Michigan State (25).
- The Irish have not been shutout by the Boilermakers since 1933 (a 19-0 loss in South Bend). Notre Dame has been blanked on two other occasions (1904, 1905).
- Including this weekend’s game, Notre Dame or Purdue has been nationally ranked in 19 of the past 20 meetings (dating back to 1987). The 2001 game was the only time in that stretch that neither the Irish or Boilermakers were ranked.
- Over the last 10 meetings, Notre Dame holds a slim 6-4 advantage. The Irish won in 1998, from 2000-02 and 2005-06. Purdue claimed victories in 1997, 1999 and 2003-04.
- The series has been one filled with many offensive fireworks. Since 1982 (a span of 25 games), the winning team has scored no fewer than 22 points in every meeting except Notre Dame’s 17-0 triumph in 1993. The winning team has eclipsed the 30-point barrier on 13 different occasions and averaged just over 35 points per contest.
- If series history holds true, Notre Dame will need to score often to earn a victory this weekend. When the Irish fail to score 23 or more points in a game against Purdue, the Irish are 11-17-2 (.400). Since 1981 (26 meetings), Notre Dame has lost five out of the six games to Purdue in which it failed to score over 20 points.
ON THIS DATE
Notre Dame has played 11 previous games in its history on Sept. 29. The Irish are 10-1 all-time on this date, including a pair of meetings with Purdue.
Sept. 29, 1923: In a 74-0 victory over Kalamazoo, Willie Maher set a school record for all-purpose yards in a single-game that still stands nearly 85 years later. Maher totaled 361 all-purpose yards. He rushed for 107, had 80 punt return yards and racked up 174 kickoff return yards. The 174 kickoff return yards ranks as the third highest total in school history.
Sept. 29, 1945: Notre Dame opened the season with Illinois before a Notre Dame Stadium crowd of 41,000, and they saw one of the best games of the year between two evenly-matched teams. The Irish managed to score the only touchdown, a 78-yard run by halfback Phil Colella, to win 7-0. The game was the first for new Notre Dame head coach Hugh Devore. He took over the job when Frank Leahy served in the Navy during WWII.
Sept. 29, 1990: Notre Dame rolled up 363 yards rushing in a 37-11 victory over Purdue. A total of 15 different Irish players rushed the football on the afternoon. Raghib “Rocket” Ismail led the balanced ground attack with 82 yards on five carries, including a 64-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The following running backs not only had carries in the game, but each played in the NFL: Reggie Brooks (55 yards), Rodney Culver (46 yards), Ricky Watters (41 yards), Dorsey Levens (30 yards) and Jerome Bettis (19 yards).
IRISH RECORD SETTERS IN THE NOTRE DAME-PURDUE SERIES
- The Notre Dame-Purdue series has been filled with incredible quarterback performances from the Irish. Five of the top 10 single-game completion records happened against the Boilermakers (Ron Powlus – 31; Brady Quinn – 29, 29, 26; Terry Hanratty – 29). Three of the top seven single-game highs for passing yards also came against Purdue (Brady Quinn – 440, 432; Terry Hanratty – 366). Only three Irish quarterbacks have ever attempted 45 or more passes in one game and three of those efforts came against the Boilermakers (Hanratty owns the school record with 63; Quinn recorded 59 in 2003 and 46 in 2004).
- Reggie Brooks rushed for three touchdowns, tied for sixth-most in single-game history, in a 48-0 rout of the Boilermakers on Sept. 26, 1992.
- Former Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn recorded 11 straight completions in the 49-28 victory in 2005 and his 80.5 completion percentage for the game is the sixth-best in single-game school history.
- Quinn eclipsed the 400-yard mark in passing on four occasions over his career, twice against Purdue. He threw for 440 yards in 2005 and 432 yards in 2004.
- Former QB and current Irish quarterback coach, Ron Powlus, tossed four touchdown passes in a 35-28 victory over Purdue on Sept. 9, 1995. At the time, the four TD passes was tied for the school record.
- Former All-American WRs Jim Seymour and Tom Gatewood each had remarkable careers against Purdue. Seymour had 13 catches, second most in single-game school history, with a school record 276 yards on Sept. 24, 1966. Gatewood had 12 catches, third most in a game, for 192 yards against the Boilermakers on Sept. 26, 1970. Both had three touchdown receptions in the each game as well.
- Notre Dame has had a pair of running backs eclipse 100 yards rushing in the same game just 16 times over 118 years of football. Two of those occasions came against Purdue. Phil Carter and Larry Moriarty rushed for 154 and 106 yards, respectively, on Sept. 25, 1982. Ray Zellars and Randy Kinder went for 156 and 143 on Sept. 24, 1994.
NOTRE DAME-PURDUE CONNECTIONS
- Notre Dame defensive line coach Jappy Oliver began his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant at Purdue in 1979-80, working for former Boilermaker head coach Jim Young.
- Notre Dame wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello and Purdue co-offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher each had previous stints at the University of Arizona. Ianello served as an assistant (recruiting coordinator/wide receivers and recruiting coordinator/tight ends) from 1994-2002. Zaunbrecher was a graduate assistant from 1973-74 before becoming a full-time assistant in 1975-76. Zaunbrecher was on the same Purdue staff in 1979 that included Oliver.
- Notre Dame assistant head coach (defense)/defensive backs Bill Lewis and Zaunbrecher each had stops at Wake Forest. Lewis was defensive backs coach from 1969-70, while Zaunbrecher was an assistant from 1980-83 for the Demon Deacons.
- Notre Dame offensive coordinator/running backs coach Mike Haywood (1995-02) and Zaunbrecher (1984-90) each paced the sidelines at LSU.
- Purdue offensive tackles and tight ends coach John McDonell coached the centers and guards at Notre Dame from 2002-04. Five of his players were taken in the NFL draft. Center Jeff Faine was a first team All-American and runner-up for the Rimington Award in 2002 and subsequently a first-round pick (21st overall) of the Cleveland Browns. Faine presently is the New Orleans Saints’ starting center.
- A number of players from Purdue and Notre Dame either attended the same high school or hail from the same hometown (see PDF version of notes for chart).
NOTING THE MICHIGAN STATE GAME
- The attendance of 80,795 is the 194th 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 now have played in front of sellouts in 242 of their past 243 home games.
- Notre Dame won the toss and elected to receive. Michigan State defended the north end zone in the first half.
- Michigan State’s initial scoring drive of 68 yards was the third longest of the season by a Notre Dame opponent. Georgia Tech had a 70-yard touchdown drive in the season opener and Michigan registered a 79-yard march last week. Of the 23 scoring drives (16 touchdowns and seven field goals) by Irish opponents in 2007, 11 have been 45 yards or under.
- Michigan State and Notre Dame combined for 21 points in the first quarter. It marked the fourth consecutive game in the series between the Irish and Spartans where the teams combined for at least 17 first-quarter points. With two touchdowns in the first quarter, Michigan State now has scored at least 14 points in the opening 15 minutes in each of the past three meetings with Notre Dame.
- Michigan State and Notre Dame combined for 31 first-half points. It marked the third consecutive year in which the two teams totaled 30 or more points in the opening half (45 points in 2006; 41 points in 2005).
- Notre Dame became the first Michigan State opponent to score in the opening quarter in 2007. The Spartans had outscored their opponents 28-0 in the first quarter entering this afternoon.
- The Irish defense has faced quite an uphill battle in terms of field position over its first four games. Of the 133 points Notre Dame has surrendered in 2007, 60 (or 45%) have come on drives of 45 yards or less. Georgia Tech had scoring drives of 16, 17, 21 and 36 yards (for a total of 16 points), Penn State used a punt return for touchdown and a drive of seven yards (following a 63-yard kickoff return to open the second half) to record 10 points, and Michigan used a pair of 21-yard drives and a 38-yard drive to grab a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter. Michigan State had a pair of 45-yard touchdown drives and a five-yard drive resulting in a field goal.
- Notre Dame limited the Michigan State passing game to 135 yards in the air on Saturday. The Irish are allowing only 119.8 yards per game in the air — more than 80 fewer yards per game when compared to the 2006 season (203.4 passing yds allowed) and almost 150 fewer yards when compared to the 2005 season. The 119.8 yards passing per game would rank as the best for a Notre Dame defense since 1980 (when the Irish limited their opponents to 103.0 ypg passing). The Irish allowed 203.4, 264.6 and 281.2 (`04) yards passing in the past three seasons.
- The Irish passing defense also has limited the opposing quarterback quartet of Georgia Tech’s Taylor Bennett (11-of-23), Penn State’s Anthony Morelli (12-of-22), Michigan’s Ryan Mallett (7-of-15) and Michigan State’s Brian Hoyer (11-of-24) to a combined completion percentage of 48.8% (41-of-84).
- Sophomore running back James Aldridge picked up his first career start. Aldridge finished the afternoon with 104 yards on 18 carries. He became the first Notre Dame running back, other than departed Darius Walker, to eclipse 100 yards on the ground since Ryan Grant on Oct. 16, 2004. Aldridge is the third different running back to start for the Irish this season (Travis Thomas and Armando Allen also have started games). Aldridge’s 43-yard burst in the second quarter was a career-long rush and the longest for the Irish this season.
- Senior running back Travis Thomas picked up his eighth career rushing touchdown — the first offensive touchdown for the Irish this season. It was Thomas’ first rushing touchdown since Oct. 28, 2006, against Navy.
- Senior defensive end Trevor Laws recorded a first-quarter fumble recovery, setting up the first Notre Dame score. Laws has recovered four fumbles over his career, including one earlier this season at Penn State. Laws finished the afternoon with nine tackles.
- Freshman running back Robert Hughes picked up his first career rush (an eight-yard run on Notre Dame’s first-quarter scoring drive). He also added a 17-yard run and capped off an 80-yard scoring drive for the Irish with a three-yard touchdown run — the first of his career.
- Senior punter Geoff Price recorded his 19th and 20th career punts of over 50 yards. Price averaged 36.7 yards on his six punts on the day.
- Junior free safety David Bruton registered his first career interception to prevent a possible Michigan State touchdown late in the second quarter. The turnover was the seventh forced by Notre Dame this season (third straight game Notre Dame has forced at least two turnovers). Bruton finished with a career-high 15 tackles in the game.
- Freshman linebacker Kerry Neal registered his first career sack late in the second quarter. He added a quarterback hurry and pass breakup on the following play.
- Sophomore punter Eric Maust recorded his second, third and fourth career punts (41, 38 and 50 yards). Maust’s first career punt went for 45 yards at Penn State.
- Senior linebacker Maurice Crum, Jr. finished the afternoon with a team-best and career-high 16 tackles. Crum’s previous career-high for tackles in a game was 14 set last season against Penn State. Crum has led the Irish in tackles on six different occasions over his career. The game also marked the third of his career with 10 or more tackles. The 16 tackles are the most for an Irish player since Chinedum Ndukwe had 22 stops at Air Force on Nov. 11, 2006.
HOW DO THEY STACK UP?
Average weight of the offensive and defensive lines:
ND OL 301.8 lbs. vs. PU DL 271.3 lbs.
ND DL 284.3 lbs. vs. PU OL 310.4 lbs.
Average height of the receivers and the secondaries:
ND WR/TE 6′ 1″ vs. PU DB 5′ 11″
ND DB 6′ 0″ vs. PU WR/TE 6′ 2 1/4″
IRISH MAKING STRIDES
- Notre Dame spent all of the week following the Michigan loss in training camp mode. The Irish not only practiced Sunday after the game with the Wolverines, but did so in full pads and full contact. Notre Dame also lined up its No. 1 offense vs. its No. 1 defense, No. 2 offense vs. No. 2 defense. The idea was to become more physical and develop an identity leading into Michigan State.
- The Irish did show improvement in many areas. Notre Dame was penalized 24 times for 173 yards over its first three games — an average of eight penalties and 57.7 yards per game. Against Michigan State, the Irish were whistled for just four penalties (35 yards).
- The Notre Dame rushing attack awoke for the first time this season. The Irish entered the game with the Spartans with a season total of minus-14 yards. Notre Dame finished the afternoon with 117 yards (take away the sack yardage and the effort would have been 127). The Irish had just six rushes of 10 or more yards over their first three games, but they recorded four such runs against Michigan State (43, 17, 18, 14).
- Sophomore running back James Aldridge surpassed the 100-yard mark in his first career start. He became the first Irish running back to rush for 100 yards in his first career start since Tony Fisher, then a sophomore, had 110 yards on 13 carries in a 48-13 victory over Kansas on Aug. 28, 1999. Aldridge also became the first Notre Dame running back, other than departed Darius Walker, to eclipse 100 yards on the ground since Ryan Grant on Oct. 16, 2004.
- Freshman running back Robert Hughes made his debut in the Notre Dame rushing offense. Hughes finished the afternoon with 33 yards on six carries and his first career touchdown.
- Notre Dame failed to score an offensive touchdown over its first three games. The Irish, however, hit pay dirt twice in the first half against Michigan State, including an 80-yard drive. The Irish finished the day with season-highs in rushing yards (117) and total yards (203). Notre Dame also registered touchdowns on its two trips into the red zone. The Irish came into the game 2-of-3 in red zone chances, but both resulted in Notre Dame field goals.
IN FRONT OF A FULL HOUSE
- Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 196 of its previous 223 games, including 71 of its last 77 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 2006 game at USC 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 could also 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 could as well. The Rose Bowl lists its current capacity at 91,136, though crowds eclipsing 100,000 routinely fill the stadium.
100,000 FANS (OR MORE) AWAIT THE IRISH
Notre Dame is quite accustomed to playing in front of huge crowds, but the Irish have taken it to another level in 2007. Notre Dame traveled to Penn State and Michigan in consecutive weeks. The Irish played in front of the second largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history (110,078) and 111,178 at Michigan Stadium last week. Notre Dame became the second school to play consecutive road games before crowds exceeding 100,000. Minnesota is the only other school to ever play consecutive road games before 100,000 (Penn State and Michigan during the 2005 season).
- The Irish return 18 letterwinners and five starters on defense. Heading the list of returnees is two-time All-America strong safety Tom Zbikowski.
- With the addition of new defensive coordinator Corwin Brown, Notre Dame switched from its previous 4-3 base defense to a 3-4. The change was due in large part to head coach Charlie Weis’ familiarity with the scheme from his time in the NFL.
- Fifth-year senior LB Joe Brockington broke onto the scene in 2006 starting the final nine games. Brockington finished the season with 59 tackles, good for fifth on the team. He recorded a career-best 15 stops at Air Force.
- Notre Dame is replacing three of its four starters on the defensive line with the graduation of tackle Derek Landri and ends Victor Abiamiri and Chris Frome. Fifth-year senior Trevor Laws is the lone returning starter. Laws registered 62 tackles, 40 solo, and 11 for loss, including four sacks.
- While Penn State scored 31 points and totaled 164 yards on the ground, the stats are a little misleading. The Irish limited the Nittany Lion ground game to just 57 yards through the opening three quarters. Notre Dame’s first team defense held Penn State to 126 yards on 42 carries — just 3.0 yards per rush.
- The Irish first team defense also denied the Nittany Lions a single rush beyond 12 yards.
- Penn State starting running back Austin Scott finished the night with 116 yards, but 53 came on just nine carries in the fourth quarter against a tied Irish defense.
- Notre Dame’s secondary held Penn State and senior quarterback Anthony Morelli to just 131 yards on 12-of-22 passing (51 yards came on one reception). The Irish limited senior Derrick Williams to just two receptions for 14 yards. Penn State managed just five catches for 10 yards or longer and only one reception topped 16 yards.
IRISH SECONDARY BLANKET STAR WIDEOUTS
Over its first three games, Notre Dame faced the likes of Greg Smith (3 rec., 31 yards; Georgia Tech), Demarqius Thomas (0 rec., 0 yards; Georgia Tech), Jordan Norwood (3 rec., 20 yards; Penn State), Deon Butler (1 rec., 16 yards; Penn State) Mario Manningham (2 rec., 35 yards; Michigan) and Adrian Arrington (2 rec., 15 yards; Michigan). That group of six receivers managed just 13 receptions for 159 yards (only 12.2 yards per catch). That same group of wideouts is averaging 13.8 yards per reception against everyone else.
IRISH SECONDARY ONE OF THE MOST IMPROVED IN THE COUNTRY
With the return of experienced defensive backs, including senior SS Tom Zbikowski, senior DB Terrail Lambert, senior DB Ambrose Wooden, sophomore DB Darrin Walls and the emergence of junior FS David Bruton, the Irish figured to have a vastly improved secondary in 2007. Well, the improvements are significant and looks as though Notre Dame could have one of its best units in years. The Irish are allowing over 80 fewer yards per game in the air this season and almost 150 fewer yards when compared to 2005. The 119.2 yards passing per game would rank as the best for a Notre Dame defense since 1980 (when the Irish limited their opponents to 103.0 ypg).
TREVOR LAYING DOWN THE LAWS
Senior DE Trevor Laws has been quite active in his new role as DE in the Notre Dame 3-4 defense. Laws, who finished fifth on the Irish in tackles last year, totaled nine stops in the season opener against Georgia Tech, followed with a career-high 10 stops at Penn State and seven more tackles against Michigan. He also added a quarterback hurry and blocked field goal against the Yellow Jackets. The field goal block was the fourth of his Irish career.
- Laws ranks tied for 69th in the NCAA in tackles, averaging 8.75 per game. Laws is tied with Greg Hardy of Mississippi for first in the country for tackles among defensive lineman.
- Laws’ effort against the Wolverines is even more impressive when you consider he moved to right defensive end and lined up against Michigan All-American left tackle Jake Long. Laws not only had seven tackles, but he added 1.5 for loss.
- Laws put together his fourth consecutive tremendous effort in the loss against Michigan State. He totaled nine tackles, a fumble recovery, a pass break-up and two quarterback hurries.
ZIBBY NOW ALL-TIME LEADER IN TACKLES BY A DEFENSIVE BACK
After picking up six tackles against Penn State, two-time All-American strong safety Tom Zbikowski became the Notre Dame career leader for tackles by a defensive back. With 243 career stops, Zbikowski ranks ahead of Jim Browner (228, 1976-78) for the top spot. He ranks tied for 17th all-time in Notre Dame tackles history regardless of position (Wes Pritchett 1985-88).
WATCH OUT FOR WALLS
Sophomore DB Darrin Walls not only registered his first career interception, but the Pittsburgh, Pa., native returned it 73 yards for a touchdown against Penn State. The interception return was the first for the Irish since senior DB Terrail Lambert turned the task against Michigan State in 2006. The 73-yard INT return was the longest interception return since senior SS Tom Zbikowski returned a pick 83 yards against BYU on Oct. 22, 2005.
BROCKINGTON MAKES HAPPY RETURN TO HAPPY VALLEY
Senior ILB Joe Brockington, a native of Palmya, Pa., finished with a game-high tying 10 tackles, including six solo stops, at Penn State on Sept. 8. He added 1.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. Brockington is fourth on the Irish with 29 tackles.
ZIBBY HAS A KNACK FOR THE FOOTBALL
Senior All-American SS Tom Zbikowski forced the fifth and sixth fumbles of his career against Penn State on Sept. 8. He became the first Irish player to record two forced fumbles in the same game, since, well, himself against Michigan State in 2004. For his career, Zbikowski has six career interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) and two fumble recoveries (both returned for TDs).
KUNTZ HAS CAREER NIGHT AGAINST PENN STATE
Junior NT Pat Kuntz entered the 2007 season without a single start and just 11 tackles in 21 career games. Kuntz has excelled in Notre Dame’s new 3-4 defensive scheme. He has registered 19 tackles, almost double his entire total from the previous two seasons, over the first four games. Kuntz picked up a career-high eight stops and a half-tackle for loss against Penn State on Sept. 8.
CRUMBLING THE COMPETITION
- Senior LB Maurice Crum, Jr., totaled 100 tackles in 2006 to lead Notre Dame. Crum was the first Irish player to eclipse the 100 tackle mark since Courtney Watson had 117 in 2003.
- Crum, Jr., was all over the field in the loss to Michigan State on Sept. 22. The senior linebacker registered a career-best 16 tackles, including six solo stops. His previous career-high for tackles in a game was 14 against Penn State in 2006.
- Crum, Jr., as well as senior DT Trevor Laws and junior FS David Bruton, led the Irish with nine tackles against Georgia Tech. For Crum, it was the fifth time in his career he led Notre Dame in tackles. He led the Irish in tackles four times in 2006 (Penn State, 14; UCLA, 8; UNC, 9; USC, 9). Crum, Jr., added a tackle for loss versus the Jackets.
SOMETHING BRUTON IN THE NOTRE DAME SECONDARY
- Junior FS David Bruton picked up first first career interception in the loss to Michigan State on Sept. 22. Bruton also added a career-best 15 tackles, including seven solo.
- Bruton made quite an impression in his first career start for the Irish in the season opener against Georgia Tech. He finished with a game-high tying nine tackles, two for loss, and a sack. Bruton also managed to pick up a special teams tackle on senior Geoff Price’s 55-yard long punt — denying the Georgia Tech returner to gain a single yard. He once again led Notre Dame in tackles against Michigan. Bruton recorded nine stops and one for loss.
NO LOADING IN THE RED ZONE FOR GEORGIA TECH
Notre Dame limited Georgia Tech on Sept. 1 to a pair of field goals (another field goal attempt was blocked) on the Jackets’ three first half red zone opportunities. In fact, the Jackets drove inside the Irish 26-yard line on six different occasions in the opening 30 minutes and came away with just 16 points (three FGs, one TD).
MORE FROM THE IRISH DEFENSE AGAINST THE YELLOW JACKETS
- Of Georgia Tech’s four scoring drives before intermission, three began in Irish territory (two after fumbles) and another opened at the Yellow Jacket 47-yard line. In fact, four scoring drives that resulted in 16 of their 33 points came off drives of 18, 36, 21 and 17 yards.
- While Tashard Choice did gain 196 yards on 26 carries, the Irish actually bottled up the Georgia Tech star for most of the afternoon. Choice collected 106 of those 196 yards on just four carries. Take away those runs, Notre Dame limited Choice to 90 yards on 22 totes.
- The Irish did not allow Georgia Tech a single third down conversion in the first half. The Yellow Jackets were 0-for-6 on third down and did not register a third down conversion until their seventh drive of the afternoon.
- Notre Dame allowed just over 200 yards (203.4) per game passing in 2006. The Irish also allowed their opponents to complete just over 55% of its passes a year ago. Georgia Tech completed, though, on just 45% (11-for-24) of its throws for a mere 121 yards.
With a pair of seniors, Notre Dame enjoys an abundance of experience in the secondary. Fifth-year senior, two year captain and two-time All-American strong safety Tom Zbikowski leads the Irish secondary. Zbikowski, who entered the 2007 preseason camp at a trim 207 pounds (down 10 pounds from 2006), looks to close his Irish career on a high note. After a 2005 season that saw Zbikowski register five interceptions, two for touchdowns, and return a pair of punts for scores, he failed to pick off a single pass in 2006. Zbikowski has started 40 of Notre Dame’s last 41 games — missing only the Stanford game of 2006 due to injury.
Fellow fifth-year senior CB Ambrose Wooden has made 16 career starts at right cornerback, including all 12 games in 2005 before an injury forced a set-back in 2006. He finished third on the 2005 Irish in tackles (74) and tied for second in pass breakups (5). Senior Terrail Lambert returns to the fray at left cornerback. Lambert started the final 10 games of 2006 and was second on the Irish with three interceptions, including a 27-yard gamewinning INT return against Michigan State.
The lone new face in the secondary is junior David Bruton at free safety. Bruton replaces two-year starter Chinedum Ndukwe (now with the Cincinnati Bengals). Bruton, who was a special teams stalwart for Notre Dame in 2006, captured defensive MVP honors at the 2007 Blue-Gold game after returning an interception 35 yards for a touchdown and recording four tackles. Sophomore Darrin Walls, who picked up his first career interception and INT return for touchdown against Penn State on Sept. 8, has made six career starts at corner, while senior Leo Ferrine has started a pair and junior Ray Herring started the Stanford game in 2006 (replaced an injured Zbikowski). Junior Kyle McCarthy and sophomores Raeshon McNeil and Munir Price (converted from running back) also play into the mix in the secondary.
- Notre Dame returns 10 letterwinners on offense, including three starters. The returnees include Freshman All-American lineman Sam Young and second team All-America tight end John Carlson as well as Rimington and Outland Trophy candidate John Sullivan.
- The Irish offensive line has two of five starters back from last year in sophomore Sam Young and senior John Sullivan. Among the departed were tackle Ryan Harris, who finished his career with 45 consecutive starts, and guard Dan Santucci, who closed his with 25 straight.
- Senior TE John Carlson, a Mackey Award finalist in 2006 and Maxwell Award candidate in 2007, exploded onto the scene last season becoming Notre Dame’s third-leading receiver in terms of yardage and worked his way into the Fighting Irish record books. The 6-6, 256-pound student-athlete from Litchfield, Minn., caught 47 passes for 634 yards and four touchdowns despite missing almost three entire games. Carlson recorded the second-most receiving yards in a single season ever by a Notre Dame tight end and ranked third for most receptions in a single season by a tight end. He ranked second in the NCAA Division I in receptions per game by a tight end and third for most receiving yards per game by a tight end in 2006.
CLAUSEN GETS THE BALL IN HAPPY VALLEY
Jimmy Clausen became the first freshman quarterback to start for Notre Dame since Brady Quinn got the call against Purdue on Sept. 27, 2003. His start against Penn State on Sept. 8, just the second game of the year, was the earliest start into a season for an Irish freshman quarterback. Clausen also is just the eighth freshman quarterback to start for the Irish in the last 57 seasons (1951-present), joining Ralph Guglielmi (1951), Blair Kiel (1980), Steve Beuerlein (1983), Kent Graham (1987), Paul Failla (1991), Matt LoVecchio (2000) and Quinn (2003) in that elite club. Notre Dame is 6-2 since 1951 when a freshman quarterback makes his first-ever start for the Irish.
QUARTERBACKS EFFICIENT, DESPITE CONSTANT DURESS
Despite constant pressure from the Georgia Tech defense that led to nine sacks, the Notre Dame quarterback trio of sophomore Demetrius Jones, junior Evan Sharpley and freshman Jimmy Clausen still managed to complete 15-for-22 passes — good for 68.2%. The completion percentage ranked 10th best in the Charlie Weis era. Sharpley finished 10-for-13 on the day for 92 yards. His 76.9% completion percentage is third best since Weis arrived at Notre Dame.
AR(MAN)DO TO BE RECKONED WITH
Freshman HB Armando Allen has totaled 298 all-purpose yards over the first four games this season. He led Notre Dame with six receptions against Penn State and returned three kicks for 67 yards (including a long of 25 yards). Allen registered 110 all-purpose yards in his first career game with Notre Dame versus Georgia Tech. Allen recorded 84 kick return yards on five tries and 25 yards rushing on three carries. He also added a reception for one yard.
NO TURNOVERS = VICTORY (USUALLY)
Notre Dame did not commit a turnover in six of its 13 games last season — and to the surprise of nobody — the Irish were 6-0 in those contests. Excluding the 2006 Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State and the 2004 regular season finale at USC, the Irish had not lost a game in which it failed to commit a turnover since 1985. That USC defeat snapped an amazing 41-game unbeaten streak (40-0-1) for the Irish when they didn’t commit a turnover. Prior to the `04 game with the Trojans, the last time a Notre Dame team lost a game without committing a turnover was in a 34-30 loss at Penn State on Nov. 12, 1983. In all, Notre Dame is 48-2-1 since 1983 when not turning over the football.
CHARLIE AND THE IRISH OFFENSIVE FACTORY
Third-year head coach Charlie Weis came to Notre Dame with a tremendous reputation as one of the premier offensive minds in all of the NFL. The Irish saw immediate results in 2005, setting 11 school records, including passing yards (3,963), touchdown passes (32, bested in 2007), total offense yards (5,728) and total points (440). Notre Dame has surpassed the 40-point barrier on 10 different occasions in Weis’ 29 games as head coach. Prior to his arrival, the Irish had eclipsed 40 points just nine times in its previous 97 contests. In addition, the Irish had 83 separate 100-yard receiving games over its first 116 seasons of football, but Notre Dame has had 19 the past three years under Weis. To put those numbers in perspective, Notre Dame averaged a 100-yard receiving effort every 13 games. Under Weis, the Irish is almost recording a 100-yard receiving effort every game.
MORE ON WEIS’ OFFENSE
Notre Dame has registered its top two passing seasons in school history each of the last two years. The Irish averaged 330.3 yards in the air in 2005 and 264.7 in 2006. Notre Dame has also eclipsed 400 points each of the last two seasons. The Irish had only topped 400 points in a season on five previous occasions (1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996). In fact, the 843 total points scored over `05 and `06 are the most points ever scored in consecutive years — besting the previous school record of 835 (1991 and 1992).
SPREADING THE WEALTH
The trio of Jones, Sharpley and Clausen completed passes to a total of nine different Irish receivers against Georgia Tech (five of those receptions were the first career grabs for the respective player). It was the first most different Notre Dame receivers to register a catch in a single-game since nine logged receptions at USC on Nov. 27, 2004. Clausen, who made his first career start at Penn State, then completed passes to seven different receivers against the Nittany Lions.
The Notre Dame offense boasts an experienced pass-catcher at the tight end position, but at running back and wide receiver, the Irish will be utilizing some young talent in 2007. The current group of wideouts boasts a grand total of 90 career catches and 40 of those come from the hands of junior David Grimes (served as Notre Dame’s #3 receiver a year ago). Sophomore George West has just 11 career catches (three last week), but played in all 13 games in 2006 and registered one touchdown rush and 16 returns (12 on kickoff and four on punt). Sophomore Robby Parris, who was the only other wideout on the Irish roster with a reception entering the year, grabbed three balls for 30 yards against Georgia Tech and added a career-long 35-yard grab at Penn State. Junior D.J. Hord, who missed all of last season with a torn achilles, did see action in six games during the 2005 season. He picked up his first career catch against the Yellow Jackets. Freshman WR Duval Kamara (five catches for 48 yards), sophomore TE Will Yeatman (two grabs for 16 yards), senior RB Junior Jabbie (two for five yards) and freshman RB Armando Allen (nine for 58 yards) all recorded their first career catch in the season opener. Sophomore WR Richard Jackson played in 12 games last year, mostly on special teams, but did not see action last week.
RED ZONE SUCCESS
The Irish offense had a 89.9 percent success rate in the “red zone” last fall. Notre Dame converted 44-of-49 chances inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, including 37 touchdowns. The Irish registered a touchdown 75.5 percent of the time entering the “red zone.” In 2007, Notre Dame is 4-of-5 inside the red zone, but two of the scores were field goals. The Irish did convert both of their opportunities against Michigan State on Sept. 22.
John Carlson TURNED IN ALL-AMERICAN TYPE SEASON IN 2006
Despite an injury that sidelined him for nearly three full games, Notre Dame senior TE John Carlson exploded onto the college football scene in 2006. He had 47 receptions for 634 yards — good for an average of 57.6 yards a game and 13.5 per reception. Carlson’s season ranked as one of the best ever by an Irish tight end. His 634 yards receiving ranks second best in single-season tight end history, while his 47 catches was tied for second best. Carlson’s 13.5 yards per catch was second among all Irish receivers in 2006. He was 81st, nationally, in receiving yards per game and fourth among tight ends. He also ranked 78th overall in receptions per game and sixth in the category among tight ends. With Carlson’s 121-yard effort on four grabs against Michigan State (also tied an ND record for average yards per reception in a single-game), he became the first Irish tight end to eclipse 100 yards receiving in a game since Anthony Fasano had 155 yards against Purdue on Oct. 2, 2004.
Carlson, who became the 49th Irish football player to be named ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-American, is the only 2006 Mackey Award finalist to return in 2007. He is one of three tight ends on the Maxwell Award watch list. Carlson ranks third all-time for receptions (63) in Notre Dame tight-end history and needs just 30 grabs this season to move into second. He proved to be one of the top tight ends in 2006 and his numbers compared quite favorably with the last seven John Mackey Award winners.
YOUTH ON SERVE
Notre Dame used a total of 61 players 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 Gordan (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.
NOTING THE MICHIGAN GAME
- The game between Notre Dame and Michigan was officially sold out, making it the 64th in the last 70 road games for the Irish that were sellouts. The 2001, 2003 and 2005 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy (The Meadowlands), the 2005 game at Washington and the 2006 game at Air Force were not sellouts.
- The final attendance was 111,178 — the fourth consecutive meeting between Notre Dame and Michigan at Michigan Stadium to draw over 111,000 fans.
- The game was the 18th time in school history Notre Dame played before a crowd of at least 100,000 people, and the second consecutive week. The Irish and Penn State played before the second largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history last week. The Irish now are 9-9 in such games.
- Notre Dame became the second school in NCAA history to play consecutive road games before crowds of over 100,000. Minnesota had been the only school to accomplish the feat prior to the Irish. The total attendance of 221,256 (110,078 last week and 111,178 this week) is a new NCAA record for combined road attendance in consecutive weeks (the Golden Gophers played in front of 217,721 in back-to-back weeks against Penn State and Michigan in 2005.)
- The following Notre Dame players extended streaks for consecutive starts: senior ILB Maurice Crum, Jr. (28), senior DE Trevor Laws (28), senior C John Sullivan (16), sophomore OT Sam Young (16), senior DB Terrail Lambert (13), senior SS Tom Zbikowski (10) and junior David Grimes (8).
- Notre Dame fumbled 13 times, losing seven, over the entire 2006 season. The Irish fumbled six different times (losing two) against the Wolverines, including five in the game’s opening quarter. Notre Dame fumbled 12 times (losing five) over the first three games of 2007. The Irish only lost six fumbles over the entire 2005 season as well.
- The six fumbles were the most fumbles since Notre Dame fumbled seven times against Boston College on Nov. 2, 2002.
- Notre Dame limited the potent Michigan passing game to just 90 yards in the air.
- The Irish passing defense limited Michigan’s Ryan Mallett (7-of-15) to a completion percentage of 46.7%.
- The 31 points in the first half were the most points surrendered in a half by Notre Dame since Michigan totaled 34 in the opening half of the 2006 meeting.
- The 31-0 halftime deficit was the largest deficit for Notre Dame since Sept. 12, 1998 when it trailed Michigan State, 42-3, at intermission.
- Notre Dame allowed a total of 31 sacks the entire 2006 season (13 games) and just 21 in 2005. The Irish already allowed 23 sacks through its first three games.
- Michigan finished the game with 289 yards rushing. The rushing yards for the Wolverines were the most by an Irish opponent since Stanford had 309 on Oct. 3, 1998.
- Freshman wide receiver Golden Tate recorded a new career-long 40 yard kickoff return. Tate returned five kicks for 133 yards on the afternoon (good for an average of 26.6). For the season, Tate is averaging 26.7 per return (seven returns for 187 total yards).
- Senior punter Geoff Price recorded his 17th and 18th career punts of over 50 yards. Price averaged 44.2 yards on his six punts on the day.
- Despite constant pressure (resulting in eight Michigan sacks) freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen managed to complete 11-of-17 for 74 yards. In his first two career starts, Clausen has completed 57.1% percent of his passes (28-of-49). By comparison, former Notre Dame All-American Brady Quinn completed just 44.7% (34-of-76) and tossed four interceptions over his first two starts as a freshman.
- Junior free safety David Bruton led the Irish with nine total tackles. Bruton led Notre Dame in tackles in two of their first three games this season.
- Senior defensive end Justin Brown registered a career-high eight tackles, including one for loss.
- Junior strong safety Ray Herring picked up his first two career fumble recoveries. He is the first Irish player to have two fumble recoveries in one game since Gerome Sapp against Navy on Nov. 17, 2001.
- Senior defensive tackle Dwight Stephenson, Jr., recorded a career-high seven tackles.
- Freshman linebacker Brian Smith picked up his first career forced fumble and first career tackle for loss.
NOTING THE PENN STATE GAME
- Penn State won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. The Nittany Lions defended the north end zone in the first half.
- The game between Notre Dame and Penn State was officially sold out, making it the 63rd in the last 69 road games for the Irish that were sold out. The 2001, 2003 and 2005 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy (The Meadowlands), the 2005 game at Washington and the 2006 game at Air Force were not sellouts.
- The attendance of 110,078 is the second largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history. Tonight’s game was the 17th time in school history Notre Dame played before a crowd of at least 100,000 people, and the first time since Sept. 10, 2005 at Michigan (111,386 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor). The Irish now are 9-8 in such games. It is the fourth largest crowd to ever watch Notre Dame play (top three are all at Michigan).
- The following Notre Dame players extended streaks for consecutive starts: senior inside linebacker Maurice Crum, Jr. (27), senior defensive end Trevor Laws (27), senior center John Sullivan (15), sophomore offensive tackle Sam Young (15), senior defensive back Terrail Lambert (12), senior strong safety Tom Zbikowski (9) and junior wide receiver David Grimes (7).
- Notre Dame managed just five first downs the entire first half against Georgia Tech in the season opener, but the Irish registered three first downs on the opening drive against Penn State (Notre Dame missed a 50-yard field goal attempt).
- Sophomore defensive back Darrin Walls’ 73-yard interception return for touchdown was the first Notre Dame touchdown of 2007. The Irish had not scored a touchdown since late in the second quarter of the 2007 Sugar Bowl. Notre Dame had gone 99 minutes and two seconds without a touchdown.
- Penn State’s 78-yard punt return for touchdown by Derrick Williams was the first punt return for touchdown by an Irish opponent since Anthony Chambers of Purdue went 72 yards on Sept. 7, 2002.
- Notre Dame converted its initial third down of the game, but failed to convert on third down the rest of the first half (the Irish were just 1-for-7 on third down over the first 30 minutes). Meanwhile, Penn State was 5-for-8 on third downs in the first half, including converting on five of its first six.
- The Irish converted just two third downs the entire game (2-for-16).
- The Irish picked up 47 yards (11 plays) and three first downs of offense on their opening drive of the game (before missing a 50-yard field goal). Notre Dame managed just 31 yards (19 plays) and one first down the rest of the first half.
- Notre Dame was whistled for eight first half penalties for 54 yards, while Penn State was not whistled for a first down over the opening 30 minutes. The Irish finished the night with 14 penalties, the most under head coach Charlie Weis.
- Notre Dame picked up just 10 first downs on the night. It is the fewest first downs for an Irish team since they managed just seven at Michigan on Sept. 13, 2003.
- The Irish are now 75-33-5 (.692) in road openers.
- Notre Dame has dropped eight of its last 11 road openers.
- Notre Dame is 38-21-3 all-time when its road opener is against a Big Ten school.
- Senior SS Tom Zbikowski forced his fifth and sixth career fumbles. Zbikowski also forced a fumble in Notre Dame’s victory over Penn State a season ago. He added another forced fumble just before halftime.
- Zbikowski added a 47-yard punt return to set up a field goal bringing the Irish within a touchdown, 17-10. The punt return was the fourth of his career that exceeded 45 yards.
- Zbikowski became Notre Dame’s all-time leader in tackles by a defensive back surpassing the previous school record of 228 stops by Jim Browner (1976-78).
- Senior DT Trevor Laws picked up his first career fumble recovery just before halftime. Laws finished the night with a career-high 10 tackles.
- Senior ILB Joe Brockington, a native of Palmyra, Pa. recovered his first career fumble. He finished the night with a season-high 10 tackles, including 1.5 for loss.
- Senior P Geoff Price recorded a career-high nine punts. The previous career-high for Price was seven (set on three previous occasions), including in the 2007 season opener. The 403 yards on the nine punts was also a career best for the Ray Guy Award candidate.
- Junior NT Pat Kuntz recorded a career-best eight tackles, including a half tackle for loss.
- Sophomore WR Robby Parris’s 35 yard reception in the fourth quarter was the longest of his career.
- Sophomore DB Darrin Walls not only registered his first career interception, but the Pittsburgh, Pa. native returned it 73-yards for a touchdown. The interception return was the first for the Irish since Terrail Lambert turned the task against Michigan State in 2006. The 73-yard INT return was the longest interception return since current senior Tom Zbikowski returned a pick 83 yards against BYU on Oct. 22, 2005.
- Freshman QB Jimmy Clausen became the eighth freshman to ever start at quaterback for Notre Dame (since at least 1950). He is the first rookie signal caller to start since Brady Quinn got the call against Purdue on Sept. 27, 2003. With tonight’s being the second game of the season, Clausen is the first Notre Dame freshman to ever start this early into a season. The other freshman to earn starts for the Irish include Matt LoVecchio (2000), Paul Faila (1991), Kent Graham (1987), Steve Beuerlein (1983), Blair Kiel (1980) and Ralph Guglielmi (1951).
- Sophomore OLB Morrice Richardson picked his first career sack on a critical third down play late in the first quarter to set up a Penn State punt. Richardson added his second career sack later in the first half.
NOTING THE GEORGIA TECH GAME
- The attendance of 80,795 was the 193rd 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.
- Notre Dame won the toss and elected to receive. Georgia Tech defended the south end zone in the first half.
- The following Notre Dame players made their first career starts: sophomore QB Demetrius Jones, junior OT Paul Duncan, junior OG Mike Turkovich, sophomore OG Dan Wenger, junior NT Pat Kuntz, senior DE Justin Brown, sophomore OLB John Ryan, senior OLB Anthony Vernaglia and junior FS David Bruton.
- The following Notre Dame players made their first career appearances for Notre Dame: freshman HB Armando Allen, freshman Jimmy Clausen, freshman HB Robert Hughes, freshman WR Duval Kamara, freshman OLB Kerry Neal, freshman WR Golden Tate, freshman K/P Brandon Walker, freshman NT Ian Williams, sophomore QB Demetrius Jones.
- Notre Dame played nine freshman in today’s game. In last year’s 14-10 opening game victory at Georgia Tech, 11 different Irish freshmen saw action. It was the third most for an opener since the freshman eligibility rule became enacted in 1972. Fourteen 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.
- The following Notre Dame players extended streaks for consecutive starts: senior ILB Maurice Crum, Jr. (26), senior DE Trevor Laws (26), senior C John Sullivan (14), sophomore OT Sam Young (14), senior CB Terrail Lambert (11) and senior ILB Joe Brockington (10).
- Notre Dame limited the Yellow Jackets to a pair of field goals (another field goal attempt was blocked) on their three red-zone opportunities in the first half. The Irish allowed just 21 touchdowns on 42 red-zone chances in 2006.
- Notre Dame was shut out in an opening half for the first time since Sept. 11, 2004 against Michigan (Notre Dame Stadium). It is just the second time in head coach Charlie Weis’ career in which the Irish were blanked in a half. Notre Dame was held scoreless by LSU in the second half of the 2007 Allstate Sugar Bowl.
- For the first time since Sept. 9, 1978, Notre Dame was shut out in the first half of its season opener. Missouri kicked a fourth quarter field goal to secure a 3-0 victory at Notre Dame Stadium to open the `78 season.
- Georgia Tech limited the Irish offense to a total of 66 yards in the entire first half. Notre Dame nearly surpassed that total on its 58-yard scoring drive in the third quarter.
- For the first time since Sept. 14, 1985, Notre Dame failed to score a touchdown in its season opener. The Irish lost that game 20-12 at Michigan.
- Notre Dame’s 122 total yards on offense was the lowest total since recording only 109 total yards against USC on November 30, 2002 in a 44-13 loss in Los Angeles.
- Senior TE John Carlson moved past Derek Brown (1988-91) and Dean Masztak (1978-81) into third place on the Notre Dame career receptions list for tight ends following his third catch on Saturday. Carlson, now has 63 career receptions, trails Anthony Fasano (92, 2003-05) for second place. Ken MacAfee (1974-77) holds the school record for career receptions by a Notre Dame tight end with 128.
- In his first career start for the Irish, sophomore Demetrius Jones became the first QB other than Brady Quinn to start for Notre Dame since Sept. 20, 2003. Quinn started the final 46 games of his career. Jones finished the afternoon 1-for-3 passing for four yards. He also rushed for 28 yards on 12 carries.
- Junior FS David Bruton, making his first career start for Notre Dame, picked up his first career quarterback sack on a third down play to force a Georgia Tech field goal early in the first quarter. Bruton finished the day with nine total tackles, six solos, and two tackles for loss.
- Senior DT Trevor Laws registered his fourth career blocked field goal attempt. Laws blocked one kick in 2006 and two in 2005. The block kept the Notre Dame deficit at 6-0 heading into the second quarter. Laws also recorded nine tackles with one for a loss on the day.
- Junior NT Pat Kuntz, who was making his first career start for Notre Dame, registered a pair of pass breakups and nearly recorded his first career interception midway through the second quarter. He also recorded two tackles.
- Senior P Geoff Price booted a 55-yard punt late in the third quarter. The punt was his 15th career kick that sailed 50 yards or more. Price punted seven times in the contest for an average of 38.3 yards and a long punt of 55 yards.
IRISH ALL-STARS ON WATCH LISTS
Notre Dame senior strong safety Tom Zbikowski is a candidate for nearly every defensive award this season. The two-time All-American has been named to preseason watch lists for the Bednarik Award, Lott Trophy, Nagurski Trophy and Thorpe Award. In addition, senior tight end John Carlson, a Mackey Award finalist in 2006, was distinguished as one of 50 preseason candidates for the Maxwell Award. Senior linebacker Maurice Crum, Jr. is on the watch lists for the Bednarik, Nagurski and Lott, while senior center John Sullivan is on the Outland and Rimington lists. Sullivan, senior defensive end Trevor Laws and Crum are also on the Lombardi watch list.
SIX IRISH PLAYERS EARN PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Senior strong safety Tom Zbikowski was a preseason first-team All-America selection by ESPN.com, Athlon, The Sporting News and Phil Steele. He also earned preseason second-team honors from Lindy’s and honorable mention accolades from Street & Smith’s. Senior tight end John Carlson also earned multiple preseason first-team All-America selections. Athlon and Phil Steele each named Carlson a preseason first-team All-American. He also garnered second-team accolades from Lindy’s and Street & Smith’s. Senior center John Sullivan was the third and final Irish player to receive preseason first-team All-American honors. Sullivan was chosen by Street & Smith’s. He also earned second-team honors from Phil Steele and third-team from Lindy’s. Senior cornerback Ambrose Wooden, senior punter Geoff Price and sophomore offensive tackle Sam Young all earned honorable mention preseason All-American from Street & Smith’s. Price was also tabbed a second-team All-American by Lindy’s.
- Notre Dame will face eight teams that went to bowl games last year: Georgia Tech (Gator), Penn State (Capital One), Michigan (Rose), Purdue (Champs), UCLA (Emerald), Boston College (Meineke Car Care), USC (Rose) and Navy (Meineke Car Care).
- Notre Dame is the only school in the country to face a school from a BCS conference over the first eight weeks of 2007. The next longest streak to open this season is four (Florida Atlantic). The Irish also play a total of 10 BCS affiliated schools (which is tied for second most in the NCAA).
- The Irish take on Duke for the first time since 1966. Notre Dame leads the brief all-time series, 2-1. The Irish blanked the Blue Devils, 64-0, in the last meeting.
- Notre Dame will make travel to the Rose Bowl for the first time since Knute Rockne brought his eventual national champion 1924 squad to Pasadena to face Stanford in the Rose Bowl. The `24 team featured the Shock Troops, Seven Mules and the famous Four Horsemen.
ONLY THE BIG BOYS
Notre Dame is one of just five NCAA Division I-A programs that has never faced a non-Division I-A opponent since the current division setup was established in 1978 (the division’s names have undergone a change this year, but the setup is still the same). The four remaining schools that have yet to play a non-Division I-A opponent since the advent of the current format are Michigan State, USC, UCLA and Washington. The list stood at seven entering this season, but Michigan and Ohio State each opened its respective seasons with Appalachian State and Youngstown State on Sept. 1.
NOTRE DAME IN SEPTEMBER
- Notre Dame is 120-46-4 (.731) all-time during the month of September.
- The Irish are 75-18-2 (.809) in September home games.
- Notre Dame has an all-time mark of 40-26-2 (.621) in road games during September.
- The Irish went 4-1 (first time in school history ND ever played five games in the month) in September last season (at Georgia Tech, W, 14-10; Penn State, W, 41-17; Michigan, L, 47-21; at Michigan State, W, 40-37; Purdue, W, 35-21).
LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE ’07
Every spring after spring drills, the Irish coaching staff votes on the Leadership Committee, which head coach Charlie Weis brought to Notre Dame in 2004. The Leadership Committee consists of players who serve in an advisory role.
Much change has been happening with and around the Notre Dame football team since the final second ticked off the scoreboard against LSU in the Sugar Bowl. Here are some of the more notable changes:
- Shift to 3-4: The Irish scrapped the 4-3 defense in favor of the 3-4 scheme in an effort to get more speed on the field.
- New Face, New Title: Head coach Charlie Weis brought in two new coaches, including defensive coordinator Corwin Brown. Brown joined the Irish coaching staff after spending the previous three years with the New York Jets of the NFL. Weis also moved former Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus into the role of quarterbacks coach. Powlus spent the previous two seasons with the program as the director of personnel development.
- Notre Dame opened the season with a new kicker for the third consecutive season. D.J. Fitzpatrick (`05), Carl Gioia (`06) and now freshman Brandon Walker. Walker is the first freshman kicker for Notre Dame since Nicholas Setta in 2000.
- Walker, a freshman from Findlay, Ohio, became the first left-footed Irish kicker since the recently-deceased Harry Oliver held the duties during the 1980-81 seasons. The drought dates back to Oliver’s 35-yard boot against Miami on Nov. 27, 1981. Since that kick, a total of 21 different Irish kickers have attempted 430 field goal attempts — all coming from the right side.
ZBIKOWSKI’S RAPID RETURNS
- Senior SS Tom Zbikowski recorded a 47-yard punt return to set up a field goal bringing the Irish within a touchdown, 17-10, in the third quarter against Penn State. The punt return was the fourth of his career that exceeded 45 yards.
- Zbikowski has made a name for himself in the Notre Dame record books. He became the fifth player in Irish history to ever return three punts for touchdowns in a career. Zbikowski has seven career TD returns (two interceptions, three punts, two fumbles). Zbikowski scooped up a fumble and raced 25 yards for a touchdown against Penn State in 2006. With the return, Zbikowski became the Irish all-time leader in fumble return yards (100) and joined Tony Driver (1997-00) as the only Notre Dame players to ever return a pair of fumbles for touchdowns. In a three-game stretch against USC, BYU and Tennessee in 2005, he returned a punt or interception for a touchdown four times — the first Irish defensive player to accomplish such a feat. Zbikowski also returned a fumble 75 yards for a TD against Michigan State in 2004. With his interception and punt return for a touchdown against Tennessee in 2005, Zbikowski became the first Irish player to accomplish that feat (interception return and punt return in the same game) since Nick Rassas against Northwestern in 1965. Rassas returned an interception 92 yards and a punt 72 yards for scores in Notre Dame’s 38-7 rout.
THEY SHALL RETURN
- During the past 21 seasons (1987-07), Notre Dame has produced 91 touchdowns via kickoff, punt, interception and fumble returns — with the most recent touchdown runback coming Sept. 8 on sophomore Darrin Walls’ 73-yard interception return at Penn State.
- Notre Dame scored four touchdowns via returns last season, two by the defense (INT return by Lambert at Michigan State and fumble return by Tom Zbikowski vs. Penn State) and two by special teams (punt return by Zbikowski against North Carolina and blocked field goal return by Lambert at Air Force).
- In contrast, opponents in the past 21 seasons have combined for 32 total touchdown returns vs. the Irish.
PRICE IS RIGHT
- Senior P Geoff Price regained his 2006 All-American form against Penn State. Price recorded a career-high nine punts. His previous career-high, who averaged 44.8 yards per punt, was seven (set on three previous occasions), including in last week’s season opener. The 403 yards on the nine punts was also a career best for the Ray Guy Award candidate.
- After entering last season with only two career punts, Price made his presence known across the country for Notre Dame. Price finished last season ranked sixth in the NCAA with a average boot of 45.4 yards (50 punts for 2,272 yards). He bested the previous Irish single-season school record of 44.9 held by Craig Hentrich (1990). Price also owns the Notre Dame career record (45.4). He not only boomed 14 kicks last year over 50+ yards, but also managed to drop 14 inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. Price averaged 50+ yards in punts in two separate games in 2006, including a school-record average of 51.9 yards per kick (7-for-363) against Michigan. He was an `06 semifinalist for the Ray Guy award and has already received numerous preseason All-American honors this year. Price was named second-team All-American by Lindy’s and honorable mention by Street & Smith’s.
Sophomore kicker Nate Whitaker changed uniform number from #33 to #35. Whitaker and freshman Robert Hughes had previously shared the jersey.
The following Notre Dame players have birthdays coming up in the near future:
Sept. 25, 1987 — Richard Jackson, WR, So.
Sept. 27, 1988 — Brandon Walker, K, Fr.
Sept. 30, 1986 — Kyle McCarthy, DS, Jr.
Notre Dame opened the season earlier in the calendar year (Sept. 1) than they have since Aug. 31, 2002 against Maryland (Giants Stadium).
Notre Dame is 2-4 all-time in overtime games. The last time the Irish played an OT game was a 44-41 loss to Michigan State on Sept. 17, 2005.
EIGHTH-BEST IN THE NCAA SINCE 1988
Notre Dame has the nation’s eighth best record over the last 20 seasons, or since the start of 1988. The Irish have posted a 162-69-2 record.
Notre Dame has 10 players with double digit career starts. Leading the way is two-time All-American strong safety Tom Zbikowski with 40 career starts.
HISTORIC NOTRE DAME STADIUM
The 2007 football season marks the 77th year of Irish football in fabled Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have played 393 games in the facility to date and own a 297-93-5 (.762) record in the “House that Rockne Built.” The Irish were 4-2 at home in 2005 and 6-1 in 2006 to push the team’s record at home to 101-34 (.754) over the last 23 years. The most wins in a season by the Irish at home is seven by the 1988 national championship team and the longest home winning streak in Notre Dame football history is 28 games (from 11/21/42 through 9/30/50).
SULLIVAN NAMED FIFTH TEAM CAPTAIN; FOUR WALK-ONS AWARDED FOOTBALL SCHOLARSHIPS FOR 2007 SEASON
Five Notre Dame football players were pleasantly surprised by head coach Charlie Weis at the beginning of practice on Aug. 23. In an impromptu announcement given in front of the team, fifth-year senior center John Sullivan was named a team captain and junior center Thomas Bemenderfer, senior cornerback Wade Iams, senior long snapper J.J. Jansen and senior cornerback William David Williams all were awarded scholarships for the 2007-08 school year.
The coaching staff unanimously decided to name Sullivan the fifth team captain for 2007 based on the leadership role he demonstrated throughout the summer and training camp. He joins fellow fifth-year seniors John Carlson, Travis Thomas and Tom Zbikowski along with fourth-year senior Maurice Crum Jr. as team captains. Sullivan is the most experienced returning offensive player, having started 21 consecutive games at center and 33 games at that position in his Notre Dame career. He was named to the 2007 watch lists for the Outland Trophy and Rimington Award and was tabbed a first-team preseason All-American by Street & Smith’s.
Bemenderfer began his college career as a scholarship athlete at Northwestern University before transferring to Notre Dame for the 2006-07 school year. The Mishawaka, Ind., native and Penn High School graduate walked onto the football team last year and is currently listed as a backup center.
Iams is also a local product as he hails from Mishawaka, Ind., and is a graduate of Penn High School. The four-year walk-on earned a 4.0 grade-point average during the 2006-07 school year and currently holds a 3.921 cumulative GPA.
Jansen earned a scholarship for the second-consecutive season and serves as the team’s long snapper. The Phoenix, Ariz., product became the team’s long snapper in the middle of the 2005 season and has held that position ever since.
Williams is in his third year with the Notre Dame football team. A Raleigh, N.C., native, he earned a 3.933 GPA during the 2007 spring semester and his cumulative GPA for the 2006-07 school year was 3.893.
Irish Championship Football Coaches Honored With Notre Dame Stadium Gate Display
The five coaches who have produced national championships in football at the University of Notre Dame — Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz — are now honored as part of the third Notre Dame Stadium gate to feature the history and tradition of the Irish football program.
Mixed media wall relief portraits and action montages of the five Notre Dame national championship coaches this week were positioned at Gate D of Notre Dame Stadium, as part of a multi-year plan to theme the five entrance gates to Notre Dame’s home football facility. They were created by Lou Cella, senior sculptor of Timeless Creations, Inc., a division of the Rotblatt-Amrany Fine Art Studio in Highland Park, Ill.
Cella created the statue of former Detroit Tiger broadcaster Ernie Harwell at Comerica Park in Detroit, and he also did the sculpture of Father Theodore Hesburgh and Father Edmund Joyce (former Notre Dame president and executive vice president) just south of the Hesburgh Library on the Notre Dame campus. Rotblatt-Amrany is responsible for the Michael Jordan statue in front of the United Center in Chicago, as well as various statues of sports figures Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Vince Lombardi, Al McGuire and George Halas.
The national championship coach display at Gate D is the third of the Notre Dame Stadium gates to be finished, following the Heisman Trophy display at Gate B that opened in 2005 and the All-America display at Gate A that opened in 2006. Funding for all the themed gates has been provided by the Notre Dame Monogram Club.
Notre Dame’s 79 consensus All-America football players are honored inside Gate A with panels containing authentic Notre Dame helmets with nameplates. Those displays were designed by Rockwell Group of New York and fabricated by Show Motion Inc., of Connecticut.
Prior to the 2005 season, three-by-eight foot replica Heisman Trophies were added to the Gate B display, where pictures of all seven Irish Heisman winners were placed earlier. The honoring of Notre Dame’s Heisman Trophy winners took the form of seven individual panels installed within existing brick niches of the old stadium wall just inside Gate B — with one display each for Angelo Bertelli, John Lujack, Leon Hart, John Lattner, Paul Hornung, John Huarte and Tim Brown.
Each display consists of a three-by-eight-foot aluminum panel, powder-coated in Notre Dame blue and serving as a background for holding an oversized, three-foot-tall replica of the Heisman Trophy. The Heisman replicas are finished in bronze, cantilevered off of the blue aluminum panels and sculpted from an original Heisman Trophy.
IRISH WILL WEAR THROWBACK UNIFORMS AGAINST USC
Notre Dame and adidas will honor the 30th anniversary of the 1977 National Championship team by wearing the authentic green jerseys and gold pants for the USC game on October 20th. The throwback uniforms will be designed to replicate those worn by the 1977 team.
IRISH ADD HERALDED SIGNING CLASS
This preseason, Notre Dame has welcomed another outstanding recruiting class under third-year head coach Charlie Weis. The Irish signing class has been ranked as high as fifth (tied) in college football.
Ara Parseghian STATUE DEDICATED ON SEPT. 22 AT GATE D OF NOTRE DAME STADIUM
A statue of former University of Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, was dedicated on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2007, at Notre Dame Stadium. The dedication, the morning of the Notre Dame-Michigan State football game, took place at Notre Dame Stadium’s Gate D, which honors the Irish national championship football coaches.
All of Parseghian’s former players and coaches were invited to the dedication ceremonies — and more than 200 of them attended. Speaking at the dedication on behalf of Parseghian’s former players will be 1964 Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte. The Parseghian statue shows the former Irish coach on the shoulders of his players following the ’71 Cotton Bowl win over top-rated Texas. The statue was sculpted by Notre Dame graduate Jerry McKenna, who also created the Frank Leahy and Moose Krause statues east of Notre Dame Stadium, as well as the Knute Rockne sculpture at the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown South Bend, Ind.
The sculpture has been funded completely by donations from Parseghian’s former players, assistant coaches and student managers. Plans for the statue were spearheaded by former Irish football player Peter Schivarelli (he played in ’69 and ’70). The sculpture will complement bas relief portraits of the five Notre Dame national championship coaches — Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz — that are now located at Gate D, designated the national championship coaches gate.
Parseghian served as Irish head coach from 1964 through the ’74 season (he previously had been head coach at Northwestern for eight seasons and Miami of Ohio for five). His Notre Dame teams won consensus national titles in 1966 and 1973, and also claimed the McArthur Bowl Trophy from the National Football Foundation following a 9-1 campaign in ’64. His 11 Notre Dame teams combined to finish 95-17-4 (.836) – and his Irish posted victories in the 1971 Cotton Bowl (over top-rated Texas), the 1973 Sugar Bowl (over top-rated Alabama) and the 1975 Orange Bowl (again over unbeaten Alabama).
Parseghian was chosen the national college coach of the year in 1964 by the Football Writers Association of America and by the American Football Coaches Association. Only one time in 11 seasons did one of his teams lose as many as three games in a season, and on 40 occasions during that period Irish players received first-team All-America recognition. He coached eight NCAA postgraduate scholarship winners, 17 Academic All-Americans and five eventual winners of the NCAA Silver Anniversary award. Parseghian was selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
In 1994, Parseghian started the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation to fund study of Niemann-Pick Type C Disease in hopes of moving towards a cure. To that end, the foundation has raised more than $22 million to combat the disease, which has claimed three of Parseghian’s grandchildren. The disease, also known as NP-C, is a genetic pediatric neurodegenerative disorder that causes progressive deterioration of the nervous system, usually in school-age children. By interfering with children’s ability to metabolize cholesterol, the NP-C causes large amounts of the substance to accumulate in the liver, spleen and brain, leading to a series of ultimately fatal neurological problems.
Former Irish team captains under Parseghian who attended the ceremonies are Jim Carroll (1964), Phil Sheridan (’65), Jim Lynch (`66), Mike Oriard (’69), John Dampeer (’72), Greg Marx (’72) and Dave Casper (’73). All-Americans under Parseghian who also attended include Huarte (1964), Carroll (’64), Tony Carey (’64), Kevin Hardy (’64, ’66, ’67), Lynch (’65, ’66), Nick Eddy (’66), Pete Duranko (’66), Jim Seymour (’66, ’67, ’68), George Goeddeke (’66), Mike McGill (’67), Oriard (’69), Clarence Ellis (’70, ’71), Marx (’72), Dampeer (’72) and Casper (’73).
IRISH TO FACE WASHINGTON STATE IN 2009 MATCHUP AT SAN ANTONIO
In the first of a series of “off-site” Fighting Irish football games, the University of Notre Dame and Washington State University will square off on Oct. 31, 2009, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Notre Dame officials expect to play one “home” game per season beginning in ’09 at locations in Texas, Florida and in other cities.
The Irish and Cougars will be meeting for the first time since 2003, their only previous meeting. Notre Dame won that one 29-26 in overtime to open the season in Notre Dame Stadium. The 2009 game will be played at the 65,000-seat Alamodome, with the Valero Alamo Bowl serving as the host. The Alamodome played host to a Texas A&M-Army regular-season matchup in 2006, served as temporary home to the NFL’s New Orleans Saints for part of the 2005 season in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — and is the home of the 2007 NFL Dallas Cowboys preseason training camp and the ’07 Big 12 Conference Football Championship. The NCAA men’s basketball Final Four was played at the Alamodome in 2003 and will be there again in 2008.
“On behalf of the Valero Alamo Bowl and the Alamodome, we look forward to welcoming the history and tradition of Notre Dame to San Antonio and showing the team and their loyal fans our Texas hospitality,” said Derrick Fox, Valero Alamo Bowl president.
Notre Dame expects to make tickets available to its contributing alumni and fans through its alumni lottery as it does with all other football games. Washington State will receive an allotment of tickets as the visiting team. Notre Dame has more than 4,600 alumni in the state of Texas, most as part of alumni clubs in San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Laredo, the Rio Grande Valley and West Texas/Eastern New Mexico.
NBC Sports will have the live television rights to the game, as with other Notre Dame home games.
“Notre Dame has never played in San Antonio, so this will be a tremendous opportunity to showcase our program in a new city, and in a state in which we have a strong emphasis in recruiting,” said Notre Dame athletics director Kevin White.
“San Antonio has become a consistent stop on the men’s basketball NCAA Final Four rotation, and the Riverwalk and other areas make it a great venue in terms of hospitality — so this will be an extremely attractive option for fans in general.”
The off-site home game concept, as originated by White, came about once the NCAA opted for a 12-game regular season.
“We already had plans to play seven home games per year in Notre Dame Stadium,” said White. “We considered the prospect of playing eight times in South Bend, but we determined we could make more effective use of that extra game by moving it around the country and playing not only in some areas very important to us in terms of recruiting, but also in some locales in which our fans and alumni might not otherwise see us as part of any future schedules.
“It’s a little bit like the barnstorming approach that Knute Rockne took back in the 1920s. We believe these events will provide great opportunities for fans to see our team play when they may be otherwise challenged to travel or obtain tickets for games in South Bend.”
Notre Dame’s two most recent trips to the state of Texas produced a 27-24 win over Texas in 1996 in Austin — followed by a 24-3 loss to Texas A&M in College Station in 2003. The Irish have played in the Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas on seven occasions — following the 1969, 1970, 1977, 1978, 1987, 1992 and 1993 seasons. A victory in the Cotton Bowl facility in 1977 earned a national championship for Notre Dame after the Irish defeated top-ranked and unbeaten Texas. Notre Dame also faced unbeaten and top-ranked Texas teams in Cotton Bowls following both the ’69 and ’70 seasons (winning in the second of those games to end a 30-game Texas win streak). The Irish are 5-2 in Cotton Bowl appearances, also winning 35-34 over Houston to close out the 1978 season in Joe Montana’s final collegiate appearance.
Notre Dame also has played in Dallas against SMU in 1949 (a 27-20 win for the top-rated Irish), 1954 (a 26-14 Notre Dame victory), 1956 (a 19-13 SMU win), 1957 (a 54-21 Notre Dame win) and 1958 (a 14-6 Irish triumph) — giving the Irish a 9-3 overall mark in Dallas. Other Notre Dame appearances in Texas came in Houston for games against Rice in 1915 (a 55-2 Notre Dame win) and 1973 (a 28-0 Irish victory). All those contests combine to give the Irish a 12-4 mark in games played in Texas.
Notre Dame’s Alamodome appearance will be a homecoming of sorts for a number of Irish players who were invited to the Alamodome as high school seniors to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl prep high school all-star game. Among those who presumably would be on the ’09 Irish roster are current Notre Dame sophomores James Aldridge, Matt Carufel, Barry Gallup Jr., Raeshon McNeil, Chris Stewart, Darrin Walls, Bartley Webb, Dan Wenger and Sam Young, plus freshmen Armando Allen, Jimmy Clausen, Gary Gray, Robert Hughes, Duval Kamara, Aaron Nagel, Mike Ragone and Matt Romine.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAMER Chris Zorich HONORED
Chris Zorich, two-time All-American defensive tackle at the University of Notre Dame, was one of 12 former college players and two coaches named to the National Football Foundation’s 2007 College Football Hall of Fame Class for the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A). Zorich was recognized for his honor at halftime of the Georgia Tech game.
The 2007 College Football Hall of Fame class will be inducted at the 50th Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 4, 2007, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The players and coaches were enshrined at the Hall of Fame in South Bend in August 2007.
Zorich becomes the 42nd former Notre Dame player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The Irish also have five former coaches in the Hall and the 47 total enshrinees are the most of any NCAA institution.
A three-year starter at defensive tackle for the Irish, Zorich left Notre Dame as one of the most decorated defensive players in school history. He was a two-time All-American, earning unanimous first-team All-America accolades as a senior in 1990. Zorich was named United Press International Lineman of Year for 1989 and was chosen CBS Sports/Chevrolet Defensive Player of the Year for 1990. He was selected as the 1990 Lombardi Award recipient, given annually to the outstanding lineman in college football, and was a finalist for the Outland Trophy that year, too. Zorich started at nose tackle on the 1988 national championship team and finished his Notre Dame career with 219 tackles, including 21 tackles for loss.
Zorich graduated from Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies in 1991 and from the Notre Dame Law School in 2002. A native of Chicago’s South Side, Zorich is president of the Christopher Zorich Foundation and is a past recipient of USA Weekend’s “Most Caring Athlete Award” and the Jesse Owens Foundation Humanitarian Award. The Foundation assists disadvantaged families through a variety of diverse activities and have affected over 100,000 individuals. Zorich currently lives in Chicago where he works for the law firm of Schuyler, Roche & Zwirner, P.C.