Sept. 10, 2007
GAME 3: NOTRE DAME (0-2) AT MICHIGAN (0-2)
Saturday, September 15, 2007
TIME: 3:36 p.m. ET
SITE (CAPACITY): Michigan Stadium (107,501); Ann Arbor, Mich.
TICKETS: The game between Notre Dame and Michigan is 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.
TV: ABC national telecast with Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Bob Griese (analysis), Paul Maguire (analysis) and Bonnie Bernstein (sideline).
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 for more information on Irish football radio and television shows.
REAL-TIME STATS: Live in-game statistics will be provided through CSTV Online’s Gametracker via each school’s respective official athletic websites.
WEB SITES: Notre Dame (und.com), Michigan (mgoblue.com).
POLLS: Notre Dame and Michigan each failed to receive any votes in either the Associated Press or USA Today coaches’ polls.
SERIES INFO: This meeting will be the 35th all-time between the rivals. It is the Irish’s sixth-most played series and the third most frequent with any school in the Big Ten. Michigan holds a 19-14-1 lead in the series and took last year’s meeting, 47-21, in Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish had won the two previous meetings, including a 17-10 triumph in the Irish’s last trip to the Big House in 2005. Notre Dame is 7-10-0 against the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. The Irish have not won two straight in the series on the road since 1987 and 1989. (see All-Time Series Results on page 2).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: This game will mark the first meeting in the long history of the Notre Dame-Michigan series that both teams enter the game unranked (since polls were instituted in 1936) … it is also the first all-time meeting when both schools were 0-2.
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 1-1 vs. Michigan, picking up a 17-10 victory over the Wolverines in Ann Arbor in 2005.
MICHIGAN HEAD COACH LLOYD CARR: Lloyd Carr (Northern Michigan, `70) is in his 13th season as head coach of the nation’s all-time winningest football program. He compiled an 11-2 record in 2006 and guided the Wolverines to a second place finish in the Big Ten with a 7-1 mark. Carr was a finalist for the Paul “Bear” Bryant and Eddie Robinson awards and was one of 10 finalists for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year.
Carr is sixth among active Division I-A football coach with a .758 winning percentage. He has compiled a 113-36 overall record as head coach and has led the Wolverines to six 10-win seasons. He trails only Fielding H. Yost (165-29-10) and Bo Schembechler (194-48-5) in career victories at Michigan, and has an impressive 75-21 Big Ten Conference mark; he is the active career leader in Big Ten wins. Carr is the eighth coach in Big Ten history and the third in Michigan history, joining Fielding H. Yost and Schembechler, to claim five or more Big Ten Conference titles.
He has been a member of the Wolverine football staff for 27 years. Prior to being elevated to head coach, Carr said he thought he held the greatest assistant coaching job in the country, serving 15 years under Bo Schembechler (1980-89) and Gary Moeller (1990-94).
MICHIGAN SCOUTING REPORT: The Wolverines enter the matchup with an identical 0-2 record. Michigan has dropped two straight home games to open the season, 34-32 to Appalachian State and 39-7 to Oregon. Senior RB Mike Hart has done his part in the two games, pilling up 315 yards on 48 carries (good for a 6.6 avg. per rush and 157.5 yards per game). He has also scored three touchdowns. Senior QB Chad Henne has completed just over 50% of his passes (31-for-60) for 405 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but his availability is unknown following an injury in last week’s loss against Oregon. Freshman QB Ryan Mallett went 6-for-17 with an interception in his Michigan debut. Junior WR Mario Manningham, who torched Notre Dame for three touchdowns in 2006, leads the Wolverines with 11 receptions for 183 yards. Senior WR Adrian Arrington has registered 10 grabs for 121 yards and one touchdown. Senior LB Shawn Crable leads the defense with 18 tackles, 4.0 for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble, but the Wolverine defensive unit has allowed 1,011 yards over the first two games.
A WIN THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Give the Irish consecutive victories over Michigan in Ann Arbor for the first time since the 1987 and 1989 seasons (would be the third time in series history).
- Prevent the Irish from their first 0-3 start since 2001 and just the second ever in Notre Dame football history.
- Improve Notre Dame to 15-19-1 (.443) in the all-time series with Michigan.
- Improve the Irish to 8-10-0 (.800) in the all-time series with the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 2-2-0 all-time against Michigan.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 1-1-0 all-time against Michigan in Ann Arbor.
- Improve Weis’ record to 20-8 (.714) overall, 2-1 against Michigan and 6-4 against the Big 10 Conference.
- Improve Weis’ road record to 9-2 (.818).
- Improve Weis’ record to 8-4 (.667) in September games.
- Improve Weis’ record to 14-5 (.737) in afternoon games.
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 822-271-42 (.743).
- Improve the Irish all-time record on the road to 288-135-22 (.672).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record against the Big 10 Conference to 217-108-15 (.660).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record on the road against the Big 10 Conference to 96-68-9 (.581).
A LOSS THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Make the Irish 0-3 for the first time since 2001 and just the second time in Notre Dame football history.
- Drop Notre Dame to 14-20-1 (.443) in the all-time series with Michigan.
- Drop the Irish to 7-11-0 (.800) in the all-time series with the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame squad to 1-3-0 all-time against Michigan.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame squad to 0-2-0 all-time against Michigan in Ann Arbor.
- Drop Weis’ record to 19-9 (.714) overall, 1-2 against Michigan and 5-5 against the Big 10 Conference.
- Drop Weis’ road record to 8-3-0 (.818).
- Drop Weis’ record to 7-5 (.667) in September games.
- Drop Weis’ record to 13-6 (.737) in afternoon games.
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 821-272-42 (.743).
- Drop the Irish all-time record on the road to 287-136-22 (.672).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record against the Big 10 Conference to 216-109-15 (.660).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record on the road against the Big 10 Conference to 95-69-9 (.581).
NOTRE DAME VS. BIG 10
- Notre Dame has faced no other conference as often as the Big Ten. The Irish have played 338 all-time games against the 11 current members of the league. Notre Dame is 216-107-15 in those meetings. The Irish has 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 Michigan 34 times (14-19-1), fourth most of any Big Ten program. Purdue leads the Big Ten with 77 all-time games against Notre Dame (51-25-2) followed by Michigan State (44-25-1) and Northwestern (37-8-2).
- Last week’s 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 10 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 has posted a 217-108-15 record against Big Ten opponents on the road.
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN SERIES NOTES
- This year’s meeting will mark the 35th meeting between Notre Dame and Michigan, with the Wolverines holding a 19-14-1 series lead. Notre Dame has captured two of the last three meetings, including its last trip to Ann Arbor. (see page 3 for recap). The Irish also own a 7-10-0 record against Michigan in Ann Arbor.
- The first meeting between the two schools took place during the 1887 season. Michigan blanked Notre Dame, 8-0, in South Bend. The Wolverines proceeded to win the next seven games over the Irish. Notre Dame’s first victory over Michigan came during the 1909 season in Ann Arbor by a score of 11-3. The two teams would not meet for another 33 years. After the Wolverines and Irish split meetings in 1942 and 1943, the series took another break, this time 35 years. Since renewing the rivalry in 1978, Notre Dame and Michigan have played every season except 1983, 1984, 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2001.
- Prior to this year’s matchup, either Notre Dame or Michigan had been ranked entering the game for each of the past 24 meetings. The last meeting between the Irish and Wolverines in which they were each unranked came way back in 1909 — an era before national polls. (polls debuted in 1936). Furthermore, six times both teams have been ranked in the Top 10 and three games one or the other was ranked No 1.
- Michigan is one of only two school’s that own a winning record against Notre Dame (based on a minimum of five all-time meetings). Florida State is the other program.
- Over the last 15 meetings (dating back to 1988), the Notre Dame-Michigan game has been decided by a touchdown or less on 10 different occasions.
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN SERIES PRODUCES EXCITING GAMES
- Eight of the last 16 Notre Dame-Michigan games have been decided by five points or less while only four of the last 23 games have been won by more than 10 points: Michigan’s 25-7 home win in 1981, Notre Dame’s 26-7 victory at Michigan in 1987, Notre Dame’s 36-20 triumph at home in 1998, Michigan’s 38-0 victory in Ann Arbor back in 2004 and the Wolverines 47-21 win in 2006.
- The average margin of victory has been just 4.0 points over the span of the all-time series. Take away the 2004 and 2006 meetings and the average margin of victory is 2.3.
- Five of the last 21 games in the series have seen the winning points come in the final two minutes (1980, `88, ’90, ’94 and ’99), including two that were decided in the final seconds (’80 and ’94).
IRISH, WOLVERINES RANK AT TOP OF MOST NCAA LISTS
- Notre Dame has won 11 consensus national championships, while Michigan has won nine titles.
- Notre Dame currently has 821 career Division I-A victories (second all-time), while Michigan leads with 860 career wins, although the Wolverines have played nine more seasons than the Irish.
- Michigan holds the record for times ranked in the Associated Press poll (747), followed closely by Ohio State (722) and Notre Dame (705).
- Notre Dame ranks first all-time with 95 consensus All-America selections (from 79 players), while Michigan is tied for second on that list with 76 consensus All-America picks (from 64 players each). USC (66 players) and Ohio State (58 players) each have 75 selections.
IRISH RECORD SETTERS IN THE NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN SERIES
- Harry Jewett scored Notre Dame’s first ever touchdown on April 20, 1888 and it came against Michigan on a five-yard scamper.
- The following performances are tied for first in the Irish record book and came in games against Michigan: two kickoff returns for touchdowns (Raghib Ismail, 1989); and 26 tackles (Bob Crable, 1978).
- Crable also recorded the fourth (20 tackles against Michigan in 1981) and fifth most ever in a single game (19 tackles against Michigan in 1980).
- The following performances are tied for fourth in the Irish record book (all on four attempts): four field goals by Chuck Male (1979), John Carney (1985) and Reggie Ho (1988).
- Raghib “Rocket” Ismail’s 192 kick return yards in 1989 rank second in Irish history.
- Harry Oliver’s game-winning 51-yard field goal versus Michigan in 1980 is tied for the second-longest kick in Irish history, while Ricky Watters’ 81-yard punt return against the Wolverines in 1988 ranks 11th all-time at Notre Dame.
- Notre Dame’s all-time opponent records do not include any by Michigan (both team and individual).
REMEMBER THESE NAMES
Here are just a few of the memorable names and performances from the Notre Dame – Michigan series in Notre Dame Stadium:
- 1980 – Harry Oliver’s legendary 51-yard field goal at the gun pushes Notre Dame to a 29-27 victory.
- 1986 – Unranked Notre Dame takes #3 Michigan to the brink, piling up 455 yards of offense behind Tim Brown (65 yards, touchdown run). John Carney misses possible game-winning field goal with 18 seconds remaining.
- 1988 – Reggie Ho kicks four field goals to lead Notre Dame to victory, 19-17. Mike Gillette misses a 49-yard attempt as time expires. Ricky Watters scores Notre Dame’s lone touchdown on an 81-yard punt return.
- 1990 – Rick Mirer connects with Adrian Jarrell for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:40 remaining to give Notre Dame a 28-24 victory. Michael Stonebreaker and Reggie Brooks (then a cornerback) post crucial second half interceptions of Elvis Grbac. Desmond Howard explodes for 133 yards receiving and two touchdowns for the Wolverines.
- 1994 – Remy Hamilton drills a 42-yard field goal to provide Michigan with its most recent victory in Notre Dame Stadium, 26-24. Hamilton’s kick erases a Ron Powlus – Derrick Mayes possible game-winning touchdown pass.
- 1998 – Autry Denson rushes for 163 yards and two touchdowns as Notre Dame scored 30 points in the second half en route to a 36-20 victory over #5 Michigan.
- 2002 – Ryan Grant rushes for a (then) career-high 132 yards and two touchdowns to help Notre Dame defeat Michigan 25-23. Shane Walton posts an interception on the Wolverines’ final offensive play to seal the victory.
- 2004 – Darius Walker ran for 115 yards on 31 carries and two fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Irish beat No. 8 Michigan, 28-20. He was the first Notre Dame freshman to rush for more than 100 yards since Julius Jones had 146 yards against Navy in 1999.
- 2005 – Brady Quinn threw two touchdown passes in the first half and the 20th-ranked Fighting Irish held on to beat the No. 3 Wolverines, 17-10, making Charlie Weis the first Notre Dame coach to win his first two games on the road since Knute Rockne in 1918.
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN CONNECTIONS
- Notre Dame defensive coordinator Corwin Brown was a member of four Big Ten championship teams at Michigan. He played in three Rose Bowls during his time in Ann Arbor (1989-1992). Recruited to the Wolverines by legendary head coach Bo Schembechler, Brown was a four-year letterwinner on teams that finished with a 38-7-3 record and never finished a season ranked lower than seventh in the Associated Press poll. He was a tri-captain of the 1992 Wolverine team and also earned first-team all-Big Ten honors that season after ranking second on the squad with 82 tackles. Brown started every game as a junior and received second-team all-Big Ten accolades following a 71-tackle season. He majored in English and received his degree in 1994.
- Erik Campbell, Michigan’s assistant head coach/wide receivers, spent three years (1991-93) at Ball State. Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Haywood spent two years with the Cardinals (1993-94). The two each served under former Ball State head coach Paul Schudel.
- Notre Dame tight ends/special teams coach Bernie Parmalee played college football at Ball State (1987-90) and remains the schools career leader in rushing yards. Michigan offensive coordinator/tight ends Mike DeBord was the offensive line coach for the Cardinals in 1989.
- Notre Dame defensive line coach Jappy Oliver and Michigan associate head coach/running backs Fred Jackson served on Gerry DiNardo’s (Notre Dame `74) staff at Vanderbilt in 1991.
- Steve Szabo, Michigan’s linebackers coach, was a volunteer coach, while Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis was the offensive coordinator for the 2003 Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
- The 2007 Notre Dame roster features two players from the state of Michigan, including junior WR David Grimes and junior QB Evan Sharpley. Grimes is a native of Detroit and graduated from DePorres High School. Sharpley graduated from Marshall High School in Marshall, Michigan.
- Michigan senior TE Mike Massey’s father, Jim, played defensive end for the Irish in 1969.
- The 2007 Michigan roster features three players from the state of Indiana, including sophomore S Stevie Brown, senior LB Chris Graham and freshman S Artis Chambers.
- A a number of players from Michigan and Notre Dame either attended the same high school or hail from the same hometown (see PDF for complete chart).
HOW DO THEY STACK UP?
Average weight of the offensive and defensive lines:
ND OL 301.8 lbs. vs. UM DL 281.5 lbs.
ND DL 284.3 lbs. vs. UM OL 302.2 lbs.
Average height of the receivers and the secondaries:
ND WR/TE 6′ 1″ vs. UM DB 6′ 1″
ND DB 6′ 0″ vs. UM WR/TE 6′ 3″
100,000 FANS (OR MORE) AWAIT THE IRISH
Notre Dame is quite accustomed to playing in front of huge crowds, but the Irish could take the feat to another level in 2007. Notre Dame will travel to Penn State and Michigan in consecutive weeks. The Irish played in front of the second largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history last week (110,078) and will likely see another crowd well over 100,000 this week. Notre Dame will become the second school to ever play consecutive road games before crowds exceeding 100,000. Minnesota is the only school to ever play consecutive road games before 100,000 (Penn State and Michigan during the 2005 season). The combined attendance for those two road games was an NCAA record 217,721 (106,604 at PSU and 111,117 at UM).
IN FRONT OF A FULL HOUSE
- Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 194 of its previous 221 games, including 69 of its last 75 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 will definitely exceed 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.
- 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.
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 and followed with a career-high 10 stops at Penn State. 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 50th in the NCAA in tackles, averaging 9.5 per game. Laws ranks second in the country in tackles among defensive lineman. He trails only Greg Hardy of Mississippi (10.0 tckls/g).
ZIBBY BECOMES ALL-TIME LEADER IN TACKLES BY A DEFENSIVE BACK
After picking up six tackles last week against Penn State, two-time All-American strong safety Tom Zbikowski became the Notre Dame career leader for tackles by a defensive back. With 230 career stops, Zbikowski moved ahead of Jim Browner (228, 1976-78) for the top spot.
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 last week 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 the night with a game-high tying 10 tackles, including six solo stops. He added 1.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. Brockington, who ranks tied for 97th in the NCAA in tackles, is second on the Irish with 17.
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. He became the first Irish player to recorded 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 10 tackles, almost his entire total from the previous two seasons, over the first two games. Kuntz picked up a career-high eight stops and a half-tackle for loss last week against Penn State.
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 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 75 fewer yards per game in the air this season and almost 140 fewer yards when compared to the previous two years. The 126 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).
CRUMBLING THE COMPETITION
- Senior LB Maurice Crum 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, 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 added a tackle for loss versus the Jackets.
SOMETHING BRUTON IN THE NOTRE DAME SECONDARY
Junior FS David 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.
NO LOADING IN THE RED ZONE FOR GEORGIA TECH
Notre Dame limited Georgia Tech 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 38 of Notre Dame’s last 39 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). Junior 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 last week against Penn State, has made four 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, 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 226 all-purpose yards over the first two 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. 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’ 27 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 two 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 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 63 career catches and 34 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 six career catches (two 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 (three catches for 25 yards), sophomore TE Will Yeatman (two grabs for 16 yards), senior RB Junior Jabbie (one for three yards) and Armando Allen (seven for 39 yards) all recorded their first career catch in the season opener. Sophomore 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 2-of-3 inside the red zone, but both scores were field goals.
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.
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 watchlists 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 tackles 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 their respective seasons with Appalachian State and Youngstown State on Sept. 1.
NOTRE DAME IN SEPTEMBER
- Notre Dame is 120-44-4 (.731) all-time during the month of September.
- The Irish are 75-17-2 (.809) in September home games.
- Notre Dame has an all-time mark of 40-25-2 (.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.
- Sophomore PK Nate Whitaker seemed unfazed by the new NCAA rule. Despite the ball moved back five yards (and now kicked from the 30 instead of 35), Whitaker has averaged 61.8 yards on his five kicks this season.
ZBIKOWSKI’S RAPID RETURNS
- Senior SS Tom Zbikowski recorded a 47-yard punt return at Penn State to set up a field goal bringing the Irish within a touchdown, 17-10, in the third quarter. 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 Nov. 11 on junior Terrail Lambert’s 76-yard blocked field goal return at Air Force.
- 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 last week 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. He added up his 16th career punt of over 50 yards (57) last week at Penn State.
- 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. 11, 1984 — Dwight Stephenson, Jr., DE, Sr.
Sept. 12, 1987 — Chris Stewart, OG, So.
Sept. 14, 1987 — Toryan Smith, ILB, So.
Sept. 15, 1986 — Ray Herring, 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 162-68-2 record.
Notre Dame has 10 players with double digit career starts. Leading the way is two-time All-American strong safety Tom Zbikowski with 38 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 297-91-5 (.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.
NEXT WEEK: MICHIGAN STATE
Notre Dame returns home after consecutive road game as Michigan State pays a visit to Notre Dame Stadium on Sept. 22 for a 3:30 p.m. ET contest that will be televised nationally on NBC. The Spartans, who knocked off Bowling Green, 27-17, last week, host Pittsburgh this weekend. Last year, Notre Dame rallied from a 16-point fourth quarter deficit to upend Michigan State, 40-37, in East Lansing. Michigan State has won five consecutive games inside Notre Dame Stadium.
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 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 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., Demetrius Jones, Raeshon McNeil, Konrad Reuland, Chris Stewart, Darrin Walls, Bartley Webb, Dan Wenger and Sam Young, plus incoming freshmen Armando Allen, Jimmy Clausen, Gary Gray, Robert Hughes, Duval Kamara, Aaron Nagel, Mike Ragone and Matt Romine.
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 TO BE 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, will be dedicated on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2007, at Notre Dame Stadium.
The dedication, slated for 9:30 a.m. EDT, on the morning of the Notre Dame-Michigan State football game, will take place at Notre Dame Stadium’s Gate D, which honors the Irish national championship football coaches.
All of Parseghian’s former players and coaches have been invited to the dedication ceremonies — and more than 200 of them are expected to attend. Speaking at the dedication on behalf of Parseghian’s former players will be 1964 Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte. The general public is welcome to attend the ceremony.
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 toward 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 are confirmed to attend 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 expected to attend 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).
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.
HUNDREDS OF FORMER PLAYERS TO FORM PRE-GAME “TUNNEL”
Another Notre Dame tradition will continue with the game versus arch-rival USC, as prior to the game the 2007 team will run through a tunnel comprised of former Irish football players (several hundred are expected to return). Former head coach Bob Davie wrote a letter to every former Notre Dame football player during the summer of 1997, with the University providing them with the opportunity to buy two tickets to the season opener and inviting them to be part of the tunnel ceremony. Nearly 250 Irish football alumni formed the tunnel prior to the 1997 opener versus Georgia Tech and approximately 300 former players formed the tunnel prior to the 1998 opener versus Michigan before returning again for the ’99 opener vs. Kansas. Another such group is expected versus the Trojans.
FWAA, CHARLOTTE TOUCHDOWN CLUB UNVEIL DEFENSIVE LEGENDS AWARD
The FWAA and Charlotte Touchdown Club will present the first annual Bronko Nagurski Legends Award in conjunction with the Bronko Nagurski Trophy this coming December in Charlotte.
The FWAA began selecting separate defensive and offensive All-America squads during the 1966 season. And, the first annual award will go to the players at Michigan State and Notre Dame who played in one of the greatest defensive games of the 20th Century. The teams were ranked No. 1 and 2 in the country when they met in East Lansing that season. The historic game ended in a 10-10 tie.
For the only time in history, two players from two teams made the 1966 FWAA All-America team on the defensive side of the ball: Notre Dame’s Jim Lynch and Alan Page and Michigan State’s Bubba Smith and George Webster. One of those players or a representative from each school is expected to be in Charlotte on Dec. 3 for the presentation when the 2007 Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded to the best defensive player in college football.
TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR 2007 FOOTBALL KICKOFF LUNCHEONS
Tickets are now on sale for the 2007 Notre Dame Kickoff Luncheons held the Friday prior to each Irish home football game. The luncheons feature Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis, 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 (ET) start. Be aware that advance reservations are required for tickets, and tickets are not routinely available at the door.
All 2007 pep rallies will be held in the Joyce Center Arena (south dome), unless moved inside Notre Dame Stadium, on Fridays before Saturday home games, beginning at 6 p.m. (ET). The Irish squad enters the arena at 6:30 p.m.