Sept. 8, 2003
(#15 AP/#14 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-0)
vs. (#5 AP/#7 ESPN/USA Today) Michigan Wolverines (2-0)
The Date and Time: Saturday, Sept. 13, 2003, at 3:35 p.m. EDT (2:35 p.m. EST in South Bend).
The Site: Michigan Stadium (107,501/FieldTurf) in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Tickets: They’re all sold — with this being the 152nd sellout in the last 175 games involving Notre Dame, including the first 10 games of 1998, the first 11 in ’99, the first five in ’00, the first nine in ’01, all 13 in ’02 and the first two in ’03.
The TV Plans: ABC Sports national telecast with Brent Musberger (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (analysis), Jack Arute (sideline), Bob Goodrich (producer) and Larry Kamm (director).
The Radio Plans: For the 36th consecutive season, all Notre Dame football games are broadcast on more than 200 stations in all 50 states nationwide by Westwood One with Tony Roberts (play-by-play), former Irish running back Allen Pinkett (analysis), former Irish quarterback and 1956 Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung (pregame/halftime analysis) and Al Smith (producer). A live broadcast from the Notre Dame student station, WVFI, also is available via the Notre Dame athletics web site at www.und.com. All Notre Dame football games are heard on WDND-AM (1620) and WNDV-FM (92.9) in South Bend with pre- and post-game analysis featuring Sean Stires, Andy Budzinski, Shawn Lewallen, Jack Nolan and Larry Williams. All Irish games also are carried live in the Chicago market on ESPN Radio 1000.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), Michigan (www.mgoblue.com).
No. 15 IRISH HEAD BACK TO “THE BIG HOUSE” TO FACE NO. 5 MICHIGAN
One of the nation’s top college football rivalries will be renewed once again when No. 15 Notre Dame travels to Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday for a 3:35 p.m. (EDT) matchup with fifth-ranked Michigan. More than 105,000 fans are expected to be in attendance at Michigan Stadium for the contest, which ABC will televise nationally. ESPN’s “College GameDay” also will be broadcasting live from Ann Arbor on Saturday, marking the 12th time Notre Dame will play in a game with the GameDay crew on site.
The Irish (1-0) could not have opened their season in more dramatic fashion last Saturday, earning a 29-26 overtime win over defending Pac-10 Conference co-champion Washington State before a capacity crowd of 80,795 at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame fell behind 19-0 and still trailed by 13 points entering the fourth quarter before erupting for 20 unanswered points. WSU bounced back to tie the game in the final minute of regulation, but in overtime, senior kicker Nicholas Setta boomed a 40-yard field goal, his fifth of the day, to complete the biggest Irish comeback win in four years.
Junior running back Ryan Grant turned in another steady performance on the ground, toting the ball 17 times for a game-high 98 yards to pile up his eighth career 90-yard game. After a year hiatus, senior running back Julius Jones returned to the gridiron for the Irish and promptly carded 72 yards on 11 carries, including his first touchdown since 2001 midway through the fourth quarter.
Michigan (2-0) has stormed from the gate with a pair of lopsided victories to open the 2003 season. The Wolverines are coming off a 50-3 pasting of Houston last Saturday at Michigan Stadium, rolling up more than 500 yards of total offense for the second consecutive game. Running back Chris Perry rushed 27 times for 184 yards and two touchdowns in the victory, while reserve back David Underwood added 108 yards on 11 carries with another score.
To say Michigan has a high-powered offense would be an understatement. Through the first two weeks of the season, UM has the country’s best rushing offense at 367.0 yards per game, sparked by Perry who leads the nation with 208 yards per game. The Wolverines also are ranked second in the nation in total offense (575.5 yards per game) and are ninth in scoring offense (47.5 points per game).
Michigan holds a 17-12-1 edge over Notre Dame in a series that dates all the way back to the roots of Irish football in 1887. Notre Dame has had more success against the Wolverines lately, going 7-4-1 in the last 12 meetings between the schools. Rankings also have had little bearing on this rivalry, with the lower-ranked squad going 11-9-1 in the series since 1942.
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN SERIES NOTES
- Notre Dame and Michigan continue their storied rivalry Saturday with the 31st meeting in their series. The Wolverines lead the all-time series by a 17-12-1 count, including a 9-6 edge in Ann Arbor (although the series is tied 5-5 in games played at Michigan Stadium).
- Notre Dame is 7-4-1 in its last 12 meetings with the Wolverines, although Michigan has won three of the last five games in the series. In the past 12 series games, eight were decided by a touchdown or less (not including a 17-17 tie in 1992).
- At least one of the two combatants has been ranked in every Notre Dame-Michigan matchup since the inception of the Associated Press poll in 1936. Including Saturday’s game, both teams will have been ranked entering 19 of the last 22 contests (including 12 of the last 13). In addition, one of the teams will be ranked in the AP Top 10 for the 14th consecutive meeting.
- Notre Dame and Michigan are the two winningest programs in NCAA Division I-A football history. The Irish have the top winning percentage of all-time (.750, 792-250-42), followed closely by the Wolverines (.747, 825-268-36). Michigan holds the edge over Notre Dame in career victories (825 to 792), although the Wolverines have played nine more seasons than the Irish.
- Notre Dame ranks first all-time with 94 consensus All-America selections (from 78 players), while Michigan and USC are tied for second on that list with 68 consensus All-America picks (from 56 players each).
- Notre Dame played its first-ever varsity football game against Michigan on Nov. 23, 1887, in South Bend. The Wolverines won by an 8-0 score.
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
- The Irish will log their first victory in Ann Arbor since Sept. 11, 1993, when 11th-ranked Notre Dame toppled No. 3 Michigan, 27-23. The Irish also will take a 6-5 series lead over the Wolverines in games played at Michigan Stadium (although UM still will lead 9-7 in games played in Ann Arbor).
- Notre Dame will earn its first road win against a Top 10 opponent since Sept. 21, 1996, when the Irish ousted No. 6 Texas, 27-24, on a 39-yard field goal by Jim Sanson as time expired.
- The lower-ranked team will have won five of the last seven games in the series.
- The Irish will register their third win over the Wolverines in the last four series games and post consecutive victories over Michigan for the first time since a four-game series winning streak from 1987-90.
- Notre Dame will improve to 36-14-1 (.716) in its last 51 games against Big Ten Conference opposition.
- The Irish will chalk up their fifth consecutive victory over a Big Ten team, their longest winning streak over the conference since a 10-game unbeaten string (9-0-1) from Sept. 5, 1992-Sept. 3, 1994.
IF MICHIGAN WINS …
- Notre Dame will drop its third consecutive game at Michigan Stadium for the first time ever.
- The Irish will see their four-game winning streak against Big Ten Conference teams come to an end.
- Notre Dame will lose its first game on a Big Ten campus since Sept. 23, 2000, when No. 23 Michigan State handed the 16th-ranked Irish a last-minute 27-21 loss in East Lansing.
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN SERIES HISTORY
- Michigan leads the series, 17-12, with one tie in 1992 at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have won seven of the last 12 meetings with the Wolverines since 1987.
- The series dates back to 1887, when Notre Dame played its first-ever varsity football game against Michigan (an 8-0 Wolverine victory). That game marked the first of nine meetings between the schools from 1887-1909, with Michigan winning the first eight and Notre Dame claiming its initial victory in ’09.
- The teams played just twice over the next 68 years, with Michigan winning 32-20 in 1942, and Notre Dame returning the favor by a 35-12 score in 1943.
- The series picked up again in 1978 and has been almost continuous since then, with the exception of two-year breaks in 1983-84, 1995-96 and 2000-01.
- The last 14 games in the series (including this year’s contest) have featured at least one team ranked in the Associated Press Top 10. However, lower-ranked teams have won four of the last six games in the series and, since 1942, the lower-ranked team holds a 11-9-1 edge in the series. The recent wins in the series by the lower-ranked team: No. 11 Notre Dame over No. 3 Michigan in ’93 (27-23), No. 6 Michigan over No. 3 Notre Dame in ’94 (26-24), No. 22 Notre Dame over No. 5 Michigan in ’98 (36-20) and No. 20 Notre Dame over No. 7 Michigan in ’02 (25-23).
- Home field has not played a major role in the history of the Notre Dame-Michigan series, as the home team has won just over half of the games (15-13-1, with one neutral site game).
- Six of the last seven games in the series have been decided by a total of 19 points (3.2 points per game), with Notre Dame winning three of those nail-biters, Michigan winning twice and one tie.
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN CONNECTIONS
- Notre Dame defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Greg Mattison was an assistant coach at Michigan from 1992-96, serving as defensive line coach and defensive coordinator for the Wolverines. He spent his final two seasons in Ann Arbor working under current Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr.
- Mattison also worked with Michigan associate head coach/running backs coach Fred Jackson at Navy in 1987.
- Michigan defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Bill Sheridan is in his second season on the Wolverine staff after serving as Notre Dame’s safeties/special teams coach in 2001.
- Michigan defensive secondary coach Ron English was a graduate assistant coach at Arizona State in 1994, working alongside current Notre Dame defensive coordinator Kent Baer, who was the Sun Devils’ defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach that season.
FRIEND OR FOE?
- Notre Dame sophomore running back Jeff Jenkins is a native of Ann Arbor, Mich., and was the all-time leading rusher in Ann Arbor history (3,970 yards, 60 TD) while attending Huron High School from 1998-2001. One of Jenkins’ teammates at Huron was Michigan sophomore wide receiver Carl Tabb, who was a three-year letterwinner at the school.
- Sophomore snapper Paul Jancha is the only other Michigan native on the Notre Dame roster. Jancha was a three-year letterwinner at St. Joseph (Mich.) High School.
- Irish sophomore nose guard Derek Landri, Michigan sophomore quarterback Matt Gutierrez and Wolverines sophomore running back Alijah Bradley all were teammates at De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., helping the Spartans improve their overall winning streak to a national high school record 125 consecutive games and two prep national titles at the time of their graduation following the 2001 season.
- Notre Dame senior inside linebacker Mike Goolsby and Michigan sophomore offensive lineman Mike Kolodziej both attended Joliet (Ill.) Catholic Academy.
- Irish sophomore free safety Jake Carney and Wolverine senior long snapper Ross Mann both are products of Lexington (Ky.) Catholic High School.
- Notre Dame senior inside linebacker Courtney Watson and Michigan senior left guard David Baas were teammates at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla., from 1997-99. Both men are among only a handful of individuals ever to earn four varsity letters at the school < watson=”” played=”” wide=”” receiver=”” and=”” running=”” back=”” at=”” rhs,=”” while=”” baas=”” was=”” a=”” highly-decorated=”” offensive=”” lineman.=””>
- Michigan senior wide receiver Ross Kesler was a 2000 graduate of Warsaw (Ind.) High School, earning three varsity football letters at the school.
NOTRE DAME VS. THE BIG TEN CONFERENCE
- Notre Dame has played more than three times as many games against Big Ten Conference opponents (324) as any other league. The Pac-10 (110) and BIG EAST (108) are the only other conferences against whom the Irish have played at least 100 games.
- Notre Dame has won more than 66 percent of its games versus Big Ten Conference opponents, with a record of .500 or better against 10 of the 11 Big Ten teams (Michigan is the lone exception). The Irish have an overall mark of 209-100-15 (.668) in 324 games against Big Ten schools, with more than 52 percent of those games (170) coming versus Michigan (12-17-1), Michigan State (42-23-1) and Purdue (49-23-2), all of whom are on Notre Dame’s 2003 schedule.
- For the second consecutive season, Notre Dame is playing three Big Ten schools (Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue). Last year, the Irish swept those same three Big Ten opponents, winning each game in the fourth quarter.
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND MICHIGAN MET
No. 20 Notre Dame jumped out to an early lead, fell behind, clawed its way back and then held off a furious Michigan rally to post a 25-23 victory over the seventh-ranked Wolverines on Sept. 14, 2002 at Notre Dame Stadium. The win was the first over a Top 10 team for the Irish since they vanquished the same Michigan squad, 36-20 in 1998. It also represented the fourth time in the last six series games that the lower-ranked team won.
Notre Dame took a 16-7 lead at halftime on touchdown runs by Ryan Grant and Carlyle Holiday. However, the Wolverines rallied and scored 10 unanswered points, taking their first lead of the day at 17-16 on Chris Perry’s two yard run late in the third quarter.
Notre Dame quickly recovered, as Holiday connected with Omar Jenkins on passes of 29 and 47 yards, setting up Grant’s second TD of the game from three yards away. Then, on Michigan’s very next play, Perry fumbled and Glenn Earl recovered for the Irish at the UM 43. Nicholas Setta converted the turnover by booting a 46-yard field goal with 10:41 to play.
Michigan answered again, marching 81 yards in 11 plays, with John Navarre hitting Bennie Joppru for an eight-yard score with 2:53 left. However, Shane Walton tipped away Navarre’s two-point PAT pass attempt to keep the Irish in front. Still, the Wolverines held on defense and got one last chance to pull out the win, but those hopes died when Walton picked off Navarre’s third-down pass with 21 seconds remaining.
Grant rushed for a career-high 132 yards and two touchdowns in the Irish victory, while Perry tallied 78 yards on 16 carries with one score for Michigan.
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND MICHIGAN MET AT MICHIGAN STADIUM
On Sept. 4, 1999, 16th-ranked Notre Dame and No. 7 Michigan squared off before a (then) NCAA-record crowd of 111,523 at Michigan Stadium, with the Wolverines edging the Irish, 26-22, in a battle decided only by the expiration of time.
Neither side led by more than five points all afternoon before Anthony Thomas scored on a one-yard run with 1:38 left to put the Wolverines in front. Notre Dame promptly marched down to the Michigan 12-yard line in the closing seconds, but the Irish were out of timeouts and the clock expired before they could get another play off. It was a bitter pill for Notre Dame, which had taken a 22-19 lead with 4:08 remaining on Jarious Jackson’s 20-yard TD pass to Jabari Holloway and Jackson’s two-point conversion pass to Bobby Brown.
The loss overshadowed a stellar performance from Jackson, who completed 18 of 29 passes for 302 yards and a touchdown. Six different Irish receivers had at least two receptions in the game, led by Raki Nelson, who had five catches for 91 yards. Michigan was paced by Thomas, who rushed for 138 yards on 32 carries, and Jeff Del Verne, who kicked four field goals for the hosts.
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN SERIES PRODUCES EXCITING GAMES
- Eight of the last 11 Notre Dame-Michigan games have been decided by five points or less while only three of the last 18 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 and Notre Dame’s 36-20 triumph at home in 1998.
- Since the Notre Dame-Michigan series resumed in 1978, the average margin has been just 6.6 points over the span of 19 games, with the Irish holding a slim 10-8-1 edge.
- The combined scores of the series’ last six games are Notre Dame 165, Michigan 156, thanks to a tie, a four-point Irish win, a two-point Michigan win, Michigan’s seven-point victory in 1997, Notre Dame’s 16-point triumph in 1998, Michigan’s four-point win in 1999 and Notre Dame’s two-point victory in 2002. The combined scores for the last 11 games are Notre Dame 269, Michigan 257, with the average margin in those games being just 5.1 points per contest.
- Five of the last 17 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 LISTS
- Notre Dame has won 11 consensus national championships, while Michigan has won nine titles. Coming into Saturday’s game, Notre Dame ranks first all-time in NCAA Division I-A winning percentage at .750 (792-250-42), with Michigan second at .747 (825-268-36).
- Notre Dame currently has 792 career Division I-A victories (second all-time), while Michigan leads with 825 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 (679), followed closely by Notre Dame, which made its 667th AP poll appearance this week.
- The Irish have had 78 players earn 94 consensus All-America selections, with both figures ranking first all-time. Michigan and USC are tied for second with 56 players garnering 68 consensus All-America honors.
IRISH RECORD SETTERS IN THE NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN SERIES
- 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 by a linebacker (Bob Golic, 1978, also third-most ever by a Michigan opponent).
- The following performances are tied for fourth in the Irish record book and are tied for second all-time by a Michigan opponent (all on four attempts): four field goals by Chuck Male (1979), John Carney (1985) and Reggie Ho (1988).
- Raghib Ismail’s 192 kick return yards in 1989 rank second in Irish history and are the second-most by a Michigan opponent. Ismail holds the Michigan opponent record with 64.0 yards per kick return in 1989, while his 92-yard runback in that game is the fifth-longest by a Michigan opponent.
- 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 (Watters’ 105 punt return yards in 1988 are the fourth-most ever by a Michigan opponent).
- Creighton Miller’s 15.9 yards/rush in 1943 (10 carries for 159 yards) ranks second all-time by a Michigan opponent, while Kevin Griffith’s three sacks in 1982 are tied for the Wolverine opponent record.
- Angelo Bertelli’s five PAT (in five attempts) in 1943 are tied for third all-time by a Michigan opponent.
- Notre Dame’s all-time opponent records do not include any by Michigan (both team and individual).
ESPN’S “COLLEGE GAMEDAY” TO AIR FROM NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN GAME
ESPN has announced that the popular “College GameDay” show featuring host Chris Fowler and analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and former Irish All-American Raghib “Rocket” Ismail will emanate live on Saturday from Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., the site of this year’s Notre Dame-Michigan contest. It will mark the 12th time in the 10-year history of the show that the Irish have played in a game where “College GameDay” was on location, a figure which ties Miami (Fla.) for sixth all-time (Florida is first with 19). Notre Dame is 5-6 (.455) in these contests (3-3 home, 2-3 road), but has won its last two “College GameDay” matchups, both of which came on the road last season at No. 18 Air Force (21-14) and No. 11 Florida State (34-24).
This also will represent the fourth time in the history of the Notre Dame-Michigan series that “College GameDay” has been on hand for the battle between the Irish and Wolverines. That ties with the Florida State-Miami series for the third-most covered matchup in the history of the show. Only the Florida-Florida State and Florida-Tennessee rivalries have been covered more often (six times each).
Here’s a complete rundown of Notre Dame’s appearances in contests where “College GameDay” was on site (research provided by University of Tennessee sports information office):
Nov. 13, 1993 – W vs. No. 1 Florida State (31-24)
Sept. 10, 1994 – L vs. No. 6 Michigan (26-24)
Oct. 21, 1995 – W vs. No. 5 USC (38-10)
Sept. 28, 1996 – L vs. No. 4 Ohio State (29-16)
Sept. 5, 1998 – W vs. No. 5 Michigan (36-20)
Sept. 4, 1999 – L at No. 7 Michigan (26-22)
Nov. 6, 1999 – L at No. 4 Tennessee (38-14)
Sept. 9, 2000 – L vs. No. 1 Nebraska (27-24, OT)
Sept. 8, 2001 – L at No. 5 Nebraska (27-10)
Oct. 19, 2002 – W at No. 18 Air Force (21-14)
Oct. 26, 2002 – W at No. 11 Florida State (34-24)
The Washington State game was the fifth overtime contest in Notre Dame history and the first since a 34-31 win over Air Force on Oct. 28, 2000. The Irish are 2-3 when they are pushed to an extra session (2-2 at home), and have won both games in which they won the overtime coin toss.
One other OT tidbit: senior free safety Glenn Earl has played a key role in each of the last two overtime wins for the Irish. Against Air Force in 2000, Earl blocked a potential game-winning field goal attempt at the end of regulation, allowing Notre Dame to go on and win on Joey Getherall’s nine-yard TD run in the extra period. Last weekend against Washington State, Earl broke up a third-down pass intended for WSU’s Scott Lunde, forcing the Cougars to try a 34-yard field goal that missed, opening the door for the Irish to win on Nicholas Setta’s 40-yard field goal.
BACK FROM THE BRINK
Notre Dame erased a 19-0 second-quarter deficit in its win over Washington State, representing the largest comeback for the Irish since Oct. 16, 1999 against another Pac-10 team, USC. In that game, Notre Dame trailed 24-3 early in the third quarter, but reeled off 22 unanswered points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, to snatch the victory away from the stunned Trojans.
YOU GOTTA BELIEVE
Notre Dame’s 29-26 overtime win over Washington State continues a trend of remarkable victories that began last season. The Irish now are 7-1 (.875) in games decided by eight points or less since Tyrone Willingham took over as the Notre Dame head coach prior to last season. The only time the Irish have not won a close ball game under Willingham’s guidance was a 14-7 setback to Boston College last year at Notre Dame Stadium.
Fourth-quarter comebacks also aren’t anything new to Notre Dame in the Willingham era. The Irish now have won five times in their last 14 games when they were tied or trailing in the fourth quarter.
FIVE O’CLOCK LIGHTNING
The 20 points scored by Notre Dame in the fourth quarter against Washington State were the most the Irish have tallied in the final period since Oct. 25, 1997, when they erupted for 21 fourth-quarter points in a 52-20 blowout of Boston College.
RETURN TO SENDER
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success last season was its ability to capitalize on an opponent’s mistakes. In fact, the Irish wound up with nine returns (punts, kickoffs, fumbles, interceptions) for touchdowns in 2002, which tied North Carolina State for second-most in the nation behind Kansas State’s 12 returns for touchdowns.
Upon closer inspection, the return game has been a source of strength for Notre Dame over the past five seasons. The Irish have logged 23 returns for touchdowns in that time, a figure that ranks eighth in the country.
THEY SHALL RETURN
- During the past 17-plus seasons (’86-’03), Notre Dame has produced 77 TDs via kickoff, punt, interception and fumble returns ?- including Vontez Duff’s 76-yard punt return vs. Maryland, Duff’s 33-yard interception return, Gerome Sapp’s 54-yard fumble return and Lionel Bolen’s four-yard fumble return vs. Purdue, Shane Walton’s 18-yard interception return and Courtney Watson’s 34-yard interception return against Stanford, Duff’s 92-yard kickoff return vs. Navy, Walton’s 45-yard interception return against Rutgers and Carlos Pierre-Antoine’s 27-yard blocked punt return at USC in ’02.
- Irish opponents in the past 17-plus seasons have combined for just 20 total returns for touchdowns.
- Among current Notre Dame players, senior cornerback Vontez Duff has four touchdown returns (2 KR, 1 PR, 1 INT), senior running back Julius Jones has two TD returns (1 KR, 1 PR) and senior inside linebacker Courtney Watson also has two touchdown runbacks (2 INT). Allen Rossum holds the school and NCAA record for most TDs on runbacks with nine (3 KR, 3 PR, 3 INT) from 1994-97.
DON’T TAKE RYAN FOR GRANTED
Junior running back Ryan Grant quietly posted another solid performance against Washington State, rolling up a game-high 98 yards on 17 carries. It was the eighth career 90-yard game for Grant, with the Irish going 7-1 in games when he reaches that landmark (only loss vs. Boston College in 2002 after he rushed 27 times for 107 yards).
MR. JONES AND ME
Senior running back Julius Jones played a critical role in Notre Dame’s win over Washington State. Despite missing all of last season, Jones wasted little time in showing some of the brilliance that made him the team’s leading rusher in 2000 and 2001. The Big Stone Gap, Va., native carried 11 times for 72 yardsin the win, including a 19-yard touchdown run with 5:03 remaining in the fourth quarter that gave the Irish their first lead of the game. It also was Jones’ first TD since a 44-yard run vs. Navy in 2001.
HOYTE STANDS TALL ON DEFENSE
Junior inside linebacker Brandon Hoyte has been masterful on defense in crucial situations. Coming into each of the last two seasons, Hoyte has been designated as Notre Dame’s top reserve linebacker. However, on four occasions, he has been pressed into a starting role and he has delivered in the clutch. In all four of those starting assignments (Maryland, Purdue and North Carolina State in ’02; Washington State in ’03), Hoyte was the leading tackler for the Irish, rolling up a season-high 10 tackles against N.C. State in the ’03 Toyota Gator Bowl, and doing himself one better with a career-best 11 stops in the overtime win over WSU last weekend.
SETTA PULLING DOUBLE DUTY
Senior Nicholas Setta is serving as the starting placekicker and punter for the Irish this season, marking the first time a Notre Dame player regularly has filled both roles since Craig Hentrich turned the trick from 1989-92. Hentrich is now an all-pro punter with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
Setta is starting his fourth year as the Irish placekicker, having twice been named to the Lou Groza Award Watch List. He also has been selected as a preseason honorable mention All-American by Street & Smith’s each of the last two seasons. This year, he has the opportunity to break several Notre Dame records, including career field goal attempts (Setta has 62, while John Carney holds the record of 69 from 1984-86), career field goal made (Setta has 42, while Carney is first with 51), and career points by kicking (Setta has 227, while Hentrich owns the top mark of 294). In addition, Setta has made 89 consecutive PAT kicks, the second-longest streak in school history behind Hentrich’s run of 136 straight PAT conversions from 1989-92. Setta’s last missed PAT kick came on Oct. 7, 2000 vs. Stanford.
Setta got his final season at Notre Dame off to a flying start against Washington State, matching his career high with five field goals (in six attempts), including the game-winning 40-yard boot in overtime. He also set a new personal best with 17 points by kicking (five field goals, two PAT), one better than his previous high of 16, set in last year’s season opener vs. Maryland (five field goals, one PAT). Those 17 points vs. WSU helped push the Lockport, Ill., product into third place on the school’s career points-by-kicking list with 227, edging past Carney (223). Next up for Setta in that category is Dave Reeve, who is second all-time with 247 points from 1974-77.
While he has a wealth of experience as a placekicker, Setta comes into this season having only served as a backup punter behind two-time Ray Guy Award semifinalist Joey Hildbold. However, while filling in for the injured Hildbold against Boston College in 2000, Setta did punt four times for 160 yards (a 40-yard average), including a career-long 47-yard boot in a 28-16 Irish victory. Setta was one of 32 candidates named to the ’03 Ray Guy Award preseason watch list and backed up that selection by booming a career-long 54-yard punt on his first try of the season vs. Washington State before finishing with a 39.7-yard average on three kicks.
SIX IRISH PLAYERS EARN PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Senior inside linebacker Courtney Watson was a preseason first-team All-America selection by Street & Smith’s and The Sporting News. Meanwhile, senior cornerback/kick returner Vontez Duff was a preseason first-team All-American according to Street & Smith’s and a second-team choice by Athlon. The latter publication also named senior nose guard Cedric Hilliard to its preseason All-America third team. Senior free safety Glenn Earl, junior running back Ryan Grant and senior kicker/punter Nicholas Setta all were awarded preseason honorable mention All-America status by Street & Smith’s.
THREE NOTRE DAME POSITION UNITS LAUDED BY NATIONAL PUBLICATIONS
Athlon named the Irish linebacking corps the fourth-best unit in the country, while The Sporting News labelled them the ninth-best group in the land. In addition, Athlon selected the Notre Dame defensive line as the fifth-best unit in the nation.
WATSON NAMED TO WALTER CAMP PLAYER OF THE YEAR PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Senior inside linebacker Courtney Watson has been named to the preseason watch list for the Walter Camp Football Foundation Player of the Year, the nation’s fourth-oldest individual accolade which is given annually by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Through a vote of the 117 Division I-A head coach and sports information directors, the list will be cut to 10 semifinalists in early November, with the winner to be announced Dec. 11 at the ESPN/Home Depot College Football Awards Show. The official award presentation is slated for Feb. 14, 2004, at the Walter Camp Football Foundation national awards banquet, which will be held in New Haven, Conn., at the Yale University Commons.
WATSON, GOOLSBY NAMED TO BUTKUS AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Senior inside linebackers Courtney Watson and Mike Goolsby have been named to the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award, which is presented each year to the nation’s top linebacker by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando. The list of 90 candidates will be pared down to 10 semifinalists on Oct. 16, with the three finalists chosen on Nov. 13. The winner will be unveiled Dec. 12 at a banquet in Orlando.
DUFF, EARL PICKED FOR THORPE AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Senior cornerback Vontez Duff and senior free safety Glenn Earl have been named to the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is awarded annually to the nation’s top defensive back by the Jim Thorpe Association, based in Oklahoma City. Ten semifinalists for the award will be announced Nov. 3, with the three finalists selected on Nov. 24. The winner will be announced Dec. 11 at the ESPN/Home Depot College Football Awards Show with the official award presentation slated for Feb. 9, 2004, in Oklahoma City.
HOLIDAY TAPPED FOR O’BRIEN AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Senior quarterback Carlyle Holiday has earned a spot on the preseason watch list for the Davey O’Brien Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top quarterback by the Fort Worth Club in Fort Worth, Texas. In November, the semifinalists will be announced and the three finalists will be selected later in the month. The winner will be announced Dec. 11 at the ESPN/Home Depot College Football Awards Show with the official award presentation slated for February 2004 in Fort Worth.
TUCK EARNS PLACE ON HENDRICKS AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Junior defensive end Justin Tuck has been selected to the preseason watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top defensive end by the Ted Hendricks Foundation in Chicago. In November, the semifinalists will be announced and the three finalists will be selected later in the month. The winner will be announced Dec. 11 at the ESPN/Home Depot College Football Awards Show with the official award presentation set for February 2004 in Chicago.
SETTA APPEARS ON RAY GUY AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Senior punter/placekicker Nicholas Setta has been named to the preseason watch list for the Ray Guy Award, which is presented each year to the nation’s top punter by the Greater Augusta (Ga.) Sports Council. Ten semifinalists will be announced in early November and the three finalists will be chosen later that month. The winner will be announced Dec. 11 at the ESPN/Home Depot College Football Awards Show and will receive his award live during the broadcast.
FOUR PLAYERS NAMED TO 2003 STREET & SMITH’S AWARD WATCH LISTS
Street & Smith’s tapped senior inside linebacker Courtney Watson for spots on its Butkus Award and Bednarik/Nagurski Award watch lists (as did Lindy’s). The former honor recognizes the country’s top linebacker, while the latter awards spotlight the nation’s best overall defensive player. In addition, Street & Smith’s placed senior cornerback Vontez Duff and senior free safety Glenn Earl on its watch list for the Thorpe Award (which goes to the top defensive back in the country), and the publication named senior kicker Nicholas Setta to its watch list for the Lou Groza Award (presented to the nation’s top kicker).
IRISH PLAYERS RANK HIGH IN LINDY’S AND THE SPORTING NEWS IN 2003
Senior Courtney Watson was tabbed the fourth-best inside linebacker in the country by Lindy’s and The Sporting News, while senior Vontez Duff was rated the seventh-best cornerback and ninth-best all-purpose player by Lindy’s, and the nation’s 10th best as both a cornerback and kick returner by The Sporting News. Senior nose guard Cedric Hilliard was ranked the sixth-best defensive tackle in the nation by The Sporting News, while senior free safety Glenn Earl placed 14th among free safeties by The Sporting News and 19th by Lindy’s. Senior Mike Goolsby was rated 12th among the nation’s inside linebackers by Lindy’s, while junior Ryan Grant was 18th among running backs and senior Darrell Campbell was charted 19th among defensive linemen by the same publication.
IRISH Head Coach Tyrone Willingham
A veteran with 26 seasons of coaching experience at the collegiate and professional levels, Tyrone Willingham is now in his second season as head football coach at the University of Notre Dame after previously serving as the leader at Stanford University. In eight years as a college head coach, Willingham has compiled a solid 55-39-1 (.584) overall record, including an 11-3 (.786) mark with the Irish, and has guided his charges to bowl games on five occasions.
Willingham used his years of service in the coaching business to reverse the tides of the Irish program in ’02, leading Notre Dame to a 10-2 regular-season record and a trip to the 2003 Toyota Gator Bowl. He became the first Irish head coach ever to win 10 games in his first season, and he was named the ESPN/Home Depot College Coach of the Year, the Scripps College Coach of the Year, the Black Coaches Association Male Coach of the Year and the George Munger Award College Coach of the Year by the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia. In addition, he made history in 2002 as the first college football coach ever to earn The Sporting News Sportsman of the Year award.
Willingham was introduced as the new Irish mentor on Jan. 1, 2002, following seven seasons as the head coach at Stanford. He compiled a 44-36-1 (.549) record during his tenure at Stanford, guiding the Cardinal to four bowl games, including the Rose Bowl following the 1999 season. Willingham was a two-time Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year (1995 and 1999), the only Stanford coach to earn that award more than once, and he was a finalist for national coach-of-the-year honors in ’95 and ’99. All told, Willingham spent 10 years at Stanford, initially serving as running backs coach from 1989-91.
Between his stints with the Cardinal, Willingham coached in the professional ranks for three seasons (1992-94) with the Minnesota Vikings, helping his team win a pair of NFC Central Division championships and reach the playoffs all three years. Willingham began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Michigan State, in 1977, before moving to Central Michigan as the defensive secondary coach for two years (1978-79). He returned to MSU from 1980-82, working with the secondary and special teams units, and also served on the coaching staffs at North Carolina State (1983-85) and Rice (1986-88).
SCOUTING THE IRISH OFFENSE
Line — The offensive line has been largely retooled for the Irish this season. Four of the five starters from last year were selected in the NFL Draft, taking with them more than 80 combined starts and nine combined seasons of starting experience. Senior right guard Sean Milligan is the lone holdover on the offensive line and he is being called upon to anchor the rebuilt 2003 crew. Milligan is a three-year monogram winner who played in all 13 games last season, playing a total of 266:27. He has made 18 career starts (including the season opener vs. Washington State), a total that more than doubles the total number of starts (eight) by the rest of the offensive line.
Junior Mark LeVoir earned the starting nod (the first of his career) at left guard in the Washington State game after spending the past two seasons as a backup at both tackle positions. One of the largest linemen on the Irish roster this year (6-7, 320), LeVoir played in four games last season for a total of 10:09. Juniors Jeff Thompson and Darin Mitchell will serve as the primary understudies at the guard spot for Notre Dame.
While Milligan is the only regular starter back this season, both of this year’s tackles saw significant playing time last year. Senior left tackle Jim Molinaro appeared in all 13 games last year (124:37) and started the final three games of the season, two at left tackle and one at right tackle. On the other side of the line, junior right tackle Dan Stevenson was thrust in the starting lineup for last year’s Gator Bowl and played extremely well, cementing his position at that position in 2003. Stevenson played a total of 82:23 in 11 games last season, seeing time as both a reserve guard and tackle. Both Molinaro and Stevenson started vs. Washington State and were instrumental in Notre Dame’s 167-yard rushing performance. A pair of sophomores, Brian Mattes and Jamie Ryan, are penciled in to be the backup tackles this year.
The battle to replace All-America center Jeff Faine was a tight one throughout preseason camp, with sophomore Bob Morton and junior Zachary Giles both competing for the starting spot. Morton earned the starting job for the Washington State game, although Giles saw plenty of action in that contest as well. In fact, the two ended up playing alongside one another (Giles at center, Morton at right guard) late in the contest as the Irish were mounting their comeback win over the Cougars.
Backs — Senior Carlyle Holiday (21-34-149, 1 TD, 1 INT) has been the starting quarterback for Notre Dame since the third week of the 2001 season and he shows no signs of turning over the reins in the near future. Last year was Holiday’s first in the new West Coast offense employed by head coach Tyrone Willingham and offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick, and the veteran signal-caller thrived, setting a school record with 126 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. A 2003 Davey O’Brien Award candidate, Holiday has the third-lowest interception percentage in school history (.0299), having thrown just 13 picks in 435 career pass attempts. He opened this season by connecting on a career-high 21-of-34 passes for 149 yards with one TD and one interception in the win over Washington State.
Freshman Brady Quinn currently is designated as Holiday’s backup. Quinn made his college debut against Washington State, coming in midway through the fourth quarter when Holiday was shaken up and directing the Irish on a six-play, 80-yard scoring drive that put Notre Dame ahead for the first time. Meanwhile, junior Pat Dillingham gives the Irish an experienced option at quarterback behind Holiday. Dillingham appeared in seven games last season, completing 41-of-81 passes for 434 yards and one touchdown. He carved a place in Irish history last season at Michigan State, throwing the game-winning 60-yard TD pass to Arnaz Battle with 1:15 to play. Dillingham also made his first career start vs. Stanford, throwing for 129 yards in a 31-7 victory.
Junior Ryan Grant (17-98) leads a veteran group of Irish running backs who were the main beneficiaries of Notre Dame’s new offensive style last year. Fresh off a 1,000-yard season in 2002, Grant picked up right where he left off, rushing 17 times for 98 yards against Washington State. In his career, he now has posted four 100-yard games and four other 90-yard efforts. Senior Julius Jones (11-72, 1 TD) and junior Marcus Wilson (1-0) also will see plenty of action out of the backfield this season. After sitting out last season, Jones made a triumphant return to the Irish lineup against Washington State, carrying 11 times for 72 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown run with 5:03 to play that put Notre Dame ahead for the first time.
Junior Rashon Powers-Neal (1-2) steps into the starting lineup at fullback after serving as Grant’s primary understudy at tailback last season. A bruising back who deftly complements the fluid styles of Grant, Jones and Wilson, Powers-Neal carried 77 times for 344 yards and two touchdowns last season. Junior walk-on Josh Schmidt was the surprise of this year’s preseason camp, working his way into a position for playing time, along with sophomore Nate Schiccatano, who opened some eyes with 24 yards rushing and a touchdown in the ’03 Blue-Gold Game. Schmidt registered the first catch of his career vs. Washington State, a seven-yard reception in the second quarter.
Receivers — Despite the loss of last year’s leading receiver Arnaz Battle, the Irish receiving corps should be well-stocked in 2003. Junior Omar Jenkins (5-46) takes over as the leader of the unit after pulling in 37 balls for 633 yards and three touchdowns last season. He wasted little time in showing the way for the Irish pass-catchers, tying his career high with five catches for 46 yards vs. WSU. Rangy sophomore Maurice Stovall (3-24) holds the other starting wideout position and began his second season with a career-high tying three receptions for 24 yards. Sophomore Rhema McKnight (5-33, 1 TD), senior Ronnie Rodamer and junior Matt Shelton all can stretch defenses vertically and will see significant time in Notre Dame’s balanced offensive scheme. McKnight showed his potential against Washington State, catching a career-high five passes for 33 yards and his first career touchdown. Freshman receivers Chinedum Ndukwe and Jeff Samardzija (1-5) also could be heard from this season, with the latter recording his first career catch (a five-yard grab) against Washington State.
Senior Billy Palmer is the starting tight end for the Irish after appearing in all 13 games last year and making his first career start in a two-tight end formation at USC. Palmer got his first starting assignment at home in this year’s season opener vs. Washington State. Senior Jared Clark (4-28), a converted quarterback, has adjusted well to his new position and tied his personal best with four receptions for 28 yards against Washington State. Sophomores Anthony Fasano and Marcus Freeman also will contend for playing time this season < fasano=”” sparkled=”” in=”” the=”” ’03=”” blue-gold=”” game,=”” catching=”” three=”” passes=”” for=”” 63=”” yards.=””>
SCOUTING THE IRISH DEFENSE
Line — One of the strengths of this year’s Irish squad will be its defensive line, where three starters are back in the fold. Senior defensive tackle Darrell Campbell (four tackles) and senior nose guard Cedric Hilliard (four tackles, 0.5 for loss, one fumble recovery) both weigh better than 290 pounds and provide a formidable obstacle for opponents in the middle of the line. Although he did not start vs. Washington State, Hilliard was a factor, finishing with four tackles and his first career fumble recovery. Senior Greg Pauly (two tackles, 0.5 for loss) made his fourth career start vs. WSU in place of Hilliard and logged two tackles (0.5 for loss). Junior Brian Beidatsch is the primary backup at the interior line spots after playing in all 13 games last season. Senior right end Kyle Budinscak (four tackles, two for loss, two sacks) is the other veteran returning on the Irish defensive line, is in his second season as a starter (15 career starts). A two-time Academic All-District selection, Budinscak chalked up four tackles, including a career-high two sacks in the win over Washington State. Junior end Justin Tuck (four tackles, one for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, one pass breakup), a pass-rushing specialist with exceptional quickness, moves into the starting lineup this season in place of the departed Ryan Roberts. In just his second career start vs. Washington State, Tuck registered four tackles, including a sack, and forced the WSU fumble that Hilliard recovered. Highly-touted freshman Victor Abiamiri and sophomore Travis Leitko (one tackle) both saw their first collegiate action in the Washington State game and serve as the top understudies at the defensive end positions.
Linebackers — All three starting linebackers return for the Irish this season, led by senior inside linebackers and Butkus Award candidates Courtney Watson and Mike Goolsby. Watson, a 2002 Butkus Award finalist, led the team with 90 tackles last year despite missing three games due to injury. He sat out the Washington State game, but is expected to be back in uniform for the Michigan game. Goolsby was third on the squad with 75 tackles last season, but currently is sidelined with a shoulder injury. Junior Brandon Hoyte (11 tackles, 1.5 for loss, two pass breakups) stepped in for Goolsby vs. WSU and posted a career-high 11 tackles, leading the Irish in tackles in each of the four contests he has started in his career. Senior Derek Curry (seven tackles, one INT) mans the outside linebacker post and had a career day against Washington State, logging a personal-best seven tackles and his first career interception. Junior Corey Mays (two tackles, 0.5 for loss), who started in place of Watson vs. Washington State and had a career-high two tackles (0.5 for loss), and senior Jerome Collins (one tackle) are the main linebacker reserves.
Backs — Even with the loss of unanimous All-America cornerback Shane Walton and strong safety Gerome Sapp to the NFL, the Irish secondary should be particularly sturdy in 2003. Senior cornerback Vontez Duff (four tackles, one forced fumble) was a third-team All-American last year and started every game for the Irish, while hard-hitting senior free safety Glenn Earl (three tackles, one fumble recovery, one pass breakup) tied for second on the team with 81 tackles last year. Both Duff and Earl are preseason candidates for the Jim Thorpe Award and both were key parts of the win over Washington State < duff=”” forced=”” a=”” critical=”” fourth-quarter=”” fumble=”” and=”” earl=”” recovered=”” the=”” loose=”” pigskin=”” to=”” help=”” ignite=”” a=”” 20-point=”” irish=”” rally.=”” senior=””>Garron Bible (seven tackles) is filling Sapp’s role at strong safety admirably, tying his career high with seven tackles against Washington State in just his third career start. Meanwhile, the competition to replace Walton at the other cornerback position has been tight between seniors Jason Beckstrom (two tackles) and Preston Jackson (six tackles, one for loss), as well as junior Dwight Ellick (one tackle, one QB hurry). Beckstrom missed all of last season with a torn biceps, while Jackson appeared in every game last year (starting once). At the same time, Ellick is a former all-BIG EAST track standout who has played in 24 career games, mostly on special teams. Jackson got the starting call against Washington State and had six tackles (one for loss), but all three men saw extensive time in the win over the Cougars. Juniors Quentin Burrell (two tackles) and Lionel Bolen (one tackle) head up the reserve secondary unit and cornerback and safety, respectively.
SCOUTING THE IRISH KICKING GAME
Senior Nicholas Setta takes on the dual role of placekicker and punter in 2003, becoming the first person to hold down both positions for the Irish since Craig Hentrich from 1989-92. A two-time Lou Groza Award candidate, Setta is now in his fourth season as Notre Dame’s kicker this year, setting his sights on several school records. He has made 42 career field goals (nine shy of John Carney’s mark) and is third on the Irish career points-by-kicking chart (227, record is 294 by Hentrich). In addition, Setta has made 89 consecutive PAT kicks, the second-longest streak in school history (136 by Hentrich from 1989-92). Setta got his final season off to a terrific start against Washington State, tying his career best with five field goals on six attempts, including the game-winning 40-yarder in overtime. He also established a new personal best with 17 points by kicking, one more than his previous high set in the ’02 opener vs. Maryland, and moved past Carney into third place on the Irish career points-by-kicking list.
This season marks Setta’s first as the everyday punter following the departure of two-time Ray Guy Award semifinalist Joey Hildbold. Setta, a 2003 Ray Guy Award candidate, easily slipped into his second job against Washington State, booming a career-long 54-yard punt on his first kick of the season.
Junior walk-on offensive lineman Casey Dunn and sophomore Scott Raridon are splitting time as the Irish snappers, taking over for the departed John Crowther. Meanwhile, junior reserve kicker D.J. Fitzpatrick has assumed Hildbold’s role as the holder on placement kicks, while also backing up Setta at both kicking positions.
Seniors Vontez Duff and Julius Jones make up a formidable kick return crew for Notre Dame. Duff ranked eighth in the nation in kickoff return yardage last year (27.68) and became the first player in school history to return a punt, kickoff and interception for a touchdown last season. Jones ranks second in school history in three career return categories < kick=”” return=”” yardage=”” (1,893),=”” total=”” kick=”” returns=”” (99),=”” kickoff=”” returns=”” (62)=”” and=”” kickoff=”” returns=”” yardage=”” (1,471)=”” and=”” is=”” closing=”” in=”” on=”” 1987=”” heisman=”” trophy=”” winner=”” (and=”” school=”” record=”” holder)=””>Tim Brown in all four departments.
THE 2003 SCHEDULE
Once again, Notre Dame faces one of the nation’s toughest schedules, as the Irish play four teams that currently are ranked in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls (No. 4/4 USC, No. 5/7 Michigan, No. 10/10 Florida State and No. 11/12 Pittsburgh). In addition, five other Notre Dame opponents < boston=”” college,=”” byu,=”” michigan=”” state,=”” purdue=”” and=”” washington=”” state=””>< are=”” receiving=”” votes=”” in=”” one=”” or=”” both=”” polls.=”” seven=”” of=”” the=”” 12=”” foes=”” on=”” this=”” year’s=”” notre=”” dame’s=”” schedule=”” went=”” to=”” bowl=”” games=”” last=”” season,=”” highlighted=”” by=”” three=”” bowl=”” championship=”” series=”” qualifiers=”” (washington=”” state=”” -=”” rose=”” bowl,=”” usc=”” -=”” orange=”” bowl,=”” florida=”” state=”” -=”” sugar=”” bowl).=”” all=”” of=”” this=”” comes=”” on=”” the=”” heels=”” of=”” the=”” 2002=”” irish=”” schedule,=”” which=”” was=”” ranked=”” 28th=”” in=”” the=”” nation.=””>
According to the latest NCAA rankings (as of Sept. 7), Notre Dame has the seventh-toughest schedule in the nation. Here’s a look at the teams with the 10 toughest schedules in the land to date (rankings take into account the cumulative performance of all opponents during the 2003 season):
Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 151 of its previous 174 games, including their last 14 games in a row. In addition, the Irish attracted stadium record crowds three times in 2002 < the=”” air=”” force=”” contest=”” brought=”” in=”” a=”” falcon=”” stadium-record=”” crowd=”” of=”” 56,409=”” (nearly=”” 4,000=”” more=”” than=”” its=”” listed=”” capacity),=”” while=”” the=”” florida=”” state=”” game=”” resulted=”” in=”” a=”” doak=”” campbell=”” stadium-record=”” gathering=”” of=”” 84,106=”” (more=”” than=”” 2,000=”” above=”” its=”” listed=”” capacity).=”” then,=”” with=”” the=”” addition=”” of=”” 140=”” field=”” seats=”” against=”” boston=”” college,=”” the=”” irish=”” and=”” eagles=”” set=”” a=”” notre=”” dame=”” stadium=”” attendance=”” record=”” of=”” 80,935.=”” all=”” told,=”” notre=”” dame=”” has=”” helped=”” set=”” a=”” new=”” stadium=”” attendance=”” record=”” at=”” an=”” opponents’=”” facility=”” five=”” times=”” in=”” the=”” last=”” three=”” seasons=”” (also=”” nebraska=”” and=”” texas=”” a&m=”” in=”” ’01).=””>
Demand for tickets to two of Notre Dame’s six home games in 2003 ranks among the top five in the history of Notre Dame Stadium. The Notre Dame ticket office received 54,244 ticket requests for the Oct. 18 game vs. USC, making it the fourth-highest requested Irish home game in history. In addition, the Nov. 1 Notre Dame-Florida State game garnered 51,051 requests, placing it fifth on the all-time list. In fact, Notre Dame set a record by refunding $5.1 million to lottery losers in the University’s ticket distribution for contributing alumni. That total easily exceeded last year’s mark of $2.1 million and outdistanced the old refund record of $3.8 million in 2001.
The Notre Dame Stadium record of 59,368 ticket requests was set in ’01 when the Irish took on West Virginia. Demand for that game was based on parents of current Notre Dame students being guaranteed four tickets for that contest < plus=”” contributing=”” alumni=”” having=”” the=”” opportunity=”” to=”” apply=”” for=”” four=”” tickets=”” instead=”” of=”” the=”” usual=”” two,=”” based=”” on=”” its=”” designation=”” as=”” an=”” alumni=”” family=”” game.=””>
The Irish have posted 168 consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium and the 216 in their last 217 home games.
JOE THEISMANN NAMED TO 2003 COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS
Former Notre Dame All-America quarterback Joe Theismann is one of 11 former college players and two coaches named March 24 to the National Football Foundation’s 2003 College Football Hall of Fame Division I-A class by Jon F. Hanson, chairman of the National Football Foundation.
The 2003 College Football Hall of Fame class will be inducted at the 46th Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 9, 2003, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The players and coaches will be officially enshrined at the Hall of Fame in South Bend in August 2004. He also will be honored on campus on Oct. 18, 2003, in conjunction with the Notre Dame-USC game.
Theismann launched an attack on the Irish passing record books, setting 19 school marks while leading the team to its first bowl appearance in 45 years in 1969 and a 10-1 record capped by a Cotton Bowl victory in 1970 over top-rated and unbeaten Texas.
A first-team All-America selection as a senior by Associated Press, Theismann was the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1970. A participant in the 1970 Hula Bowl, Theismann set school records for passing yards in a game (526), yards in a season (2,429) and touchdowns in a season (16) among others. He ranked second in the nation in total offense as a senior at 291.3 yards per game < and=”” that=”” year=”” he=”” helped=”” the=”” irish=”” as=”” a=”” team=”” average=”” 510.5=”” total=”” yards=”” per=”” game=”” and=”” 252.7=”” passing=”” yards=”” per=”” game,=”” two=”” marks=”” that=”” remain=”” all-time=”” notre=”” dame=”” bests.=””>
In three seasons, Theismann led the Fighting Irish to a 20-3-2 record while completing 290 passes on 509 attempts for 4,411 yards, a mark that still ranks fifth in school history. Honored for his classroom prowess, he earned Academic All-America? honors in 1970 and was later named to the GTE Academic All-America? Hall of Fame.
Following graduation, Theismann embarked on a 15-year professional career, his final 12 years in the NFL as a member of the Washington Redskins. Upon retirement, he became a highly successful businessman as well as a prominent television sports analyst for ESPN. Theismann continues to support such charitable interests as the United Way, March of Dimes, American Heart Association, Cystic Fibrosis, Special Olympics, Boy Scouts of America and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Originally from South River, N.J., Theismann becomes the 40th Notre Dame player to be chosen for the Hall of Fame since inductions began in 1951. Five former Irish coaches also have been selected. No other school has produced more than those 45 enshrinees, the most recent being Ralph Guglielmi in 2001. Theismann also becomes the eighth Notre Dame quarterback selected to the Hall of Fame, joining Frank Carideo in 1954, Harry Stuhldreher in 1958, John Lujack in 1960, Angelo Bertelli in 1972, Paul Hornung in 1985, Bob Williams in 1988 and Guglielmi in 2001.
Paul Hornung TO BE SUBJECT OF CELEBRITY ROAST
Former Notre Dame and NFL star Paul Hornung will be the focus of the annual Life Treatment Centers celebrity roast on Sept. 18 at the Joyce Center. Numerous members of the Notre Dame and NFL communities will offer a night of humor and entertainment at the expense of the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner, who was nicknamed “The Golden Boy.” The festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. (EST) with a reception, followed by dinner and the roast at 6:30 p.m. (EST). All proceeds from this event will benefit Life Treatment Centers, a non-profit substance abuse treatment agency which treats hundreds of persons in the Michiana area who suffer from alcohol and drug addiction problems.
For more information on “Roastin’ The Golden Boy,” call (574) 233-5433 (extension 215), or visit the Life Treatment Centers web site at www.lifetreatmentcenters.org.
IRISH FOOTBALL NAMED ONE OF NATION’S TOP 10 MOST POWERFUL PROGRAMS
As part of its 2003 college football preview, SI.com developed its list of the top 10 most powerful programs in the nation and Notre Dame was listed second behind only Miami (Fla.). According to the website, “college football’s most recognizable program saw a return to glory under Lou Holtz, which included landing its own TV deal with NBC, and after a few down years appears to be headed in the right direction under Tyrone Willingham.”
MAKING THE GRADE
The Notre Dame football squad recently has had four of the most successful semesters in the classroom in the history of the program, based on final grades from the past four semesters (2001-03). In the fall of 2001, the Irish team finished (at the time) with its second-highest combined grade-point average on record (2.685) since statistics were kept beginning in 1992. A total of 12 players earned Dean’s List recognition and 38 players posted a “B” average or higher last fall. Then, in the spring of 2002, the Irish topped that mark with a record-setting 2.911 combined team GPA, with 13 players making the Dean’s List and another 47 averaging a “B” or better. In the fall of ’02, the Irish logged a 2.835 team GPA, followed by a 2.79 average in the spring of ’03. Eight players made the Dean’s List in both of the last two semesters, while 43 players had a “B” or better during the fall of 2002, and 50 more reached that mark in the spring of 2003.
NOTRE DAME EXCELS IN THE CLASSROOM AS WELL AS ON THE FIELD
The Notre Dame football team has earned American Football Coaches Association Academic Achievement Award special mention honors announced in August. To earn the award, a team must have a graduation rate of over 70 percent. Duke won the 2003 overall award with a perfect 100 percent graduation rate.
Notre Dame has been recognized 22 of 23 years the award has been presented, the most of any school in the nation. Notre Dame has won the overall award six times with the most recent coming in 2001 as the Irish posted a perfect 100 percent graduation rate, becoming (at the time) the eighth school in history to graduate everyone in the class during the reporting period. Notre Dame also won the overall award in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1988 and 1991. In 1988, Notre Dame became the only school to win the Academic Achievement Award and the National Championship in the same year.
FORMER IRISH GREAT DAVE DUERSON HEADS UP NATIONAL MONOGRAM CLUB
Former Notre Dame football All-American Dave Duerson is still extremely involved with the University in a number of capacities. A former team captain, Duerson was named to the Notre Dame Board of Trustees in 2001, and was the winner of the 2001 Rev. Edward F. Sorin, C.S.C., Award from the Notre Dame Alumni Association. The Sorin Award is presented annually to a graduate who has embodied “the values of Our Lady’s University” in his service to the community. In 2002, Duerson founded his own company, Duerson Foods, after serving as president of Fair Oaks Farms, Inc., a Wisconsin-based international meat supplier that in 1999 was ranked 64th among Black Enterprise 100 companies. In addition, Duerson was a member of the advisory council for the University’s Mendoza College of Business and currently is president of the Notre Dame National Monogram Club, a post he will hold through June 2005. He also is a member of the athletic department’s student development mentoring program.
“THE SHIRT” NOW ON SALE FOR 2003 SEASON
For the 14th consecutive year, Notre Dame Student Activities and Government are sponsoring a T-shirt that benefits scholarship funds, student groups and service projects. Already, the initial run of 50,000 shirts has sold out, easily topping last year’s early sellout of 44,000. In 2002, a record-setting total of 130,000 shirts were sold, with that initial run of 44,000 selling out within six weeks of its debut (at the time, it was one of the earliest sellouts in the history of the project). As a result, Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham began labelling the Shirt-clad crowd as the “sea of green.”
Over the past 13 years, the venture has more than $2 million in net profit for worthy causes and serves the dual purpose of promoting spirit and raising funds. Some of the proceeds supported students and employees who have incurred catastrophic accidents, while others benefitted endowment funds and additional monies were given to support service projects for student organizations on campus.
In a rare break from tradition, “The Shirt 2003” once again is green and features this year’s motto, “Here Come The Irish.” The short-sleeve shirt is traditionally worn by Notre Dame students and fans at the first home game of each football season. The cost of this year’s shirt is $15 and it is available on campus to the University community and the general public at the Hammes Bookstore, Irish Express, the information desk at the LaFortune Student Center, the Varsity Shop at the Joyce Center and the Alumni Association at the Eck Center. Orders also may be placed by telephone (1-800-647-4641) or on-line through the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.und.com).
TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR 2003 FOOTBALL KICKOFF LUNCHEONS
Tickets are now on sale for the 2003 Notre Dame Kickoff Luncheons held the Friday prior to each Irish home football game. The luncheons feature Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham, Irish players and assistant coaches, plus special guests and other attractions.
Tickets are $18 each, with a handling fee of $3 (payment may be made with one check for more than one luncheon). There are 10 seats per table < and=”” if=”” you=”” wish=”” to=”” sit=”” as=”” a=”” group=”” at=”” the=”” same=”” table=”” with=”” other=”” guests,=”” please=”” return=”” all=”” reservations=”” in=”” one=”” envelope.=””>
Checks should be made payable to “University of Notre Dame” and mailed to: Athletics Business Office, 112 Joyce Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Telephone and credit card reservations are not accepted. A printed reservation form also is available on Notre Dame’s athletics web site at www.und.com.
The luncheons are held in the Joyce Center fieldhouse (north dome) on the Notre Dame campus, with a noon (EST) start. Be aware that advance reservations are required for tickets, and tickets are not routinely available at the door.
Remaining luncheon dates are Sept. 19 (Michigan State), Oct. 17 (USC), Oct. 31 (Florida State), Nov.7 (Navy) and Nov. 14 (BYU).
All 2003 pep rallies will be held in the Joyce Center Arena (south dome) on Fridays before Saturday home games, beginning at 6 p.m. (EST). The Irish squad enters the arena at 6:30 p.m.
“NOTRE DAME EXPERIENCE” RETURNS FOR 2003 SEASON
For years, the Joyce Center Fieldhouse has been the “pregame meeting place” for several thousand Notre Dame alumni. In an effort to add to this tradition, the Notre Dame Athletics Department is providing an interactive fan experience for each of the 2003 home football games. For the second consecutive season, the “Notre Dame Experience” will combine the Notre Dame Alumni Association Hospitality Center with interactive inflatables, photo booths, autograph sessions, Notre Dame football trivia and stage activities. Gates open three hours prior to kickoff and will stay open until one hour after the game. Admission is free for all “Notre Dame Experience” events.
ORDER THE 2003 NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL YEARBOOK TODAY
This season marks the 10th edition of the Notre Dame Football Yearbook < an=”” official=”” publication=”” by=”” the=”” university=”” of=”” notre=”” dame=”” athletic=”” department.=”” the=”” 1994,=”” ’95,=”” ’96,=”” ’97=”” and=”” ’98=”” and=”” 2000=”” editions=”” were=”” voted=”” best=”” in=”” the=”” nation=”” in=”” the=”” special=”” publications=”” competition=”” sponsored=”” by=”” the=”” college=”” sports=”” information=”” directors=”” of=”” america.=”” the=”” yearbook,=”” published=”” by=”” ave=”” maria=”” press,=”” numbers=”” nearly=”” 100=”” pages,=”” including=”” game=”” action=”” shots=”” of=”” returning=”” irish=”” players=”” and=”” coaches,=”” position-by-position=”” breakdowns=”” and=”” a=”” feature=”” on=”” head=”” coach=””>Tyrone Willingham. It’s a collectors item perfect for autographs < with=”” an=”” emphasis=”” on=”” outstanding=”” color=”” photography=”” unavailable=”” in=”” any=”” other=”” publication.=”” the=”” yearbook=”” is=”” priced=”” at=”” $8=”” (plus=”” $4=”” for=”” postage=”” and=”” handling)=”” and=”” can=”” be=”” ordered=”” by=”” calling=”” 1-800-647-4641.=””>
PAIR OF BOOKS FEATURING NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL NOW ON SALE
The rich history of Irish football will be the focus of two books that recently went on sale to the general public. The first is entitled “Return To Glory” and it was written by Alan Grant, a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and a former defensive back at Stanford who played for current Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham. Grant received unique behind-the-scenes access to the Irish throughout last season and his book details Notre Dame’s remarkable 10-3 campaign in 2002, including its eight-game winning streak to begin Willingham’s tenure. “Return To Glory” is now available nationwide, including the Hammes Bookstore on the Notre Dame campus.
Also new in bookstores this month is a coffee table book by The Sporting News called “Fighting Irish,” a 224-page work that spotlights the unparalleled history and pageantry of the Notre Dame football program through a variety of photographs and essays. A special section is devoted to the ’02 season and the foreword to the book was written by former Irish quarterback and 2003 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Joe Theismann. In addition to appearing in bookstores across the country. it also is available at the Hammes Bookstore, as well as online through The Sporting News web site (www.tsn.com).