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No. 9 Football Faces Stanford At Home

Sept. 30, 2002

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(#9 AP/#9 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0)
vs. Stanford Cardinal (1-2)

The Date and Time: Saturday, Oct. 5, 2002, at 1:30 p.m. EST.
The Site: Notre Dame Stadium (80,795/Natural Grass) in Notre Dame, Ind.
The Tickets: They’re all sold – with this marking the 164th consecutive sellout in Notre Dame Stadium (the first 130 coming at the old 59,075 capacity). The Stanford game marks the 212th home sellout in the last 213 games (dating back to 1964) and the 142nd sellout in the last 165 games involving Notre Dame.
The TV Plans: NBC Sports national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Pat Haden (analysis), Lewis Johnson (sideline), Ed Feibischoff (producer) and John Gonzalez (director).
The Radio Plans: For the 35th consecutive season, all Notre Dame football games are broadcast on nearly 200 stations nationwide by Westwood One with Tony Roberts (play-by-play), former Irish running back Allen Pinkett (analysis) and Paul Hornung (pregame/halftime analysis). A live broadcast from the Notre Dame student station, WVFI, also is available through the Notre Dame athletic department web site at All Notre Dame football games are heard on WNDV-AM (1490) and WNDV-FM (92.9) in South Bend with pre- and post-game analysis featuring Sean Stires, Taylor Richards, Jack Nolan and Larry Williams. All Irish games also are carried live in the Chicago market on ESPN Radio 1000.
Real-Time Stats: Live in-game statistics are available for the Stanford game, via the Notre Dame ( and Stanford ( athletics websites.
Websites: Notre Dame (, Stanford (

A veteran with 25 seasons of coaching experience at the collegiate and professional levels, Tyrone Willingham is in his first season as head football coach at the University of Notre Dame, owning a 4-0 record with the Irish and a 48-36-1 (.571) mark overall. Willingham already has guided Notre Dame to wins over two ranked opponents (No. 7 Michigan and No. 21 Maryland) in his first four games, and he is the only the fourth Irish coach to start his debut season with four consecutive victories (first since Ara Parseghian in 1964). Willingham also is the first Notre Dame mentor to win his first two games against ranked opponents (Frank Leahy had a win and a tie against his first two ranked foes in 1941).

Willingham was introduced as the new Irish head coach on Jan. 1, 2002, following seven seasons as the head coach at Stanford University. 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. Most recently in 2001, he piloted the Cardinal to a 9-3 record, a berth in the Seattle Bowl, and final regular-season rankings of ninth in the Bowl Championship Series poll and 11th in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls. 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 two 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 at North Carolina State (1983-85) and Rice (1986-88).

The Injury Update (as of Sept. 29)
Senior CB Jason Beckstrom Arm injury, out indefinitely
Junior QB Carlyle Holiday Shoulder injury vs. MSU, week-to-week
Sophomore DT Jeff Thompson Ankle injury, out indefinitely


  • The Oct. 5 game marks the 17th meeting between the Irish and Cardinal. Notre Dame leads the series 10-6, with the Irish owning a 6-2 advantage at Notre Dame Stadium.
  • Including this year’s contest, the series has featured at least one ranked team in 13 of the last 14 games between the Irish and Cardinal. Notre Dame currently is ranked ninth in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.
  • After a five-game stretch from 1989-93 in which the visiting team won every game, the home team has won each of the last six games.


  • Notre Dame will improve to 68-34-6 (.657) against the Pacific-10 Conference, including a 15-7-1 (.673) mark in their last 23 games dating back to a 1992 win over USC.
  • The Irish will pick up their fifth win over a Pac-10 opponent in the last seven regular-season games.
  • Notre Dame will win for the 17th time in its last 18 October games, and will move its record in the month of October to 49-8 (.860) since the 1988 season.
  • Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham will be just the fourth mentor since 1913 to win his first five games at Notre Dame, joining Jesse Harper (1913-14 – nine), Frank Leahy (1941 – five) and Ara Parseghian (1964 – nine).
  • Notre Dame will open its season at 5-0 for the first time since 1993, when the Irish won their first 10 games and ascended to No. 1 in the polls.
  • The Irish will extend their current winning streak to six games, their longest since a seven-game run at the end of the 2000 season (Oct. 7-Nov. 25).
  • The home team will record its seventh consecutive victory in the series.
  • Notre Dame will earn its 26th home victory in its last 31 games at Notre Dame Stadium (dating back to 1997).
  • The Irish will collect their 11th consecutive win and 20th victory in the last 22 games following a regularly-scheduled bye week.


  • The Cardinal will notch back-to-back wins over the Irish for the first time ever.
  • Stanford will log its first victory at Notre Dame Stadium since a 33-16 win on Oct. 3, 1992. The Cardinal also would be the first road team to win in the series since the Irish claimed a 48-20 victory at Stanford on Oct. 2, 1993.
  • The Cardinal will snap Notre Dame’s 13-game home winning streak in the month of October, becoming the first visiting team to win in October since USC claimed a 20-17 win on Oct. 18, 1997.


  • Notre Dame leads the all-time series versus Stanford (10-6), including a 6-2 mark at Notre Dame Stadium.
  • Notre Dame and Stanford met for the first time in the 1925 Rose Bowl, with the famed Four Horsemen backfield leading Notre Dame to a 27-10 win and the national championship that season.
  • The series then included one game in the 1940s and two in the ’60s. This year’s game will represent the 13th meeting between the schools in the last 15 years (no games in ’95 or ’96), with the series scheduled to continue through 2014.
  • Counting this year’s contest, at least one of the teams will have been ranked in the Associated Press poll in 13 of the last 14 games in the series, with the 1992 matchup representing the last time where both teams were ranked (No. 19 Stanford won 33-16 at seventh-ranked Notre Dame). The Irish had been ranked by the AP in eight straight games of the series before entering the 1997 game unranked.
  • Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 by the AP in nine of the last 14 series meetings.
  • The winner of the Notre Dame-Stanford series receives The Legends Trophy, a combination of Irish crystal and California redwood. The trophy was presented for the first time in 1989 by the Notre Dame Club of the San Francisco Bay Area.


  • Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham is in his first season with the Irish after spending the previous seven years at Stanford, guiding the Cardinal to four bowl berths. Additional Willingham bio information may be found on page 1 of these notes, as well as pages 94-97 of the Irish media guide.
  • Six current Irish assistant coaches also have spent time at Stanford (positions/years in parentheses): Bill Diedrick (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks – 1998-2001), Kent Baer (defensive coordinator/linebackers – 1995-2001), Mike Denbrock (offensive line – 2001), John McDonell (offensive line – 2001), Trent Miles (wide receivers – 2001) and Buzz Preston (running backs – 1999-2001). All six worked with Willingham last season, as did Notre Dame director of football operations Erica Genise, who served as Willingham’s administrative associate at Stanford from 1998-2001.
  • Stanford defensive tackles coach/recruiting coordinator Dave Tipton worked with Willingham when the latter was both an assistant coach and head coach for the Cardinal. Tipton was Stanford’s outside linebackers coach from 1989-91, while Willingham was the Cardinal’s running backs coach during that same time. Tipton later served as defensive line coach on Willingham’s Stanford staff from 1995-2001.
  • Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Sanford was the Irish quarterbacks coach from 1996-98.
  • Second-year Irish men’s soccer coach Bobby Clark, the 2001 BIG EAST Coach of the Year, was the head coach at Stanford for five seasons (1996-2000) before taking over the Notre Dame program in 2001. At Stanford, Clark took the Cardinal to the NCAA championship game in 1998, while making four NCAA appearances. In his first season at Notre Dame, Clark guided the Irish to their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1996, and this year, he has piloted Notre Dame to a No. 10 ranking in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll.
  • Sophomore QB Pat Dillingham’s father, Michael, is the executive director of Stanford Health Services’ Sports Medicine program.
  • Veteran Stanford play-by-play broadcaster Ted Robinson is a 1978 graduate of Notre Dame, and his daughter, Annie, currently is a sophomore at Notre Dame and assistant managing editor of The Scholastic, Notre Dame’s monthly student magazine.


  • Notre Dame’s 2002 roster includes seven California natives: freshman OL James Bonelli (Camarillo/St. Bonaventure), sophomore QB Pat Dillingham (Portola Valley/St. Francis), freshman DE Chris Frome (Saugus/Newhall Hart), freshman NG Derek Landri (Concord/De La Salle), freshman WR Rhema McKnight (La Palma/Kennedy), senior FB Mike McNair (Corona del Mar/Mater Dei) and senior CB Shane Walton (San Diego/Bishops School).
  • Irish freshman DE Chris Frome and Stanford redshirt freshman QB Kyle Matter played together at Hart High School in Newhall, Calif.
  • Notre Dame senior NG Cedric Hilliard and Stanford junior RB Justin Faust both hail from Arlington, Texas, and were teammates at Lamar HS.
  • Irish senior WR Arnaz Battle (C.E. Byrd) and Cardinal freshman OLB Jon Alston (Loyola) both hail from Shreveport, La.
  • Notre Dame sophomore CB Quentin Burrell (Southwest DeKalb) and Stanford freshman CB Calvin Armstrong (Columbia) are from Decatur, Ga.
  • Irish walkon senior QB Dan Novakov (St. Mark’s), junior WR Omar Jenkins (Jesuit), and Stanford freshman WR Chris Ryan (Highland Park) all reside in the Dallas area.
  • Notre Dame senior SS Gerome Sapp (Lamar) and freshman DE Travis Leitko (The Woodlands), along with Stanford freshman DE Michael Lovelady (Christian) and senior FS Jason White (Nimitz) all are from the Houston area.
  • Irish senior CB Shane Walton (The Bishops School) and Stanford sophomore DE Amon Gordon (Mira Mesa), sophomore WR Teyo Johnson (Mira Mesa) and freshman LB Mike Silva (Saint Augustine) all hail from San Diego, Calif.
  • Notre Dame sophomore TB Rashon Powers-Neal (Cretin-Derham Hall) and freshman TE Marcus Freeman (Cretin-Derham Hall), along with Stanford sophomore MLB Jared Newberry (De La Salle) all are products of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

On Nov. 24, 2001, Notre Dame looked like a team that would win its fifth game of the year, keeping its slim bowl hopes alive, until Stanford’s potent offense finally woke up and scored two TDs in the final 7:22 of the game for a 17-13 comeback win over the Irish.

After Stanford’s Mike Biselli converted a 29-yard field goal on the opening drive of the game, the Irish took control of the contest both offensively and defensively.

Notre Dame bounced back, taking a 7-3 lead on a Carlyle Holiday to Omar Jenkins 47-yard TD pass. It was Jenkins’ first career touchdown reception and the longest pass play of Holiday’s career. Unfortunately for the Irish, it would be the only pass Holiday completed in the game as he was 1-for-17 passing, leading Notre Dame to depend on its ground game.

The Irish ground attack, paced by Julius Jones’ 106 rushing yards in the first half, racked up a season-high, first-half tally of 178 yards. Jones help put the Irish up 10-3 after bursting through the line for a 59-yard rushing play, giving Notre Dame the ball on the Stanford seven-yard line to open the second quarter. It was the longest run from scrimmage in Jones’ career and set up a Nicholas Setta 23-yard field goal with 12:13 to go in the first half.

The Irish offense though was delivered a serious blow on the first play of the second half as Jones suffered a sprained ankle and was unable to return. Already without TB Tony Fisher and Ryan Grant due to injuries, the majority of the running fell on the shoulders of TB Terrance Howard and Holiday.

Behind the legs of Holiday and Howard and a 23-yard pass completion from FL Arnaz Battle to Holiday, Setta converted his second field goal of the game – a 38 yarder – giving the Irish a 13-3 lead.

But the Cardinal offense was not finished. Starting on its own 19-yard line, Stanford had third -and-10 when Randy Fasani found Nick Sebes for a 46-yard completion, moving the ball to the ND 35. A pass interference call the next play on CB Clifford Jefferson gave the Cardinal the ball on the Irish 20, before Fasani again converted a third-and-10 situation, this time with his feet. Casey Moore then took the ball in for the score from nine yards out, pulling Stanford within three with 7:22 to go.

After the Irish went three and out, Stanford got the ball on its own 41-yard line. Kenneth Tolon took the ball 11 and 10 yards on the next two plays. Another pass interference penalty against the Irish gave Stanford the ball at the ND 5 before Tolon scored on a one-yard run with 1:08.

Matt LoVecchio, who replaced a struggling Holiday, then threw an interception, dashing Notre Dame’s hopes and giving the Cardinal its ninth win of the season.

FL David Givens caught two TD passes and blocked a punt to help Notre Dame beat Stanford 20-14 on Oct. 7, 2000. QB Matt LoVecchio (10-18 for 100 yards, two TDs, 13 carries for 36 yards) became the 12th of the last 13 Irish QBs starting their first game to lead Notre Dame to victory. LoVecchio was 4-4 for 40 yards with three rushes for 17 yards as he guided the Irish on a 91-yard drive on their opening possession and capped it off with a 17-yard TD pass to Givens. With the Irish defense having forced the Cardinal to punt from its own 35-yard line, Givens stormed through untouched to block the punt. Two plays after taking over at the Stanford 10, LoVecchio connected with Givens once again with an eight-yard pass. The Cardinal needed just two plays on their opening possession of the second half to cut the lead to 13-7. After CB Brock Williams’ second career interception, Julius Jones rushed for three yards, took a shovel pass from LoVecchio 24 yards and then found the end zone from seven yards for a 20-7 Irish advantage. Notre Dame’s defense kept the lead intact until the Cardinal scored a late TD with 1:07 remaining. TE Jabari Holloway recovered the ensuing onsides kick, and the Irish ran out the clock for the win.


  • Notre Dame has won more than 65 percent of its games versus Pacific-10 Conference opponents, with a winning series record versus each of the Pac-10 teams that the Irish have played and an overall mark of 67-34-6 (.654) in 107 games against Pac-10 schools — including the 1998 and 2000 wins over Stanford, the ’98 and ’99 wins over Arizona State and the ’99, ’00 and ’01 wins over USC. Nearly 70 percent of those games (72) have come versus USC (42-26-5) while another 15 have come against Stanford (10-6-0).
  • Notre Dame has played a handful of games vs. California (4-0), Washington (4-0), Arizona (2-1), Oregon (1-0-1) and UCLA (2-0). Notre Dame and Arizona State met for the first time in 1998, while the Irish met Oregon State for the first time in the 2001 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Notre Dame has never played Washington State on the gridiron, although they are scheduled to meet in next year’s season opener on Sept. 6, 2003.
  • The Irish won at Washington in ’95 (29-21) and beat the Huskies at Notre Dame Stadium in ’96 (54-20), with the only other previous games in that series coming in ’48 and ’49. The most recent games vs. other Pac-10 teams are: a 16-13 home loss to Arizona in ’82, a 41-8 home win over California in ’67, a 13-13 tie at Oregon in ’82 and a 24-0 home win over UCLA in ’64.
  • Notre Dame is 14-7-1 (.659) in its last 22 games vs. Pacific-10 schools (6-3-1 vs. USC, 4-3 vs. Stanford, 2-0 vs. Washington, 2-0 vs. Arizona State, 0-1 vs. Oregon State), starting with a ’92 victory over USC.

Notre Dame moved up one spot to ninth in the latest editions of both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls. The No. 9 ranking in the highest for the Irish in the AP poll since Nov. 22, 1998, when they were also ranked ninth following a 39-36 win over LSU at Notre Dame Stadium.

For the 36th time in the last 90 seasons (dating back to 1913), Notre Dame has opened a season with four consecutive victories. The last time that happened was 1993, when the Irish won their first 10 games before dropping a last-second 41-39 decision to Boston College. Notre Dame rebounded to defeat Texas A&M, 24-21, in the Cotton Bowl. Among the 35 previous 4-0 starts in school history, all of them resulted in a winning final record, including 15 undefeated seasons, nine national championships and seven bowl berths (6-1 record).

Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham has seen his tenure with the Irish open in strong fashion. In the season opener, Willingham guided the Irish to a 22-0 win over No. 21 Maryland in the Kickoff Classic. That shutout was the first by a rookie Notre Dame head coach in his first game since 1954, when Terry Brennan piloted the second-ranked Irish to a 21-0 win over No. 4 Texas.

Willingham followed that up with wins over Purdue, No. 7 Michigan and Michigan State, becoming the first Irish head coach to win his first four games at Notre Dame since Ara Parseghian went 9-0 to open the 1964 season. In addition, Willingham is the first coach in school history to win his first two games against ranked opponents — in his debut season of 1941, Frank Leahy posted a 0-0 tie vs. No. 14 Army and earned a 7-6 win at eighth-ranked Northwestern.

Only three full-time head coaches in school history ever have won five games in a row to open their Irish careers — Leahy, who won his first five in ’41 before the Army game, Jesse Harper, who won his first nine in a row (all seven games in 1913 and the first two in ’14), and Ara Parseghian, who also won his first nine games in 1964 before losing the season finale, 20-17 at USC.

Since 1984, Notre Dame is 19-2 (.905) in regular-season games following a regularly-scheduled bye week, including seven wins over ranked teams: 24-10 over #19 Army in 1985, 24-19 at #1 Michigan in ’89, 31-23 at #19 USC in ’92, 31-24 over #1 Florida State in ’93, 54-20 over #16 Washington in ’96, 24-6 at #11 LSU in ’97 and 34-30 over #23 Oklahoma in 1999. Notre Dame also has won its last 10 games when coming off a regular-season bye week, dating back to a 23-16 loss to #8 Florida State on Nov. 12, 1994, at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

Following its thrilling 21-17 win at Michigan State, Notre Dame was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the issue which hit newstands Sept. 25. The photo captures freshman WR Maurice Stovall as he hauls in a 15-yard touchdown pass from junior QB Carlyle Holiday in the second quarter of the Michigan State game. It marks the 28th time Notre Dame has appeared on an SI cover, and the first since Sept. 23, 1996, when QB Ron Powlus was pictured following a 27-24 Irish win at No. 6 Texas.

Much also has been made of the famed Sports Illustrated cover jinx, where superstition has it that those subjects featured on the magazine’s cover will subsequently fall on hard times. Notre Dame has had no such problems — in its next game following an appearance on the SI cover, the Irish are 21-6 (.778). It should be noted that four of the covers (7/20/64, 1/11/71, 1/9/78 and 1/9/89) came either before or after the season, while four others (12/5/73, 11/5/84, 12/5/88 and 11/26/90) were published in-season but the Irish had at least a week off before their next game.

When Notre Dame plays host to Stanford, Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham will become the third mentor to face a school where he held the same title. The last Notre Dame head coach to be reunited against a former employer was Dan Devine, whose Irish dropped a 3-0 decision on Sept. 9, 1978, to Missouri, where Devine was the skipper from 1958-70. In addition, Ara Parseghian was 9-0 all-time against Northwestern, where he had been the head coach from 1955-63, and Jesse Harper was 4-0 against Alma and 1-0 against Wabash during his five-year tenure with the Irish from 1913-17.

Notre Dame enters the Stanford game having won 16 of its last 17 games in October, dating back to a 20-17 loss to USC on Oct. 18, 1997. The only blemish on that record was a 21-17 loss at Boston College last year. Since the 1988 season, Notre Dame is 48-8 (.857) in October and was 32-7 (.821) in October in the 1990s. In addition, the Irish have won 13 consecutive October home games, dating back to the 1997 loss to USC.

With its late-game heroics at Michigan State, Notre Dame has won its last three games by seven points or less. The last time that happened was Nov. 8-22, 1941, when rookie head coach Frank Leahy led the Irish to narrow wins over No. 6 Navy (20-13), No. 8 Northwestern (7-6) and USC (20-18).

  • The Notre Dame record for consecutive wins by seven points or less is five, the first five games of the 1939 season (Sept. 30-Oct. 28) under head coach Elmer Layden.
  • The current Irish streak marks just the fourth time Notre Dame has won three straight games by seven points or less. The others are the aforementioned last three games of 1941, the aforementioned first five games of 1939 and the last three games of the 1937 season (Nov. 13-27).
  • The Notre Dame record for wins by seven points or less in a season is six, set in 1939 when that club had a 6-1 record in games decided by seven or less. The 1937 team was 5-1-1 in games decided by seven or less, while the 1929 (4-0), 1940 (4-1), 1974 (4-0), 1990 (4-3), 1997 (4-2) and 1998 (4-1) teams all had four wins by seven or less over the course of the season.
  • As for winning percentage in games decided by seven points or less, the 1929 and 1974 teams were both 4-0, while the 1926, 1928, 1954 and 1957 teams have finished 3-0. Of course, the 2002 team is also 3-0.
  • One item of note on the greatness of Knute Rockne: He was 20-3-5 (.804) in games decided by seven points or less over his Notre Dame career, including 16-0-2 (.944) over his last seven years.

The Irish defense has been one of the driving forces behind Notre Dame’s first 4-0 start since 1993. The Irish rank in the top 20 in the nation in several major defensive categories — rushing defense (6th, 76.75 yards/game), scoring defense (13th, 14.25 points/game), pass efficiency defense (14th, 92.06) and total defense (14th, 276.50 yards/game). Notre Dame also shut out its opponents over the first five quarters of the 2002 season, its longest scoreless string on defense since Oct. 2-16, 1993, when it blanked Stanford (fourth quarter), Pittsburgh (all four quarters) and BYU (first quarter).

Notre Dame’s defensive acumen started with a stellar effort against Maryland in the Kickoff Classic, as the Irish held the defending ACC champion Terrapins to no points, eight first downs, 16 yards rushing and 133 yards of total offense. Maryland’s offensive production was the lowest by an Irish opponent since Rutgers managed just six first downs, minus-6 yards rushing and 43 yards of total offense on Nov. 23, 1996.

The Notre Dame defense has been especially effective in the first half of games. Through four games, the Irish have not allowed an offensive touchdown in the first two quarters — the only opponent TDs in the first half this season have come via a punt return (Purdue) and an interception return (Michigan). This defensive lockdown has helped Notre Dame lead at halftime of all four of its games this year.

This season, Notre Dame has learned that it’s difficult for opponents to score if their offense is not on the field. Case in point — the Irish have dominated the time of possession category in all four of their victories in 2002, holding the ball for an average of 34:12 per game, compared to only 25:48 for their opponents. This trend started in the season opener vs. No. 21 Maryland, when Notre Dame maintained possession for a school-record 41:04, marking just the third time in the last 25 years in which the Irish have cracked the 40-minute barrier. The other 40-minute games were Oct. 27, 2001 at Boston College (40:15), and Nov. 22, 1980 vs. Air Force (40:04).

Notre Dame has jumped out to a 4-0 start this season, thanks in part to its ability to take care of the ball. The Irish own a +7 turnover margin (+1.75/game), which is good for 11th in the nation in 2002. All together, Notre Dame has recorded 13 takeaways, while giving the ball away just six times. Those 13 takeaways have led to 50 Irish points (12.5 ppg.), including three turnovers which were turned directly into scores by the defense and special teams. In an interesting twist, all three of those touchdowns were scored by Notre Dame’s defensive backs, and all three came against Purdue — SS Gerome Sapp’s 54-yard fumble return, CB Lionel Bolen’s four-yard fumble return on the ensuing kickoff after Sapp’s score, and CB Vontez Duff’s game-winning 33-yard interception return.

Notre Dame quickly turned fortunes in its favor against Purdue with a pair of touchdowns just 11 seconds apart in the second quarter. Senior SS Gerome Sapp returned a fumble 54 yards for a TD with 13:47 left in the period. Then, on the ensuing kickoff, the Boilermakers fumbled and sophomore CB Lionel Bolen returned the loose ball four yards for his first career score at the 13:36 mark. It represented the quickest two-touchdown burst in school history, one second faster than the previous mark. The Irish had scored two TDs in 12 seconds against Vanderbilt in 1995 – Autry Denson had a five-yard touchdown run at 6:39 of the second quarter, and Jarvis Edison had an eight-yard fumble return for a TD on the next kickoff at the 6:27 mark of the second period.

Among the pass-catching options on the Notre Dame roster this season are three former Irish quarterbacks who elected to change positions. Senior WR Arnaz Battle was Notre Dame’s starting signal-caller in 2000, but a broken wrist in the second game of the season against No. 1 Nebraska sidelined him and led to his eventual move to wideout in time for the 2001 season. This year, Battle has caught eight passes for 151 yards and his first career touchdown, after logging five receptions for 40 yards in ’01 Battle’s best game as a receiver came in his most recent outing at Michigan State, where he logged three receptions for a career-high 78 yards, highlighted by his game-winning 60-yard TD catch with 1:15 remaining.

With Battle’s injury in ’00, up stepped senior TE Gary Godsey, who was Battle’s quarterback understudy to begin that season. Godsey promptly engineered Notre Dame’s last-second 23-21 win over Purdue on Sept. 16, 2000. However, Godsey had played tight end in high school, and his size made his return to the position a natural one. He is tied for second on the team with eight catches for 77 yards this year, including a career-best four receptions vs. Purdue. The third former Irish quarterback now in the receiving corps is junior TE Jared Clark. The Sarasota, Fla., native is the latest Notre Dame QB to switch positions, electing to do so during spring practice in 2002. He has made two catches for 26 yards this season.

Thanks to its new offensive scheme, Notre Dame already has seen its receivers have twice as much success as anything they had amassed in their careers to date.

Junior Vontez Duff has proven to be a multi-dimensional talent for Notre Dame. A preseason honorable mention All-America pick at cornerback by Street & Smith’s, Duff lived up to that billing against Purdue, returning an interception 33 yards for the game-winning touchdown. His efforts have helped the Irish defense rank among the top 20 in the nation in several major statistical categories.

However, the Copperas Cove, Texas, native is not only a defensive threat. He also is a weapon on special teams as a kick returner. He proved that in Notre Dame’s win over No. 21 Maryland in the Kickoff Classic, returned a Terrapin punt 76 yards for a score. That came on the heels of his final game in 2001, when he returned a kickoff 96 yards for a TD against Purdue, helping the Irish to a 24-18 win.

Duff’s touchdowns in three consecutive games also earned him a place in Notre Dame history. No defensive player had ever recorded touchdowns, whether on defense or special teams, in three straight games prior to Duff’s hat trick.

With his game-winning 33-yard interception return against Purdue, junior Vontez Duff joined an elite group, becoming just the fourth player in school history to return an interception, punt and kickoff for a touchdown in his career. In the season opener, Duff returned a Maryland punt 76 yards for a score. That came on the heels of his final game in 2001, when he returned a kickoff 96 yards for a TD against Purdue, helping the Irish to a 24-18 win. Here’s a list of the other players to turn this unique triple play:

  • Allen Rossum (1994-97) – three kickoff returns for TD (1996 vs. Purdue, 1997 at Pittsburgh and vs. Boston College); three interception returns for TD (1995 vs. Texas and at Washington, 1997 at Hawaii); three punt returns for TD (1996 vs. Air Force and Pittsburgh (two)); also had one blocked PAT return (1995 vs. Texas).
  • John Lattner (1951-53) – two kickoff returns for TD (1953 at Purdue and Pennsylvania); one punt return for TD (1952 at Iowa); one interception return for TD (1951 vs. Detroit); won Heisman Trophy in 1953.
  • John Petitbon (1949-51) – one kickoff return for TD (1951 vs. Detroit); one punt return for TD (1951 vs. Detroit); one interception return for TD (1949 vs. USC). NOTE: Heartley (Hunk) Anderson (1918-21) returned an interception for a TD at Purdue in 1919, and returned a fumble and a blocked punt for a TD at Purdue in 1921.

Senior CB Shane Walton rapidly is transforming into one of the top defensive backs in the country. He currently ranks second in the nation in interceptions with 1.0 thefts per game (four total), including a school-record-tying three interceptions in Notre Dame’s season-opening win over No. 21 Maryland at Kickoff Classic XX. Walton was the first Irish player since Dave Duerson vs. Navy in 1982 to have three interceptions in a single game, and his three picks also tied a Kickoff Classic record. Mike Townsend holds the school record for interceptions in a season with 10 in 1972, but since then, only three Irish players have recorded more than five thefts in one year — Joe Restic (6 in 1977), Duerson (7 in 1982) and Todd Lyght (8 in 1989).

All told, Walton has had a hand in seven of Notre Dame’s 13 takeaways this season, adding a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a pass deflection for an interception to his four thefts. The San Diego, Calif., native also ranks fifth on the team with 21 tackles after registering a career-high eight stops (six solo) against No. 7 Michigan. Walton played a key role in defeating the Wolverines, knocking down a potential game-tying two-point conversion pass with 2:53 left, and intercepting UM quarterback John Navarre to stop the Wolverines’ final drive with 21 seconds to play. Walton’s efforts against Michigan earned him recognition as the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week, leading to his addition to the Watch List for the Nagurski Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation’s top defensive player. Walton also was recently added to the Watch List for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is awarded each year to the country’s top defensive back.

Sophomore TB Ryan Grant has given Notre Dame added balance on offense through his dynamic rushing abilities. After getting his first taste of collegiate action late last season, the Nyack, N.Y., native has been a major force for the Irish this season, ranking 33rd in the nation in rushing at 96 yards per game. Grant’s last three games have been his best since coming to Notre Dame — he is averaging 106 yards per game on the ground with three touchdowns over that time, including a career-high 132 yards and two TDs in a victory over No. 7 Michigan. Prior to this season, Grant’s career best rushing output was 77 yards in the 2001 season finale at Purdue, a game in which he scored the first touchdown of his career.

Senior PK Nicholas Setta, a 2001 Lou Groza Award semifinalist and an ’02 Groza Award candidate, has been one of Notre Dame’s top offensive weapons over the last three seasons, thanks to his accuracy from various distances. He has made 64 consecutive extra points dating back to a win over Stanford in 2000 (the second-longest PAT streak in school history).

Setta got his season going in a big way in Notre Dame’s win over No. 21 Maryland at the Kickoff Classic. Setta set a Classic record by kicking five field goals, tying the school record set by Craig Hentrich against Miami (Fla.) in 1990. One of Setta’s kicks came from 51 yards out, setting a new Kickoff Classic mark and personal high for the Lockport, Ill., native. Along with his one PAT, Setta scored 16 points on the night, good enough to earn him Kickoff Classic MVP honors and recognition as the National Player of the Week.

With his three PAT at Michigan State, Setta passed Bob Thomas for the second-longest streak of consecutive PAT made in school history. Thomas made 62 straight extra points from Nov. 6, 1971 to Oct. 20, 1973. Hentrich holds the school record by converting 136 consecutive PAT from Sept. 30, 1989 to Sept. 26, 1992.

However, while one of Setta’s streaks continues, another ended at Michigan State. The Irish placekicker did not kick a field goal against the Spartans, snapping his school-record string of three-pointers in 16 consecutive regular-season games. Setta wound up just three games shy of the NCAA record, jointly held by Oklahoma’s Larry Roach (1983-84) and Miami-Ohio’s Gary Gussman (1986-87), who each kicked a field goal in 19 consecutive games.

Senior P Joey Hildbold, a three-time Ray Guy Award candidate and 2000 finalist, has once again shown his importance to the Notre Dame effort in the first month of the 2002 season. The third-year mainstay from Centreville, Va., is averaging 42.3 yards per punt (27 kicks, 1,107 yards), good for 43rd in the nation, and he has dropped over 40 percent (11) of his 27 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

Hildbold’s three-year average of 40.84 yards per punt (8,373 yards on 205 punts) puts him in fourth place on the Notre Dame career list, just behind Vince Phelan, who averaged 40.88 yards per punt in 1987. Here’s a look at where Hildbold stands on the Irish career average list:

Senior Jeff Faine was tabbed the fifth-best center in the country by Lindy’s and The Sporting News, while senior Gerome Sapp was rated the fifth-best strong safety in the land by The Sporting News. Senior cornerback Shane Walton was ranked 12th in the nation by The Sporting News, while senior Nicholas Setta was placed fifth among kickers by Lindy’s and 13th by The Sporting News. Senior Courtney Watson was rated 17th among the nation’s middle linebackers by The Sporting News, while senior Tom Lopienski was charted 18th among fullbacks by the same publication.

Senior center Jeff Faine was a first-team preseason All-America selection by Street & Smith’s, a second-team preseason All-America choice by Athlon, a third-team preseason All-America designee by Football News and a preseason All-America pick by the Football Writers Association of America (no individual teams were selected by the FWAA). Faine is seeking to become Notre Dame’s first All-America center since Tim Ruddy in 1993.

Street & Smith’s cited six Irish players as preseason honorable mention All-America selections. Senior Jordan Black was listed among offensive linemen, senior Shane Walton and junior Vontez Duff among defensive backs, senior Courtney Watson among linebackers, senior Joey Hildbold among punters and senior Nicholas Setta among kickers.

Senior C Jeff Faine has been named to a trio of watch lists for top offensive linemen. Faine is under early consideration for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded annually to the nation’s top interior lineman by the Football Writers Association of America. Faine also has been selected to the watch list for the Rimington Award, presented annually to the nation’s top center. In addition, for the second consecutive season, Faine has been named to the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list. The Lombardi Award is given annually to the nation’s top lineman by the Rotary Club of Houston.

Senior CB Shane Walton has been added to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list after being named the Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week for the weekend of Sept. 14. The Nagurski Trophy is given annually to the nation’s top defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the Charlotte (N.C.) Touchdown Club.

Senior SS Gerome Sapp and senior CB Shane Walton have been named to the Jim Thorpe Award watch list, awarded annually to the nation’s top defensive back. It is presented by the Jim Thorpe Association, which is based in Oklahoma City.

Senior ILB Courtney Watson has been named to the watch list for the Butkus Award, presented annually to the nation’s best linebacker. The award is given by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando.

Senior PK Nicholas Setta has been named to the Lou Groza Award watch list. The Groza Award is given annually to the nation’s top placekicker by the Palm Beach County (Fla.) Sports Commission.

For the third consecutive season, senior P Joey Hildbold has been named to the Ray Guy Award watch list. The Ray Guy Award is given annually to the nation’s top punter by the Greater Augusta (Ga.) Sports Council.

Street & Smith’s tapped senior center Jeff Faine for a spot on its Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award watch lists. In addition, senior kicker Nicholas Setta earned a place on the publication’s Lou Groza Award watch list.

Football News named nine Notre Dame players to its 2002 preseason all-independent team. Sophomore RB Ryan Grant, senior TE Gary Godsey, senior OT Jordan Black and senior C Jeff Faine were chosen from the offensive side of the ball. Senior DT Darrell Campbell, senior LB Courtney Watson, senior CB Shane Walton and junior CB Vontez Duff were tapped on the defensive end. Senior PK Nicholas Setta represented the Irish special teams units on the squad.

Line — The Irish have an extremely talented and experienced crew up front on the offensive line this season. Four starters — senior tackles Jordan Black and Brennan Curtin, senior guard Sean Mahan and senior center Jeff Faine — all return this season and are legitimate contenders for postseason awards. Black has been a staple on the Notre Dame offensive line, now in his fourth season as a starter at tackle, playing in 35 regular-season games and amassing more than 800 minutes of playing time. Faine, a preseason first-team All-American and candidate for the Lombardi Award, Outland Trophy and Rimington Trophy, is in his third season as the everyday Irish center, having started 26 consecutive regular-season games and leading the team in playing time (109:21) this year. Mahan and Curtin are in their second seasons as starters at left guard and right tackle, respectively. Mahan has appeared in 32 games, starting his last 15 games, while Curtin has made 10 career starts (including his last eight in a row) after alternating between right tackle and right guard in ’01. This season, he moved into the right tackle position vacated by the graduation of Kurt Vollers.

With Vollers’ departure and Curtin’s move back to tackle, senior Sean Milligan returned to the starting lineup at right guard in three of the first four games this season. An injury limited his effectiveness vs. Purdue, and senior Ryan Scarola stepped into the starting right guard spot against the Boilermakers. Seniors Ryan Gillis and Jim Molinaro also have seen significant playing time in reserve roles over the last three games.

Backs — Junior Carlyle Holiday took over as the starting quarterback for the Irish in the third week of the 2001 season and kept a firm grip on his job throughout the campaign. Thriving in Notre Dame’s option offense, Holiday finished second on the team in rushing (666 yards) and completed 73 of 144 passes for 784 yards last season. His numbers are expected to soar in 2002 as he adjusts to the new offensive philosophy installed by head coach Tyrone Willingham and offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick. Through four games in 2002, Holiday has completed 37 of 83 passes for 514 yards and one TD, including a career-high 226 yards in the Kickoff Classic victory over Maryland. However, Holiday’s status for the Stanford game is week-to-week after he suffered an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder at Michigan State. Sophomore Pat Dillingham, a former walk-on, serves as Holiday’s primary backup in ’02. Dillingham replaced the injured Holiday against Michigan State and threw the game-winning touchdown pass, a 60-yard strike to WR Arnaz Battle with just 1:15 to play. Freshman Chris Olsen starts the season as the No. 3 QB, but also could see significant playing time as Dillingham’s understudy.

Sophomore Ryan Grant (89-384, 3 TD) leads a youthful corps of Irish running backs who should benefit not only from Notre Dame’s new offensive style, but also from its veteran offensive line. Grant ranks 33rd in the nation with 96.0 yards per game. He has averaged 106 yards on the ground in his last three outings, including a career-high 132 yards and two scores in the Irish win over Michigan. Sophomore Rashon Powers-Neal (29-125) has given Notre Dame an alternate, tough-nosed option out of the backfield, after his conversion from linebacker last spring. Sophomore Marcus Wilson (3-6) and senior Chris Yura also will see action out of the backfield.

Senior Tom Lopienski (9-15) returns as the starting fullback for the Irish. Lopienski has made 22 career starts, serving mainly as a blocking back. However, his role is expected to be expanded in the new Irish offensive scheme. Senior Mike McNair has fought through injuries during his career, but he could be ready to make a major contribution for Notre Dame in 2002.

Receivers — The Irish receiving corps may be the most closely-examined unit on the roster this season, as the new offensive program shifts its focus to a balanced attack. Experience is limited at the position, with only two returning monogram winners from a year ago. After catching five passes for 40 yards all of 2001, senior Arnaz Battle already has eight catches this season for 151 yards and one TD, including a career-high 78-yard effort and the game-winning 60-yard TD at Michigan State. Sophomore Omar Jenkins (10-186) has shown the ability to be a deep threat for the Irish. He got the starting nod against Maryland in the 2002 opener and didn’t disappoint, leading the team with a career-high five receptions for 87 yards. He added three catches for 83 yards in the Irish win over Michigan. Junior Ronnie Rodamer and sophomore Carlos Campbell (3-26) each played just over 14 minutes last season, but could be ready to step into the starting lineup this season. However, they will be challenged by a pair of speedy freshman wideouts, Rhema McKnight (2-9) and Maurice Stovall (4-116), who are anxious to make their mark at the college level. Stovall registered two catches for 59 yards at Michigan State, including his first career TD, a 15-yard strike, in the final seconds of the first half.

Another converted quarterback, senior Gary Godsey gets the starting nod at tight end. The 6-6, 250-pound Godsey is a formidable target for Irish quarterbacks, and he is tied for second on the team with eight receptions for 77 yards, including a career-best four-catch day vs. Purdue. Godsey also is a talented blocker and gives the Irish a sizeable advantage on the offensive line. Junior Billy Palmer serves as Godsey’s understudy, along with junior Jared Clark (2-26), who moved from QB to TE in the spring.

Line — The Irish defensive line is anchored by senior defensive tackle Darrell Campbell (four tackles, one for loss, one sack) and senior nose guard Cedric Hilliard (10 tackles, three for loss, two sacks). Both players weigh better than 290 pounds and provide a formidable obstacle for opponents in the middle of the line. Hilliard was a key factor in the win over Michigan, blocking a Wolverine field goal and pressuring UM into throwing a game-ending interception. Campbell and Hilliard are surrounded by fifth-year senior right end Ryan Roberts (14 tackles, four for loss, four sacks) and junior left end Kyle Budinscak (two tackles, one for loss) who has made six career starts and is the only other veteran returning on the Irish defensive line. Roberts was a key force in Notre Dame’s wins over Purdue and Michigan State, registering a pair of sacks in both games. Assistance could come in the form of sophomore end Justin Tuck (six tackles, one for loss, one sack), a pass-rushing specialist and converted linebacker, as well as junior end Jason Sapp and junior defensive tackle Greg Pauly. Tuck had a career-high three tackles vs. Michigan and drew a holding penalty in the end zone against the Wolverines which resulted in a safety and the decisive margin in the two-point Irish win.

Linebackers — Senior ILB Courtney Watson is the lone returning linebacker for the Irish. He ranked second on the team with 76 tackles last season, including 13 for loss, and already is a 2002 Butkus Award candidate. He missed the Maryland and Purdue games with a viral infection, but has returned with a vengeance in his last two outings, rolling up a whopping 24 tackles (three for loss, two sacks), including a game-high 15 stops at Michigan State. Also, Notre Dame has been faced with the tall task of replacing honorable mention All-American Tyreo Harrison (97 tackles, 11 tackles for loss) and Rocky Boiman (41 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four sacks), who were first and sixth on the team in tackles in ’01, respectively. Sophomore Mike Goolsby (team-high 30 tackles, six for loss, one sack) has stepped into the starting lineup at one inside linebacker position, ringing up a career-high 11 tackles, including three for losses, against Purdue. Senior Carlos Pierre-Antoine serves as Goolsby’s understudy at that inside linebacker spot, while junior Derek Curry (13 tackles, two for loss, one fumble recovery) has the most experience of the outside linebackers. He recorded a career-high five tackles in the win at Michigan State. Sophomore Brandon Hoyte (17 tackles, one for loss, one sack) replaced Watson in the Maryland and Purdue games, recording a career-high nine tackles in the latter contest, one week after notching his first career sack in his first career appearance against Maryland. Sophomore Corey Mays also might see time at the inside position, while junior Jerome Collins lends support on the outside.

Backs — The Irish secondary should be particularly strong in 2002, with three starters back in the fold. Senior Shane Walton (21 tackles, three for loss, four INT) has started the last 15 games at cornerback for the Irish, recording 43 tackles and breaking up a team-high eight passes in ’01. The San Diego native set a Kickoff Classic record and tying a school standard with three interceptions against Maryland. He added a career-high eight tackles and provided two critical plays vs. Michigan, batting down a potential game-tying two-point conversion pass, and then coming up with an interception in the final minute to quash a Wolverine threat. Meanwhile, junior Vontez Duff (17 tackles, one INT, one fumble recovery) gets the starting call at the other cornerback position, a position he has held for the last 12 games. Duff was the hero against Purdue, returning an interception 33 yards for the game-winning touchdown with just over five minutes to play. Senior strong safety Gerome Sapp (26 tackles, two for loss, two INT) was ranked fifth in the nation among SS by The Sporting News and returned a fumble 54 yards for a TD in the first quarter of Notre Dame’s win over Purdue. He added a pair of interceptions at Michigan State, including the game-clinching theft as time expired. Senior Glenn Earl (26 tackles, two for loss) started three games at free safety in ’01 and he tied Goolsby and Hoyte for team-high honors with eight tackles vs. Maryland. The reserve secondary unit is headed by junior Preston Jackson (four tackles) and sophomore Dwight Ellick (four tackles) at cornerback, and junior Garron Bible (seven tackles) and sophomore Lionel Bolen at safety. Bible registered a career-high four tackles vs. Michigan, while Bolen scored the first touchdown of his career on special teams against Purdue, scooping up a Boilermaker fumble and scurrying four yards for a second-quarter score.

For the third consecutive season, senior P Joey Hildbold and senior PK Nicholas Setta return, giving the Irish one of the finest kicking tandems in the nation. Hildbold, a three-time Ray Guy Award candidate and a finalist for the award in 2000, ranks fourth on Notre Dame’s career punting average list (40.84) and he currently ranks 42nd in the nation at 41.0 yards per kick. Setta, a 2001 Lou Groza Award semifinalist and an ’02 Groza Award candidate, has made 64 straight PAT attempts, the second-longest run in school history. He also holds the Notre Dame record with at least one field goal in 16 consecutive games, a streak which ended at Michigan State. Setta established a Kickoff Classic record and tying the school mark with five field goals, including a Classic-record 51-yard boot, to earn game MVP honors. Setta also could see time as a reserve punter for the Irish after averaging 40 yards on four kicks at Boston College in 2000. Hildbold and Setta join veteran long snapper John Crowther (53 special teams appearances) and kick returner Vontez Duff in giving Notre Dame a potent special teams unit. Duff ranks 15th in the nation in punt return yardage, averaging 16.1 yards per return, and he already has a 76-yard punt return for a TD vs. Maryland to his credit. Meanwhile, Arnaz Battle is averaging nearly 23 yards per kickoff return (49th in the nation), while Shane Walton (five punt returns for 46 yards) also is set to help return kicks.

Notre Dame’s freshman practices included 17 scholarship players and four walkons: OL James Bent (6-2, 260, Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka) wears No. 59, OL David Fitzgerald (6-4, 270, Godfrey, Ill./Marquette Catholic) shares No. 54 with DL Jason Halvorson, WR Mike O’Hara (5-10, 175, Bellevue, Wash./Newport) sports No. 84, and ILB Anthony Salvador (6-2, 195, Concord, Calif./De La Salle) wears No. 81.

The Irish made one number change from the 2002 media guide rosters as senior strong safety/special teams player Chad DeBolt has changed from No. 58 to No. 24.

Notre Dame has four athletes who are two-sport standouts with the Irish:

  • Senior CB Shane Walton is less than three years removed from earning all-BIG EAST Conference honors as a freshman forward on the ’98 Irish men’s soccer team. Walton has started 24 of the last 25 regular-season games for the Irish, dating back to the start of the 2000 season, earning preseason honorable mention All-America honors this year from Street & Smith’s. Walton joined the Irish football squad in the spring of ’99 and saw action in three games in the secondary during the ’99 season. He played in nine games overall with 61 appearances on special teams, earning his second Notre Dame monogram in as many years and in as many sports.
  • Senior SS and special teams player Chad DeBolt has made 191 special teams appearances over the last three seasons and was one of just four walkons on the usual travel list during that time. In 2000, he recovered a blocked punt vs. Rutgers and blocked a punt vs. USC — both of which led to Irish TDs. DeBolt also was a four-year monogram winner for the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team which advanced to the NCAA Final Four in 2001. The Waterloo, N.Y., native served as team captain in ’02, handling the majority of the faceoff duties for the Irish. He won better than 56 percent of his draws and scooping up a team-high 51 ground balls in ’02. DeBolt missed just one contest during his 57-game career, scoring four goals and collecting 168 ground balls.
  • Sophomore CB Dwight Ellick earned a monogram last winter while competing for Irish head coach Joe Piane and the Notre Dame track and field team. Ellick garnered all-BIG EAST honors after placing third in both the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes at the 2002 BIG EAST Indoor Track an Field Championships. He was a two-time state champion in the 100 meters in high school, winning the New York crown in 1999, before moving to Florida and winning the Sunshine State title in 2000.
  • Senior PK Nicholas Setta, who finished sixth at the Illinois state track and field meet in the high jump and was the top hurdler in the state, has competed for Piane and the Irish track and field program the last two years. Setta ran middle distance for the Irish and participated in the 2001 and 2002 BIG EAST Indoor Track and Field Championships.
  • Other Notre Dame football players who also ran track for the Irish include senior CB Jason Beckstrom, senior FB Mike McNair and sophomore WR Matt Shelton.

For only the second time in the 114-year history of football at Notre Dame, the Irish are designating captains on a game-by-game basis this season. In 1946, legendary head coach Frank Leahy elected to choose captains for each game — the result was an 8-0-1 record and the fifth of Notre Dame’s 11 consensus national championships. The 2002 captains have been as follows:

Maryland: WR Arnaz Battle, C Jeff Faine, DE Ryan Roberts, CB Shane Walton
Purdue: TE Gary Godsey, NG Cedric Hilliard, SS Gerome Sapp, PK Nicholas Setta
Michigan: OT Jordan Black, DT Darrell Campbell, CB Vontez Duff, C Jeff Faine
Michigan State: WR Arnaz Battle, FS Glenn Earl, OG Sean Mahan, LB Courtney Watson

Once again, Notre Dame faces one of the nation’s toughest schedules, as the Irish play three teams that currently are ranked in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls (No. 11/11 Florida State, No. 14/13 Michigan and No. 18/20 USC). In addition, three other Notre Dame opponents — Air Force (ranked 25th in the coaches’ poll), Boston College and Michigan State — are receiving votes in one or both polls. Nine of the 12 foes on this year’s Notre Dame’s schedule went to bowl games last season, highlighted by Maryland’s Orange Bowl berth, Michigan’s spot in the Citrus Bowl and Stanford’s trip to the Seattle Bowl. All of this comes on the heels of the 2001 Irish schedule, which was ranked 22nd most difficult in the nation and featured nine opponents that appeared in bowl games — Notre Dame was the only school in the country to play nine bowl-bound teams last season.

According to the latest NCAA rankings (as of Sept. 29), Notre Dame has the 25th toughest schedule in the nation. These rankings take into account the cumulative performance of all Irish opponents during the 2002 season.

2002 Notre Dame Opponent UPDATE
Below is a look at Notre Dame opponents’ upcoming games. Since 1977, when the NCAA started rating strength of schedule, Notre Dame’s schedule has been rated the most difficult five times (1978, 1985, 1987, 1989 and 1995) and has appeared in the top 25 a total of 19 times in the last 25 years. According to the latest NCAA rankings (as of Sept. 29), Notre Dame’s 2002 schedule ranks as the 25th toughest in the nation.

With the Stanford game slated to be televised nationally by NBC, the Irish will extend their streak of appearances on one of four major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN) to 116 straight games. That’s a streak that includes nine full seasons (1993-2001), and it will continue at least through the first six games of 2002, all of which are slated to be televised as well. The last time the Irish didn’t appear on one of those four networks was Oct. 31, 1992, when Notre Dame downed Navy, 38-7, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. That game was shown locally in the South Bend area on WNDU-TV.

Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 141 of its previous 164 games, including the first four games this season. In 2001, not only were 10 of the 11 Irish games designated sellouts (only Stanford was not), but eight came in front of stadium-record crowds. The Irish played before 78,118 fans at Nebraska, welcomed Notre Dame Stadium-record crowds of 80,795 for the Michigan State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, USC, Tennessee and Navy games, and took the field before 87,206 fans at Texas A&M, setting a Kyle Field, Big XII Conference and state of Texas record in the process. In fact, since 1998, Notre Dame has played before sellout crowds in 45 of the last 51 games — the only non-sellouts in that time were the ’98 and 2000 games at USC, the ’99 and 2001 games at Stanford, and neutral site games vs. Georgia Tech (’99 Gator Bowl at Jacksonville) and Navy (2000 at Orlando’s Citrus Bowl).

Demand for tickets to two of Notre Dame’s six home games in 2002 ranks among the top five in the history of Notre Dame Stadium. The Notre Dame ticket office received 55,482 ticket requests for the Nov. 2 game vs. Boston College, making it the third-highest requested Irish home game in history. In addition, the Sept. 14 Notre Dame-Michigan game garnered 50,883 requests, placing it fourth on the all-time list.

The Notre Dame Stadium record of 59,368 ticket requests was set last season when the Irish took on West Virginia on Oct. 13. Demand for that game, like this year’s Boston College contest, 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 163 consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium and the 211 in their last 212 home games dating back to 1966 (only non-sellout was the 1973 Thanksgiving Day game with Air Force, which was changed to the holiday to accommodate television and was played with students absent from campus).

44,000 “Return to glory” t-shirts create “sea of green”
All 44,000 of the “Return to Glory” T-shirts that have created a “sea of green” in Notre Dame Stadium this year have been sold, according to the university’s Student Activities Office. It’s one of the earliest sellouts in the 13-year history of what is officially known as The Shirt Project. As a result, more than $200,000 has been raised to aid student charities and help fund the cost of operating student clubs and organizations, according to Mary Edgington, assistant director of Student Activities and adviser to the student-run project.

Notre Dame students have been wearing “The Shirt” to home football games since 1990 to show their support of the team. The project started when a graduate student suffered injuries in a car accident and students sold T-shirts to raise money to cover his medical expenses. Over time, other members of the Notre Dame community adopted the tradition, including alumni, faculty, staff and fans.

This year The Shirt Project attracted national media attention because the slogan on the front of the shirt, “Return to Glory,” has been accompanied by the team’s first 4-0 start since 1993. As the largest student-run fundraiser on campus, The Shirt Project has raised close to $2 million over the past 13 years.

The shirt is kelly green and displays an interlocking ND in addition to the “Return to Glory” slogan on the front. The back features a battle-chipped gold helmet, the Four Horsemen (the backfield made famous by sportswriter Grantland Rice), former Irish coach Knute Rockne, and an excerpt from a well-known Rockne speech – “We’re gonna go, go, go! And we aren’t going to stop until we go over that goal line!” The Shirt was sold for $15 at various outlets on campus as well as on the web.

Notre Dame mentor Tyrone Willingham has been named a head coach for the 78th East-West Shrine Game, to be played Saturday, Jan. 11, 2003, at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco. Willingham will pilot the East squad, while Washington State skipper Mike Price will lead the West team. Both men previously served as assistant coaches at the Shrine Game — Willingham worked with the West squad in 1998, while Price was a West assistant in 1996. The Shrine Game showcases the talents of many of the nation’s top college senior players, while raising funds for thousands of children who receive medical care, at no cost, from the 22 Shriners’ Hospitals for Children throughout North America. In the 2002 NFL draft, 33 players from the 2002 Shrine Game were selected, including the third overall pick, Joey Harrington of Oregon.

No less than a dozen Notre Dame standouts will be under consideration when CBS airs “Dell Presents College Football’s 10 Greatest Players” at 1:30 p.m. EST on Friday, Nov. 29. Among the nearly 200 former college greats listed on the ballot were all seven of Notre Dame’s Heisman Trophy winners — Angelo Bertelli (1943), John Lujack (1947), Leon Hart (1949), John Lattner (1953), Paul Hornung (1956), John Huarte (1964) and Tim Brown (1987). Other former Irish players being considered for this elite group include a quartet of consensus All-Americans and National Football Foundation Hall of Fame inductees — DE Ross Browner (1973-77), T George Connor (1946-47), HB George Gipp (1917-20) and DT Alan Page (1964-66) — as well as consensus All-American and current Dallas Cowboys’ wideout Raghib Ismail (1988-90).

Balloting for “Dell Presents College Football’s 10 Greatest Players” included only 500 voters representing five groups — the NFF Hall of Fame, the American Football Coaches Association, the Football Writers Association of America, the Downtown Athletic Club and prominent members of the college football media. Voting was not limited to the 200 players on the ballot, as voters were able to cast write-in selections as well.

In conjunction with, Tostitos is asking fans to vote for the greatest national championship team of all time. A group of 16 teams have been selected by an ESPN and ABC panel of football experts. Among those squads chosen is the 1947 Notre Dame team led by legendary head coach Frank Leahy. That Irish unit went a perfect 9-0 behind the play of consensus All-American and Heisman Trophy winner John Lujack, as well as fellow consensus All-Americans George Connor and Bill (Moose) Fischer. The Irish averaged better than 32 points per game while holding opponents to less than six points per outing that season. However, perhaps the most impressive statistic about the ’47 squad is that it sent 42 players to professional football and six of its members were later inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.

Beginning Aug. 23 and continuing through Dec. 6, those 16 teams are being paired head-to-head in a bracket tournament, with the team receiving the largest number of fan votes advancing to the next round. The 1947 Notre Dame club defeated the ’48 Michigan crew in the opening round of the tournament Sept. 20, and will meet either the ’71 Nebraska squad or the ’45 Army unit in the quarterfinals on Nov. 1. The semifinals are scheduled for Nov. 22, with the title contest set for Nov. 29. The announcement of the “greatest national championship team of all-time” is set for Dec. 8 during the Bowl Championship Series selection show on ABC.

Six former Irish players were selected in the 2002 NFL entry draft, while five other players signed free agent contracts. Anthony Weaver (second round, Baltimore Ravens) was the first Notre Dame player chosen. Rocky Boiman (fourth round, Tennessee Titans) was next, followed by John Owens (fifth round, Detroit Lions), Tyreo Harrison (sixth round, Philadelphia Eagles), Javin Hunter (sixth round, Baltimore Ravens) and David Givens (seventh round, New England Patriots). In addition, Tony Fisher (Green Bay Packers), Grant Irons (Buffalo Bills), Ron Israel (Washington Redskins), Jason Murray (Cincinnati Bengals) and Kurt Vollers (Indianapolis Colts) all signed free agent deals. Of these 11 players, eight made the final 53-man roster with their respective teams (all six draftees plus Fisher and Irons), while Vollers was re-signed to the Colts’ practice squad.

The Notre Dame football squad recently had two of the most successful semesters in the classroom in the history of the program, based on final grades from the 2001 fall semester and the 2002 spring semester. In the fall of 2001, the Irish team finished 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.

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. Northwestern won the 2002 overall award with a perfect 100 percent graduation rate. Notre Dame joined distinct company as it was one of eight schools to graduate over 90 percent of its players from the freshman class of 1996-97. The Irish joined Boston College, Duke, Nebraska, Penn State, Rice, Vanderbilt and Western Michigan in the elite group. Sixteen other schools graduated 70 percent of their athletes or better in earning special mention status as well.

Notre Dame has been recognized 21 of 22 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 only 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 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. Earlier this year, 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 first vice president of the Notre Dame National Monogram Club (he will serve as president from June 2003-June 2005). He also is a member of the athletic department’s student development mentoring program.

Tickets are available for the 2002 Notre Dame Football Kickoff Luncheons, “ND Football Live,” with the next slated to be held at noon (EST) Oct. 4 in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse (north dome). The luncheons are held the same day and time before every Irish home football game this year. The 2002 Notre Dame Football Luncheons are sponsored by the Notre Dame Athletic Department and the speaking program each week includes a combination of special guests, head coach Tyrone Willingham, members of the coaching staff and members of the Irish squad, with Bob Nagle hosting the television talk-show format. Tickets are $18 each (plus $3 handling charge per order) and are available by calling (574) 272-2870.

All 2002 pep rallies will be held in the Joyce Center Arena (south dome) on Fridays before Saturday home games, with new start times of 6 p.m. (EST). The Irish squad enters the arena at 6:30 p.m.

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 2002 home football games. 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.

This season marks the ninth edition of the Notre Dame Football Preview Magazine — 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 (CoSIDA). The preview magazine, published by Host Communications, numbers nearly 100 pages, including game action shots of returning Irish players and coaches, position-by-position breakdowns and a feature on new 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 1-800-313-4678 or by writing to: Notre Dame Programs, 904 N. Broadway, Lexington, KY 40505.

Notre Dame’s award-winning football media guide, which was voted best in the nation by CoSIDA for the 10th time in the last 20 years in 2001, features more than 450 pages of information and statistics on the 2002 Irish squad, as well as a complete record book and history of Notre Dame football. The media guide is priced at $10 (plus $6 for postage and handling) and can be ordered by calling 1-800-647-4641 or by visiting the Hammes Bookstore on the Notre Dame campus.

The current NCAA statistical rankings for Notre Dame and Stanford in 2002 (top 50 only):