Nov. 14, 2006
Two-Minute Drill No. 6/5 Notre Dame returns to the friendly confines of Notre Dame Stadium this weekend for the home finale and Senior Day. The Irish and Army will meet for the 49th time in series history and first time since 1998. The Black Knights enter the contest with the Irish following a 15-day layoff. Army has not played since its 43-7 loss to Air Force on Nov 3. The Black Knights are the third of three service academy opponents for Notre Dame in 2006. The Irish defeated Navy, 38-14, back on Oct. 28 and Air Force, 39-17, last weekend. Saturday’s game marks the 49th meeting between Notre Dame and Army, with the Irish holding a 36-8-4 series lead. The Irish also own 7-1 record against the Black Knights in Notre Dame Stadium. (see pages 2-5 for more information on the series). Streaks on the line this weekend: consecutive victories (7) … consecutive victories over Army (12) … consecutive games started (Brady Quinn, 43) … consecutive games with a completion (Brady Quinn, 46) … consecutive passes without an interception (Brady Quinn, 223) … consecutive games with multiple touchdown passes (Brady Quinn, 9) … consecutive games with a reception (Darius Walker, 25; Jeff Samardzija, 23).
A Win This Weekend Would… … make Notre Dame 10-1 for the first time since 2002 and fifth time in school history. … give the Irish 10 victories in a season for the first time since 2002 and 14th time in school history. … give Notre Dame 19 victories over the past two years (most wins over any two-year span since 1992-93 when former head coach Lou Holtz guided the Irish to 21 victories). … be Notre Dame’s eighth straight victory (longest winning streak since an eight game run in 2002). … be the 13th consecutive victory over Army and seventh straight victory in Notre Dame Stadium. … improve Notre Dame to 37-8-4 in the all-time series with Army. … improve the Irish to 8-1-0 in the all-time series with the Black Knights in Notre Dame Stadium. … improve a ranked Irish squad to 18-3-2 all-time against Army. … improve Notre Dame to 32-5-2 all-time against an unranked Black Knights’ squad. … improve Weis’ record to 19-4 overall, 1-0 against Army and 4-0 against service academies. … improve Weis’ home record to 10-3. … improve Weis’ record to 7-0 in November games. … improve Weis’ record to 13-4 in afternoon games. … give Weis 19 victories over his first two seasons as Irish head coach (most for any Notre Dame head coach over his first two years). … make Weis the first Irish coach to register 10 wins in his second season (previous high for a second-year Irish head coach is nine by Bob Davie, 1998, and Dan Devine, 1976). … improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 821-267-42. … improve Notre Dame’s all-time record against the military academies to 129-22-5.
A Loss This Weekend Would… … make Notre Dame 9-2 for the second consecutive season. … snap the Irish’s winning streak at seven games. … snap Notre Dame’s winning streak over Army at 12 games overall and six games in Notre Dame Stadium. … be the first for the Irish against Army since 1958. … drop the Irish to 36-9-4 in the all-time series with the Black Knights. … drop Notre Dame to 7-2-0 in the all-time series with Army in Notre Dame Stadium. … drop a ranked Irish squad to 17-4-2 all-time against the Black Knights (would be the first loss for a ranked Notre Dame team against Army since 1958). … drop the Irish to 31-6-2 all-time against an unranked Army squad (the first since polls began in the 1937 season). … drop Weis’ record to 18-5 overall, 0-1 against Army and 2-1 against service academies. … drop Weis’ home record to 9-4. … drop Weis’ record to 6-1 in November games. … drop Weis’ record to 12-5 in afternoon games. … drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 820-268-42. … drop Notre Dame’s all-time record against the military academies to 128-23-5.
A Quick Look at Army The Black Knights enter the matchup with Notre Dame following a bye week and a 43-7 loss to Air Force on Nov. 3. The Black Knights committed six turnovers, including four on successive offensive plays in the second quarter. The Black Knights nearly pulled off a major upset against Texas A&M in San Antonio back on Sept. 16. Trailing 28-24, Army drove to the Aggies’ two-yard line, but were unable to score before the clock expired. Army enters Saturday’s game with the nation’s 60th-ranked rushing offense, 81st-ranked scoring offense, 109th-ranked total offense and 112th-ranked passing offense. The Black Knights are averaging 137.10 yards per game on the ground, 135.80 yards in the air, 272.90 total yards and 20.90 points per game. Wesley McMahand leads the Army ground game with 592 yards (59.2/game) and four touchdowns. He is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Tony Moore has added 351 yards rushing (35.1/game) and a team-high five touchdowns. Carson Williams and David Pevoto have split time at quarterback for the Black Knights. Williams is listed as the starter, but Pevoto has gotten the majority of Army’ snaps. Williams has completed 58.2% (39-for-67) of his passes for 410 yards. He has tossed three touchdowns and seven interceptions. Pevoto has completed 55.0% (99-for-180) of his passes for 936 yards and five touchdowns, but also 13 interceptions. Jeremy Trimble has been the favorite weapon with 44 catches and 453 yards. Walter Hill also has 291 receiving yards on 27 receptions. The Black Knights’ defense has struggled mightily this season. Army ranks 78th in total defense (354.50 ypg), 91st in scoring defense (26.80 ppg) and 111th in rush defense (190.20 ypg). The Black Knights’ pass defense has been solid. They allow only 164.30 yards per game, 18th in the nation. Army has totaled nine sacks on the season which ranks 117th in the country. Cason Shrode leads the team with 85 tackles and Cameron Craig has a team-high 15.0 TFLs. The Army kicking game has been a positive in 2006. Austin Miller is 11-for-14 on field goal attempts and a perfect 24-for-24 on extra-point attempts. Owen Tolson is averaging 42.1 yards per punt, which ranks 22nd in the nation.
Notre Dame – Army Series Notes Saturday’s game marks the 49th meeting between Notre Dame and Army, with the Irish holding a 36-8-4 series lead. The Irish also own 7-1 record against the Black Knights in Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame has won the last 12 meetings against Army and is 14-1-1 over the last 16 games. The Black Knights have not beaten Notre Dame since Oct. 11, 1958. The series began in 1913 with a 35-13 Notre Dame victory. The Irish and Black Knights met every season from 1913-47 with the exception of 1918. During an 11-season span from 1937-47, one or both teams were ranked, including six meetings when either side was first or second in the nation, and back-to-back “No. 1 vs. No. 2” matchups in 1945 and 1946. However, the Irish and Black Knights have played just 14 times since 1947, with Notre Dame winning 13 of those encounters. Their last meeting came in 1998, with the Irish pulling out a 20-17 win at home. Notre Dame and Army have played three of the most legendary games in college football history. Here is a brief recap from each of those matchups:
Notre Dame 35, Army 13 November 1, 1913 When Army reluctantly agreed to pay Notre Dame $1,000 for its long journey to the plains of West Point, the good-but stingy-generals conceded the hefty sum would be worth a victory. Although the Cadets knew coach Jesse Harper’s Irish were a Midwestern powerhouse, most Army fans felt Notre Dame would serve merely as a tasty appetizer for the West Pointers’ annual picnic with Navy. The Irish might be able to give Army a run for its money, but surely the Cadets’ gridiron superiority would crush the Hoosier hayseeds who had arrived from their all-day train trip with 18 players — and just 14 pairs of cleats. Army, which had scouted Notre Dame’s 62-0 thrashing of Alma, was expecting a hard-hitting, powerful running attack, led by a strong line. Instead, the Cadets found themselves in the middle of an unrelenting blitzkrieg. Notre Dame got off to a rocky start. After winning the coin toss and electing to receive, quarterback Gus Dorais fumbled during the opening series, and Army recovered on the Irish 27-yard line. But the potent Cadet offense gained just one yard on three tries, and the Army began to realize that $1,000 was a steep price tag for humiliation. “After we had stood terrific pounding by the Army line, and a trio of backs that charged in like locomotives, we held them on downs,” said Knute Rockne, then a senior end. “Dorais, in a huddle said, `Let’s open up.’ It was amusing to see the Army boys huddle after a first, snappy 11-yard pass had been completed for a first down. Their guards and tackles went tumbling into us to stop line bucks and plunges. Instead, Dorais stepped neatly back and flipped the ball to an uncovered end or halfback. This we did on a march up the field, gaining three first downs in almost as many minutes.” Notre Dame’s surprising passing game helped the visitors stake claim to a 14-13 lead at halftime. The Cadets certainly weren’t strangers to the aerial toss; in fact, Army was the premier passing team of the East. But the Cadets, along with the rest of the football world, thought passes were thrown only in desperation — as a last resort. The West Pointers couldn’t adjust to a team using the pass as its bread and butter. So the Irish offense continued to shoot rockets in the second half, and Army, with a young cadet named Dwight Eisenhower sitting on the bench, failed miserably on defense. When Dorias wasn’t hurling spirals to Rockne (a technique the pair had mastered during the summer when they worked as lifeguards at the beach resort of Cedar Point, Ohio), Ray Eichenlaub would break through the line for a long gain. Even the Army partisans oohed and aahed at Notre Dame’s amazing versatility. By game’s end, Dorais had completed 14 of 17 passes (he misfired on his first two tries) for 243 yards — unheard — of totals in 1913. And his 40-yard toss to Rockne was the longest pass ever completed to that day. Notre Dame had rocked the football world with its stunning 35-13 victory. The win revolutionized college football as the forward pass, a legal weapon since 1906, gained popularity as a legitimate offensive tool. “The press and the football public hailed this new game, and Notre Dame received credit as the originator of a style of play that we simply systematized,” said Rockne. Notre Dame also earned a national reputation with its victory, and teams from all over the East were clamoring for a matchup. Notre Dame had made it to the big top.
Notre Dame 12, Army 6 November 10, 1928 Knute Rockne was desperate. His 1928 team, decimated by injuries, already had lost two of its first six games. Three powerful teams — Army, Carnegie Tech and Southern California — loomed on the schedule before the season (the worst in Rockne’s illustrious coaching career) would mercifully draw to a close. Rockne knew that if his Ramblers could upend Army — winner of six straight games — in Yankee Stadium, a losing record could be averted. His critics were claiming he’d lost his touch; the magic was gone. But Rockne knew better. The week of the game he quietly told his neighbor that Notre Dame would beat Army. Rockne had a plan. His team might not be able to win on talent, but Notre Dame would win on emotion and spirit. Rockne would deliver what would later become the most famous pep talk in sports history. After pregame warm-ups, Rockne huddled his players in the locker room. They laid down on World War I blankets that covered the cold, clammy floor. Rockne waited until the room was silent. He lowered his head before speaking. He began slowly — telling the team about George Gipp, a Notre Dame player who had died during his senior season eight years ago. Although none of the players had known Gipp personally, each and every one of them had heard of his exploits. They knew Gipp had been the greatest player of his time. Rockne, who had been at Gipp’s bedside, repeated the young athlete’s last wish. “I’ve got to go, Rock. It’s all right. I’m not afraid. Sometime, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys — tell them to go in there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, Rock. But I’ll know about it, and I’ll be happy.” Rockne continued. “The day before he died George Gipp asked me to wait until the situation seemed hopeless — then ask a Notre Dame team to go out and beat Army for him. This is the day, and you are the team.” “There was no one in the room that wasn’t crying,” recalled line coach Ed Healey. “There was a moment of silence, and then all of a sudden those players ran out of the dressing room and almost tore the hinges off the door. They were all ready to kill someone.” Army didn’t have a chance. After falling behind 6-0 in the third period, Notre Dame scored two touchdowns and held off a last-chance rally by the Cadets for a 12-6 win. Jack Chevigny tied the score at 6-6 with a one-yard plunge. As he picked himself up in the end zone, he jumped up and shouted, “That’s one for the Gipper.” The emotional Chevigny was helping Notre Dame drive toward its final and winning score in the last quarter when he was injured. Rockne was forced to take him out and replace Chevigny with Bill Drew. Reserve Johnny O’Brien, a willowy hurdler for the track team, took Johnny Colrick’s place at left end. The Irish were 32 yards from the goal line. Left halfback Butch Niemiec took the ball, looked downfield to O’Brien and flung a wobbly pass over an Army defender. O’Brien hauled the ball in on the 10-yard line, squeezed past two tacklers and dove into the end zone for the winning touchdown. O’Brien never became a starter in his career with Notre Dame, but “One-Play” was a legitimate hero to Irish fans. As O’Brien scored, the Notre Dame bench erupted in whoops and hollers. The injured Chevigny cried on the sidelines, “That’s one for the Gipper, too.” Even Rockne showed his satisfaction with the play. “You could see a great, big smile on his face,” said quarterback Frank Carideo. “He was happy when things created during the week were used to perfection in the ballgame.” But O’Brien’s touchdown didn’t put the game safely away. Army had another chance with less than two minutes to go. The Cadets drove methodically through the Notre Dame defense, helped by a 55-yard kickoff return by All-American Chris Cagle. Cagle, who had played all of the game, collapsed at the 10-yard line because of exhaustion and had to be carried from the field. Dick Hutchinson took the ball to the four and then to the one. But time ran out before the Cadets could get off another play, and Notre Dame had indeed “won one for the Gipper.”
Notre Dame 0, Army 0 November 9, 1946 Once again Notre Dame found itself in the middle of a classic confrontation. Old rivals Army and Notre Dame were scheduled to meet in New York City’s Yankee Stadium. Although the Cadets had won 25 straight and appeared headed for their third straight national championship, World War II was over, Frank Leahy was back from the Navy and many former Irish players were trading in their military uniforms for football jerseys. The Army-Notre Dame game would be the game of the year. Yankee Stadium had been sold out since June even though tickets didn’t go on sale publicly until August 1. Over $500,000 in refund checks were issued to disappointed fans. Requests for press credentials reached record levels, and many ticket holders were blatantly scalping them for $200. While Leahy was serving in the Navy, Notre Dame had been whitewashed twice by the Cadets-59-0 in 1944 and 48-0 in 1945. Leahy had listened to those games overseas, and now that he was back, he was determined to change things. His Irish methodically pounded their first five opponents into the ground, setting the stage for a battle of the unbeatens in Yankee Stadium. The week before the game, his squad would take periodical breaks during practice to chant, “Fifty-nine and forty-eight, this is the year we retaliate.” Notre Dame students sent daily postcards to Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik. All were signed “SPATNC” — Society for the Prevention of Army’s Third National Championship. But the game of the year failed to answer any questions about supremacy in the college football world. The brutal, hard-fought struggle ended in a disappointing and frustrating 0-0 tie. “I suppose I should be elated over the tie,” mused Leahy after the game. “After all, we didn’t lose, but I’m not.” Blaik echoed his thoughts. “There is no jubilation in this dressing room. It was a vigorously-fought, terrific defensive game. Both teams played beautifully on the defense and that affected both teams’ attacks.” Neither squad mustered much of a scoring threat all afternoon. Notre Dame drove all the way to the Army four-yard line in the second quarter, but the Black Knights stopped the Irish on downs. Notre Dame had moved the ball mostly by running down the right side. When the Irish got the ball to the Navy four-yard line, the Irish ran two quarterback sneaks. Following those attempts, the Irish ran two plays to the left, but failed to score. Notre Dame’s defense contained Army’s touchdown twins — Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis — who were often caught behind the line of scrimmage. But Blanchard, frustrated by an Irish line that refused to budge, made a last ditch effort to score, and he almost succeeded. Army crossed into Notre Dame territory for the first and only time all day as Blanchard, “Mr. Inside,” broke around the end, cut for the sideline and had a clear path to the end zone. Only one man was in a position to try and stop him. As 74,000 fans leaped to their feet, Johnny Lujack sped across the field, closed in on his prey and dove for Blanchard’s ankles. The All-American was dragged down on the Notre Dame 37-yard line. “They said Blanchard couldn’t be stopped one-on-one in the open field, yet I did it,” said an exhausted Lujack after the game. “I really can’t understand all the fuss. I simply pinned him against the sideline and dropped him with a routine tackle.” Army then moved the ball to the Notre Dame 12-yard line and Davis threw an option pass, which was intercepted by future Irish head coach Terry Brennan at the eight-yard line. One play later, Brennan ran the ball past the Irish 30 and Notre Dame was out of trouble. Even the statistics couldn’t pinpoint a clear-cut winner. Notre Dame had 10 first downs to Army’s nine; the Cadets gained 224 yards, while Notre Dame managed 219. Each team had 52 yards passing and 40 yards punting. Army completed four of 16 passes; the Irish were five of 17.
Notre Dame vs. Service Academies Notre Dame has won 84 percent of its games (127-22-5) vs. teams from the three service academies (Army, Navy and Air Force). The Irish have won 14 consecutive games against the service academies and are 35-1-0 (.971) against the schools since 1986 (including a 17-1 mark at home). The only defeat in that time was a 20-17 overtime loss to Air Force in 1996 at Notre Dame Stadium. More than half (80) of Notre Dame’s 153 games against service academies, and more than half of its victories (70) have come against Navy, part of the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country.
On This Date Notre Dame has played 16 games in its history on Nov. 18. The Irish are 14-0-2 all-time on this date. The Irish have won their last seven games played on Nov. 18. Notre Dame has never faced Army on this date.
Nov. 18, 1967: Notre Dame wins the 500th game in school history with a 36-3 rout over Georgia Tech.
Nov. 18, 1969: Rahgib “Rocket” Ismail is born in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Nov. 18, 1978: Running back Vagas Ferguson ran for a then school record 255 yards on 30 carries against Georgia Tech. The single-game record stood until Julius Jones ran for 262 yards at Pittsburgh on Oct. 11, 2003.
Nov. 18, 1989: Quarterback Tony Rice and tailback Ricky Watters each rushed for over 100 yards as the Irish rolled past Penn State, 34-23. Rice had 141 yards on 26 carries, while Watters totaled 128 yards on 16 carries. Notre Dame rushed for 425 yards on the day.
Nov. 18, 1995: Irish running backs’ Randy Kinder and Autry Denson each eclipsed 100 yards in a 44-14 rout of Air Force. Kinder had 121 yards on 14 rushes, while Denson has 109 yards on 16 carries.
The Last Meeting No. 18 Notre Dame 20, Army 17 Oct. 28, 1998
(AP) – Notre Dame kicker Jim Sanson atoned for two missed opportunities with a career-best 48-yard field goal in the final two minutes as the No. 18 Irish beat Army 20-17 on Saturday. Sanson, who earlier missed a 48-yard attempt into the wind, had just enough leg to get the low, wobbly kick through the uprights with 1:06 left. Army, who had attempted just one pass before Sanson’s winning kick, then had to abandon its running game on their next possession, and Notre Dame’s Johnny Sanders intercepted a pass from Johnny Goff at the Irish 37 with eight seconds left to preserve the win. Before the winning kick, Sanson had been just 1-of-3 for his career on attempts from outside of 45 yards, and his 39-yard field goal in the first half was his longest of the season. Notre Dame needed Sanson’s heroics after Army’s 74-yard, 12-play drive in the fourth quarter that tied the game at 17-17 after Craig Stucker scored from 19 yards out with 10:00 left for his first career rushing touchdown. Army and Notre Dame then traded punts, and the Irish got the ball back at their own 24-yard line with 4:56 left. Jackson then marched the Irish downfield to just outside the Army 30-yard-line. But on third-and-3 from just outside the Army 30-yard-line, fullback Jamie Spencer dropped Jarious Jackson’s pass in the right flat, forcing Irish coach Bob Davie to call on Sanson. Save for Sanson’s game-winning field goal, the Irish kicking game was a comedy of errors that helped Army stay close despite a career-best, 270-yard passing performance by Jackson. On their opening drive of the second half, the Irish drove down to the Cadet 5-yard line. But on third-and-2, Jackson was hit from behind as he released the ball. Then the Irish muffed the snap on a 22-yard field goal attempt, and holder Hunter Smith had to dump the ball off to Sanson for a five-yard loss. The Cadets also partially blocked a punt by Smith in the first quarter, giving them the ball at the Irish 25. Army could only pick up 1 yard on three plays, but Eric Olsen kicked a 40-yard field goal to put the Cadets up 3-0 and give them their only lead of the game. The Irish, who had been averaging 230 yards rushing per game, were held to 36 yards on the ground in the first half and 123 for the game. That forced the Irish to rely on Jackson, who’s previous best passing performance was 199 yards earlier this season. Jackson finished the day 17-of-31 with one interception. He also hit Bobby Brown for a 38-yard pass in the third quarter that resulted in a touchdown after Brown fumbled the ball at the 2-yard line and receiver Malcolm Johnson recovered it in the end zone for the score and a 17-10 lead.
Last Week Against Air Force With Notre Dame’s touchdown on the game’s opening drive, the Irish recorded a touchdown on their opening drive of the game for the fourth time in 2006 and 12th time in head coach Charlie Weis’ 22nd career game on the sidelines. The Irish touchdown drive (two plays, 80 yards) following the opening kickoff took just 54 seconds off the game clock. The touchdown was the earliest of the season for Notre Dame – besting the previous mark of 2:03 set last weekend on the opening drive against North Carolina. The drive also equaled the fastest scoring drive of the season for the Irish (ND had a 54-second drive against Michigan earlier this season). The Irish scored on their first two drives of the afternoon. It marked the 10th time this season that Notre Dame has scored at least 14 points in a single quarter. The Irish limited the Falcons to just a field goal in the opening two quarters. Notre Dame has held its opponents to three points or less in 18 different quarters this season. Notre Dame’s 87-yard, third quarter scoring drive was the second longest of the season. The Irish had a 91-yard touchdown march against Stanford earlier this season. Air Force came into Saturday’s game averaging 266.88 yards rushing (third in the NCAA). Notre Dame limited the Falcons’ ground game to 200 yards on 60 carries. Air Force’s previous single-game low for rushing this season was 208 against BYU on Oct. 28. The Falcons averaged 4.5 yards per carry over its first eight games, but managed just 3.3 yards per rush this afternoon. Air Force also rushed for 297 yards earlier this season at No. 13 Tennessee. The following Notre Dame players extended streaks for consecutive starts: senior QB Brady Quinn (42), senior OT Ryan Harris (33), senior DT Derek Landri (33), senior DE Victor Abiamiri (22), senior WR Jeff Samardzija (22), senior OL Dan Santucci (21), senior CB Mike Richardson (21) and junior LB Maurice Crum, Jr. (21).
In the Weis Era the 20 points in the first quarter is the most for the Irish in the opening period and tied for the fifth-most points in any quarter under Weis. the 27 points in the first half are the fourth most in a half under Weis. the 24-point halftime lead was the largest of 2006 and largest since a 28-0 lead over Purdue on Oct. 1, 2005 (the largest halftime lead under Weis). the Irish averaged 8.3 yards per play (383 yards on 46 plays). It is the highest average yards per play under Weis (previous high was 8.0 yards per play against BYU on Oct. 22, 2005). Notre Dame managed just 21:25 time of possession. It marked the least time of possession for the Irish under Weis (previous low was 24:21 against Michigan State earlier this season). the 22-point margin of victory is the second largest of 2006 and fifth largest under Weis.
Senior QB Brady Quinn Notre Dame Single-Season History now has 357 pass attempts this season to rank second. Quinn passed his total of 353 from the 2004 season. now has 2,786 passing yards this season to rank second. Quinn passed his total of 2,586 from the 2004 season and Jarious Jackson (2,753, 1999). NCAA History now has 1,492 career pass attempts to rank 14th all-time in NCAA Division I-A history. Quinn passed Todd Santos (San Diego State, 1984-87). now has 870 career pass completions to rank 17th all-time in NCAA Division I-A history. Quinn passed Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1994-97). now has 11,122 career passing yards to rank 18th all-time in NCAA Division I-A history. Quinn passed Ryan Schneider (UCF, 2000-03) and Charlie Frye (Akron, 2001-04). now has 87 career passing touchdowns to rank tied for 11th all-time in NCAA Division I-A history with Luke McCown (Louisiana Tech, 2000-03) and Tim Lester (Western Michigan, 1996-99). Quinn passed Ben Roethlisberger (Miami of Ohio, 2001-03), Chris Redman (Louisville, 1996-99) and Andrew Walter (Arizona State, 2001-04).
Miscellaneous with his first completion on Saturday, Quinn has recorded a completion in 46 straight games (already a school record). registered his 43rd consecutive start for the Irish (tied with Chris Leak for the second most among active I-A QB’s). tossed four or more touchdown passes for the seventh time in his career (third time in 2006). Even more impressive, all four TD passes went to different receivers. Quinn has now tossed touchdown passes to seven different Notre Dame receivers this season. Quinn has now gone 223 consecutive passes without an interception (NCAA Division I-A record is 271 held by Trent Dilfer of Fresno State in 1993).
Consecutive Passes Without An Interception This Season (Division I-A) 1. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame 223 2. Kevin Kolb, Houston 191* 3. Colt Brennan, Hawaii 182* 4. Dennis Dixon, Oregon 161* 5. James Pinkney, East Carolina 149* *- streaks are inactive
Junior RB Darius Walker recorded a reception in his 25th consecutive game. eclipsed 100 yards on the ground for the fourth time in 2006 and 11th time in his career. his 39-yard scamper in the fourth quarter was his longest rush of the season (career-high is a 40-yard rush against Pittsburgh in 2005). recorded his sixth touchdown of 2006 (fifth rushing) and 24th of his career (21st on the ground).
Notre Dame running back Darius Walker rushes away from Navy tacklers Tyler Tidwell, left, and Irv Spencer, right, during the second half. (AP Photo/Chris Gardner)
Senior WR Jeff Samardzija now has 55 receptions in 2006 to rank tied for fifth in single-season school history. Samardzija passed Jim Seymour (1968) and is tied with current teammate Rhema McKnight. now has 156 career receptions to rank third all-time in school history. now has 2,368 career receiving yards to rank third all-time in school history. Samardzija passed Tom Gatewood (1969-71) and trails Tim Brown (2,493, 1984-87) for second place. now has nine receiving touchdowns in 2006 to rank tied for fifth in single-season school history. Samardzija passed Tom Gatewood (1969) and Jim Seymour (1966). surpassed 100 yards receiving for fourth time in 2006 (tied for fourth most in single-season history) and ninth time in his career (tied for second most in career history).
Senior WR Rhema McKnight now has 55 receptions in 2006 to rank tied for fifth in single-season school history. McKnight passed Jim Seymour (1968) and is tied with current teammate Jeff Samardzija. now has 158 career receptions to rank first all-time in school history. McKnight passed Tom Gatewood (1969-71) for the school record. now has 19 career receiving touchdowns to rank tied for third all-time in school history. McKnight passed Maurice Stovall (2002-05).
Senior TE Marcus Freeman his 23-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter was his first career TD grab.
Senior FS Chinedum Ndukwe registered a career-high 22 tackles (previous career best was 11 earlier this season against Michigan). tied for third most tackles in single game school history. the most tackles for an Irish player since Bob Crable had a school record 26 against Clemson on Nov. 17, 1979.
How Do They Stack Up? Average weight of the offensive and defensive lines: ND OL 294.0 lbs. vs. Army DL 261.5 lbs. ND DL 277.0 lbs. vs. Army OL 282.8 lbs.
Average height of the receivers and the secondaries: ND WR/TE 6′ 4″ vs. Army DB 6′ 0″ ND DB 6′ 0″ vs. Army WR/TE 6′ 1″
Another Look at Ndukwe’s Record Setting Afternoon Against Air Force Senior FS Chinedum Ndukwe recorded a career-high 22 tackles last weekend against Air Force. Ndukwe’s previous career-high for tackles in a game was 12 set earlier this season against Michigan. The 22 tackles, which ranks tied for the third most in Notre Dame single-season history, were the most for an Irish player since Bob Crable registered a school record 26 against Clemson on Nov. 17, 1979. Of the 10 players to ever record 19 or more tackles in a game, Ndukwe is the only non-linebacker among the bunch.
Most Tackles in Single-Game Irish History 1. Bob Crable 26 vs. Michigan, Sept. 23, 1978 Bob Crable 26 vs. Clemson, Nov. 17, 1979 3. Chinedum Ndukwe 22 at Air Force, Nov. 11, 2006 Bob Golic 22 vs. Pittsburgh, Oct. 14, 1978 5. Bob Crable 20 at Michigan, Sept. 19, 1981
Most Tackles in NCAA Division I-A This Season 1. Chinedum Ndukwe 22 at Air Force, Nov. 11 Terrel White, Bowling Green 22 vs. Buffalo, Sept. 9 3. Troy Collavo, UTEP 21 vs. Rice, Nov. 4 4. Alvin Bowen, Iowa St. 20 vs. Toledo, Aug. 31 Keyonvis Bouie, Florida Int’l 20 vs. Alabama, Oct. 28 Matthew Castelo, San Jose St. 20 vs. Boise State, Nov. 11 Matthew Castelo, San Jose St. 20 vs. Utah State, Oct. 14
Brockington’s Effort Against Air Force Not Unnoticed Senior LB Joe Brockington was somewhat overshadowed last Saturday against Air Force. Brockington made a career-high 15 tackles in the victory over the Falcons. Brockington had just 12 career tackles over his first three years with the Irish. His 15 tackles would have been the most since Brandon Hoyte had 16 against Navy on Oct. 16, 2004 had Ndukwe not had the afternoon he did. Brockington moved into the starting lineup for the first time of his career against Purdue on Sept. 30. He has started each of the past six Notre Dame games. Brockington has amassed 40 tackles in his six starts.
Irish Takes Ball Security to Another Level Notre Dame has committed just nine turnovers over the entire season and five of those happened in just one game. The Irish have had six games this season without committing a single turnover. Notre Dame and BYU are the only two teams in NCAA Division I-A that have fewer than 10 turnovers. The Irish have only thrown four interceptions as Navy, Air Force and Texas A&M are the only schools with fewer (three). Notre Dame is also tied for 10th in the NCAA with only five fumbles lost. The Irish last led the nation in fewest turnovers during the 2000 season when Notre Dame set a new NCAA record for fewest turnovers per game in a season — just eight turnovers in 11 games (0.73 per game). The eight turnovers for an entire season was an NCAA record as well, shared by Clemson in 1940 and Miami (Ohio) in 1966. The Irish’s previous school record for fewest turnovers was 10 in 1993 with the 1997 team third best with 13.
Notre Dame Normally Comes Flying Out of the Gates Notre Dame has recorded a touchdown on its opening drive of the game on four separate occasions in 2006 (Purdue, Stanford, North Carolina and Air Force) and 12 times in head coach Charlie Weis’ 22 career games on the sidelines. In fact, the Irish have recorded touchdowns on their opening drives of each half in a game eight times (Purdue, Stanford, North Carolina, Air Force, Pittsburgh , BYU , Navy  and Stanford ) under Weis.
Irish Defense On The Field For An Eternity Notre Dame raced out to a 20-3 lead after the first quarter and managed to increase its lead to 27-3 by halftime despite having the ball for just three offensive plays in the second quarter (Air Force ran 28 plays in the quarter). The Falcons actually ran 32 consecutive offensive plays from scrimmage at one point. Air Force had a 17-play, 63-yard drive that ate 9:03 off the clock that failed to result in any points after Notre Dame senior DT Trevor Laws blocked a field goal attempt and sophomore Terrail Lambert raced 76 yards for a touchdown. The Falcons followed that drive up with a 15-play, 65-yard march that was capped off with a fourth-down touchdown pass. The Irish had the ball a total of 4:47 over the second and third quarters, yet still took a 33-10 lead into the final period. Air Force finished the game with 38:35 time of possession — the most for a Notre Dame opponent under second-year head coach Charlie Weis and most since Nov. 16, 1991 when Penn State racked up 39:47 of possession time.
Despite Time on Field, Notre Dame Defense Slows Air Force Rushing Attack Air Force came into last week’s game averaging 266.88 yards rushing (third in the NCAA). Notre Dame limited the Falcons’ ground game to 200 yards on 60 carries. Air Force’s previous single-game low for rushing in 2006 was 208 against BYU on Oct. 28. The Falcons averaged 4.5 yards per carry over its first eight games, but managed just 3.3 yards per rush last weekend. Air Force, who rushed for 297 yards earlier this season at No. 13 Tennessee, also totaled 327 yards on the ground against Wyoming (the 32nd rush defense in the nation).
Irish Offense Excels in Time Management Notre Dame has averaged 41.0 points per game over the past three victories over Navy, North Carolina and Air Force. As impressive as the stat is, it is even more impressive when you consider the Irish have not had a ton of opportunities. Notre Dame has had 29 offensive drives (excluding special teams and defensive scores) over the span and the Irish have scored 17 times, including 15 touchdowns. Basically, Notre Dame is scoring a touchdown almost 52-percent of the time they step on the field.
Landri as Active as They Come on Irish Defensive Line Senior DT Derrick Landri ranks fourth on the Irish this season with 55 tackles. He has twice posted games with 11 stops, including last weekend at Air Force. His 55 tackles are the most for an Irish defensive lineman since Justin Tuck’s 73 tackles in 2003. Landri has registered more tackles than any Notre Dame interior tackle since Alton Maiden had 56 in 1996. Landri, who will pass Maiden this week against Army, will most likely exceed Paul Grasmanis’ total of 69 from 1995 as well. He will not, however, eclipse the school record for tackles in a season by an interior tackle. That record of 113 by Steve Niehaus in 1975 is safe.
North Carolina quarterback Cam Sexton is sacked by Derek Landri.
Weis Keeps Rolling Along Head coach Charlie Weis is now 18-4 (.818) in his two seasons on the Irish sidelines. That .818 winning percentage is tied for fifth best by a Notre Dame head coach over his first 22 career games with the Irish. Weis only trails Frank Leahy (17-2-3, .841), Ara Parseghian (18-3-1, .841), Jesse Harper (19-3-0, .864) and Knute Rockne (19-1-2, .909).
A Look Back at Past Notre Dame Teams That Opened 9-1 With the victory last weekend over Air Force, the Irish opened a season 9-1 for the first time since 2002 and 12th time in school history. Notre Dame opened the 1977 season 9-1 following its victory over Air Force. The Irish closed the season at 11-1, including a 38-10 rout of Texas in the Cotton Bowl to secure the program’s 10th National Championship.
Irish Limiting Their Opponents to Well Below Averages Over the last five games, Notre Dame has faced a multitude of different offensive attacks ranging from the option of Navy and Air Force to the pro-set of UCLA. Despite those challenges, the Irish have held Stanford, UCLA, Navy, North Carolina and Air Force below their averages in a number of key categories.
Notre Dame Quite Comfortable Out In Front The last time the Irish found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard was in the waning minutes against UCLA on Oct. 21. Notre Dame trailed the Bruins 17-13 before Jeff Samardzija’s 45-yard touchdown pass from Brady Quinn propelled the Irish to a thrilling 20-17 victory. Notre Dame has since gone 180:27 without trailing Navy, North Carolina or Air Force.
Irish Road Warriors Notre Dame extended its road winning streak to eight games with its victory over Air Force in Colorado Spring on Nov. 4. The eight-game road winning streak is the longest since a nine-game streak that spanned four seasons (1991-94). The school record for consecutive wins on the road is 11, set twice by Frank Leahy coached teams. Notre Dame won 11 straight dating from Sept. 28, 1946 to Nov. 6, 1948. Ironically enough, that streak ended with a 14-14 tie against USC. The Irish went on to win five consecutive after the tie before finally losing a road contest at Indiana. In all, Notre Dame was unbeaten in 17 straight road games. The Irish put together another 11-game victory stretch from Nov. 22, 1952 to Oct. 7, 1955. The eight-game road winning streak also happens to be the first eight road games for second year Irish head coach Charlie Weis. It is the longest road unbeaten streak to open a Notre Dame coaching career since Leahy went 9-0-1 over his first 10 road games.
In The Red Zone Notre Dame was 2-of-2 in the red zone, both touchdowns, in the victory over Air Force last weekend. The Irish are now 34-for-37 (.919) in the red zone this season. Notre Dame has only settled for field goals on six of those trips. The Irish are 79-of-92 (.859) in the red zone during the Charlie Weis era. Notre Dame has recorded 67 touchdowns compared to just 12 field goals goals. In other words, the Irish register seven points almost 73 percent of the time they enter the red zone over the past two seasons. Conversely, Notre Dame’s opponents have scored a touchdown on just 14-of-27 trips into the red zone in 2006 (.519).
On Third & Fourth Down Notre Dame is now 49-for-133 (.368) on third down for the season. While the Irish have gone 11-for-21(.524) on third down the past two games, including 3-for-7 last weekend against Air Force, the statistic is way down from a year ago. The Irish converted 90-of-184 (.489) on third downs in 2005, which ranked seventh in the NCAA. While Notre Dame has struggled on third down, fourth down to this point of the season is a completely different story. The Irish are 17-for-24 on fourth down this season and rank 10th in the NCAA with a .708 conversion rate. In fact, only two teams in the country have more fourth down conversions than Notre Dame.
Football Definitely a Game of Adjustments The Notre Dame defense has shown its prowess in 2006 when it comes to making adjustments at halftime. The Irish have twice blanked opponents (Georgia Tech and Navy) after halftime and allowed four other foes (Michigan State, Purdue, Stanford and UCLA) to seven points or less after intermission. Notre Dame has yielded just 80 points in the second half over its 10 games in 2006 (28 of those came against Penn State and Air Force when the Irish held 41-3 and 33-3 leads, respectively). Here is an analytical look at the numbers before and after the midway point:
First Downs Rushing Yards Passing Yards Total Yards Points First Half 93 (9.3 avg.) 808 (80.8 avg.) 979 (97.9 avg.) 1,787 Second Half 84 (8.4 avg.) 529 (52.9 avg.) 976 (97.6 avg.) 1,505
Defense Puts Together Most Dominant First Half of 2006 Against North Carolina While the above note is a positive, it forced the Notre Dame defensive coaching staff to drive home the importance of opening the game in similar fashion to the way they have finished games. After North Carolina scored on its second drive of the game (80 yards, eight plays), the Irish limited the Tar Heels to minus-14 yards the rest of the half (12 plays). Notre Dame forced North Carolina into three plays and out on five of its six first half offensive drives. The Irish limited the Tar Heels to just four first downs, 23 rushing yards, 39 passing yards and 62 total yards.
Irish Defense Much Improved From 2005 The much maligned Notre Dame defense has improved in nearly every statistical category from last season. In addition to the improvement in scoring defense, the Irish have improved in pass defense, rush defense and total defense. Here is a closer look at each of those categories:
Category 2005 2006 Improvement Scoring Defense 24.5 21.6 2.9 points per game Passing Defense 264.6 195.5 69.1 yards per game Rushing Defense 132.3 133.7 — (Irish have faced two run-dominated option attacks) Total Defense 396.9 329.2 67.7 yards per game
Category 2005 NCAA Rank Category 2006 NCAA Rank Passing Defense 264.6 103rd Passing Defense 195.5 56th Total Defense 396.9 75th Total Defense 329.2 59th
Quinn Near Perfect Over Seven-Game Winning Streak Senior QB Brady Quinn has been nearly flawless the past seven games — all Irish victories. Quinn is completing 67.2 percent (158-for-235) of his passes for 2,019 yards, 23 touchdowns and just one interception. He currently owns the nation’s longest streak of consecutive passes without an interception at 223 (besting his own Notre Dame school record). Quinn has a 170.85 passing efficiency rating over the stretch of games.
Att. Cmp. Pct. Yds TD Int. Brady Quinn 235 158 67.2 2,019 23 1
Quinn Approaching Rarified Air Senior QB Brady Quinn has tossed 87 career touchdown passes over his brilliant four-year Irish career. Quinn has 61 TD passes over his last 22 games — an average of 2.8 per game. At his current pace, Quinn would finish his career with 11,958 yards passing and 96 touchdown passes. He could become just the ninth player in NCAA Division I history to surpass 12,000 yards passing and ninth to ever pass for 90 or more career TD passes. Quinn would be just the sixth player to ever accomplish both feats.
Brady Quinn Surpasses 10,000 Career Yards Senior QB Brady Quinn eclipsed another milestone against UCLA earlier this season. Quinn became the 32nd quarterback in the history of NCAA Division IA football to eclipse 10,000 career passing yards. Here is an interesting comparison of Quinn and some of the other notable members of the exclusive club (players that eclipsed 10,000 career yards and won the Heisman Trophy).
Att. Cmp. Int. Pct. Yds TD Brady Quinn 1,492 870 36 58.3 11,122 87 Ty Detmer 1,530 958 65 62.6 15,031 121 Carson Palmer 1,515 895 49 59.1 11,388 71 Danny Wuerffel 1,170 708 42 60.5 10,875 114 Matt Leinart 1,245 807 23 64.8 10,693 99 Doug Flutie 1,270 677 54 53.3 10,579 67
Brady Stacks Up With The Most Recent Heisman Trophy Winners Notre Dame senior QB Brady Quinn finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting last season. Brady is on pace for 3,622 yards passing and 38 touchdown passes. Here is an interesting comparison between Quinn and the previous five QBs to capture the Heisman Trophy (a QB has taken home the award five of the last six years):
Yds TD INT Pct Brady Quinn, Notre Dame (projected) 3,622 38 5 64.4 Matt Leinart, USC (2004) 3,322 33 6 65.3 Jason White, Oklahoma (2003) 3,846 40 10 61.6 Carson Palmer, USC (2002) 3,942 33 10 63.2 Eric Crouch, Nebraska (2001) *2,625 *26 10 55.5 Chris Weinke, Florida State (2000) 4,167 33 11 61.7 total yards (passing/rushing) and total touchdowns
Quinn Ranks High Among Active QBs Quarterback Brady Quinn currently ranks in the top five among all active Division I-A quarterbacks in 10 categories ranging from passing charts to total offense lists. The following lists the categories he currently ranks in the top five:
CATEGORY RANK TOTAL CURRENT LEADER Pass Touchdowns 1st 87 — Pass Attempts 1st 1,492 — Pass Completions2nd 870 Kevin Kolb, Houston (900) Pass Yards 2nd 11,122 Kevin Kolb, Houston (12,154) Total Off.-Yards2nd 11,192 Kevin Kolb, Houston (12,874) Total Off.-Plays3rd 1,727 Kevin Kolb, Houston (1,920) Total Off.-TDs 3rd 93 Kevin Kolb, Houston (98) Total Off.-Yds/Gm4th 243.3 Colt Brennan, Hawaii (385.2) Pass Attempts/Gm4th 32.4 Colt Brennan, Hawaii (40.7) Pass Yards/Game 5th 241.8 Colt Brennan, Hawaii (366.1)
Clock Winding Down, Brady At His Best Notre Dame senior QB Brady Quinn has conducted scoring drives to close the first half in six of the Irish’s 10 games this season. Against Navy, he went 5-for-6 for 64 yards and a 33-yard touchdown pass to senior Rhema McKnight. Over the six scoring drives (Georgia Tech, Penn State, Michigan, Stanford, UCLA and Navy) in the waning minutes of the first half in 2006, Quinn is a remarkable 34-for-40 for 341 yards passing, four touchdown passes and a touchdown run. Quinn registered one against Stanford and then led Notre Dame to a field goal drive last weekend against UCLA. He was 7-for-8 for 62 yards and added 14 yards rushing along the way against the Bruins. Against Stanford, he was 5-of-6 for 47 yards and a 15-yard touchdown to senior WR Rhema McKnight on the 68-yard scoring drive. With Notre Dame trailing Georgia Tech, 10-0, and just under five minutes to go in the first half in the season opener, Quinn led the Irish on a 14 play, 80-yard scoring drive. He went 5-of-8 for 39 yards and also added 23 yards rushing on the drive, capped off by his five-yard touchdown scamper. Quinn was even more impressive in his two scoring drives against Penn State and Michigan. Both within the no-huddle, two-minute offense, he spearheaded Notre Dame’s seven play, 69-yard and 1:17 march just before halftime against the Nittany Lions. Quinn was 5-of-5 for 58 yards and a touchdown strike on the drive. He was equally impressive running the two-minute drill late in the second quarter against the Wolverines. Quinn went 7-of-7 for 71 yards and a touchdown during the Irish’s eight play, 72-yard and 2:10 drive.
Upon Further Review, Landri Ties an NCAA Record Senior DT Derek Landri recorded his second blocked PAT of the season against North Carolina. Landri blocked the Tar Heels point after attempt in the second quarter. The Irish blocked another extra-point in the third quarter. Initially, senior DT Trevor Laws was credited with the block, but turns out that Landri actually deflected the football. Landri became just the second player in NCAA history to ever block a pair of point after attempts in the same game. Nigel Codrington of Rice blocked two point-after attempts on Nov. 5, 1988 against, of all teams, Notre Dame, and in, of all places, Notre Dame Stadium.
Charlie And The Irish Offensive Factory Second year head coach Charlie Weis came to Notre Dame with a tremendous reputation as one of the premier offensive minds in all of the NFL. The Irish saw immediate results in 2005, setting 11 school records, including passing yards (3,963), touchdown passes (32), total offense yards (5,728) and total points (440). After Notre Dame scored 45 points against North Carolina, the Irish has surpassed the 40-point barrier on nine different occasions in Weis’ 22 games as head coach. Prior to Weis’ arrival, Notre Dame had eclipsed 40 points just nine times in its previous 97 contests. In addition, the Irish had 83 separate 100-yard receiving games over its first 116 seasons of football, but Notre Dame has had 18 the past two years under Weis. To put those numbers in perspective, Notre Dame averaged a 100-yard receiving effort every 13 games. Under Weis, the Irish is almost recording a 100-yard receiving effort every game.
John Carlson Turning In All-American Type Season; Leads TE Nationwide in Receiving YPG Before his recent injury that will sidelined him for the next couple weeks, Notre Dame senior TE John Carlson exploded onto the college football scene in 2006. He has 46 receptions for 621 yards — good for an average of 62.1 yards a game. Carlson’s season already ranks as one of the best ever by an Irish tight end. His 621 yards receiving ranks second best in single-season tight end history, while his 46 catches is third best. Carlson’s 13.5 yards per catch is second among all Irish receivers. He is 62nd, nationally, in receiving yards per game and second among tight ends. He also ranks 56th overall in receptions per game and third in the category among tight ends. With Carlson’s 121-yard effort on four grabs against Michigan State (also tied an ND record for average yards per reception in a single-game), he became the first Irish tight end to eclipse 100 yards receiving in a game since Anthony Fasano had 155 yards against Purdue on Oct. 2, 2004. He has proven to be one of the top tight ends in 2006 and his numbers already compare quite favorably with the last six John Mackey Award winners.
Year Player No. Yds TD 2006 John Carlson (projected) 46 621 4 2005 Marcedes Lewis (UCLA) 58 741 10 2004 Heath Miller (Virginia) 36 475 5 2003 Kellen Winslow (Miami) 55 557 1 2002 Dallas Clark (Iowa) 39 645 4 2001 Daniel Graham (Colo) 51 753 6 2000 Tim Stratton (Purdue) 56 579 2
Zbikowski’s Rapid Returns Senior SS Tom Zbikowski has made a name for himself in the Notre Dame record books. He became the fifth player in Irish history to ever return three punts for touchdowns in a career. Zbikowski has seven career TD returns (two interceptions, three punts, two fumbles). Earlier this season, Zbikowski scooped up a fumble and raced 25 yards for a touchdown against Penn State. With the return, Zbikowski became the Irish all-time leader in fumble return yards (100) and joined Tony Driver (1997-00) as the only Notre Dame players to ever return a pair of fumbles for touchdowns. In a three-game stretch against USC, BYU and Tennessee in 2005, he returned a punt or interception for a touchdown four times – the first Irish defensive player to accomplish such a feat. Zbikowski also returned a fumble 75 yards for a TD against Michigan State in 2004. With his interception and punt return for a touchdown against Tennessee in 2005, Zbikowski became the first Irish player to accomplish that feat (interception return and punt return in the same game) since Nick Rassas against Northwestern in 1965. Rassas returned an interception 92 yards for a touchdown and a punt 72 yards for a score in Notre Dame’s 38-7 rout.
Career Punt Returns For TD Tom Zbikowski 3 2003-06 Allen Rossum 3 1994-96 Ricky Watters 3 1987-90 Tim Brown 3 1984-87 Nick Rassas 3 1963-65
Victor Violating Opposing Offenses Senior DE Victor Abiamiri was in Notre Dame’s opposing backfield so often over four straight weeks (Stanford, UCLA, Navy, North Carolina) that teams might have asked him to pay rent. Abiamiri, who leads the Irish with 10.0 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss and 12 quarterback hurries, was almost unblockable. Abiamiri had 9.0 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks and five QB hurries in that span. He ranks sixth in the NCAA in sacks and 13th in tackles for loss this season. Abiamiri is tied for third on the all-time Irish list for career sacks (21.0) and ranks fifth with 39.5 career TFLs.
|——-TACKLES——-| |-FUMBLE-| S A T TFL Sacks FF FR QBH Stanford 4 1 5 3.5 3.0 0 0 2 UCLA 1 3 4 1.5 1.0 0 0 2 Navy 4 2 6 2.0 2.0 0 0 0 North Carolina 4 0 4 2.0 2.0 0 0 1 Totals 13 6 19 9.0 8.0 0 0 5
McKnight & Samardzija Neck & Neck Down The Stretch The senior WR tandem of Rhema McKnight and Jeff Samardzija each rank among the top 10 in ND history for career receiving yards and receptions. McKnight became the school’s all-time leader in receptions when he hauled in his 158th career catch, but Samardzija is right on his tail. Samardzija has 156 career grabs, third best all-time. Tom Gatewood (1969-71) previously held the school record with 157 career receptions. McKnight is seventh in school history with 2,096 yards receiving, while Samardzija’s 2,368 yards receiving is third best in ND history. Samardzija, who has 24 career TD grabs, set a new school record for career touchdowns receptions (breaking the previous record of 22 held by Derrick Mayes). McKnight ranks 18th in the NCAA among active receivers in catches and 19th in touchdown receptions. Samardzija is also among the top 20 in the NCAA among active receivers in TD catches (8th), yards (14th) and yards per catch (17th). Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett, USC, are the only other active teammates to be ranked among the top 20 in the NCAA in any of those three categories.
Jeff Samardzija attempts to push off the tackle of North Carolina cornerback Jacoby Watkins.
Samardzija On The Brink Senior All-American WR Jeff Samardzija will close his career as one of the most decorated Irish wide receivers of all time. Samardzija’s already owns the school record with 24 career touchdown catches and ranks third all-time with 2,368 receiving yards. Last weekend against Air Force, Samardzija had 106 yards on six receptions. He eclipsed 100 yards receiving for the fourth time in 2006 and ninth time in his career (only Tom Gatewood, 13, has more career 100-yard receiving games). The most impressive thing about Samardzija’s numbers are the fact that they have been recorded basically the past two seasons.
Player, Years Yards Games with a reception Derrick Mayes, 1992-95 2,512 40 Tim Brown, 1984-87 2,493 39 Jeff Samardzija, 2004-06 2,368 32 Tom Gatewood, 1969-71 2,283 30 Maurice Stovall, 2002-05 2,195 38 Jim Seymour, 1966-68 2,113 28
Cover Me Notre Dame hasn’t let the opposition generate good field position on kickoff’s this season … The Irish are allowing just 18.9 yards per kick return versus its foes in 2006 … Senior Bobby Renkes and freshman Ryan Burkhart are two of the main reasons why … Renkes has five touchbacks on his 21 kickoffs and Burkhart has seven touchbacks on 36 kickoffs this season … Notre Dame ranks 32nd nationally in kickoff return defense … The Irish has also stepped up its punt return defense in their last six games … Notre Dame has allowed just 73 total return yards on eight punts versus Purdue, Stanford, UCLA, Navy, North Carolina and Air Force … Senior punter and Ray Guy candidate Geoff Price, who is sixth in the NCAA with a 45.4 per punt average, has only had 17 of his 41 punts returned this season.
In Front of a Full House Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 191 of its previous 217 games, including 66 of its last 71 contests dating back to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the end of the 2000 season (the 2001, 2003 and 2005 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy at the Meadowlands and the 2005 game at Washington were not sellouts). At Michigan in 2003, the Irish and Wolverines attracted the largest crowd in NCAA history (111,726), marking the third time in the history of the series that an NCAA attendance record was set. It also represented the seventh time in the last four seasons that Notre Dame has been part of establishing a new stadium attendance record (at Nebraska and Texas A&M in 2001; at Air Force and Florida State, home vs. Boston College in 2002, vs. Oregon State in the Insight Bowl in 2004 – the game set a Bank One Ballpark record for football configuration). Notre Dame and Michigan played before an over-capacity 111,386 at Michigan Stadium in September of 2005. The 2005 Washington game was played before less than a capacity crowd as 71,473 witnessed the Irish defeat the Huskies, 36-17, at Husky Stadium (capacity: 72,500) in Seattle. At Purdue, the Irish and Boilermakers played before 65,491 football fans, a Ross-Ade Stadium record (since the renovation of the facility in 2003).
One of Nation’s Best Not Needed Vs. Navy Senior P Geoff Price ranks sixth in the NCAA in punting at 45.4 yards per punt. That average would break Notre Dame’s previous school record for average yards per punt (44.9) set by Craig Hentrich in 1990. While Price has proven to be a weapon for the Irish this season, anytime Notre Dame can get through an entire game without his services is a definite positive. The Irish were not forced to punt against Navy. It marked the first time Notre Dame failed to punt in a game since Nov. 12, 2005 against the Midshipmen. Notre Dame ran 62 plays over its 10 drives and ran 70 plays over nine drives in last season’s meeting. The Irish have gone 140 plays against Navy without being forced to punt – dating back to a D.J. Fitzpatrick punt in the fourth quarter of a 27-9 Irish victory in 2004.
Crum, Jr. Making Crumbs Of Ball Carriers Junior LB Maurice Crum, Jr. has been a vital asset to Notre Dame’s defensive effort the past few weeks. He has led the Irish in tackles two of the past three weeks (recorded 9.0 tackles, one for loss and a sack against North Carolina/11.0 tackles, four solo, versus Navy). Crum, Jr. has amassed over 10 tackles in a game on two occasions. He recorded a team-best eight tackles and added a pass breakup and sack against UCLA as well. Crum, Jr. is second on Notre Dame with 77 tackles and 34 solo stops. He is fourth on the Irish defense with 8.0 tackles for loss, including 3.0 sacks. Crum has also added a forced fumble, two pass break-ups and two quarterback hurries. He registered a career-high 14 tackles earlier this season against Penn State.
Auditions For Notre Dame’s Third Wideout No Longer Needed Sophomore WR David Grimes was instrumental in Notre Dame’s come-from-behind victory over UCLA and added three catches for 72 yards, including a 36-yard TD grab against Navy. Grimes posted career-highs in both receptions (8) and receiving yards (79) against the Bruins. He came up with a huge 14-yard reception for a first down on Notre Dame’s three play, 80-yard game-winning drive. Grimes, who missed the Purdue game, has 18 catches this season for 222 yards. His previous career-high for catches and yards came against Michigan (4 for 48).
Price is Right Despite the fact he entered this season with only two career punts, Geoff Price has made his presence known across the country for Notre Dame. Price is sixth in the NCAA in punting with a per kick average of 45.4. That average would break Notre Dame’s previous school record for average yards per punt (44.9) set by Craig Hentrich in 1990. He not only has dropped 12 punts inside the 20-yard line, including two against North Carolina, but also has nine punts of 50 or more yards. Price has averaged 50+ yards in punts in two separate games, including a school-record 51.9 yards per kick (7-for-363) against Michigan.
Quinn’s TD Passes Streak Brady Quinn tossed at least one touchdown pass in 16 games in a row for the Irish before the skid ended in the 2006 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, breaking John Huarte’s record of 10 set in 1964. The Dublin, Ohio, native totaled 40 scoring tosses during the run. He is on a similar roll in 2006. Quinn has not only tossed a touchdown pass in nine consecutive games, but he has recorded multiple touchdown passes in each of those games as well. It is the second streak of at least eight consecutive games with two or more touchdown passes in his career.
24 and Counting Junior RB Darius Walker extended his streak to 25 straight games with at least one catch at Air Force on Nov. 11. His current streak is the longest on the team. Walker has hauled in at least one pass dating back to the Tennessee game on Nov. 13, 2004. He has caught 97 passes for 737 yards and three TDs over the 25 games. He is averaging just over four catches per game, and 7.7 yards per reception.
Thomas Pulling Double Duty Travis Thomas made the switch over to defense in the spring to add some speed and quickness to that side of the football for the Irish. Thomas had three carries, a season-high 44 yards and a touchdown earlier this season against Penn State. He added another rushing touchdown against Navy. Thomas is the first Notre Dame player rush for a touchdown in a game in which he started on defense since Jeff Burris on Nov. 20, 1993 against Boston College. Burris, an All-American safety, rushed 16 times for 92 yards and six touchdowns that season.
Notre Dame’s Travis Thomas rushes for 43 yards on a fake punt in the third quarter
Terrail Lambert Derails Opposition Junior CB Terrail Lambert undoubtedly etched his name along side some of the all-time Notre Dame legends following his performance against Michigan State. His 27-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter capped the Irish’s thrilling 40-37 come-from-behind victory over the Spartans. The pick was not only his first career interception, but was Notre Dame’s first interception return for a touchdown since junior CB Leo Ferrine had a 16-yard “pick six” against Syracuse last year. Lambert was also the first Irish defender with two interceptions in the same game since Sept. 21, 2002, when Gerome Sapp had two picks at Michigan State in a 21-17 Notre Dame victory. Lambert is ninth on the team with 34 tackles, including a career-best 11 stops earlier in the season against Purdue. He also chipped in with a forced fumble and fumble recovery on the same play. Lambert also leads the squad with three interceptions. He even returned a blocked punt for a touchdown against Air Force. Lambert is the first Irish player to record a blocked field goal return for touchdown since at least 1973 (Notre Dame records unable to specify).
Darius Walker The Runner vs. Darius Walker The Receiver Junior RB Darius Walker set a new single-game, career-high with nine receptions against Purdue earlier this season. He had registered seven catches in a game on three different occasions, including twice in 2006. Walker is third on the team with 48 receptions in 2006. He also leads the NCAA in receptions by a running back. Already the Notre Dame career leader in catches by a running back (101), Walker will shatter his previous single-season school record (43) for receptions by a running back.
Need A First Down, Dial Darius Walker Junior RB Darius Walker has touched the football 156 times the past five games. Of those 140 touches, 44 resulted in a first down for the Irish. In fact, Walker leads Notre Dame with 67 first down plays. Against Purdue earlier this season, Walker touched the ball 27 different times in the first-half against the Boilermakers. Of those 27 touches, nine resulted in a first down for the Irish. Walker finished the afternoon with 12.
McKnight & Carlson Moving The Chains Senior WR Rhema McKnight and senior TE John Carlson have combined to earn 72 first downs this season. McKnight has 55 receptions and 39 of them have resulted in a first down, while Carlson has registered a first down on 33 of his 46 catches.
Darius Walker Running Into Irish History Junior RB Darius Walker has led the Irish in rushing each of the past two seasons and will most likely do it again in 2006. Walker has rushed for 921 yards this season, including 696 over the last six games. He would be the sixth running back in school history to lead the Irish in rushing three consecutive seasons and the first since Autry Denson (1995-98). Walker would be the first running back to lead Notre Dame in rushing over his first three seasons since Emil Sitko (1946-49). Sitko actually led Notre Dame in rushing each of his four seasons.
Abiamiri Named to Mid-Season Hendricks Award Watch List Senior defensive end Victor Abiamiri was named to the 2006 Mid-Season Hendricks Award Watch List announced Oct. 24 by the Hendricks Foundation. He has 39 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 10.0 sacks in 2006. Abiamiri now has 21.0 sacks for his career. He has been a key member of Notre Dame’s defensive line since his freshman season in 2003 when he became just the fourth freshman to start on the defensive line for Notre Dame since 1991. Abiamiri enjoyed a great season in 2005 totaling 48 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, a team-high eight sacks and seven quarterback hurries helping him earn the team’s Lineman of the Year Award from the Moose Krause Chapter of the National Football Foundation.
Irish Triple Option Passing Attack The Notre Dame offense has its own version of the triple option in the passing game. The Irish have three players, Jeff Samardzija, Rhema McKnight and John Carlson, each rank among the top 65 in the NCAA in receiving yards per game. Notre Dame and New Mexico State are the only two schools that have three student-athletes in the top 65. Notre Dame also has four receivers, including junior RB Darius Walker, among the top 56 in catches per game. McKnight and Samardzija are tied for the team-lead with 55 catches, while Walker is third with 48 and Carlson is fourth with 46 grabs. McKnight and Samardzija are tied for 21st, Walker is 44th and Carlson is 56th in the NCAA in receptions per game.
Instant Classic The UCLA game certainly qualifies among the most “fantastic Irish finishes” ever at Notre Dame Stadium. Four times now, in the 75-year history of Notre Dame Stadium, the Irish have scored the winning touchdown in the final minute of regulation:
Oct. 27, 1979: Rusty Lisch’s 14-yard TD pass to Dean Masztak and two-point conversion pass to Pete Holohan with 42 seconds to play beat South Carolina, 18-17.
Nov. 14, 1992: Rick Mirer’s three-yard TD pass to Jerome Bettis and ensuing two-point conversion (pass from Mirer to Reggie Brooks) give the Irish a 17-16 victory over Penn State with 0:20 on the clock.
Oct. 30, 1999: Jarious Jackson’s 16-yard TD pass to Jay Johnson with 0:36 left gives Notre Dame a 28-24 win over Navy.
Oct. 22, 2006: Brady Quinn’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Samardzija produces the game-winning points with just 27 seconds left in a 20-17 win over UCLA.
Irish Rush Defense Bottles Up UCLA UCLA entered the game with Notre Dame averaging over 143.67 yards a game rushing. In fact, the Bruins leading rusher, Chris Markey, ranked 18th in the NCAA at 98.7 yards per game. UCLA found life quite difficult against the Irish defense. The Bruins managed only 26 yards on the ground on 28 carries, just under a yard per tote. And, Markey had 19 carries for 32 yards and 11 of those yards came on one carry. Notre Dame was even more impressive in the second half. The Irish limited the Bruins to minus-17 yards on the ground.
Quinn Not Afraid of the Late Game Dramatics This season marks the 76th year of Notre Dame Stadium. There have been only nine games in the history of the “Stadium That Rockne Built” where the Irish trailed in the final minute and won (four by TD and five by FG). Jarious Jackson (1998 vs. Purdue and 1999 vs. Navy) and senior QB Brady Quinn (2003 vs. Navy, 2006 vs. UCLA) are the only two Irish quarterbacks to lead multiple game-winning drives when ND trailed at home in the final minute. But, Jackson’s drive against Purdue in 1998 does really approach either of Quinn’s, as Tony Driver’s interception of Drew Brees put the ball at the 5-yard line (Jackson handed off to Autry Denson three times which got it down to the 1-yard line before the winning chip shot). Here is a look at both of Quinn’s game-winning drives.
Opponent C-A-Yards TD UCLA (2006) 3-3-80 1 Navy (2003) 4-6-35 0 Totals 7-9-115 1
Irish Legends Are Made In The 4th Quarter, Brady Definitely Among The Greats Senior QB Brady Quinn has turned the fourth quarter into his own personal sanctuary. Quinn has been at his best in the fourth quarter this season. He is 45-of-70, just shy of 65 percent, for 603 yards and seven TD passes. He has also tossed just one interception in the final quarter over the entire season.
Notre Dame Defense Dominates UCLA on First Down The Irish defense had struggled for most of the season on first down. Entering the matchup with UCLA, Notre Dame was allowing its opponents 6.79 yards on first down. The Irish limited the Bruins to a total of 24 yards on first down — an average of only 1.0 yard on first down.
Going Down To The Wire In the two seasons since Charlie Weis arrived at Notre Dame (22 games), seven games have been decided by seven points or less and five have been decided by three points or less. Notre Dame has won its fair share. The Irish are 5-2 in games decided by a seven points or less since Weis arrived in 2005. Notre Dame has captured its last four games decided by a touchdown or less.
Not Too Bad A Drive Notre Dame had three scoring drives of 75 yards or longer last weekend against Navy. The Irish had a pair of 80 yard marches and a 76 yard drive. Notre Dame had two of its longest drives of the season against Stanford and UCLA as well. The Irish closed the first half against the Bruins with a 19-play, 77-yard drive that took 7:18 off the clock. The drive is the longest of the season for Notre Dame in terms of plays and time of possession. Ironically, it was the longest scoring drive that failed to result in a touchdown since Oct. 11, 2003 against Pittsburgh — when the Irish used 9:14 off the clock and did not score (that 16-play, 68-yard drive ran out the clock to end the game). Notre Dame followed that drive with another scoring drive that almost exceeded seven minutes, again resulting in just a field goal. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Irish game-winning three play, 80-yard drive against UCLA took 35 seconds.
Brady Quinn Boiling Hot Against Purdue Purdue must think the Notre Dame senior signal caller wore an Irish uniform for 10 years. Quinn put together a remarkable career in four games against the Boilermakers. He blitzed the Purdue defense for 1,485 yards passing and seven touchdowns. In Quinn’s last three games against the Boilermakers, he has thrown for 432 yards (2004), 440 (2005) and 316 (2006) — the outings in 2004 and 2005 rank fourth and fifth respectively on the ND single-game list. Quinn went 29-for-38 with two touchdowns against Purdue earlier this season. Combined with last year’s game in West Lafayette, Quinn completed 58-for-74 (78.4) and five touchdowns.
Walker Early & Often Junior RB Darius Walker had 20 carries and seven receptions in the first-half against Purdue. He finished with a season-high 31 carries and career-high nine catches. The 40 touches in a single-game tied his previous career-high. Walker recorded 40 touches (35 rushes, 5 receptions) against Stanford on Nov. 26, 2005.
Five Straight Undefeated Opponents To Open The Season Notre Dame always plays one of the top schedules in all of college football, but the Irish took that to the ultimate extreme this season. Notre Dame faced an undefeated opponent each of its first five games this season. The 1999 Notre Dame squad was the last Irish team to face five consecutive undefeated foes to open the season.
Irish Comeback For The Ages From the 7-0 victory over Oklahoma in 1957 snapping the Sooners 47-game winning streak, to Harry Oliver’s 51-yd field goal as time expired to defeat Michigan in 1980, to the 31-30 victory over top-ranked Miami in 1988 en route to the school’s 11th national championship, Notre Dame has been part of some unbelievable football games over its 118 years of football. The comeback victory over Michigan State earlier this year will sit along side those previously mentioned games. The Irish overcame a 16-point fourth quarter deficit against the Spartans (actually trailed 37-21 with just under nine minutes remaining), the largest deficit entering the fourth quarter the Irish have overcome since the 1979 Cotton Bowl (Jan. 1, 1979) when Notre Dame trailed Houston, 34-12, with just under eight minutes to go in the game and came back to win, 35-34. Joe Montana threw the winning touchdown pass to Kris Haines as time expired (Joe Unis kicked the deciding PAT) in what was later termed “The Chicken Soup Game.”
Secondary Stands Tall Against Some of the Nation’s Best WR Over Notre Dame’s first five games, the Irish secondary has been dealt the difficult task of guarding some of the countries top wide receivers. Notre Dame faced Calvin Johnson of Georgia Tech, Derrick Williams of Penn State, Steve Breaston of Michigan, Matt Trannon of Michigan State and Dorien Bryant of Purdue (all of who entered the game as their teams top receiver). With the exception of Johnson’s first half in the season opener, Notre Dame has clearly taken away these premier playmakers. Here is a quick synopsis of the Irish against those dangerous wideouts:
1st Half 2nd Half Rec. Yds. Avg. Rec. Yds. Avg. Calvin Johnson 5 95 19.0 2 16 8.0 Derrick Williams 1 3 3.0 2 9 4.5 Steve Breaston 3 29 9.7 3 13 4.3 Matt Trannon 0 0 0.0 2 23 11.5 Dorien Bryant 1 13 13.0 2 28 14.0
Notre Dame Little Too Unselfish Ervin Baldwin of Michigan State was the third Notre Dame opponent to register a defensive touchdown in consecutive weeks against Michigan and the Spartans. The Wolverines had a pair of defensive scores in their victory over the Irish. Prior to the Sept. 16 against Michigan, the Irish had allowed just three defensive touchdowns total in their previous 34 games.
Notre Dame Defense Comes Through Late After the Irish defense surrendered 31 points in the first half to Michigan State, it would have been hard to imagine that the same defensive group could possibly turn the game into Notre Dame’s favor, but that is exactly what happened. The Irish allowed just six points after halftime and limited the Spartans to 128 total yards on their 33 second half plays. Drew Stanton was just 2-for-9 (both completions coming on Michigan State’s final drive) for 23 yards. Notre Dame also forced three takeaways, two interceptions and one fumble. In fact, the Irish turned over the Spartans on their final three possessions.
Spartans Seeing Brady After senior QB Brady Quinn threw for 487 yards and five TD passes in the 2005 meeting with Michigan State, many figured it would be near impossible to repeat that type of performance in 2006. Well, let’s just say that Quinn met the task. He threw for 319 yards and five touchdowns. Quinn has thrown for five or more TD passes in one game on three separate occasions and two have come against the Spartans. For his career, he was 71-of-137 for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns against the Spartans.
Quinn Threw 21 TDs in Notre Dame Stadium in 2005; 17 in 2006 Brady Quinn shattered the Notre Dame record for touchdown passes at Notre Dame Stadium in a season, exploding for 21 in 2005 (5 vs. Michigan State, 1 vs. USC, 6 vs. BYU, 3 vs. Tennessee, 4 vs. Navy, 2 vs. Syracuse). He has a chance of equalling his own school record in 2006. Quinn has 17 TD passes in Notre Dame’s first six games at home in 2006. That total would have eclipsed the previous school record (excluding Quinn’s 2005 season) for touchdown passes in Notre Dame Stadium in a single-season of 11 by Ron Powlus (1994) and Jarious Jackson (1999). Quinn was so dominant that his total home field touchdown passes would have broken the previous single-season record, regardless of venue, of 19 held by Ron Powlus (1994). Quinn threw 11 touchdown passes away from Notre Dame Stadium (32 total).
Weis Guys a Resilient Bunch Notre Dame is 18-4 under head coach Charlie Weis. Even more impressive than his .810 winning percentage, is the Irish’s perfect 4-0 record under Weis following a loss. Notre Dame’s average margin of victory in those four games is 13 points.
Brady’s Bunch Notre Dame senior QB Brady Quinn has spread his pass completions around in 2006. Quinn has completed passes to nine different receivers, a breakdown of five wide receivers, two tight ends and two running backs. Quinn has thrown touchdown passes to a total of seven different players this season: John Carlson, Rhema McKnight, Darius Walker, Jeff Samardzija, Ashley McConnell, David Grimes and Marcus Freeman.
Rhema has McKnight to Remember After missing almost all of 2005 following a knee injury suffered during the second game last year, fifth-year senior WR Rhema McKnight returned to the gridiron with a vengeance at Georgia Tech. McKnight led the Irish with eight catches for 108 yards against the Yellow Jackets. After pacing Notre Dame in catches in 2003 and 2004, McKnight picked up a key 19-yard catch on 3rd and 9 on the final possession of the game, prohibiting Georgia Tech from getting the ball one last time.
Irish Lead the Way in National Graduate Rate The graduation rate for student-athletes at Notre Dame is the highest in the nation among Division I-A colleges and universities in an annual federal report for the Department of Education, and is the second highest in a new survey developed by the NCAA. Notre Dame’s federal graduation rate is 90.4 percent, according to statistics released in January by the NCAA, slightly ahead of Duke University at 89.6 percent as the best among the major football-playing schools of Division I-A. The federal rate is based on the raw percentage of student-athletes who entered an institution and graduated with six years. Students who leave or transfer, regardless of academic standing, are considered non-graduates. Notre Dame ranks second among Division I-A schools on another scale, called the Graduation Success Rate (GSR), which was developed last year by the NCAA. The 98 percent GSR is second only to the 99 percent of the U.S. Naval Academy, which, like all the military academies, is exempt from the federal survey because it does not offer grants-in-aid to student-athletes. The data for both surveys is based upon the entering classes from 1995 to 1998. The two graduation rate reports should not be confused with the Academic Progress Rate, which uses formulas related to student-athlete retention and eligibility to measure the academic performance of all participants who receive a grant-in-aid at every NCAA Division I college and university.
Abiamiri Awarded Fanning Scholarship Senior DE Victor Abiamiri, a senior finance major from Baltimore, Md., and Franklin Lakes, N.J., has been named a 2006 recipient of Eugene D. Fanning Scholarships at the University of Notre Dame. Abiamiri was selected by faculty of Notre Dame’s Fanning Center for Business Communication for their excellence in communication skills and exemplary personal characteristics. The scholarships include a $3,500 credit to each student’s tuition account and a commemorative pewter plate. Established in 1995 in honor of the late Gene Fanning, the scholarships are funded by donations from members of the University’s advisory council for the Mendoza College of Business. Fanning, a 1953 Notre Dame graduate, was a Chicago businessman and investor who taught business communication courses as a guest instructor in the college from 1989 to 1995.
Harris Named to Outland Trophy Watch List Senior offensive tackle Ryan Harris was named to the 2006 Outland Trophy Watch List in June by the Football Writers Association of America. The award has been given annually to the nation’s top offensive or defensive interior lineman since 1946. Harris has started 42 career games at tackle, including the last 34 at left tackle protecting quarterback Brady Quinn’s blind side. Harris played a key role in 2005 as the team averaged 36.7 points per game and 477.3 yards of total offense. In 2004, he was named the team’s Westwood One/Guardian Life Insurance Guardian of the Year. Harris earned freshman All-America accolades from Rivals.com in 2003 and second-team freshman All-America honors from The Sporting News after becoming just the third true freshman lineman to start on the offensive line.
Another Weis, Rockne Comparison Second year Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis has avoided any comparisons to any of the great all-time Irish head coaches, especially legendary head man Knute Rockne. However, Weis accomplished something after the victory over Penn State that only Rockne and himself can claim. With Notre Dame’s 41-17 rout of the Nittany Lions, Weis became just the second coach in Irish history to open his first two seasons in South Bend at 2-0. Rockne opened the 1918 and 1919 seasons with consecutive victories.
Defense More Than Carried Its Weight Against Georgia Tech, Penn State Notre Dame held Georgia Tech and Penn State scoreless for a total of nearly five quarters before the Nittany Lions kicked a field goal at the 11:29 mark of the third quarter on Sept. 9. The scoreless streak spanned 68:16 and was the longest such streak since the 2002 season. Notre Dame went 94:28 without allowing any points over a three-game stretch that included Navy, Rutgers and USC.
Quinn and the Notre Dame Record Book Quarterback Brady Quinn is in his fourth season as the starter. He has already made a lasting mark on the Irish football record book owning 35 school records. Since 1950, a Notre Dame quarterback has thrown for 300 yards or more 20 times. Quinn is responsible for 11 of those performances – the most for any single Notre Dame quarterback. Quinn has thrown for 350 (vs. Boston College, 2003), 432 (vs. Purdue, 2004), 487 (vs. Michigan State, 2005), 327 (at Washington, 2005), 440 (at Purdue, 2005), 467 (vs. BYU, 2005), 432 (at Stanford, 2005), 319 (at Michigan State, 2006), 316 (vs. Purdue), 304 (vs. UCLA, 2006) and 346 (vs. North Carolina). Quinn is the only Notre Dame quarterback to throw for over 400 yards five times in a career (in fact, he is the only one to do it twice) – and in Notre Dame’s road game at Purdue in 2005 he became the first to throw for more than 300 yards in three consecutive games. He also is the first Irish quarterback to throw for 300 or more yards four times in a season (he has done it twice, 2005 and 2006).
Morton Selected to the 2006 American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team Senior OL Bob Morton was one of 11 players in NCAA Division I-A chosen to the 2006 American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. The two 11-man teams, a Division I-A team and a combined team from Divisions I-AA, II, III and the NAIA, honor players for their dedication and commitment to community service. Nominees have to be actively involved and committed to working with a charitable organization, service group or involved in other community service activities. Candidates have to display sincere concern and reliability, while also having made a favorable impression on the organizations with which they are involved. On the field success is not a criteria.
Young Makes ND History Still listed as the starter at right tackle entering this weekend, Sam Young made Notre Dame history at Georgia Tech becoming the first true freshman to start the season opener on the offensive line since freshmen became eligible in 1972. Young is just the fourth Irish freshman to start on the offensive line joining an elite club that includes teammate Ryan Harris as well as Brad Williams and Mike Rosenthal. Harris started the final eight games of the 2003 season, Williams made starts against Navy and Boston College in 1996 and Rosenthal started against Ohio State, USC and Air Force in 1995.
Defense Shines at Georgia Tech Notre Dame’s much-maligned defense rose to the occasion against a quick Georgia Tech team with very talented players at the skill positions. After hearing the cries of “617 yards” all summer, the defense responded by allowing just 259 yards of offense to the Yellow Jackets, the second-fewest total at the time during the Charlie Weis era. The defense was at its best late in the game as they allowed just 71 yards of offense in the second half on 21 plays. Included in the second half effort was limiting Tech’s All-American WR Calvin Johnson to just 16 yards on two receptions. A key reason for the success was its effectiveness on third down where Georgia Tech converted on just 2-of-10 chances for the game and was 0-for-4 in the third and fourth quarters.
Navy quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, top, flies through the air after being tripped up by Notre Dame’s Maurice Crum Jr., center, and Tom Zbikowski, left, as Victor Abiamiri, right, follows the play during the second half. (AP Photo/Chris Gardner)
Samardzija’s Record Season Earned All-America Honors Wide receiver Jeff Samardzija returns for his senior season in 2006 after earning consensus first-team All-America honors in 2005 when he led the team with 77 catches for 1,249 yards and 15 touchdowns. He became Notre Dame’s first 1,000-yard receiver since 1970 on an 80-yard touchdown pass against Stanford on Nov. 26 of last season. Samardzija eventually broke Tom Gatewood’s single-season receiving yardage record against Stanford, pushing his season total to 1,190 yards and tied Gatewood’s single-season receptions mark. He also surpassed the single-season touchdown total as his 15 scoring receptions led the nation and bested Derrick Mayes’ previous record of 11 from 1994.
Samardzija Opened 2005 with TD Catches in Eight Straight Games Jeff Samardzija entered the 2005 campaign without a touchdown catch in his career, then proceeded to catch a touchdown pass in each of Notre Dame’s first eight games of last season. The two-sport athlete (also a top-line pitching prospect for the Chicago Cubs after he was drafted in the fifth round in this year’s Major League Baseball draft) became the first Irish receiver to begin the season with eight consecutive games with a touchdown catch – which made him the Notre Dame record holder for consecutive games with a touchdown reception. He surpassed Malcolm Johnson’s six-game run from 1998 against BYU. Samardzija, who also serves as the team’s holder on field-goal attempts, tied a Notre Dame record with three touchdown receptions versus Michigan State (later broken by Maurice Stovall, who posted four touchdown receptions against BYU). Samardzija was the seventh player to catch three touchdown passes in a game and the first since Tom Gatewood versus Purdue in 1970.
Walker Rushed 1,000 Yards in Dramatic Fashion Running back Darius Walker became the ninth Irish player to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season with 1,196 yards on 253 carries and seven touchdowns last year. Walker surpassed the 1,000-yard barrier during a career-best 35-carry, 186-yard outing at Stanford during which he scored the winning touchdown and added a two-point conversion for the final score. Walker also set a then Irish mark for receptions by a back with 43 for 351 yards and two scores. Walker’s effort against Stanford pushed him into the top-10 all-time on the single-season rushing yardage list as well.
Walker’s 100-Yard Games Darius Walker rushed for 100 yards seven times last season, marking the first time since 1993 that an Irish player posted seven or more 100-yard rushing performances in a season. Lee Becton ended the 1993 campaign with seven consecutive 100-yard performances.
Older and Wiser The 2006 Notre Dame offensive line is one of the most experienced units in school history. The Irish offense boasts over 100 combined career starts on the line. Senior tackle Ryan Harris has started 42 Notre Dame games and led the veteran group in starting assignments. Seniors Bob Morton and John Sullivan were second and third with 38 starts and 28 career starts, respectfully, while senior Dan Santucci has 23 starts to his credit.
Brady Quinn Named 2006 Walter Camp Player of the Year Award “Player to Watch” Notre Dame senior quarterback Brady Quinn has been named one of 10 “Players to Watch” by the Walter Camp Football Foundation for its 2006 Player of the Year award. Quinn is on the list for the second consecutive year and is joined by eight other offensive players and one defensive player. One of the top quarterbacks in the country, Quinn has passed for 2,786 yards this season with 29 touchdowns and only four interceptions while guiding the Fighting Irish to a 9-1 record. He has helped Notre Dame reel off seven straight victories and has thrown for 25 touchdowns with just one interception during the win streak. Quinn owns 35 school records and is on pace to finish his illustrious career with over 12,000 passing yards and 90 touchdowns. Those numbers would rank in the top-ten in each category on the all-time NCAA Division I passing charts and he would become just the sixth Division I signal-caller to reach both the 12,000 career passing yards and 90 career touchdown milestones. The Walter Camp Player of the Year award, the fourth-oldest individual college football award in the nation, is voted on by the 119 Division I-A head coaches and sports information directors. The winner will be announced live on the 6:00 p.m. edition of ESPN SportsCenter on Thursday, Dec. 7 and will receive his trophy at the Foundation’s annual national awards banquet on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2007.
Quinn, Samardzija and Walker Named to Maxwell Award Watch List Senior quarterback Brady Quinn, senior wide receiver Jeff Samardzija and junior running back Darius Walker have been named to the 2006 Maxwell Award Watch List. The Maxwell Award is presented annually by the Maxwell Football Club to the top collegiate football player. Notre Dame’s three players on the Maxwell Award Watch List matches USC, Ohio State, Michigan and Miami (FL) for the most nominees. The list will be trimmed to 12 semi-finalists in October before three finalists are named in November.
Sullivan Named to Rimington Watch List Senior center John Sullivan has been named to the Rimington Trophy Spring Watch List. He joins 38 other centers on the list for the Dave Rimington Trophy, awarded annually to the most outstanding center in college football. The Boomer Esiason Foundation presents the award to the center who receives the most first team All-America votes determined by the AFCA, Walter Camp Foundation, Sporting News and FWAA. Sullivan started the last seven games at center for the Irish in 2005, while making appearances in all 12 games. As a junior in 2004, he started all 12 games and called out all blocking assignments for the offensive line. He has started all 10 games in 2006.
Quinn, Samardzija Named to Walter Camp Watch List Senior quarterback Brady Quinn and senior wide receiver Jeff Samardzija were two of 35 “players to watch” chosen by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. The nation’s fourth-oldest individual college football award will have its watch list narrowed to 10 semi-finalists in early November before the winner is chosen based on voting conducted by the 119 Division I-A head coaches and sports information directors.
Zbikowski Named to Nagurski and Bednarik Watch Lists Senior defensive back Tom Zbikowski has been named to both the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List and Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List for 2006. The Nagurski Trophy is given to the nation’s top defensive player at the Charlotte Touchdown Club annual awards banquet. The Bednarik Award is given annually to the nation’s top defensive player as voted on by head coaches, members of the Maxwell Football Club and various sports writers throughout the country. Zbikowski was named third-team All-America by the Associated Press after the 2005 season when he made 62 tackles and led the team with five interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. He also added two touchdowns on punt returns. Zbikowski has started 26 straight games and has scored touchdowns via interception return, punt return and fumble return during his Notre Dame career.
Former All-American Jerome Bettis Named 2006 Most Caring Athlete By Dennis McCafferty Jerome Bettis came to South Bend, Ind., in 1990, ready to play football and get a good education. Almost immediately, Bettis remembers, he was transformed by Notre Dame in ways that went far beyond the Fighting Irish’s storied sporting traditions of “Touchdown Jesus,” Knute Rockne and 11 national titles. In fact, it was the Catholic university’s culture of community service that sparked the young man’s passion for helping others. “Notre Dame is about a lot more than football and tradition,” says Bettis, taking a break during a photo shoot for this weekend’s magazine cover. “You’re in the national spotlight all the time, and they stress community and character there. Man, I was never exposed to anything like that. Shortly after I got there, I understood that Notre Dame could be used as a platform to try to influence other young people’s lives and hopefully do some good.” So the freshman Bettis returned to his Detroit home on breaks, determined to reach out to other inner-city young people at churches and rec centers about making the right choices in life. Since then, Bettis has continued to take advantage of his place on the public stage when it comes to making a difference. His Detroit- and Pittsburgh-based Jerome Bettis The Bus Stops Here Foundation, among other efforts, has sent more than 5,000 inner-city kids from ages 8 to 18 to the JB Football Camp in Detroit, has awarded no fewer than 30 college scholarships, has built or renovated playgrounds in struggling areas and has attempted to bridge the digital divide by teaching computer literacy to more than 200 children. The latter effort is called the Cyber Bus program, and Bettis is especially gratified when he gets a sense of the impact it makes. “We not only teach kids how to use a computer,” he says, “but we teach them how to tear one down and build it back up. I had one little girl who amazed me, building a computer from its parts and adding stuff like extra memory. I used to get my haircut in Pittsburgh where her mom went, and one day she told me, ‘Cyber Bus helped my daughter get to college.’ That’s something you always remember.” The running back has just finished a future Hall of Fame career as a Pittsburgh Steeler. His punishing profile earned him the nickname “the Bus,” thus the name of his charitable foundation. And Bettis’ profile has grown in other ways this year, as he joined NBC as a studio analyst for “Football Night in America,” part of the network’s much-anticipated prime-time Sunday package. Anyone who knows football realizes that Bettis capped off his playing career in storybook fashion, winning the Super Bowl in his last game, in his hometown of Detroit. When it comes to raising foundation support, a good story like that never hurts. “People always want to come up to you and shake your hand and talk to you and get their picture taken with you,” he says. “But even more so after the Super Bowl. They come up to me saying they’re so happy I finally got my championship ring. And, sure, that builds up the kind of energy and interest that helps me bring more attention to my foundation.” And these days, there’s another change that’s increasing his zeal for The Bus Stops Here: his 20-month-old daughter, Jada Bettis, with wife Trameka. Having Jada in his life has added to his perspective when he works on a new foundation project. “Anytime I see a place that needs a playground now, I think about her,” Bettis says. “As a parent, I know how important playgrounds are for children when it comes to developing physically and having a safe outlet for activities. And it helps them work on their social skills, too. So when I see a place without one, it makes me all the more determined to do something about it.”
Notre Dame Makes First Offer Of Football Season Tickets In Three decades; Revenue To Fund Repairs To Stadium To fund repairs to historic Notre Dame Stadium, the University of Notre Dame announced today the sale of 5,000 football season tickets beginning in 2007 – the first such offering in more than three decades. The University also announced that, in response to unprecedented demand, it is instituting changes to several policies that will increase ticket access for alumni in the general football ticket lottery. The 5,000 season tickets will be sold first to people directly affiliated with Notre Dame and then to the general public. In addition to the face value of the tickets, the cost will include an annual ticket rights fee based on seat location: $2,000 per ticket for sideline seats, $1,500 for corner seats, and $1,250 for end zone seats. The revenue generated through the ticket plan will be used to assist in paying for repairs and ongoing preservation of the 76-year-old Notre Dame Stadium’s original seating bowl. The exact cost of the project is yet to be finalized, but is expected to exceed $40 million. University officials studied other revenue-generating options – including the addition of luxury boxes – before deciding on the ticket rights fees. “Notre Dame Stadium is a legendary landmark in American athletics, and we are committed to preserving and maintaining both its structural integrity and its historic look and feel,” said John Affleck-Graves, executive vice president of the University. “By providing a rare opportunity to purchase Notre Dame football season tickets, we are developing revenue for this important project, giving fans a chance to invest in the future of `The House that Rockne Built,’ and protecting current and future resources necessary for our primary mission of teaching and research excellence.” Engineering studies have indicated that the structural supporting frame of the stadium remains in good condition. However, freeze/thaw damage over three-quarters of a century has led to deterioration of the seating bowl concrete. Stadiums of the same vintage as Notre Dame’s facility at the University of Michigan and Ohio State and Purdue Universities have faced similar maintenance issues in recent years. The repair project was to begin last spring, but the University put it on hold to conduct further engineering analysis. Fans interested in purchasing season tickets can find information on the process on the Web at http://stadiumpreservation.nd.edu. A waiting list for the potential future sale of season tickets will be established after all of the current allotment has been sold. Affleck-Graves emphasized that none of the new season tickets will be drawn from tickets currently available in the general alumni lottery. The 5,000 tickets will come from season tickets that have been returned over the past several years, as well as a reduction in internal University ticket allocations, he said. Though unrelated to the season ticket offering, the University also has responded to the high demand for Irish football tickets in the 2006 general alumni ticket lottery by revising policies that will reallocate tickets among several groups in order to increase opportunities in the general lottery. “Notre Dame has the most inclusive alumni ticketing process of any high-demand program in the nation, and we remain committed to continuing that access,” Affleck-Graves said.
Notre Dame Stadium Gate A Now “All-America Gate” The University of Notre Dame’s 79 consensus All-America football players are now honored inside Gate A of Notre Dame Stadium, as part of a multi-year plan to theme the five entrance gates to Notre Dame’s home football facility. Each display inside Gate A at the stadium is a 10-by-16-foot Notre Dame blue powder-coated aluminum plate with the ND logo in gold at the top. The displays are entitled “Consensus All-Americans” in Notre Dame gold letters eight inches high across the top of the blue panel. Featured on the panels are authentic Notre Dame helmets with name plates representing the consensus All-Americans from Notre Dame, plus room for four future consensus All-Americans. The name plates are made of bronze, with black etched letters identifying each player’s name, year(s) he was named a consensus All-American, and hometown. A bronze plaque is also mounted on one of the two displays to explain how a consensus All-American is selected. Players accorded the majority of votes at their positions by selectors are designated consensus All-Americans. Current teams utilized in designation of consensus selections are those chosen by the Associated Press, the American Football Coaches Association, the Football Writers Association of America, the Walter Camp Foundation and The Sporting News. Wide receiver Jeff Samardzija in 2005 was Notre Dame’s most recent consensus pick – with the first coming in 1913 (quarterback Gus Dorais). Two-time consensus selections include Frank Carideo (1929-30), Marchy Schwartz (1930-31), Bob Dove (1941-42), George Connor (1946-47), John Lujack (1946-47), Bill Fischer (1947-48), Leon Hart (1948-49), Emil Sitko (1948-49), John Lattner (1952-53), Ross Browner (1976-77), Ken MacAfee (1976-77), Bob Crable (1980-81), Michael Stonebreaker (1988, 1990), Todd Lyght (1989-90), Chris Zorich (1989-90) and Aaron Taylor (1992-93). The displays were designed by Rockwell Group of New York and fabricated by Show Motion Inc., of Connecticut. The Notre Dame Monogram Club funded the project. There are plans to theme the other three entry gates at the Stadium — with the intention of creating specific recognition of Notre Dame’s national championships and its national championship coaches. Prior to the 2005 season, three-by-eight foot replica Heisman Trophies were added to the Gate B display, where pictures of all seven Irish Heisman winners were placed earlier. The honoring of Notre Dame’s Heisman Trophy winners took the form of seven individual panels installed within existing brick niches of the old stadium wall just inside Gate B. There is one display each for Angelo Bertelli, John Lujack, Leon Hart, John Lattner, Paul Hornung, John Huarte and Tim Brown
Notre Dame Athletics in Print Four new books either about Notre Dame athletics or written by past or current Irish coaches will be available in bookstores this fall. Head coach Charlie Weis is scheduled to release his autobiography, NO EXCUSES, Oct. 10. With the help of NFL.com national editor and author, Vic Carucci, the book will tell the remarkable story of his journey from being a student of Notre Dame to becoming head coach of his alma mater. Stories from his professional career of working in the NFL to personal events involving himself and his family will also be chronicled. Former head coach Lou Holtz’ autobiography, Wins, Losses, and Lessons hit bookshelves Aug. 15. Detailing stories from his youth to his days as a football head coach, this book is said to be a “reflective, inspiring and candid look back at an extraordinary life and career from a coaching legend.” Fighting Irish Legends, Lists and Lore is the latest book by Karen Heisler, wife of Notre Dame Senior Associate Athletic Director John Heisler, and “captures the history, tradition, and spirit of one of the nation’s most storied and revered athletic programs.” The book recounts stories of Notre Dame’s most famous athletes and coaches in every sport. Longtime writer and editor for Blue & Gold Illustrated Tim Prister released his latest book entitled, The New Gold Standard Aug. 16. The book takes readers inside head coach Charlie Weis’ first season at Notre Dame and how he “returned the program to its rightful (and historic) place among college football’s elite.”
Rhema McKnight scores a touchdown against Air Force.
Football Ticket Demand Hits a Record High How much interest is there in University of Notre Dame football games for 2006? There’s enough that the Sept. 9 Notre Dame-Penn State game and the Sept. 16 Notre Dame-Michigan game qualify as the two highest-requested games in the history of Notre Dame’s ticket lottery. There’s enough that four ’06 home games rank in the all-time top 10 for requests — and all seven games rank in the top 30. There’s enough that the Nov. 25 Notre Dame-USC game in Los Angeles qualified as the most-requested road game in Irish ticket history. And there’s enough that the Notre Dame ticket office expects to mail refunds worth more than a record $11.7 million (compared to refunds of $5.2 million a year ago) to unsuccessful lottery participants in the University’s ticket distribution for contributing alumni, monogram winners, undergraduate parents and benefactors. There was a 37 percent increase in applications submitted to the ’06 lottery compared to a year ago. Notre Dame alumni making an annual contribution of $100 or more to the University are eligible to apply for two tickets to as many home and away football games as they choose. In excess of 30,000 tickets per game are available for each home contest for contributing alumni. Any time the number of applications exceeds the supply, a lottery is held – and lotteries were required for all seven 2006 home games (meaning every home game automatically sold out). Demand was highest for the Sept. 9 home game vs. Penn State (66,670 tickets requested) and the Sept. 16 home game vs. Michigan (61,631), making those games the two highest-demanded home games in the history of Notre Dame Stadium. The previous all-time high was 59,368 requests for the 2001 home game against West Virginia. The high in 2005 was 54,211 for the USC game at Notre Dame Stadium. Other high-demand home games in ’06 are contests against North Carolina (54,838 requests for sixth all-time), UCLA (51,933 for 10th all-time), Stanford (50,491 for 13th all-time) and Purdue (47,655 for 17th all-time). The high demand for road games came for the regular-season finale at USC (an all-time record 33,251 requests). Notre Dame receives 15,000 tickets as the visiting team in that contest.
New Fighting Irish All-Access Package Launched on Aug. 4 The University of Notre Dame official athletic website, und.com, entered a new era on Friday, Aug. 4. The Fighting Irish All-Access package underwent a complete overhaul and und.com will bring Notre Dame alumni and fans full coverage free of charge for the 2006-07 season. Irish fans will no longer be required to subscribe or sign up for audio/video coverage on und.com. It features a new media player, which includes a bigger display screen and easier access to und.com’s multimedia offerings. As part of the new Fighting Irish All-Access launch, the und.com crew will post a bevy of video offerings from a variety of Irish sports and the University archives – just the first step toward developing und.com into the top source for Fighting Irish fans on the world wide web. Check und.com for more details.
Former Heisman Winners to be Honored at Notre Dame Home Games All former Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winners will be featured on home game tickets as well as the corresponding game programs and schedule cards this season. The seven winners or family members of the winners have been invited back to Notre Dame to be honored during the weekend their likeness is featured on the game ticket and program. Angelo Bertelli graces the cover of the Penn State game, Johnny Lujack is on the Michigan game cover, John Lattner is featured during the Purdue weekend, Leon Hart will be honored at the Stanford game, Paul Hornung will be on the cover of the UCLA game, the North Carolina game ticket and program will honor John Huarte, while Tim Brown will be featured at the Army game.