Oct. 24, 2006
Two-Minute Drill No. 10/11 Notre Dame hits the road this week for one of its oldest rivalries in school history. The Irish will face Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. The Midshipmen (5-2) are the first of three service academies the Irish play this season. Notre Dame will travel to Air Force on Nov. 11 and face Army in the home finale on Nov. 18. Notre Dame and Navy will play for the 80th consecutive year on Saturday, making it the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country. The Irish hold a 69-9-1 (.880) edge in the all-time series with the Midshipmen, including a current 42-game winning streak that is the longest against one opponent in NCAA history. Notre Dame and Navy have met every year since 1927. (see pages 2-5 for more information on the series). In addition to the 29 series games at Notre Dame, the schools have met in seven other American cities (Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, East Rutherford (N.J.), Orlando, Philadelphia and Raljon, Md.), as well as Dublin, Ireland. Notre Dame is 43-6-1 (.870) against Navy at neutral sites, including an active 21 game winning streak that began with a 20-12 Irish win at Philadelphia’s Municipal (John F. Kennedy) Stadium in 1962. Notre Dame has won 12 consecutive games against the service academies and is 126-22-5 all-time against Navy, Army and Air Force. Streaks on the line this weekend: consecutive games started (Brady Quinn, 40) … consecutive games with a completions (Brady Quinn, 43) … consecutive passes without an interception (Brady Quinn, 144) … consecutive games with a touchdown pass (Brady Quinn, 6) … consecutive games with a reception (Darius Walker, 22; Jeff Samardzjia, 20) … Notre Dame victories against a service academy (12) … Notre Dame wins vs. Navy (42).
A Win This Weekend Would… … make Notre Dame 7-1 for the first time since 1998 (did open 2002 with eight straight victories). … be the fifth straight victory for the Irish. … be the 43rd consecutive victory over Navy (already an NCAA Record for one team against another) and 22nd straight victory away from Notre Dame Stadium. … improve Notre Dame to 70-9-1 in the all-time series with Navy. … improve the Irish to 44-6-1 in the all-time series with the Midshipmen away from Notre Dame Stadium. … improve a ranked Irish squad to 45-3-1 all-time against Navy. … improve Notre Dame to 64-5-0 all-time against an unranked Midshipmen squad. … improve Weis’ record to 15-4 overall, 2-0 against Navy and 2-0 against military academies. … improve Weis’ record to 5-1 in October games. … improve Weis’ record to 10-4 in afternoon games. … improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 818-267-42. … improve Notre Dame’s all-time record against the service academies to 127-22-5.
A Loss This Weekend Would… … make Notre Dame 6-2 for the second consecutive season. … snap the Irish’s modest four-game winning streak. … snap Notre Dame’s NCAA record 42-game winning streak over Navy (dates back to Nov. 2, 1963) and the Irish’s 21 game winning streak away from Notre Dame Stadium (dates back to Oct. 29, 1960 in Philadelphia) … drop Notre Dame to 69-10-1 in the all-time series with Navy. … drop the Irish to 43-7-1 in the all-time series with the Midshipmen away from Notre Dame Stadium. … drop a ranked Irish squad to 44-4-1 all-time against Navy. … drop Notre Dame to 63-6-0 all-time against an unranked Midshipmen squad. … drop Weis’ record to 14-5 overall, 1-1 against Navy and 1-1 against military academies. … drop Weis’ record to 4-2 in October games. … drop Weis’ record to 9-5 in afternoon games. … drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 817-268-42. … drop Notre Dame’s all-time record against the service academies to 126-23-5.
A Quick Look at Navy The Midshipmen come into the game with Notre Dame following a bye week and sporting a 5-2 overall record … Navy lost its last time out, 34-0, to No. 16 Rutgers … The Midshipmen came into the game against the Scarlet Knights averaging over 350 yards on the ground, but managed just 113 in the loss … Navy is still second in the NCAA in rushing averaging 316.57 yards on the ground per game (trailing only West Virginia) … The Midshipmen rank 119th out of 119 NCAA Division IA teams in passing … Navy is averaging just 53.57 yards passing a game … Individually, QB Brian Hampton led the team in rushing with 646 yards and 10 TDs, but Hampton was lost for the season with a devastating knee injury on the second play from scrimmage against Rutgers … FB Adam Ballard has 597 yards rushing and is averaging 5.7 yards per carry … The Midshipmen rank 53rd in scoring defense (20.57 ppg), 57th in rushing defense (128.86 ypg), 77th in total defense (348.14 ypg) and 81st in passing defense (219.29 ypg) … Rob Caldwell, David Mahoney and John Chan lead the Navy defense … Caldwell leads the team with 60 tackles and three forced fumbles … Mahoney is second on the squad with 55 tackles, leads the team with 6.5 tackles for loss and is tied for the team-high with 4.0 sacks … Chan has registered 33 tackles, including 4.5 for loss and 4.0 sacks … Head coach Paul Johnson is in fifth season and has put together a 33-24 overall record heading into the weekend.
Notre Dame – Navy Series Notes Notre Dame and Navy will play one another for the 80th consecutive year on Saturday, making it the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country. The Irish hold a 69-9-1 (.880) edge in the series with the Midshipmen, including a current 42-game winning streak that is the longest against one opponent in NCAA history. Notre Dame and Navy have met every year since 1927, playing 50 times at neutral sites and 29 times at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame has had tremendous success against the U.S. service academies over the years, posting a 125-22-5 (.839) combined record against Army, Navy and Air Force. The Irish are 32-1 (.970) against the service academies since 1986, with the only loss being a 20-17 overtime setback against Air Force in 1996 at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame, Navy, Army and Temple are the only four independents playing Division I-A football this season. Navy and Notre Dame is the longest series in Irish football history (79 meetings). Notre Dame has faced Purdue 78 times and USC 77 times. Notre Dame has won 42 consecutive games in the series. Navy’s last win came on Nov. 2, 1963, when Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach helped Navy claim a 35-14 victory at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame’s 42 straight wins rank as the longest winning streak by one team over another in NCAA history (the next highest active streak is 21 straight victories by Tennessee over Kentucky). In addition to the 29 series games at Notre Dame, the schools have met in seven other American cities (Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, East Rutherford (N.J.), Orlando, Philadelphia and Raljon, Md.), as well as Dublin, Ireland. Notre Dame is 43-6-1 (.870) against Navy at neutral sites, including an active 21-game winning streak that began with a 20-12 Irish win at Philadelphia’s Municipal (John F. Kennedy) Stadium in 1962. The Irish have scored 30 or more points in 16 of the past 20 meetings with Navy. Dating back to the 1986 contest, Notre Dame has averaged 38.8 points per game in the series, including five 50-point eruptions and back-to-back 58-point outbursts in 1993 and 1994. And, the Irish have scored more points against the Midshipmen (2,140) than any of the other 134 opponents in school history. Notre Dame topped the 2,000-point mark against Navy in 2001 on an eight-yard touchdown run by Terrance Howard in the third quarter of a 34-16 Irish victory.
Notre Dame vs. Service Academies Notre Dame has won almost 84 percent of its games (126-22-5) vs. teams from the three service academies (Army, Navy and Air Force). The Irish have won 12 consecutive games against the service academies, and they are 33-1 (.970) against these 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 (79) of Notre Dame’s 152 games against service academies, and more than half of its victories (69) have come against Navy, part of the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country. Notre Dame and Army 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 leads the all-time series with Army, 36-8-4 (.792). The series with Army will be renewed for at least one game on Nov. 18 in Notre Dame Stadium.
On This Date Notre Dame has played 16 games in its history on Oct. 28. The Irish are 14-2 all-time on this date. The Irish have won their last six games played on Oct. 28 and have not lost on this date since the 1961 season.
Oct. 28, 1905: Notre Dame routed American Medical, 142-0. The 142 points are a school record. The Irish totaled 111 points in a 25-minute first half. The second half lasted just eight minutes to allow the “Doctors” time to eat before catching a train to Chicago. Notre Dame scored a remarkable 27 touchdowns, but missed a more incredible 20 extra points.
Oct. 28, 1911: Art Smith set a school record with seven rushing touchdowns to help the Irish destroy Loyola (Chicago), 80-0. Smith scored 37 points that afternoon, also a school record.
Oct. 28, 1950: John Petitbon rushed for 171 yards on just 10 carries in a 36-33 loss to Michigan State. The 17.1 rush yards per carry ranks second best in single-game school history. Jim Mutscheller also registered three TD receptions (tied for second-most in single-game school history).
Oct. 28, 1989: Notre Dame extended its winning streak to 20 games with a 45-7 rout of Pittsburgh. The Panthers jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, but Rodney Culver rushed for two touchdowns and the Irish recorded over 300 yards on the ground in the victory.
Oct. 28, 2000: Joey Getherall scampered nine yards in overtime to help the Irish survive an upset scare from Air Force, 34-31. Notre Dame has won two of its six all-time overtime games.
Navy-Notre Dame Connections Notre Dame senior DE Victor Abiamiri and senior CB Ambrose Wooden will each return to Baltimore this weekend. Abiamiri and Wooden each attended The Gilman School in Randallstown, Md. Two current Notre Dame Olympic sports head coaches have past experience as head coaches at Navy. Men’s tennis head coach Bob Bayliss, now in his 19th year at Notre Dame, spent the first 15 years of his head coaching career at Navy (1970-84). Ninth-year Notre Dame women’s rowing coach Martin Stone held the same position at Navy for six years prior to joining the Irish staff in Oct. of 1997. Notre Dame Deputy Director of Athletics Missy Conboy’s husband, Bill Mountford, played for Bayliss at Navy. Notre Dame assistant director of club sports Dave Brown was a professor, head squash coach and assistant tennis coach at the Naval Academy from 1978-98. Notre Dame senior DT Derek Landri and Navy senior John Chan, as well as senior C Cole Smith, were high school teammates at De La Salle H.S.
The Last Time No. 7 Notre Dame 42, Navy 21 Nov. 12, 2005, Notre Dame Stadium
(Associated Press) – Notre Dame simply was too much for Navy to handle once again. The seventh-ranked Fighting Irish were too big, too fast and too overpowering offensively for the Midshipmen to remain competitive for long Saturday. Notre Dame scored on all three of its second-quarter possessions, including two touchdowns 88 seconds apart, and went on to beat Navy 42-21 to extend its NCAA-record winning streak over the Midshipmen to 42. Brady Quinn passed for four touchdowns, three to Maurice Stovall, and continued to rewrite the Notre Dame record book, finishing 22-of-31 passing for 284 yards. Darius Walker rushed for 118 yards on 19 carries, his first 100-yard game since opening the season with four straight. The Irish (7-2) turned to their running game more against Navy (5-4) to keep the Midshipmen from controlling the clock themselves. “We knew whenever they got the ball they were going to eat up a lot of the clock,” Quinn said. “So we knew our defense was going to be out there for a good amount of time. So not only when we get out there do we need to score and be efficient, (but) we also had some long drives and to give our defense some breaks so they’re not on the field so long.” Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said he was hard on the Irish all week in practice to make sure they wouldn’t let up against Navy. “You never let them think you’re happy because if they think you are happy then they start to loosen up,” Weis said. “You just keep your foot on their throat the whole time. It was not a good week for them.” The plan worked as the Irish kept their hopes for a Bowl Championship Series berth alive. They must beat Syracuse and Stanford to be eligible. Navy still needs a win over either Temple or Army to become bowl eligible. Quinn set the single-season school passing mark with 2,931 yards, breaking the record of 2,753 yards set by Jarious Jackson in 1999. Quinn needs 254 yards passing in Notre Dame’s final two games to pass the school career mark of 7,602 set by Ron Powlus from 1994-97. Despite that, Quinn wasn’t pleased. “I should have done better, whether it be mental mistakes or physical things, there’s still lots of room for improvement,” he said. “I was unhappy with the way I performed.” Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn tries to avoid the tackle of Navy’s Andrew Tattersall as he scrambles in the fourth quarter. Navy coach Paul Johnson was disappointed Quinn had so much time to pass. “Our big deal is we couldn’t get any pressure on the passer,” Navy coach Paul Johnson said. “They broke off some runs, but basically they were doing about what they wanted.” Quinn’s three TD passes give him 52 for his career, tying the school mark set by Powlus. Quinn extended his school record of games with TD passes to 14 straight. He also set a school record by throwing 130 passes without an interception before safety DuJuan Price intercepted his pass at the 12-yard line in the fourth quarter. The old mark was 126 straight set by Carlyle Holiday in 2001 and 2002. It was Quinn’s fifth interception this season. The main target for Quinn on Saturday was Stovall. He had TD catches of 31, 16 and 10 yards, giving him eight touchdown catches in the past three games. Stovall finished with eight catches for 130 yards. Jeff Samardzija saw his school record streak of games with at least one TD catch end at eight. Navy linebacker Rob Caldwell, who led Navy with 14 tackles, said the Irish are the best offense he’s seen. “They’ve got playmakers everywhere,” he said. “They did a great job making plays, I mean you see those guys catching it with one hand, they’ll be playing on Sundays.” Navy, which entered the game second in the nation in rushing at 282.6 yards a game, finished with 239 yards running on 58 attempts. The Midshipmen played most of the game without Matt Hall, their second leading rusher, because he sprained his left knee on his first carry. “I think we proved that we can move the ball on anybody,” said Lamar Owens, who led Navy with 62 yards on 26 carries. “It is just up to us not to stop ourselves and not make mistakes and turn the ball over.” Johnson said despite the lopsided series, it’s a game Navy looks forward to. “We have a lot of guys who aren’t recruited who come to Navy to have a chance to play Division I football,” he said. “It’s a chance for them to match up against guys who were Parade high school All-Americans and guys who were more highly recruited and sought after. I’m sure a lot of them grow up thinking they could play at Notre Dame.”
The Last Time in Baltimore No. 9 Notre Dame 30, Navy 23 Nov. 9, 2002, Ravens Stadium
(Associated Press) – Carlyle Holiday stirred up things with a rousing fourth-quarter performance. Trailing by eight points against lightly regarded Navy late in Saturday’s game, the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish rallied behind their sophomore quarterback, averting a second straight shocking upset. Holiday set up the tying score with a 29-yard completion to Omar Jenkins, then hit a wide-open Jenkins for a 67-yard touchdown with 2:08 remaining to give Notre Dame a 30-23 victory Saturday. One week after losing at home to Boston College 14-7, the Irish (9-1) kept their slim national title hopes going by beating the Midshipmen (1-8) for the 39th straight time. “We didn’t wake up until about four minutes were left in the game,” said Irish coach Tyrone Willingham, who tied Terry Brennan (1954) and Ara Parseghian (’64) for most wins by a first-year Notre Dame coach. The Irish, who lost three fumbles against Boston College, lost three more against the Midshipmen and fell behind 23-15 in the fourth quarter. That’s when Holiday took over. “I believe I needed to step up,” he said. “I just decided to take a leadership role and make some plays with the ball in my hands.” Holiday’s 29-yarder to Jenkins led to a 1-yard TD run by Rashon Powers-Neal. Holiday then lobbed a pass to an open Arnaz Battle in the corner of the end zone for the 2-point conversion that tied it at 23 with 4:28 remaining. After Notre Dame got the ball back at its 33 with 2:19 left, Jenkins slipped behind the Navy secondary, hauled in a long pass from Holiday and sprinted to the end zone. Notre Dame managed only 68 yards rushing, but Holiday made up for it by throwing for 272 yards. Jenkins had four catches for a career-high 166 yards. “We were not very successful moving the ball on the ground,” Willingham said. “Our passing game really stepped forward.” So did Vontez Duff, who became the first player in Notre Dame history to return a kickoff, punt and interception return for a touchdown in the same season. Duff put Notre Dame ahead 15-14 in the third quarter by bringing back a kickoff 92 yards for the score. He broke through a wave of defenders at the 20 before breaking to his left and into the clear. “We needed a play. It comes from the blocking up front,” Duff said. “We really pride ourselves on making big plays.” “Our defense and our special teams have been playing a different game than other people are playing,” Willingham said. “The kickoff return was just a fantastic play.” Notre Dame leads the series 66-9-1, but few games in the lopsided series have been as unexpectedly close as this one. Navy came in as a 28-point underdog and seemingly had no chance, since it had allowed at least 42 points in six of its eight games. An already daunting task become even more difficult for Navy when starting quarterback Craig Candeto sprained his left ankle on the game’s fourth play. Candeto, the team’s leading rusher and scorer, did not return. Aaron Polanco performed capably in his place, scoring two touchdowns, but he threw two interceptions after Notre Dame wrestled the lead away for the last time. “It was our game to have,” Polanco said. “We could have won. We should have won. You can’t be proud after a loss.” Especially after playing so well for 56 of 60 minutes. “I told the guys there are no moral victories,” Navy coach Paul Johnson said. “But we can take this game and use it as a foundation and turn our program around.” Up 9-7 at halftime, the Irish fell behind early in the third quarter when Polanco scored from the 1 after a 45-yard punt return by Aaron Weedo. After Duff went the distance, Navy responded with an 80-yard drive, using 12 straight running plays and moving back in front on a 10-yard run by Eric Roberts. The Midshipmen then converted a fumble by Ryan Grant into a field goal and a 23-15 lead late in the third quarter. The lead didn’t last, and after coming so close, Navy lost its 34th straight game to a ranked opponent. The Irish led at halftime despite managing only 36 yards rushing and seven first downs – one fewer than Navy.
Last Week Against UCLA Brady Quinn’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Samardzija produced the game-winning points with just 27 seconds left on the clock. It was the latest in a game that Notre Dame has scored the winning points (in regulation) since D.J. Fitzpatrick’s 40-yard field goal beat Navy as time expired on Nov. 8, 2003 (27-24, at ND Stadium). It had been 14 years since a Notre Dame team scored a touchdown in the final 30 seconds to help secure victory. On Nov. 14, 1992, Rick Mirer threw a three-yard TD pass to Jerome Bettis with 20 seconds left to play in the “Snow Bowl” game with Penn State. The ensuing two-point conversion (a pass from Mirer to Reggie Brooks) gave the Irish the winning 17-16 margin. Eleven previous Notre Dame victories have come in the final 30 seconds of regulation but nine of them have involved game-winning field goals. The two previous game-winning TD drives that have culminated in the final 30 seconds include the above-mentioned game versus Penn State in 1992, plus the famous comeback versus Houston in the 1979 Cotton Bowl (following the 1978 season) when Joe Montana’s eight-yard TD pass to Kris Haines tied the game with no time left on the clock. Joe Unis then converted the extra point for that 35-34 victory (commonly known as the “Chicken Soup Game”). The game was just the 10th time in Notre Dame history that the Irish have trailed as the clock ticked under 0:30 and still managed to pull out the victory (three on TD drives and seven resulting in field goals). Two other game-winning field goals in the final 30 seconds came when the score was tied. Five other Notre Dame victories have featured game-winning TD drives in the final minute (but not in the final 30 seconds): 1935 vs. Ohio State in the “Game of the Century” (Bill Shakespeare 19-yard pass to Wayne Millner; 0:31; 18-13); 1990 vs. Michigan State (Rodney Culver 1-yard run; 0:34; 20-19); 1979 vs. South Carolina (Rusty Lisch 14-yard TD pass to Dean Masztak and 2-point conversion pass to Pete Holohan; 0:42; 18-17); 1999 vs. Navy (Jarious Jackson 16-yard pass to Jay Johnson; 0:36; 28-24); and the 2005 game at Stanford (see below). This marks the third time in Brady Quinn’s career that he has engineered a game-winning drive when the winning points were scored in the final minute. The first came during his freshman season in the above-mentioned win over Navy. The second was in the final regular-season game of the 2005 season, when Darius Walker’s six-yard run with 57 seconds left to play helped produce a 38-31 victory. One other game in Quinn’s career has seen the Irish score the winning points in the final five minutes: the win earlier this season on Michigan State, when Terrail Lambert’s interception return produced the final points with 2:53 to play). Quinn’s combined stats on the above three final-minute comebacks are as follows: 10-for-12 passing for 183 yards (4-for-6/35 vs. Navy; 3-for-3/68 vs. Stanford; and 3-for-3/80 vs. UCLA). Those three drives totaled 222 yards in 20 plays and 3:20 of game time (11 plays/62 yds/1:54 vs. Navy; 6 plays/80 yds/0:51 vs. Stanford; and 3 plays/80 yds; 0:35 vs. UCLA). Notre Dame converted its first four fourth-down attempts versus UCLA before being stopped late in the fourth quarter. It marked the most fourth-down attempts (5) of the season for the Irish and the most since Notre Dame was 4-of-7 on fourth down versus North Carolina State in the 2003 Gator Bowl (following the 2002 season). Notre Dame closed the first half with a 19-play, 77-yard drive that took 7:18 off the clock. The drive is the longest of the season for the Irish in terms of plays and time of possession. It also is the longest scoring drive for the Irish that failed to result in a touchdown since Oct. 11, 2003, against Pittsburgh – when Notre Dame 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 held the Bruins scoreless in the first quarter Saturday afternoon. It marked the ninth quarter this season that the Irish have held an opponent without any points for an entire period. The Darius Walker fumble on the opening drive of the game was Notre Dame’s first turnover since Sept. 23 against Michigan State. The Irish had gone 159:59 without committing a turnover.
Senior QB Brady Quinn … tied his own school record for pass attempts (45) in a single-game without an interception (vs. Ohio State on Jan. 2, 2006) …tied Ron Powlus’ (1994-97) school record of 43 straight games with a completed pass …moved past Rick Mirer (1991, 1992) for 10th on the single-season attempts list …eclipsed 10,000 career passing yards (became the 32nd player in NCAA Division I-A history) …recorded his 75th career touchdown pass on a two-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Samardzjia in the first quarter, adding the 76th on the decisive 45-yard pass to Samardzija …moved past Steve Beuerlein (1986) for seventh on the single-season completions list …moved past Joe Theismann (1970) for sixth on the single-season completions list …moved past himself (2003) for fifth on the single-season completions list …eclipsed 1,600 plays of total offense for his career …attempted his second career punt, a 37-yard boot on the third quarter, and first since Stanford on Nov. 26 of the 2005 season (owns a career average of 42.5 yards per punt) …moved past Carlyle Holiday (2002) for ninth on the single-season attempts list …eclipsed 800 career completions …moved past Steve Beuerlein (1986) for eighth on the single-season attempts list …moved past Joe Montana (1978) for seventh on the single-season attempts list …eclipsed 1,400 pass attempts for his career …established a school record for consecutive passes without an interception (144) within the same season (the previous record was 130 set by Quinn in 2005) …also set the Irish record for consecutive passes without an interception (spread over one or multiple seasons) …moves past Joe Theisman (1970) for sixth on the single-season list
Junior RB Darius Walker …moved past Phil Carter (1979-82) for seventh on the all-time Notre Dame career rush list …registered first fumble lost in his past 405 touches (previous fumble lost was on Sept. 10, 2005, against Michigan) …moved past Ryan Grant (2001-04) for sixth on the all-time
Notre Dame career rush list …moved past Don Miller (1922-24) for ninth on the all-time Notre Dame career total offense list (non-quarterbacks) …his third-quarter reception extended his active streak to 22 consecutive games with a catch
Senior TE John Carlson …passed Dean Masztak (1979) for fifth most receiving yards in single-season tight end history …surpassed 400 yards receiving this season (just the sixth ND tight end to ever surpass 400 yards receiving in one season)
Senior WR Jeff Samardzjia …recorded his 21st and 22nd career receiving touchdowns, giving him seven TD catches for the season; the TD catches came on a two-yard strike from Brady Quinn in the first quarter and the game-winning 45-yard catch in the final minute …the two touchdown catches tie him with Derrick Mayes (1992-95) for the Irish career record (22) …moved past Tim Brown (1984-87) for fourth on the all-time Notre Dame career receptions list …moved past Jim Seymour (1966-68) for third on the all-time Notre Dame career receptions list …moved past Maurice Stovall (2002-05) into third on the Irish career receiving yards list …had multiple touchdown catches in a game for the sixth time in his career and second time in 2006 …the 45-yard TD catch was the ninth touchdown reception of 40-plus yards in his career
Senior LB Joe Brockington …registered a career-high seven tackles (previous career-high of five came against Stanford earlier this season)
Sophomore WR David Grimes …recorded a career-high of eight catches (doubling his previous career-high of four set earlier this season against Michigan) … his 79 yards receiving was a career-high (besting his 48 yards against Michigan earlier this year). Brady Quinn Surpasses 10,000 Career Yards Senior QB Brady Quinn reached another milestone last weekend against UCLA. 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 1,413 815 36 57.7 10,274 76 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
Of the 32 members of the club, only 10 quarterbacks have a lower interception ratio (Quinn’s is 2.54) and a higher touchdown to interception ratio (Quinn’s is 2.11) than Quinn.
Quinn Near Perfect Last Four Games Senior QB Brady Quinn has been nearly flawless the past four games — all Irish victories. Quinn is completing 66-percent (103-for-156) of his passes for 1,171 yards, 12 touchdowns and just one interception. He currently owns the nation’s longest streak of consecutive passes without an interception at 144 (besting his own Notre Dame school record). Quinn has a 153.15 passing efficiency rating over the stretch of games.
How Do They Stack Up? Average weight of the offensive and defensive lines: ND OL 294.0 lbs. vs. Navy DL 251.3 lbs. ND DL 277.0 lbs. vs. Navy OL 278.2 lbs. Average height of the receivers and the secondaries: ND WR/TE 6′ 4″ vs. Navy DB 6′ 0″ ND DB 6′ 0″ vs. Navy WR/TE 6′ 0″
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 last Saturday 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. Notre Dame has held each of its last three opponents under 72 yards on the ground.
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.
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 38-of-59, just over 64 percent, for 533 yards and six TD passes. He has also tossed just one interception in the final quarter over the entire season.
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 Completions Attempts Yards TD UCLA (2006) 3 3 80 1 Navy (2003) 4 6 35 0 Totals 7 9 115 1
Clock Winding Down, Brady At His Best Notre Dame senior QB Brady Quinn conducted scoring drives to close the first half in each of the Irish’s first three games this season. Quinn did the same 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.
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.
Samardzjia On The Brink Senior All-American WR Jeff Samardzjia will close his career as one of the most decorated Irish wide receivers of all time. Samardzjia’s two touchdown receptions and 118 yards receiving last weekend against UCLA give him 22 career TD catches and 2,063 receiving yards. He is tied with Derrick Mayes for the Notre Dame career record for touchdown passes. Samardzjia became the sixth Irish wideout to ever surpass 2,000 yards in receiving. The most impressive thing about Samardzjia’s numbers are the fact that they have been recorded basically in the past two seasons.
Player, Years Yards Games with a reception Derrick Mayes, 1992-95 2,512 40 Tim Brown, 1984-87 2,493 42 Tom Gatewood, 1969-71 2,283 30 Maurice Stovall, 2002-05 2,195 38 Jim Seymour, 1966-68 2,113 28 Jeff Samardzjia, 2004-06 2,063 29
The Firm of Laws & Landri Yields Immediate Results The senior defensive tackle duo of Trevor Laws and Derek Landri spearheaded an Irish rush defense that has dominated the line of scrimmage each of the last three games (Purdue, Stanford and UCLA). Last weekend against the Bruins, Landri made five tackles, added a quarterback hurry and registered a sack on the game’s final play. Laws had four tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery against UCLA. The duo helped Notre Dame limit the Bruins to just 26 yards on the ground on 28 carries, just under a yard per tote. The Irish were even more impressive in the second half. Notre Dame limited the Bruins to minus-17 yards on the ground. The Irish have held each of its last three opponents under 72 yards on the ground. Laws and Landri rank fourth (35) and fifth (29), respectively, in tackles for Notre Dame. The interior tackle duo has combined for 11.5 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks and four quarterback hurries. Laws and Landri were also instrumental in neutralizing the vaunted, power running attack of Michigan. The Wolverines needed 41 carries to reach 120 yards — just 2.9 yards per carry. In fact, 18 of Mike Hart’s carries were for two yards or less, including nine for zero or negative yardage. Laws’ 10 tackles were a career-high and Landri’s six tied his season-high.
Brockington Making The Most of Senior Season Senior LB Joe Brockington entered the 2006 season with 12 career total tackles in 22 games over the previous two seasons. When an injury sidelined starting LB Travis Thomas, Brockington moved into the starting lineup for the first time of his career against Purdue earlier this season. He has started each of the past three Notre Dame games. Brockington has amassed 15 tackles in his three starts, including a career-high of seven last weekend against UCLA.
Zbikowski Right Back in the Saddle After starting 29 consecutive games at strong safety, senior Tom Zbikowski missed the Stanford game due to a shoulder injury. Zbikowski returned to the starting lineup against UCLA last weekend and appeared to not miss a beat. He recorded four tackles and a quarterback hurry as the Irish defense dominated the Bruins for most of the afternoon. Zbikowski ranks third on the Notre Dame defense with 38 tackles. He has added a tackle for loss, pass break up, two quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a 25-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
Crum, Jr. Making Crumbs Of Ball Carriers Junior LB Maurice Crum, Jr. spearheaded Notre Dame’s defensive effort against UCLA last week. He recorded a team-best eight tackles and added a pass breakup and sack. Crum, Jr. leads Notre Dame with 51 tackles and 27 solo stops. He is second on the Irish defense with 7.0 tackles for loss, including two sacks. Crum has also added a forced fumble, pass break-up and two quarterback hurries. He had a career-high 14 tackles earlier this season against Penn State. The 14 tackles were the most for an Irish player since Corey Mays had 14 against Navy on Nov. 12, 2005.
Thomas Also Returns to Notre Dame Lineup With a Bang Senior LB/RB Travis Thomas missed both the Purdue and Stanford games after suffering a rib injury on the final play of the Michigan State game. He returned to the starting lineup against UCLA and totaled seven tackles, including a season-high 2.0 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. Despite missing those two games, Thomas has recorded 24 tackles on the season, including 17 solo stops (fifth best on the squad). Thomas has also seen some significant amount of time on the offensive side of the football. He has nine carries for 63 yards, including a career-high 43-yard burst on a fake punt against Penn State.
Victor Violating Opposing Offenses Senior DE Victor Abiamiri has been in Notre Dame’s opposing backfield so often over the last few weeks that teams might start asking him to pay rent. Abiamiri, who leads the Irish with 6.0 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hurries, has been almost unblockable the past three games (Purdue, Stanford, UCLA). Abiamiri has 6.0 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks and eight QB hurries in that span. Last week against the Bruins, he had four tackles, 1.5 for loss and 1.0 sack, as well as 2.0 quarterback hurries. Abiamiri is tied for seventh on the all-time Irish list for career sacks (17.0) and ranks eighth with 35.5 career TFLs.
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 last weekend. 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 15 catches this season for 153 yards. His previous career-high for catches and yards came against Michigan (4 for 48).
John Carlson Turning In All-American Type Season Notre Dame senior TE John Carlson has exploded onto the college football scene in 2006. He has 32 receptions for 454 yards — good for an average of 64.9 yards a game. Despite the season being just seven games old, Carlson has already risen among the top 10 for yards and catches by a tight end in a single-season (Carlson’s 454 yards and his 32 catches each rank fifth in single-season Irish TE history). His 14.2 yards per catch leads the entire Irish receiving corp. In fact, Carlson is 55th, nationally, in receiving yards per game and third among tight ends. He also ranks 62nd overall in receptions per game and third in the category among tight ends. With Carlson’s 121-yard effort against Michigan State, he became the first Irish tight end to eclipse 100 yards receiving in a game since Anthony Fassano had 155 yards against Purdue on Oct. 2, 2004.
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 fifth in the NCAA in punting with a per kick average of 45.29. He not only has dropped 10 punts inside the 20-yard line, including three against Purdue, 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.
Ndukwe Making Plays All Over The Field Notre Dame senior FS Chinedum Ndukwe, who played his freshman year with the Irish as a wide receiver, has taken his game to another level in 2006. Ndukwe started all 12 games last season and made 52 tackles. He is second on Notre Dame with 47 tackles, 25 solo stops, this season. Ndukwe, who came up with a huge forced fumble and fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter to help the Irish rally past Michigan State earlier this year, has added two interceptions, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, two quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.
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 sixth on the team with 27 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.
Going Down To The Wire In the two seasons since Charlie Weis arrived at Notre Dame, the Irish have played 19 games. Just under half of those, seven of the 19, have been decided by seven points or less and five have been decided by three points or less. Notre Dame has won its 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.
Notre Dame Normally Comes Flying Out of the Gates While the Irish did not score on their opening possession against UCLA last weekend, Notre Dame has recorded a touchdown on its opening drive of the game on two separate occasions in 2006 (Purdue and Stanford) and 10 times in head coach Charlie Weis’ 19 career games on the sidelines. In fact, the Irish have recorded touchdowns on their opening drives of each half in a game six times (Purdue, Stanford, Pittsburgh , BYU , Navy  and Stanford ) under Weis.
Not Too Bad A Drive Notre Dame has put together its two longest drives of the season in the past two games against Stanford and UCLA. The Irish closed the first half last week 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. For the season, the Irish are averaging 64.3 yards, 9.0 plays and a TOP of 3:35 on its touchdown drives. Notre Dame has also had seven scoring drives under two minutes.
Irish Midseason Report Notre Dame entered its bye week and midpoint of the 2006 season with a 5-1 record. The Irish were 4-2 at the midway point of last season. Here is an interesting look at how this year’s edition of Notre Dame football compares to last season.
2006 Offense 2005 2006 Defense 2005 30.3 Points Per Game 36.0 23.7 Points Allowed 25.7 641 Rushing Yards 1025 809 Rushing Yards Allowed 758 1641 Passing Yards 1913 1,277 Passing Yards Allowed 1,829 2282 Total Offense 2938 2,086 Total Yards Allowed 2,587 37% 3rd Down Conversions 48% 28% 3rd Down Conversions 31% 31:57 Time of Possession 35:12 28:03 Time of Possession 24:48 15 Sacks Allowed 10 13 Sacks 13 91% Red-Zone Scores 89% 88% Red-Zone Scores 70% 78% Red-Zone Touchdowns 78% 50% Red-Zone Touchdowns 57% 7 Turnovers 8 9 Turnovers Forced 14
22 and Counting Junior RB Darius Walker extended his streak to 22 straight games with at least one catch following his four-reception effort against UCLA on Oct. 21. 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 91 passes for 681 yards and three TDs over the 22 games. He is averaging just over four catches per game, and 7.6 yards per reception.
Cover Me Notre Dame hasn’t let the opposition generate good field position on kickoff’s this season … The Irish is allowing just 17.7 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 two touchbacks on 14 kickoffs this season … Notre Dame ranks 23rd nationally in kickoff return defense … The Irish has also stepped up its punt return defense in their last three games … Notre Dame has allowed just 28 total punt return yards on four punts versus Purdue on Sept. 30, Stanford on Oct. 7 and UCLA on Oct. 21 … Senior P and Ray Guy candidate Geoff Price, who is fifth in the NCAA with a 45.3 per punt average, has only had 14 of his 34 punts returned this season.
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. Through seven games, Brady is on pace for 3,600 yards passing and 34 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) 3,600 34 8 62.9 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
Third-Quarter Success Notre Dame has owned the third quarter to this point of the season … The Irish have outscored its foes, 48-15, in the third quarter including a combined 20-0 margin in their last three outings against Penn State on Sept. 30, Stanford on Oct. 7 and UCLA on Oct. 21 … Rhema McKnight scored a touchdown on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Brady Quinn against the Boilermakers … Darius Walker scored on a 12-yard run and Carl Gioia booted a 35-yard field goal to help Notre Dame out-score the Cardinal, 10-0 … Gioia kicked a 33-yard field goal as the Irish outscored the Bruins, 3-0 … The Irish have allowed just one touchdown in the third quarter all season — a rushing touchdown from Jehuu Caulcrick of Michigan State on Sept. 23 … Notre Dame has racked up at least 100 yards of total offense in the third quarter in three of its seven games, including two of the past three games … The Irish recorded a season-high of 141 total yards (60 rush, 81 pass) in the third quarter against Georgia Tech on Sept. 2 … On the opposite end of the spectrum, Notre Dame has not allowed 100 yards of total offense by any team in the third quarter this season … The Irish have limited their opponents to an average of 57.4 yards of total offense in the third quarter, including just 16.9 passing yards … The Irish have held its opponents to a miniscule 14.3 percent (3-for-21) of its third-down conversions.
McKnight & Carlson Moving The Chains Senior WR Rhema McKnight and senior TE John Carlson have combined to earn 49 first downs this season. McKnight has 40 receptions and 28 of them have resulted in a first down, while Carlson has registered a first down on 21 of his 32 catches.
Quinn Approaching Rarified Air Senior QB Brady Quinn has tossed 76 career touchdown passes over his brilliant four-year Irish career. Quinn has tossed 50 TD passes over his last 19 games — an average of 2.63 per game. At his current pace, Quinn would finish his career with 11,936 yards passing and 93 touchdown passes. He would become just the ninth player in NCAA Division I history to surpass 11,500 yards passing and 10th to ever pass for 90 or more career TD passes.
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 579 yards over Notre Dame’s first seven games, including 354 over the last three 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.
Walker also ranks among the active NCAA career leaders in six different categories. He ranks fourth in all-purpose plays per game (22.4), seventh in career rushes (578), ninth in total all-purpose plays (673), 10th in career rushes per game (19.3), 14th in career rushing yards (2,561) and 15th in career rushing yards per game (85.4).
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 40 points against Michigan State two weeks ago, the Irish have surpassed the 40-point barrier on eight separate occasions in Weis’ 19 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 16 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.
McKnight & Samardzija Rank Among Nation’s Top Receiving Duo The senior WR tandem of Rhema McKnight and Jeff Samardzjia each rank among the top 10 in ND history for career receiving yards and receptions. McKnight and Samardzjia are tied for second in school history with 143 career catches. McKnight is seventh in school history with 1,893 yards receiving, while Samardzjia’s 2,063 yards receiving is sixth best in ND history. His 22 career TD receptions is tied with Derrick Mayes for tops in school history. McKnight and Samardzjia are among the top 20 (t-18th) in the NCAA among active receivers in catches. Samardzjia is also among the top 20 in reception yards (16th) and career TD catches (7th). Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett, USC, are the only other teammates to be ranked among the top 20 in the NCAA among any of those three categories.
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 55 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 62 in catches per game. Walker is tied with Samardzjia for the team-high with 42 catches. Walker and Samardzjia are tied for 17th in the NCAA in receptions per game (6.00), while senior WR Rhema McKnight is 22nd and senior TE John Carlson is 62nd.
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.
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 Attempts 1st 1,413 — Pass Completions 2nd 815 Kevin Kolb, Houston (850) Pass Yards 2nd 10,274 Kevin Kolb, Houston (11,458) Pass Touchdowns t-2nd 76 Chris Leak, Florida (80) Total Off.-Yards 2nd 10,350 Kevin Kolb, Houston (12,150) Total Off.-Plays 3rd 1,634 Kevin Kolb, Houston (1,813) Pass Attempts/Gm 4th 32.9 Colt Brennan, Hawaii (41.5) Total Off.-Yds/Gm 4th 240.7 Colt Brennan, Hawaii (378.3) Pass Yards/Game 4th 238.9 Colt Brennan, Hawaii (363.3) Total Off.-TDs 4th 81 Kevin Kolb, Houston (92)
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 tied for the team-high with 42 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 (95), Walker is on pace to shatter his own single-season record (43) for receptions by a running back.
Need A First Down, Dial Darius Walker Junior RB Darius Walker has touched the football 95 times the past three games. Of those 95 touches, 26 resulted in a first down for the Irish. In fact, Walker leads Notre Dame with 45 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.
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.
In The Red Zone Notre Dame was 3-of-3 in the red zone, with just one touchdown, in the victory over UCLA last weekend. The Irish are now 24-of-26 (.923) in the red zone through the first seven games of the season. Notre Dame has only settled for field goals on five of those occasions and two were last weekend. The Irish are 69-of-81 (.852) in the red zone during the Charlie Weis era. Notre Dame has recorded 58 touchdowns compared to just 11 field goals goals. In other words, the Irish register seven points just over 84 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 8-of-17 trips into the red zone in 2006 (.471).
On Third & Fourth Down Notre Dame continued to struggle on third down last weekend against UCLA going 4-of-19 (.210) on third-down conversions and now is 34-for-101 (.337) on the season. That 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 a 14-for-18 on fourth down over their first seven games this season and rank fifth in the NCAA with a .778 conversion rate. In fact, only two teams in the country have more fourth down conversions than the Irish.
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. Notre Dame’s opponents, Georgia Tech, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue, are a combined 26-8 (excluding the game with the Irish) and four of those came against No. 1 Ohio State or No. 2 Michigan. The 1999 Notre Dame squad was the last Irish team to face five consecutive undefeated foes to open the season.
Irish Road Warriors Notre Dame extended its current road winning streak to seven games with its victory over Michigan State in East Lansing. The seven-game road winning streak is the longest since a nine-game run that spanned four seasons (1991-94). The school record for consecutive victories on the road is 11, set on two occasions 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 seven-game road winning streak also also happens to be the first seven road games for second year Irish head coach Charlie Weis. It is the longest road winning streak to open a Notre Dame coaching career since Leahy went 9-0-1 over his first 10 road games.
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 seven games, the Irish secondary has been dealt the difficult task of guarding some of the countries top wide receivers. Notre Dame has 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 Williams1 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; 13 Already 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 13 TD passes in Notre Dame’s first five 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 15-4 under head coach Charlie Weis. Even more impressive than his .789 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 through the first seven games of 2006. Quinn has completed passes to nine different receivers, a breakdown of five wide receivers, two tight ends and two running backs. Senior WR Jeff Samardzjia and junior RB Darius Walker have been Quinn’s favorite targets thus far. Samardzjia and Walker are tied for the team-lead with 42 catches, while Senior WR Rhema McKnight has hauled in 40 passes. McKnight has recorded 523 yards and seven touchdowns, Samardzjia has 487 yards and seven touchdowns and Walker has 280 yards and one touchdown. Senior TE John Carlson has 32 receptions for 454 yards and two TD. Quinn has thrown touchdown passes to a total of five different players this season: Carlson, McKnight, Walker, Samardzjia and senior FB Ashley McConnell.
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.
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.
Abiamiri Named to Hendricks Watch List Senior defensive end Victor Abiamiri was named to the 2006 Hendricks Award Preseason Watch List announced in June by the Hendricks Foundation. He has 26 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks in 2006. Abiamiri now has 17 sacks for his career. He is tied with Anthony Weaver for seventh on the Notre Dame career sacks list (since 1982). He also ranks eighth on the all-time Irish tackles for loss list with 35.5. 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.
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 39 career games at tackle, including the last 31 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 over 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 or sharing 35 school records. Since 1950, a Notre Dame quarterback has thrown for 300 yards or more 18 times. Quinn is responsible for nine 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) and 304 (vs. UCLA, 2006). 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.
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.
Quinn: A Touchdown Machine Brady Quinn accounted for two or more touchdowns in 10 of Notre Dame’s 12 games in 2005 and had an eight-game streak of multiple TD games snapped in the Fiesta Bowl – three (passing) at Purdue, two (one run, one pass) vs. USC, six (passing) vs. BYU, three (passing) vs. Tennessee, four (passing) vs. Navy, two (passing) vs. Syracuse and three (passing) at Stanford.
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 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.
Zbikowski’s Rapid Returns Safety Tom Zbikowski, a senior in 2006, has made a name for himself in the Notre Dame record books. Zbikowski scooped up a fumble and raced 25 yards for a touchdown against Penn State earlier this season. 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. Zbikowski, who has six career TD returns (two interceptions, two punts, two fumbles), has clearly established himself among the best big-play return specialists in Notre Dame history. 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 on Nov. 5, 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.
Historic Notre Dame Stadium The 2006 football season marks the 76th year of Irish football in fabled Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have played 390 games in the facility to date and own a 295-90-5 (.763) record in the “House that Rockne Built.” The Irish are 186-54-2 (.773) over the last 42 years at home. The most wins in a season by the Irish at home is seven by the 1988 national championship team and the longest home winning streak in Notre Dame football history is 28 games (from 11.21.42 through 9.30.50).
In Front of a Full House Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 188 of its previous 214 games, including 63 of its last 68 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).
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 an Irish mark for receptions by a back with 43 for 351 yards and two scores. Walker’s ever 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 39 Notre Dame games and led the veteran group in starting assignments. Seniors Bob Morton and John Sullivan were second and third with 35 starts and 25 career starts, respectfully, while senior Dan Santucci has 20 starts to his credit.
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.
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 Priste released his latest book entitled, The New Gold Standard Aug. 16. The b ook 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.”
Notre Dame Leads the Way in National Graduate Rate The graduation rate for student-athletes at the University of 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 another new NCAA initiative, the Academic Progress Rate, which uses a series of formulas related to student-athlete retention and eligibility to measure the academic performance of all participants who receive a grant-in-aid on every team at every NCAA Division I college and university.
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.