Previewing the Vanderbilt Game…
Quick Takes: This marks only the second time in the 11-yearLou Holtz era and the first time since posting a 26-7 victory overMichigan at Michigan Stadium on September 12, 1987, that the Irish haveopened on an opponent’s home field. Despite not opening in an enemyarena since 1987, the Fighting Irish have posted three neutral sitevictories in the Holtz era — a 36-13 win over Virginia at GiantsStadium on August 31, 1989, a 42-7 victory over Northwestern at SoldierField on September 5, 1992 (four years ago Thursday) and a 42-15 winover Northwestern at Soldier Field on September 3, 1994. The victoryover Virginia on August 31, 1989 also marks the last time the Irish wereinvolved in a regular season non-Saturday game.
For Openers: Notre Dame is 90-12-5 (.864) in season openersand 8-2 (.800) in lidlifters under Lou Holtz. The Irish are 21-2-2(.880) in road season openers and 25-3-2 (.867) including season openersplayed at neutral sites. Holtz stands 20-5-1 in openers as a collegiatehead coach. His 8-2 mark at Notre Dame included eight straight winsprior to ’95, plus 1-2 at William & Mary, 3-0-1 at North Carolina State,6-1 at Arkansas and 2-0 at Minnesota. In openers away from home, Holtzstands 6-3-0.
The Injury Report: OUT: K Kevin Kopka (arthroscopic kneesurgery Aug. 20, out six-eight weeks), TB Jay Vickers (fracturedshoulder in preseason, out approximately six weeks), CB Lee Lafayette(knee ligament injury during preseason, slated for Sept. 6 surgery, outfor the season), DE Brad Williams (stress fracture of foot in preseason,out two weeks), C Jeff Kilburg (sprained knee Aug. 26, out three-fourweeks).
The Series: Notre Dame leads the series 1-0-0 following a 41-0shutout victory over Vanderbilt on September 16, 1995 at Notre DameStadium (more information on last season’s meeting can be found on pagetwo). Notre Dame is 16-9-0 (.680 percentage) against current members ofthe Southeastern Conference: 5-1 vs. Alabama, 1-0 vs. Florida, 0-1 vs.Georgia, 3-3 vs. LSU, 1-1 vs. Mississippi, 3-1 vs. South Carolina, 2-2vs. Tennessee and 1-0 vs. Vanderbilt (Notre Dame has never playedArkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and Mississippi State). Notre Dame willcontinue to face an SEC opponent for at least the next two seasons. TheFighting Irish will play at LSU on November 15, 1997, and will play hostto the Tigers on November 21, 1998. In both seasons, LSU will be NotreDame’s 10th opponent.
The Coaches:Lou Holtz is in his 11th season with theIrish with an overall 208-92-7 record. His 26-year collegiate recordincludes three years at William & Mary (13-20, .394, 1969-71), four atNorth Carolina State (33-12-3, .719, 1972-75), seven at Arkansas(60-21-2, .394, 1977-83), two at Minnesota (10-12, .455, 1984-85) and 10at Notre Dame (92-27-2, 1986-95).
Rod Dowhower is in his secondseason at Vanderbilt, with a 2-9 record with the Commodores — and a7-14-1 career mark, including his 5-5-1 season at Stanford in 1979. Heserved as head coach of the NFL Indianapolis Colts in 1985-86 (5-24) andhas been a collegiate assistant at San Diego State, UCLA, Boise Stateand Stanford. Holtz is 2-0 vs. Vanderbilt, including a 48-17 Arkansaswin in 1978 and Notre Dame’s 41-0 triumph in 1995.
The Last Meeting:Notre Dame’s only previous meeting withVanderbilt came in the third game of the ’95 season, a 41-0 Irishvictory in Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish scored on every first-halfpossession and the Notre Dame defense came up with its best statisticaleffort in 18 years as the Irish whitewashed the visiting Commodores.Defensive coordinator Bob Davie directed the Irish squad in the absenceof Lou Holtz, who returned that morning from the Mayo Clinic followingmajor neck surgery the previous Tuesday and watched the game ontelevision from his home. Ron Powlus completed 13 of 18 passes for 200yards and Randy Kinder rushed 12 times for 110 yards and a touchdown.Meanwhile, the Notre Dame defense permitted only 94 net yards, the bestfigure since 82 by Pittsburgh in the 1977 season opener. Notre Dame’spass defense did not permit a completion in any of the last threeperiods. The shutout marked the first by Notre Dame since a 44-0 verdictover Pittsburgh in 1993.
This Date In Irish History:Notre Dame has played on September5 only one time in its previous 999 games. The year was 1992 and theIrish opened the season with a 42-7 victory over Northwestern at SoldierField in Chicago. Many similarities between that situation and thisseason’s opener against Vanderbilt exist. Both games were played on thesame day, both were season openers, both played away from Notre DameStadium and both seasons Notre Dame was coming off a three-loss season.In 1992, Notre Dame ended the season with seven consecutive victories,including a 28-3 win over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. The Irish endedthe campaign with a 10-1-1 mark and a No. 4 national ranking.
The Connections:Notre Dame-Vanderbilt connections include:
* Notre Dame president Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., earned hisdoctoral degree in Christian ethics from Vanderbilt in 1975.
*Sportswriter Grantland Rice, who made the Four Horsemen famous, is aVanderbilt graduate.
* Notre Dame offensive coordinator Dave Robertswas an assistant coach at Vanderbilt from 1979-83, coaching defensiveends and later running backs.
* Vanderbilt’s assistant athleticdirector for compliance, Beth DeBauche, owns a master’s degree incommunications and a law degree from Notre Dame. She’s a 1983 SaintMary’s College graduate.
* Vanderbilt provost Tom Burish is a 1972Notre Dame graduate.
* In the history of college football, only twocoaches have been knighted — Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne and Vanderbilt’sHenry Thornton.
In the State of Tennessee:Though this marks Notre Dame’sfirst visit to Nashville to play football, the Irish have appeared inthe state of Tennessee on three previous occasions:
* A 40-18 lossto Tennessee in Knoxville in 1979.
* A 19-18 win over Boston Collegein Memphis in the 1983 Liberty Bowl.
* A 34-29 win over Tennessee inKnoxville in 1990 (the Irish were ranked #1 nationally at the time). TheIrish men’s basketball team played Vanderbilt in Nashville during the1986-87 season, with Vandy posting a 60-56 win.
Scouting Vanderbilt: The Commodores will build their ’96 hopesaround a defensive unit that returns 10 starters to go with strongspecial team play. Vanderbilt permitted only 138.3 rushing yards pergame a year ago, though a major loss to graduation is ’95 SoutheasternConference most valuable lineman James Manley. Leading the linebackingunit is junior Jamie Duncan, who made 120 tackles in ’95, including 20vs. Notre Dame. The special teams feature punter Bill Marinangel, whohas ranked 16th nationally in that category each of the last two years,including a 70-yard boot in ’95 vs. Notre Dame. In addition, Vanderbiltblocked five punts and six PATs or field goals in ’95. Top names onoffense are senior OT Allen DeGraffenreid, junior QB Damian Allen andsenior TE Jason Tomichek. The Commodore running game must find areplacement for graduated 1,072-yard rusher Jermaine Johnson (he washeld to 38 yards on 13 attempts by the Irish in ’95).
* Notre Dame has played in front of capacitycrowds in 78 of its last 89 games, including 22 of the last 23 prior toa less-than-capacity crowd in the ’96 Orange Bowl vs. Florida State.
* During the Lou Holtz era, Notre Dame has returned 11 kickoffs, 11punts (one blocked), 14 interceptions and three fumbles for touchdowns– compared to only one punt and three interceptions for opponents.
* Notre Dame has held 20 of its last 41 opponents to 100 or lessrushing yards, including Vanderbilt (56 yards) in 1995.
* NotreDame’s rushing attack has ranked 20th or better nationally nine yearsrunning under Holtz:
Year Rushing Avg. NCAA Rank Rushing TDs 1986 189.4 33rd 181987 252.1 14th 33 1988 258.0 11th 30 1989 287.7 8th 421990 250.3 12th 33 1991 268.0 5th 31 1992 280.9 3rd 341993 260.7 6th 36 1994 215.6 20th 18 1995 233.5 6th 29
ScoutingThe Irish Offense:
LINE — Notre Dame prospects up front bode well for asolid running game in ’96, despite the graduation loss of veterans DustyZeigler and Ryan Leahy from a year ago. With four of five ’96 starterstipping the scales at better than 300 pounds, the Irish will depend onthe experience of senior tackles Mike Doughty (18 career starts) andChris Clevenger (15 career starts), senior guard Jeremy Akers (15 careerstarts), sophomore guard Mike Rosenthal (a future all-star for theIrish, he switched from tackle to become a starter at guard) and seniorcenter Rick Kaczenski (11 consecutive starts). Plus, Doughty, Clevengerand Kaczenski all have another year of eligibility available, shouldthey choose to apply for it.
BACKS — The Irish boast an all-seniorblue-chip parade of backs, led by QB Ron Powlus (“He’s the bestquarterback I’ve been around,” says Lou Holtz of Powlus, who needs 11 TDpasses in ’96 to break Rick Mirer’s Irish career record of 41), TBsRandy Kinder (Notre Dame’s eighth-best career rusher at 2,048 yards) andRobert Farmer and unselfish FB Marc Edwards (1,210 career rushing yards;top returning receiver from ’95 with 25 for 361, 3 TDs).
RECEIVERS — IfNotre Dame has a question mark on offense in ’96, it’s at the widereceiver slots, especially following the loss of big-play artist DerrickMayes from the split end spot. Senior split end starter Emmett Mosley isthe most experienced of the wide receivers, with 28 career catches tohis credit (17 for 268 in ’95). Helping to fill the void is all-aroundstandout Autry Denson, who rushed for 695 yards in ’95, will start atflanker in ’96 but also will help at tailback. Denson’s switch toflanker has been the most noteworthy position switch of the ’96preseason. Tight end is a strong point, with potential all-star PeteChryplewicz (17 for 204, 1 TD in ’95) returning.
Scouting the Irish Defense:
LINE — Fifth-year veteran end Renaldo Wynn(28 career starts), probably Notre Dame’s most consistent defensiveplayer in ’95, will be joined by two players who did not play at all in’95. Senior DE Melvin Dansby (19 career games played, but no starts)missed all of ’95 after May ’95 neck surgery but possesses all-starpotential. Noseguard Alton Maiden missed the ’95 campaign whileimproving his academic standing and will make his first career start vs.Vanderbilt.
LINEBACKERS — Notre Dame appears in great shape here, withseniors Lyron Cobbins (14 career starts; Notre Dame’s leading tackler,interceptor and fumble recoverer in ’95) and Kinnon Tatum (77 tackles in’95) inside, to go with senior Bert Berry (23 career starts) andsophomore Kory Minor (started 11 games as freshman in ’95) outside. Allfour are returning standouts and should have major impacts in ’96. Amongothers slated to make solid contributions are sophomores Bobbie Howardinside and Lamont Bryant outside.
BACKS — Like the wide receiving corpson offense, Notre Dame’s question on defense is in the secondary. Smallbut sticky junior CB regulars Allen Rossum (two int. returns for TDs in’95) and Ivory Covington (made game-saving tackle on late two-pointattempt by Army) anchor the group. Neither FS starter Jarvis Edison (hescored a TD vs. Vanderbilt in ?95 after picking up a fumble on akickoff) nor sophomore SS A’Jani Sanders has started a game before –and the Vanderbilt game will mark Sanders’ first-ever game appearance.
Scouting the Irish Kicking Game: Punter Hunter Smith had an averagerookie season in ’95 (36.4 average) but has been outstanding inpreseason drills. Placekicker Scott Cengia (10 of 13 in career FGs)boasts a slight edge in that category over freshman Jim Sanson. Kickoffreturner Allen Rossum is the fastest man on the Irish roster (’95 NCAAindoor track All-American in the 55 meters), while Autry Denson willaugment his all-purpose role by returning punts.
The Spread Offense: Irish coach Lou Holtz unveiled a spread offenseagainst Florida State in the ’96 Orange Bowl and promised to offer itagain in ’96. Drawbacks to its developments were the absence of QB RonPowlus during spring drills and the lack of a proven receiving corps.Even now, Holtz says one key to its potential use is the productivity atreceiver. Holtz’s interest in the offense is based on utilization ofPowlus’ talents — as well as the ability to make use of the formationswithout requiring substitutions.
The Honorees: The list of 65 preliminary candidates for the 1996 ButkusAward as the top linebacker nationally includes three Irish players –seniors Lyron Cobbins and Bert Berry and sophomore Kory Minor. BothCobbins and Berry made the ’95 preliminary list as well. The list willbe trimmed to 10 semifinalists on October 17 and three finalists will benamed November 14. The winner will be announced December 14. Also, FBMarc Edwards is a nominee for the Doak Walker Award presented to the toprunning back nationally.
1,000 Games and Counting: As Notre Dame prepares to close out its firstone thousand football games, here’s a quick review of just some of thenumbers the Fighthing Irish have posted since an 8-0 setback to Michiganon November 23, 1887.
* Notre Dame leads the nation in winningpercentage at .760 through 107 seasons. In fact the gap between theFighting Irish and second place Michigan (.743) is the widest differencebetween any consecutive schools in the top 10. If Notre Dame, whichhasn’t lost three consecutive regular season games in Lou Holtz’s 10seasons, lost 17 consecutive games and Michigan won 17 consecutivegames, the Irish still would lead the all-time NCAA standings.
* NotreDame is tied with Oklahoma and Alabama for the most nationalchampionships won with 11. No other school has more than eight nationaltitles.
* In 107 previous seasons, Notre Dame has had 12 perfectseasons, 22 undefeated seasons and 28 seasons where the Fighting Irishsuffered just one loss. In 50 of 107 seasons Notre Dame has lost morethan one game.
* Notre Dame leads the nation in consensus All-Americanswith 77 (24 more than any other school) and Heisman Trophy winners withseven.
* Since 1981, Notre Dame has led the nation in footballgraduation percentage five times and is the only school to have beenawarded special recognition by the College Football Association everyseason since 1982.
Fifth-Year Players: Notre Dame has seven fifth-year players on its teamthis year. They are: OG Jeremy Akers, ILB Joe Babey, TE Kevin Carretta,TE Pete Chryplewicz, NG David Quist, OLB Bill Wagasy and DE RenaldoWynn. All seven players have earned their undergraduate degrees and arecurrently enrolled in graduate work. Chryplewicz is in the uniqueposition to earn five monograms during his career. The tight end playedin just two games during ’94 because of a wrist injury, but did earn amonogram for the season. Other players to earn five monograms in Irishhistory include current Notre Dame graduate assistant Justin Hall(1988-92) and defensive back Randy Harrison (1974-78).
Fighting Irish Captains: Notre Dame has three senior captains for the’96 season: quarterback Ron Powlus, linebacker Lyron Cobbins andfullback Marc Edwards.
New Faces/Three New Coaches: There are three new faces on the Notre Damecoaching staff for ’96: Reciever coach Urban Meyer — an ’86 Cinncinatigraduate, Meyer was previously at Colorado State for the past sixseasons. Graduate assistant Justin Hall — a former Notre Dame offensivelineman who graduated in 1993. He spent the ’95 season as offensive linecoach at Hiram (Ohio) College. Graduate assistant Jay Sawvel — a ’93graduate of Mount Union (Ohio) College, he spent the previous two yearsas a graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky.
Stadium Expansion: Notre Dame Stadium is currently undergoing anexpansion and renovation which will put the capacity of the facility at80,990 — an addition of nearly 22,000 seats from the current capacityof 59,075. The expansion, which will be completed for the 1997 homeopener against Georgia Tech, is a 21-month project which cost a total of$50 million — all raised through bond sales. Casteel Construction, Inc.of South Bend is the general contractor, while Ellerbe Beckett, Inc., ofKansas City is the architect. The expansion will include a newthree-story press box, a new natural grass field, expanded locker roomsfor Notre Dame and visiting teams. The Notre Dame football team willpermanently be housed in the stadium and dress there for all practicesand games. A new, expanded training room also will be added to theStadium. The ’96 campaign features use of the same 59,075 seats, thoughthe concrete structures supporting the new sections already are in placeand in full view. Construction has eliminated 750 parking spaces in theareas surrounding the Stadium, and access to seating sections during the’96 season will come through newly-created entrances at the four cornersof the Stadium.
The StadiumCam: The Notre Dame Office of Information Technologies has aweb site at http://www.nd.edu/~jeremy/stadium/ that is better known as”Stadiumcam.” Under the direction of Jeremy McCarty and Tom Monaghan,two consultants and analysts in the Office of University Computing, thissite features an up-to-date image of the expansion of Notre DameStadium. The site is updated every five minutes during the day and everyhalf hour at night. The departments of computer science and electricalengineering have a site at http://lisa.ee.nd.edu/DomeCam/, which givesyou a look at the Gold Dome of the Main Building, which is viewable 24hours a day. For information on all facets of Notre Dame, the home pageis at http://www.nd.edu/.
Holtz To Pass Career Games Coached Record: Notre Dame head coach LouHoltz will pass a significant milestone early in the ’96 season. Whenthe Irish take the field against Vanderbilt Sept. 5, it will markHoltz’s 122nd game as head coach at Notre Dame. The current record forgames coached at Notre Dame is 122 set by Knute Rockne between 1918-30.Holtz is currently third for career wins at Notre Dame with 92 (92-27-2overall), while Rockne had 105 and Ara Parseghian (1964-74) is secondwith 95. Holtz is entering his 11th year in charge of the Irish programand has a 208-92-7 career record in 26 seasons. He led the Irish to the’88 national championship and has brought Notre Dame to traditional NewYear’s Day bowl games in each of the last nine years (five wins). Hiscollegiate mark also includes stints at William & Mary (13-20 from1969-71), North Carolina State (33-12-3 from 1972-75), Arkansas (60-21-2from 1977-83) and Minnesota (10-12 from 1984-85).
Thursday Night Lights: The Thursday night date against Vanderbilt, toaccommodate an ESPN audience, will be the first non-Saturdayregular-season game played by the Irish since Aug. 31, 1989, when NotreDame topped Virginia by a 36-13 victory in the Kickoff Classic played atthe Meadowlands’ Giants Stadium.
Back To Culver: For the second straight season, the Notre Dame footballteam returned to the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee and the Culver Academiesin Culver, Ind., for some of its ’96 preseason practice. The Irisharrived at Culver August 16, then began practice the next day on thefirst day the Irish could practice in pads. Notre Dame returned tocampus following two practices at Culver August 22. In 1995, head coachLou Holtz took the Irish off-campus for the first time in the history ofthe program for 10 days of preseason practice at Culver . The CulverAcademics are located appoximately 40 miles south of South Bend.
The Schedule: Notre Dame’s 1996 slate brings up a few trends and notesof interest:
* After taking on the most difficult schedule in thecountry in ’95 according to the NCAA — and recording wins over rankedopponents Texas, Washington and USC — Notre Dame’s ’96 agenda includesassignments against five teams that played in bowl games following the’95 season. USC (9-2-1 and Rose Bowl champion), Texas (10-2-1 and aSugar Bowl appearance), Ohio State (11-2 and a Citrus Bowl appearance),Washington (7-4-1 and a Sun Bowl appearance) and Air Force (8-5 and aCopper Bowl appearance) all qualified for ’95 postseason action. 1996Irish opponents who finished in the final Associated Press top 25 for’95 are Ohio State (sixth), USC (12th) and Texas (14th).
* There areonly two new names on the ’96 schedule — with Pittsburgh (2-9 in ’95)and Rutgers (4-7 in ’95) replacing Northwestern (10-2 in ’95) and Army(5-5-1 in ’95). Pitt returns to the schedule after a two-year absence,but the Panthers have played Notre Dame 55 previous times. The onlyother time Notre Dame and Rutgers met came in 1921.
Irish To Ireland: Notre Dame will play Navy on Nov. 2 Croke Park inDublin, Ireland, in the Shamrock Classic. Croke Park is the home of thehottest Gaelic sporting event — all-Ireland football and hurling, butthe Notre Dame vs. Navy contest is the first non-Gaelic sporting eventever to be played there. Croke Park has a capacity of 40,000, butadditional seating and standing room only tickets put the capacity at55,000. According to the Irish Tourist Board in the United States, theevent may be the single largest tourist event in the history of Ireland.The game will be of special significance to Notre Dame athletic directorMike Wadsworth, who was the Canadian ambassador to Ireland form 1989 to1994. Tour and ticket packages are available for the contest by callingthe Notre Dame ticket office at (219) 631-7356. The Notre Dame-Navyseries is the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the countryand has been played every year since 1927. Notre Dame’s only otherinternational football game was played Nov. 24, 1979, when the Irishdefeated Miami 40-15 at Tokyo National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan,in the third annual Mirage Bowl.
Irish Finish 11th in Sears Directors’ Cup: A national championship inwomen’s soccer and a runnerup finish at the men’s and women’s NCAAcombined fencing team championship helped Notre Dame place 11th in the1995-96 Sears Directors’ Cup competition. Irish athletic teams alsoearned an 11th-place finish in the inaugural 1993-94 competition andwere 30th in 1994-95. The Sears Directors’ Cup, sponsored by theNational Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) andpromoted by USA Today, annually recognizes the top Division I schools in22 sports — nine for men, nine for woman plus two wild card sports forboth men and women. Stanford won the 1995-96 competition followed byUCLA, Florida and Texas. Notre Dame’s finish was the highest of anyschool in the BIG EAST Conference. In 1995-96, Notre Dame enjoyed moresuccess as an all-around athletic program. The fall season saw thewomen’s soccer team win the NCAA championship and the football teamadvance to its ninth straight appearance in a New Year’s Day bowl game.In addition, the women’s volleyball and men’s cross country teamsparticipated in NCAA postseason play. The women’s basketball team playedin the NCAA tournament and the men’s and women’s fencing team finishedsecond at the NCAA tournament during the winter months. The springseason was highlighted by a trip to the NCAA quarterfinals by thewomen’s tennis team and NCAA appearances by the softball, lacrosse andbaseball teams. In addition, representatives from men’s and women’strack, women’s swimming and men’s tennis took part in NCAA play. NotreDame offers 25 different sports at the varsity level. Women’s lacrosseis making its debut this year, while women’s crew will be added to thelist of Notre Dame sports for the ’97-’98 academic year.
School Is Job One: The Notre Dame-Vanderbilt football game will featuretwo universities with student-athlete graduation rates that are amongthe best in the nation. For all student-athletes, Notre Dame ranksfourth in Division I-A while Vanderbilt is seventh. Among footballplayers, Vanderbilt ranks third and Notre Dame is eighth. NCAAgraduation rates are based on the comparison of the number students whoentered an institution and the number of those who graduated within sixyears. The survey regards students who leave or transfer, regardless ofacademic standing, as nongraduates. Among Notre Dame student-athleteswho complete their eligibility at the University, 99 percent earn adegree. Please refer to the charts at the right.