Previewing The PittsburghGame….
The Date: Saturday, November 16, 1996
The Time: 1:30 p.m. EST
The Site: Notre Dame Stadium (59,075/grass) in Notre Dame, Ind.
The Television Plans: NBC Sports natonal telecast with Charlie Jones (play-by-play), Randy Jones (analysis), John Dockery (sideline reports) and Mark Wolff (producer).
The Radio Plans: For the 29th consecutive season Notre Dame football games are broadcast nationally on radio by the Mutual/Westwood One Radio Network with Tony Roberts (play-by-play) and Tom Pagna (analysis), while sports director Larry Michaels serves as pregame and halftime host. The Mutual Network includes nearly 300 stations and many of the games receive worldwide exposure on the Armed Forces Radio Network.
* The Injury Report:
OUT: FB Marc Edwards (torn medial collateral ligament in left knee vs. Boston College; out four weeks); SE Cikai Champion (separated shoulder vs. Boston College; out two-three weeks); OG Mike Rosenthal (broken ankle vs. Air Force; DNP vs. Navy or Boston College; out at least four weeks overall); FS Jarvis Edison (sprained knee vs. Air Force; DNP vs. Navy or Boston College).
PROBABLE: SS A’Jani Sanders (torn medial collateral knee ligament vs. Texas, DNP vs. Ohio State, Washington, Air Force; played briefly vs. Navy; DNP vs. Boston College due to death of his mother).
* The Series:
Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh: Notre Dame leads it 38-16-1, including a 16-8 edge at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have won six straight in the series (1988-93), though the teams haven’t met either of the last two years. Only three other teams have beaten Notre Dame more than Pitt — USC with 23, Purdue with 21 and Michigan with 18. The Panthers haven’t beaten Notre Dame since a 30-22 victory in 1987 at Pittsburgh and haven’t won in South Bend since a 10-9 triumph in 1986, Lou Holtz’s first year as head coach. Holtz is 6-2 vs. Pittsburgh (3-1 at Notre Dame Stadium), while Johnny Majors is 4-5 overall vs. the Irish (2-3 during his tenure at Pitt) and 2-3 at Notre Dame Stadium.
Below is the list of previous meetings with an asterisk indicating games played at Notre Dame Stadium.
Site Year Rank W/L ND Pitt. 1909 W 6 0 1911 T 0 0 1912 W 3 0 1930 W 35 19 * 1931 W 25 12 1932 L 0 12 * 1933 L 0 14 1934 L 0 19 * 1935 W 9 6 1936 7-9 L 0 26 * 1937 12-3 L 6 21 1943 W 41 0 1944 W 58 0 1945 3- W 39 9 * 1946 W 33 0 1947 W 40 6 1948 W 40 0 * 1950 W 18 7 1951 W 33 0 * 1952 8- L 19 22 * 1953 1-15 W 23 14 1954 8- W 33 0 1956 -20 L 13 26 * 1957 7- W 13 7 1958 14- L 26 29 1959 L 13 28 * 1960 -14 L 13 20 1961 W 26 20 * 1962 W 43 22 * 1963 -8 L 7 27 1964 1- W 17 15 1965 4- W 69 13 * 1966 1- W 40 0 1967 9- W 38 0 * 1968 12- W 56 7 1969 8- W 49 7 * 1970 2- W 46 14 1971 8- W 56 7 * 1972 7- W 42 16 1973 5-20 W 31 10 * 1974 5-17 W 14 10 1975 9- L 20 34 * 1976 11-9 L 10 31 1977 3-7 W 19 9 * 1978 -9 W 26 17 1982 -1 W 31 16 * 1983 18- L 16 21 * 1986 L 9 10 1987 4- L 22 30 1988 5- W 30 20 * 1989 1-7 W 45 7 1990 3- W 31 22 * 1991 7-12 W 42 7 1992 14- W 52 21 * 1993 4- W 44 0
* The Last Meeting:
Fourth-rated Notre Dame exploded for 31 points and 246 rushing yards in the second half, while holding Pittsburgh without a first down after intermission in beating the Panthers 44-0 at Notre Dame Stadium in 1993 in the last meeting between the two teams. Junior TB Lee Becton rushed 16 times for 142 yards and one TD, while Randy Kinder added 74 yards including a 31-yard scoring run, Ray Zellars ran for 67 yards and two scores and Robert Farmer added a TD run. The Irish never punted and led 13-0 at halftime despite three first-half turnovers. The Irish defense permitted only 11 net yards and one pass completion in the second half while running off 44 plays to 17 for Pitt. Bert Berry made his first career start and led the Irish with seven tackles, while Jeff Burris ran a punt back 60 yards for a TD for the final Irish points.
* The Head Coach:
Lou Holtz is in his 11th season with the Irish with an overall 214-94-7 (.690) record. His 27-year collegiate record includes three years at William & Mary (13-20, .394, 1969-71), four at North 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 11 at Notre Dame (98-29-2, .767, 1986-96).
* The Boston College Review:
Notre Dame broke out of a 21-21 third-period deadlock to finish with 426 rushing yards (fourth-highest total in the 11-season Lou Holtz era) and pull away for a 48-21 victory over Boston College at Alumni Stadium. Robert Farmer’s 81-yard TD run (longest by an Irish player in 23 seasons) broke the deadlock and Alton Maiden’s 20-yard run with a fumble recovery finished the scoring in the final period. Autry Denson led the Irish with 155 rushing yards, Farmer added 98, Marc Edwards 68, Randy Kinder 65 and Jamie Spencer 45 as all five scored at least one rushing TD (Farmer had two).
* Vs. the Top 25:
Notre Dame stands 15-8-1 in Notre Dame Stadium in games played against Associated Press top 25 opponents during the Lou Holtz era (compared to 18-12-1 away – including 5-4 in bowls – for 33-20-2 overall in Holtz era).
* The Pitt Connection:
Irish defensive coordinator Bob Davie was a Pittsburgh assistant from 1980-82 and was a graduate assistant in 1977. Irish offensive line coach Joe Moore coached nine years with the Panthers, starting as offensive backfield coach in 1977, and ending with six years as offensive line coach beginning in 1980. Pitt assistant coach Ken Karcher was an Irish quarterback from 1981-82.
* The Running Game:
Here are the top team rushing figures produced by the Irish during the Lou Holtz years:458 vs. Purdue 1992433 vs. Michigan State 1991428 vs. Purdue 1994426 vs. Boston College 1996425 vs. Penn State 1989414 vs. Navy 1989410 vs. Air Force 1995406 vs. Navy 1987397 vs. Washington 1996
* The Irish Are:
23-0-1 when they don’t commit a turnover (tie vs. USC in ’94)80-5-2 when they rush for 200 or more yards39-4-1 when they hold the opponent to less than 100 rushing yardsAll figures during the Lou Holtz era
* Playing on the Road:
The Irish traditionally have been tough on the road, with Notre Dame’s win at Michigan State in 1994 setting an all-time Irish record of 16 straight victories away from home. Since that game, though, Notre Dame stands 8-5-1 on the road (including a current string of four straight), with wins coming at Purdue, Washington, Army and Air Force in ’95, then Vanderbilt, Texas, Navy and Boston College in ’96.
* The Added Lights:
New additions to Notre Dame Stadium since the Irish last played at home — and available for the final two home games in ’96 — are the light standards in each of the four corners of the Stadium. Yet to be added are lights on the facade of the new press box that will be available for 1997.
* The Banquet:
Former Irish football All-American Chris Zorich, now with the Chicago Bears, will serve as guest speaker at the 77th annual Notre Dame Football Banquet. The banquet, sponsored by the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley, will be held on Friday, December 6, 1996, in the north dome of the Joyce Center on the University of Notre Dame campus. A reception on the concourse begins at 5:45 p.m. EST and the dinner begins at 7:00 p.m., with Notre Dame athletic director Mike Wadsworth slated to serve as master of ceremonies. Tickets are $33 each and are available only by mail. Checks should be made payable to University of Notre Dame Football Banquet and should be mailed to Ticket Office, Joyce Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Tickets will be mailed approximately one week prior to the banquet. Any questions should be directed to the Notre Dame athletic department at 219-631-6107. In addition to the dinner, all senior members of the ’96 Irish team will be available for autographs on the concourse during the reception. There also will be a silent auction of Notre Dame football photographs and memorabilia during the reception. Zorich, out for the entire ’96 season due to a preseason knee injury, has been a starter for the Bears at defensive tackle each of the last three seasons. He’s a 1991 Notre Dame graduate who won the Lombardi Award in 1990 as the top interior lineman in college football and was a two-time All-American.
* Stats and Rankings Through Eight Games:
Notre Dame’s 32 TD drives in ’96 have averaged 61.2 yards and 6.28 plays each, with two of the drives vs. Purdue covering 90 and 92 yards.
Against Texas, the Irish ran seven or more plays on eight of their 11 possessions. Against Washington, the Irish had four TD drives of 80 or more yards. Against Navy, all seven TD drives covered seven plays or less. Against Boston College, four of the six drives required four or less plays.
Here are a few measures of how effective Notre Dame’s defense has been so far in ’96:
— Against Vanderbilt, the Irish limited Vandy to one drive of more than five plays (that was eight), 10 of the Commodore 14 possessions produced six yards or less and three produced negative yardage.
— Against Purdue, the Irish held the Boilers to seven straight drives producing nine yards or less at one stretch, limited Purdue to only one drive of more than six plays and produced two with negative yardage.
— Against Texas, the Irish held the Longhorns to eight of 11 possessions with seven or fewer pplays, three drives with negative yardage and six possessions producing 16 yards or less (including only 111 net yards in the second half).
— Against Ohio State, the Irish held the Buckeyes to eight drives of 21 yards or less (including only 108 net yards, five first downs and two pass completions in the second half).
— Against Washington, the Irish produced five sacks, limited the Huskies to 12 completions on 35 pass attempts and didn’t permit Washington to make its second first down until six minutes remained in the first half.
— Against Air Force, the Irish limited the Falcons to 51 passing yards.
— Against Navy, which had ranked third nationally in rushing at 306.8 per game, the Irish held the Mids to 184, including only minus-16 for QB Chris McCoy, who had ranked 13th nationally at 121 per game.
— Against Boston College, the Irish defense forced three fumbles, ran one back for a TD, intercepted two passes, produced five QB sacks and one other lost yardage play.
* NCAA Stat Rankings This Week:
(Through games of Nov. 9, 1996)
TEAM RANKINGS (top 50 rankings only)Category Notre Dame PittsburghRushing Offense 9th at 255.5 Total Offense 19th at 439.98 Scoring Offense 15th at 33.1 Rushing Defense 46th at 140.9 Pass Eff. Defense 16th at 98.17 Total Defense 21st at 297.6 Scoring Defense 25th at 18.5 Net Punting 15th at 39.6Punt Returns 20th at 12.9 Kickoff Returns 22nd at 22.7 13th at 24.6
INDIVIDUAL RANKINGS (top 50 rankings only)Rushing Autry Denson 31st at 99.88 Passing Efficiency Ron Powlus 38th at 129.8 Punting Hunter Smith Nate Cochran 23rd at 43.75 19th at 44.03 All-Purpose Running Autry Denson 38th at 135.25 Scoring Marc Edwards 34th at 7.75Punt Returns John Jenkins 29th at 11.18Kickoff Returns Hank Poteat 10th at 26.38 Curtis Anderson 13th at 25.77
* The Turnover Margin:
Notre Dame uncharacteristicly has been on the minus side of the turnover column in ’96, especially when it comes to fumbles. Here’s where the Irish have stood by season during the Lou Holtz era (F-fumbles, I-interceptions:)
1986 Minus-1 21 gained (12 F, 9 I)/22 lost (13 F/9 I)1987 Plus-9 29 gained (16F/13 I)/20 lost (9 F/11 I)1988 Plus-12 34 gained (16 F/18 I)/22 lost (13 F/9 I)1989 Plus-12 38 gained (14 F/24 I)/26 lost (16 F/10 I)1990 Minus-2 16 gained (7 F, 9 I)/18 lost (12 F/6 I)1991 Plus-5 26 gained (11 F/15 I)/21 lost (11 F/10 I)1992 Plus-4 23 gained (8 F/15 I)/19 lost (11 F/8 I)1993 Plus-12 22 gained (10 F/12 I)/10 lost (5 F/5 I)1994 Plus-1 22 gained (15 F/7 I)/21 lost (10 F/11 I)1995 Plus-10 30 gained (14 F/16 I)/20 lost (12 F/8 I)1996 Minus-2 17 gained (9 F/8 I)/19 lost (15 F/4 I)
* Irish Items:
* Notre Dame has played in front of capacity crowds in 85 of its last 97 games, including 22 of the previous 23 prior to a less-than-capacity crowd in the ’96 Orange Bowl vs. Florida State. Both the crowds at Vanderbilt and Texas in ’96 were record figures for those stadia.
* The 1998 Notre Dame-Navy football game is headed for the Washington Redskins’ new 78,600-seat stadium to open in 1997 in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
* During the Lou Holtz era, Notre Dame has returned 12 kickoffs, 12 punts (one blocked), 14 interceptions and five fumbles for touchdowns — compared to only one punt (in ’86) and three interceptions for opponents.
* The Irish have scored right before the end of the first half in three of their seven games to date:
–Vanderbilt – Notre Dame took over at its own three with 4:19 left and drove 82 yards in 14 plays to a 33-yard Jim Sanson field goal with :05 left in the first half.
–Purdue – Notre Dame took over at its own 44 with :43 left and drove 56 yards in five plays, with Autry Denson catching a 10-yard TD pass from Ron Powlus with :02 left in the first half.
–Texas – Notre Dame took over at its own 37 with 2:37 left and drove 63 yards in seven plays, with Powlus throwing to Marc Edwards for a three-yard score with :27 left in the first half.
* Notre Dame has held 22 of its last 49 opponents to 100 or less rushing yards, including Vanderbilt (two yards) and Purdue (44 yards) in 1996.
* Notre Dame’s rushing attack has ranked 20th or better nationally nine years running under Holtz:
Year Rushing Avg. NCAA Rank Rushing TDs1986 189.4 33rd 181987 252.1 14th 331988 258.0 11th 301989 287.7 8th 421990 250.3 12th 331991 268.0 5th 311992 280.9 3rd 341993 260.7 6th 361994 215.6 20th 181995 233.5 6th 29*1996 255.5 9th 24*through 8 games
* Scouting the Irish Offense:
LINE — Notre Dame prospects up front boded well for a solid running game in ’96, despite the graduation loss of veterans Dusty Zeigler and Ryan Leahy from a year ago. With four of five projected ’96 starters tipping the scales at better than 300 pounds, the Irish depend on the experience of senior tackles Mike Doughty (26 career starts) and Chris Clevenger (23 career starts), senior guard Jeremy Akers (21 career starts), sophomore guard Mike Rosenthal (a future all-star for the Irish, he switched from tackle to become a starter at guard — though he broke his left ankle vs. Air Force and is lost for a month) and senior center Rick Kaczenski (19 consecutive starts). Plus, Doughty, Clevenger and Kaczenski all have another year of eligibility available, should they choose to apply for it. Akers started at LG vs. Vanderbilt in the opener, sophomore Jerry Wisne got the nod vs. Purdue, then Akers returned to the starting lineup vs. Texas, Ohio State, Washington, Air Force and Boston College. Against Navy, Wisne opened at LG, and freshman Brad Williams started and played most of the way at RG after switching over from defensive tackle on Tuesday prior to the game. Williams again earned the starting nod at RG vs. Boston College.
BACKS — The Irish boast a blue-chip parade of backs, led by QB Ron Powlus (“He’s the best quarterback I’ve been around,” says Lou Holtz of Powlus, who needs four TD passes to break Rick Mirer’s Irish career record of 41; he’s 103 of 182 for 1406, 7 TDs, 4 ints. in ’96), TB Randy Kinder (Notre Dame’s sixth-best career rusher at 2,291 yards; he missed Vanderbilt and Purdue games with pulled right quadricep, then returned to help with 51 yards on eight carries vs. Texas, then 11 for 60 and 1 TD vs. Washington, then 11 for 65 and 1 TD vs. Boston College) and Robert Farmer (34 for 349, 4 TDs, including 10 for 41 vs. Vanderbilt in first career start, an 18-yard TD run on his only first-half carry vs. Texas — then 7 for 68 and a TD vs. Washington; 4 for 74 vs. Navy; 3 for 98 and 2 TDs vs. Boston College) and unselfish FB Marc Edwards (1,591 career rushing yards; top returning receiver from ’95 with 25 for 361, 3 TDs; 83 for 381, 8 TDs rushing in ’96; 16 catches for 179, 2 TDs in ’96). The Irish started sophomore Autry Denson at flanker vs. Vanderbilt, but the loss of Kinder and seven fumbles overall vs. Vanderbilt (four lost) prompted the Irish to move him to TB to start beginning vs. Purdue. He remains the leading Irish rusher (144 for 799, 7 TDs; 9 catches for 95, 1 TD) after carrying for a career-high 158 yards vs. Texas, including a six-yard scoring run on fourth down to tie the game at 24 in the fourth period. He added his fifth career 100-yard effort vs. Washington with 14 for 137 and one score — then had 16 for 123 and two TDs vs. Navy, then 23 for 155 and 1 TD vs. Boston College.
RECEIVERS — If Notre Dame had a question mark on offense coming into ’96, it was at the wide receiver slots, especially following the loss of big-play artist Derrick Mayes from the split end spot. Senior split end starter Emmett Mosley is the most experienced of the wide receivers, with 41 career catches to his credit (17 for 248 in ’96, including 6 for 55 vs. Vanderbilt; 17 for 268 in ’95). Also in the wide receiver mix are junior Malcolm Johnson (22 for 366, 1 TD after making his first career starts at SE vs. Purdue, Texas, Ohio State, Washington, Navy and Boston College), and freshman Raki Nelson (6 for 68). Sophomore Shannon Stephens moved over to receiver from the secondary two weeks into the season and had three catches for 93 yards and a TD vs. Washington, then two for 32 vs. Air Force. Tight end is a strong point, with potential all-star Pete Chryplewicz (20 for 229, 3 TDs, including a career-high 5 vs. Purdue for 52, then 3 for 41, 2 TDs vs. Washington, 3 for 70 vs. Air Force; 17 for 204, 1 TD in ’95) returning.
* Scouting the Irish Defense:
LINE — Fifth-year veteran end Renaldo Wynn (35 career starts), probably Notre Dame’s most consistent defensive player in ’95 (44 tackles, 5.0 sacks, four tackles for loss, including 8 tackles, 2 sacks vs. Washington), is joined by two players who did not play at all in ’95. Senior DE Melvin Dansby (50 tackles; made first career start vs. Vanderbilt and had 5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, a shared sack — then had 7 tackles and a stop for loss vs. Purdue, registered seven tackles vs. Washington, then 10 vs. Air Force) missed all of ’95 after May ’95 neck surgery but possesses all-star potential. Noseguard Alton Maiden (48 tackles; 8 vs. Ohio State, 9 vs. Air Force and Navy) missed the ’95 campaign while improving his academic standing and has been the starter at that spot in all of ’96.
LINEBACKERS — Notre Dame is in great shape here, with seniors Lyron Cobbins (23 career starts; Notre Dame’s leading tackler, interceptor and fumble recoverer in ’95; made key interception in final minutes vs. Texas to set up tying TD; one of team leaders with 60 tackles overall in ’96 including team-high 12 vs. Ohio State and team-high 13 vs. Air Force) and Kinnon Tatum (team-leading 8 tackles vs. Purdue, team-high 11 vs. Texas, 8 vs. Air Force, career-high 16 vs. Navy; first on Irish with 65 tackles in ’96; 77 tackles in ’95) inside, to go with senior Bert Berry (team-leading 7.5 sacks in ’96; 7 tackles, 2 sacks vs. Vanderbilt; 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss vs. Purdue; 6 tackles, a PBU and TFL vs. Texas; 7 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 2 PBU vs. Air Force; 11 tackles vs. Navy; 31 career starts) and sophomore Kory Minor (8 tackles, an int. and two TFL vs. Navy; 2 forced fumbles vs. Boston College; started 11 games as freshman in ’95) outside. All four are returning standouts and should have major impacts in ’96. Among others slated to make solid contributions are sophomores Bobbie Howard inside and Lamont Bryant outside.
BACKS — Like the wide receiving corps on offense, Notre Dame’s question on defense is in the secondary. Small but sticky junior CB regulars Allen Rossum (11 tackles vs. Texas; two int. returns for TDs in ’95) and Ivory Covington (10 tackles vs. Texas; made game-saving tackle on late two-point attempt by Army in ’95) anchor the group. Neither FS starter Jarvis Edison (7 tackles vs. Purdue; 1 int. vs. Vanderbilt; he scored a TD vs. Vanderbilt in ’95 after picking up a fumble on a kickoff) nor sophomore SS A’Jani Sanders (caused a fumble vs. Vanderbilt; 4 tackles, 2 PBU vs. Purdue) had started a game before the ’96 opener — and the Vanderbilt game marked Sanders’ first-ever game appearance. However, the Irish looked to Benny Guilbeaux at strong safety after Sanders suffered a knee ligament injury early vs. Texas, though Sanders is listed as probable for this week vs. Pittsburgh after playing briefly vs. Navy (he missed the Boston College game after the death of his mother). Guilbeaux made his first career start vs. Ohio State and responded with seven solo tackles, then added 10 vs. Air Force. With Shannon Stephens moving to wide receiver and Deke Cooper switching to free safety, the Irish now have only seven healthy defensive backs on scholarship. Cooper earned the starts at FS vs. Washington, Air Force Navy and Boston College, with Edison bothered by a sprained knee, and responded with an interception on the third play from scrimmage vs. Washington and a second interception vs. Boston College.
* Scouting the Irish Kicking Game:
Punter Hunter Smith had an average rookie season in ’95 (36.4 average) but has improved those numbers to 43.8 so far in ’96. Placekicker Scott Cengia (10 of 14 in career FGs) held a slight edge in that category over freshman Jim Sanson coming into the season, but it was Cengia who missed an early FG attempt vs. Vanderbilt and Sanson who came on to connect from 32 and 33 yards. Then Sanson took center stage with his game-winning 39-yarder vs. Texas as time ran out. He added a 26-yarder vs. Ohio State and a 27-yarder vs. Washington, leaving him at six of eight for ’96. Kickoff returner Allen Rossum (his 99-yard return vs. Purdue marked the fourth-longest in Irish history — and his second career punt return vs. Air Force went for 57 yards and a TD) is the fastest man on the Irish roster (’95 NCAA indoor track All-American in the 55 meters), while Autry Denson augments his all-purpose role by returning punts. Look for Emmett Mosley to help at both spots.
* The Spread Offense:
Irish coach Lou Holtz unveiled a spread offense against Florida State in the ’96 Orange Bowl and delivered on his promise to offer it again in ’96. Drawbacks to its developments were the absence of QB Ron Powlus during spring drills and the lack of a proven receiving corps. Even now, Holtz says one key to its potential use is the productivity at receiver. Holtz’s interest in the offense is based on utilization of Powlus’ talents — as well as the ability to make use of the formations without requiring substitutions. The Irish used the attack extensively vs. Purdue, with 10 different receivers catching balls. However, the Irish turned back to the running game vs. Washington, grinding out 397 yards on the ground, then added 426 ground yards vs. Boston College. Says Holtz, “We are a better football team playing the way we did against Washington than the way we tried to play earlier in the year.”
* The Kinder Chart:
Here’s where Notre Dame veteran TB Randy Kinder stands on the Irish career rushing chart, as he heads into the Pittsburgh game 50 yards away from the legendary George Gipp:Notre Dame All-Time Rushing Leaders
Notre Dame All-Time Rushing Leaders Rank Name Years Att. Yards Avg. TD 1. Allen Pinkett 1982-85 889 4131 4.6 49 2. Vagas Ferguson 1976-79 673 3472 5.2 32 3. Jerome Heavens 1975-78 590 2682 4.5 15 4. Phil Carter 1979-82 557 2409 4.3 4 5. George Gipp 1917-20 369 2341 6.3 21 6. RANDY KINDER 1993- 402 2291 5.7 17 7. Tony Brooks 1987-91 423 2274 5.4 12 8. Emil Sitko 1946-49 362 2226 6.1 25 9. Neil Worden 1951-53 476 2039 4.3 2910. Lee Becton 1991-94 347 2029 5.8 12
* 1,006 Games and Counting:
As Notre Dame played its 1,000th game in history in the Vanderbilt opener, here’s a quick review of just some of the numbers the Irish have posted since an 8-0 setback to Michigan on November 23, 1887.
* Notre Dame leads the nation in winning percentage at .760 through 107 seasons. In fact the gap between the Irish and second place Michigan (.743) is the widest difference between any consecutive schools in the top 10. If Notre Dame, which hasn’t lost three consecutive regular season games in Lou Holtz’s 10 seasons, lost 17 consecutive games and Michigan won 17 consecutive games, the Irish still would lead the all-time NCAA standings.
* Notre Dame is tied with Oklahoma and Alabama for the most national championships won with 11. No other school has more than eight national titles.
* In 107 previous seasons, Notre Dame has had 12 perfect seasons, 22 undefeated seasons and 28 seasons where the Irish suffered just one loss. In 50 of 107 seasons Notre Dame has not lost more than one game.
* Notre Dame leads the nation in consensus All-Americans with 77 (24 more than any other school) and Heisman Trophy winners with seven.
* Since 1981, Notre Dame has led the nation in football graduation percentage five times and is the only school to have been awarded special recognition by the College Football Association every season since 1982.
* Inside The 20 In 1996:
Here’s what has happened during the 1996 season when Notre Dame and its opponents moved inside the opposing 20-yard line:
Notre DameVanderbilt Missed FG, FG, FG, TD 3 of 4Purdue TD, Interception, TD, TD, Missed FG, TD 4 of 6 Texas FG, TD, TD, TD 3 of 4Ohio State TD, FG, TD 3 of 3Washington TD, TD, TD, game ended 3 of 4Air Force FG, Missed FG, TD 2 of 3Navy TD, TD, TD, TD, TD 5 of 5 Boston College TD, Lost Fumble, TD, TD, TD, TDTOTAL 29 of 35 (.828) on 24 TDs, 5 FGs, 3 Missed FGs, 1 Int., 1 Game Ended OpponentsVanderbilt None 0 of 0Purdue Missed Field Goal 0 of 1 Texas TD, TD, TD 3 of 3Ohio State TD, TD, FG, TD, TD 5 of 5Washington TD, TD, Missed FG, TD 3 of 4Air Force FG, TD 2 of 2Navy TD, TD, TD 3 of 3 Boston College TD, Missed FG, TDTOTAL 18 of 21 (.857) on 16 TDs, 2 FGs, 3 Missed FGs
* New Faces/Three New Coaches:
There are three new faces on the Notre Dame coaching staff for ’96:
Receiver coach Urban Meyer — an ’86 Cincinnati graduate, Meyer was previously at Colorado State for the past six seasons.
Graduate assistant Justin Hall — a former Notre Dame offensive lineman who graduated in 1993. He spent the ’95 season as offensive line coach at Hiram (Ohio) College.
Graduate assistant Jay Sawvel — a ’93 graduate of Mount Union (Ohio) College, he spent the previous two years as a graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky.
* Fifth-Year Players:
Notre Dame has seven fifth-year players on its team this year. They are: OG Jeremy Akers, ILB Joe Babey, TE Kevin Carretta, TE Pete Chryplewicz, NG David Quist, OLB Bill Wagasy and DE Renaldo Wynn. All seven players have earned their undergraduate degrees and are currently enrolled in graduate work. Chryplewicz is in the unique position to earn five monograms during his career. The tight end played in just two games during ’94 because of a wrist injury, but did earn a monogram for the season. Other players to earn five monograms in Irish history include current Notre Dame graduate assistant Justin Hall (1988-92) and defensive back Randy Harrison (1974-78).
* 43 Former Irish Appear on ’96 NFL Rosters
Notre Dame has nine more of its former football players participating in the National Football League in 1996 than any other college or university. Forty-three former Notre Dame football players appeared on ’96 opening day active rosters of NFL teams, according to figures released by the league. Notre Dame placed more players on opening-day rosters than any other school — with Miami second with 34, followed by Tennessee (33), and Florida State and Penn State (32 each). Here are the former Fighting Irish now active in the pros (R indicates rookie):ARIZONA CARDINALS — TE Oscar McBride, LB Devon McDonald; BUFFALO BILLS — CB Jeff Burris, OL Dusty Zeigler (R); CAROLINA PANTHERS — QB Steve Beuerlein, S Pat Terrell, FL Raghib Ismail, RB Anthony Johnson; CHICAGO BEARS — DT Jim Flanigan, DT Paul Grasmanis (R), T Andy Heck; DETROIT LIONS — LB Scott Kowalkowski; GREEN BAY PACKERS — P Craig Hentrich, G-T Lindsay Knapp, SE Derrick Mayes (R), G Aaron Taylor. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — S Travis Davis, TE Derek Brown; KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — WR Lake Dawson, C Tim Grunhard; MIAMI DOLPHINS — C Tim Ruddy, CB Shawn Wooden (R); MINNESOTA VIKINGS — LB Pete Bercich, S Rod Smith; NEW ORLEANS SAINTS — TE Irv Smith, RB Ray Zellars; OAKLAND RAIDERS — WR Tim Brown; PHILADELPHIA EAGLES — RB Ricky Watters, CB Bobby Taylor; PITTSBURGH STEELERS — DT Oliver Gibson, RB Jerome Bettis. ST. LOUIS RAMS — LB Cedric Figaro, CB Todd Lyght; SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — K John Carney, CB Willie Clark; SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS — LB Anthony Peterson, DE Junior Bryant, DT Bryant Young; SEATTLE SEAHAWKS — QB Rick Mirer; TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — LB Demetrius DuBose, RB Reggie Brooks; WASHINGTON REDSKINS — CB Tom Carter, OL Bob Dahl.
* Stadium Expansion:
Notre Dame Stadium is currently undergoing an expansion and renovation which will put the capacity of the facility at 80,990 — an addition of nearly 22,000 seats from the current capacity of 59,075. The expansion, which will be completed for the 1997 home opener 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., of Kansas City is the architect. The expansion will include a new three-story press box, a new natural grass field, expanded locker rooms for Notre Dame and visiting teams. The Notre Dame football team will permanently be housed in the stadium and dress there for all practices and games. A new, expanded training room also will be added to the Stadium. The ’96 campaign features use of the same 59,075 seats, though the concrete structures supporting the new sections already are in place and in full view. Construction has eliminated 750 parking spaces in the areas surrounding the Stadium, and access to seating sections during the ’96 season comes through newly-created entrances at the four corners of the Stadium.
* Fighting Irish Captains:
Notre Dame has three senior captains for the ’96 season: quarterback Ron Powlus, linebacker Lyron Cobbins and fullback Marc Edwards.
* The StadiumCam:
The Notre Dame Office of Information Technologies has a web 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, this site features an up-to-date image of the expansion of Notre Dame Stadium. The site is updated every five minutes during the day and every half hour at night. The departments of computer science and electrical engineering have a site at http://lisa.ee.nd.edu/DomeCam/, which gives you a look at the Gold Dome of the Main Building, which is viewable 24 hours a day. For information on all facets of Notre Dame, the home page is at http://www.nd.edu/.
* Holtz Passes Career Games Coached Record:
Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz passed a significant milestone in the Irish win Sept. 14 against Purdue. When the Irish took the field against the Boilers, it marked Holtz’s 123rd game as head coach at Notre Dame. The previous record for games coached at Notre Dame was 122 by Knute Rockne between 1918-30. The Irish players presented Holtz with a framed game program cover, ticket and press credential in the locker room after the game. Holtz is currently second in career wins at Notre Dame with 96 (97-29-2 overall), while Rockne had 105. Holtz is in his 11th year in charge of the Irish program and has a 213-94-7 career record in 26 seasons. He led the Irish to the ’88 national championship and has brought Notre Dame to traditional New Year’s Day bowl games in each of the last nine years (five wins). His collegiate mark also includes stints at William & Mary (13-20 from 1969-71), North Carolina State (33-12-3 from 1972-75), Arkansas (60-21-2 from 1977-83) and Minnesota (10-12 from 1984-85).
* The Schedule:
Notre Dame’s 1996 slate brings up a few trends and notes of interest:
* After taking on the most difficult schedule in the country in ’95 according to the NCAA — and recording wins over ranked opponents Texas, Washington and USC — Notre Dame’s ’96 agenda includes assignments against five teams that played in bowl games following the ’95 season. The ’96 Irish agenda ranked 31st in difficulty in the NCAA’s ’96 preseason charts. USC (9-2-1 and Rose Bowl champion), Texas (10-2-1 and a Sugar 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 a Copper Bowl appearance) all qualified for ’95 postseason action. 1996 Irish opponents who finished in the final Associated Press top 25 for ’95 are Ohio State (sixth), USC (12th) and Texas (14th).
* There are only 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 only other time Notre Dame and Rutgers met came in 1921.
* Irish Finish 11th in Sears Directors’ Cup:
A national championship in women’s soccer and a runnerup finish at the men’s and women’s NCAA combined fencing team championship helped Notre Dame place 11th in the 1995-96 Sears Directors’ Cup competition. Irish athletic teams also earned an 11th-place finish in the inaugural 1993-94 competition and were 30th in 1994-95. The Sears Directors’ Cup, sponsored by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and promoted by USA Today, annually recognizes the top Division I schools in 22 sports — nine for men, nine for woman plus two wild card sports for both men and women. Stanford won the 1995-96 competition followed by UCLA, Florida and Texas. Notre Dame’s finish was the highest of any school in the BIG EAST Conference. In 1995-96, Notre Dame enjoyed more success as an all-around athletic program. The fall season saw the women’s soccer team win the NCAA championship and the football team advance to its ninth straight appearance in a New Year’s Day bowl game. In addition, the women’s volleyball and men’s cross country teams participated in NCAA postseason play. The women’s basketball team played in the NCAA tournament and the men’s and women’s fencing team finished second at the NCAA tournament during the winter months. The spring season was highlighted by a trip to the NCAA quarterfinals by the women’s tennis team and NCAA appearances by the softball, lacrosse and baseball teams. In addition, representatives from men’s and women’s track, women’s swimming and men’s tennis took part in NCAA play. Notre Dame offers 25 different sports at the varsity level. Women’s lacrosse is making its debut this year, while women’s crew will be added to the list of Notre Dame sports for the ’97-’98 academic year.
* Honors and Awards:
Here are honors and awards won by members of the ’96 Irish squad:
OG Jeremy Akers
* ESPN/Honda Scholar Athlete of the Week Award vs. Vanderbilt, including $3,000 award to general scholarship fund
* Burger King Scholar-Athlete Award presented vs. Washington, including $10,000 award to general scholarship fund
OLB Bert Berry
* One of 65 preliminary candidates for the 1996 Butkus Award presented to the top college linebacker in the country
TE Pete Chryplewicz
* NBC Sports/Chevrolet Notre Dame MVP vs. Air Force (3 catches for 70 yards)
ILB Lyron Cobbins
* One of 65 preliminary candidates for the 1996 Butkus Award presented to the top college linebacker in the country
TB Autry Denson
* NBC Sports/Chevrolet Notre Dame MVP vs. Purdue (15 rushes for 66 yards 2 TDs; 3 catches for 61 yards, 1 TD)
* ABC Sports/Chevrolet Notre Dame MVP vs. Texas (24 rushes for career-high 158 yards, 1 TD)
FB Marc Edwards
* NBC Sports/Chevrolet Notre Dame MVP vs. Ohio State (scored both Irish TDs on 9-yard run and 2-yard pass form Ron Powlus)
* Nominee for Doak Walker Award presented to the top college running back in the nation
OLB Kory Minor
* One of 65 preliminary candidates for the 1996 Butkus Award presented to the top college linebacker in the country
QB Ron Powlus
* One of 11 candidates for Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award presented to top college quarterback in the nation
* One of seven finalists for Johnny Unitas Award presented to top quarterback in the nation
* NBC Sports/Chevrolet Notre Dame MVP vs. Washongton (397 rushing yards, 650 total yards)