Previewing The RutgersGame….

The Date: Saturday, November 23, 1996

The Time: 12:30 p.m. EST

The Site: Notre Dame Stadium (59,075/grass) in Notre Dame, Ind. This marks the 130th straight sellout and the 178th in the last 179 games dating back to the middle of the ’64 season.

The Television Plans: NBC Sports national telecast with Charlie Jones (play-by-play), Randy Cross (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: TB Randy Kinder (separated shoulder vs. Pittsburgh; questionable for USC); FB Marc Edwards (torn medial collateral ligament in left knee vs. Boston College; out four weeks; DNP vs. Pittsburgh); FS Jarvis Edison (sprained knee vs. Air Force; DNP vs. Navy, Boston College or Pittsburgh; probable for USC); QUESTIONABLE: OLB Bert Berry (ankle sprain vs. Pittsburgh); PROBABLE: SE Cikai Champion (separated shoulder vs. Boston College; DNP vs. Pittsburgh); OG Mike Rosenthal (broken ankle vs. Air Force; DNP vs. Navy, Boston College or Pittsburgh; slated to return to practice Mon., Nov. 18).

The Series: Notre Dame vs. Rutgers: This is the second meeting between Notre Dame and Rutgers, following a 48-0 Irish win in 1921 at the Polo Grounds in New York.

The Head Coach: Lou Holtz is in his 11th season with the Irish with an overall 215-94-7 (.691) 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 (99-29-2, .769, 1986-96).

The Pittsburgh Review: Notre Dame broke the game open after a scoreless first period with 40 second-period points — including six touchdowns in a span of 11:11 (most points in a period other than 42 vs. St. Viator in 1912) — and went on to defeat Pittsburgh 60-6 at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish tied the NCAA single-game record with three punt returns for TDs, and Allen Rossum tied an NCAA mark for single-game punt returns for scores with TD-producing returns for 83 and 55 yards. Autry Denson added a 74-yard punt return for a TD, with all three coming within an 8:29 span in the second period. Robert Farmer ran for two TDs and a career-high 140 yards and Denson ended with 104 rushing yards for his third-straight 100-yard effort. The Irish defense produced four turnovers, five sacks and five other lost yardage plays.

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 Rutgers Connections: Irish running back coach Earle Mosley was a Rutgers assistant coach from 1980-83.

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)81-5-2 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.

Stats and Rankings Through Nine Games: Notre Dame’s 38 TD drives in ’96 have averaged 61.29 yards and 6.55 plays each, with two of the drives vs. Purdue covering 90 and 92 yards and one vs. Pittsburgh covering 93.

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. Against Pittsburgh, six TDs came in a 11:11 span in the second period.

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.
  • Against Pittsburgh, the Irish produced four turnovers, five sacks, five other lost-yardage plays and permitted only 101 net rushing yards.

NCAA Stat Rankings This Week (Through games of Nov. 16, 1996):

TEAM RANKINGS (top 50 rankings only)Category            Notre Dame          RutgersRushing Offense      8th at 264.0    Total Offense       15th at 453.33      Scoring Offense     11th at 36.1            Rushing Defense     40th at 136.4   Pass Eff. Defense   12th at 96.45       Total Defense       17th at 291.7       Scoring Defense     18th at 17.1Net Punting         17th at 39.3        44th at 36.6    Punt Returns         2nd at 18.6     Kickoff Returns     15th at 23.8Turnover Margin     50th at .00                     (21 gained, 21 lost)            INDIVIDUAL RANKINGS (top 50 rankings only)Rushing                Autry Denson     30th at 100.33      Passing Efficiency     Ron Powlus       28th at 132.6       Punting                Hunter Smith     22nd at 43.54   Punt Returns           Autry Denson     22nd at 12.27 each      Interceptions          Deke Cooper      48th at .38 per game        

The Turnover Margin: Notre Dame uncharacteristicly has been on the minus side of the turnover column most of ’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    Even    21 gained (11 F/10 I)/21 lost (17 F/4 I)    

Irish Items:

  • Notre Dame has played in front of capacity crowds in 86 of its last 98 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, 15 punts (one blocked), 14 interceptions and five fumbles for touchdowns (total of 46) — compared to only one punt (in ’86) and three interceptions for opponents.
  • Notre Dame has held 22 of its last 50 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        291996    264.0            8th        29through 9 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. And that has been borne out by Notre Dame’s current average of 264.0 rushing yards per game, good for ninth in the current NCAA stats. 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 (27 career starts) and Chris Clevenger (24 career starts), senior guard Jeremy Akers (22 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 missed the last three games; he’s probable vs. Rutgers) and senior center Rick Kaczenski (20 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, Boston College and Pittsburgh. 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, before returning to defense for Pittsburgh. Sophomore Tim Ridder earned his first career start at right guard vs. Pittsburgh. The Irish have excelled in the running game the last three games, averaging 353.6 yards per game

BACKS — The Irish boast a blue-chip parade of backs: 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 111 of 195 for 1577, 7 TDs, 4 ints. in ’96). TB Randy Kinder (Notre Dame’s sixth-best career rusher at 2,295 yards; he missed Vanderbilt and Purdue games with pulled right quadricep, 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, then separated a shoulder vs. Pittsburgh and will sit out vs. Rutgers). TB Robert Farmer (56 for 489, 6 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; career-high 22 for 140, 2 TDs vs. Pittsburgh). 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 (156 for 903, 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, 23 for 155 and 1 TD vs. Boston College and 12 for 104 vs. Pittsburgh.

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 42 career catches to his credit (18 for 257 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, Boston College and Pittsburgh), 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, then 3 for 62 vs. Pittsburgh. Tight end is a strong point, with potential all-star Pete Chryplewicz (23 for 289, 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 (36 career starts), probably Notre Dame’s most consistent defensive player in ’95 (47 tackles, 5.0 sacks, five 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 (52 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 (51 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 (24 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 65 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 68 tackles in ’96; 77 tackles in ’95) inside. They go with senior Bert Berry (team-leading 9 sacks in ’96; 7 tackles, 2 sacks vs. Vanderbilt; 6 tackles, a PBU and TFL vs. Texas; 7 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 2 PBU vs. Air Force; 11 tackles vs. Navy; 32 career starts) and sophomore Kory Minor (46 tackles, 9 tackles for losses, 6 sacks; 8 tackles, an int. and two TFL vs. Navy; 2 forced fumbles vs. Boston College; 5 tackles and 2.5 sacks vs. Pittsburgh; started 11 games as freshman in ’95) outside. All four are returning standouts and have had major impacts in ’96.

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 (47 tackles; 11 tackles vs. Texas; two int. returns for TDs in ’95) and Ivory Covington (48 tackles; 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 returned to play off the bench vs. Navy and Pittsburgh (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, team-high eight vs. Pittsburgh to go with an interception. 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, Boston College and Pittsburgh, with Edison bothered by a sprained knee, and responded with an interception on the third play from scrimmage vs. Washington, a second interception vs. Boston College and a third vs. Pittsburgh.

Scouting the Irish Kicking Game: Punter Hunter Smith had an average rookie season in ’95 (36.4 average) but has improved those numbers to 43.5 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 nine for ’96. Returner Allen Rossum (33.1 on 9 punts, 37.8 on 6 kickoffs; his 99-yard return vs. Purdue marked the fourth-longest in Irish history — his second career punt return vs. Air Force went for 57 yards and a TD, then he returned punts for TDs vs. Pittsburgh for 83 and 55 yards) 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 (12.3 average; 74-yarder for TD vs. Pittsburgh). 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 Denson List: With his 903 rushing yards so far in 1996, sophomore TB Autry Denson is in range of becoming the fifth player in Notre Dame history to reach the 1,000-yard mark. Here’s the top single-season efforts:

Name                        Att.    Yards 1. Vagas Ferguson, 1979    301     1437 2. Allen Pinkett, 1983     252     1394 3. Reggie Brooks, 1992     167     1343 4. Vagas Ferguson, 1978    211     1192 5. Allen Pinkett, 1984     275     1105 6. Allen Pinkett, 1985     255     1100 7. Al Hunter, 1976         233     1058 8. Lee Becton, 1993        164     1044 9. Jerome Heavens, 1977    229      99410. Jerome Bettis, 1991     168      97211. Marchy Schwartz, 1930   124      92712. Creighton Miller, 1943  151      91113. Autry Denson, 1996      156      903 

The Kinder Chart: Here’s where Notre Dame veteran TB Randy Kinder stands on the Irish career rushing chart, as he heads into the Rutgers game (he’s not expected to play due to separated shoulder vs. Pittsburgh but could return for USC) 46 yards away from the legendary George Gipp:

Notre Dame All-Time Rushing LeadersRank  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-     404     2295    5.7     18 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

The Rossum Records: Irish CB Allen Rossum returned punts for TDs for 83 and 55 yards vs. Pittsburgh and those two, combined with Autry Denson’s 74-yard punt return for a TD, helped to set a handful of Notre Dame and NCAA records:

  • Rossum’s two returns vs. Pittsburgh combine with his 57-yard punt return for a TD vs. Air Force and his 99-yard kickoff return for a TD vs. Purdue to give him four total kick returns for TDs so far in 1996. That breaks the Notre Dame single-season record of three set by Heisman Trophy runnerup Raghib Ismail (1 PR, 2 KR in 1989), Heisman winner Tim Brown (3 PR in 1987) and Nick Rassas (3 PR in 1965). The NCAA single-season record is five by Robert Woods of Grambling (3 PR, 2 KR) in 1977 and Pinky Rohm (3 PR, 2 KR) of LSU in 1937.
  • Rossum’s two punt returns for TDs vs. Pitt tied a Notre Dame single-game mark also held by Tim Brown vs., Michigan State in 1987 and Vince McNally vs. Beloit in 1926. It also tied an NCAA mark held by many players.
  • In his career, Rossum now has returned three punts (all in ’96), one kickoff and two interceptions (76 vs. Washington in ’95 and 29 vs. Texas in ’95) for TDs. Those six are two short of the NCAA career record held by Erroll Tucker of Utah in 1984-85 (3 IR, 3 PR, 2 KR).
  • Notre Dame’s 231 punt-return yards vs. Pittsburgh set a Notre Dame record, breaking the old mark of 225 vs. Beloit in 1926. The three returns for TDs in one game ties an NCAA team record also set by Holy Cross vs. Brown in ’74, LSU vs. Ole Miss in ’70, Wichita State vs. Northern State in ’49 and Wisconsin vs. Iowa in ’47.
  • Notre Dame as a team has four punt returns for TDs this season, breaking the Irish season mark of three from 1926, 1965 and 1987.
  • Rossum has three punt returns for TDs in ’96, tying Brown and Rassas for the single-season Notre Dame mark and putting him one away from the NCAA single-season mark of four held by three different players.

1,008 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.

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.

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 5Boston College  TD, Lost Fumble, TD, TD, TD, TD 5 of 6Pittsburgh      Lost on Downs, TD, TD, Missed FG, TD, TD    4 of 6 TOTAL           33 of 41 (.805) on 28 TDs, 5 FGs, 4 Missed FGs,                 1 Interception, 1 Lost Fumble, 1 Lost on Downs, 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 3Boston College  TD, Missed FG, TD   2 of 3Pittsburgh      Lost Fumble, Lost on Downs  0 of 2 TOTAL           18 of 23 (.783) on 16 TDs, 2 FGs, 3 Missed FGs,                 1 Lost Fumble, 1 Lost on Downs

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 — with this week’s home finale vs. Rutgers ranking as the last one with that capacity — 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 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, 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

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 99 (99-29-2 overall), while Rockne had 105. Holtz is in his 11th year in charge of the Irish program and has a 215-94-7 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 returned 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.

Already for 1996, both Notre Dame’s men’s and women’s soccer teams qualfied for NCAA play — and the Irish men’s cross country squad also earned an invitation to the Nov. 25 NCAA meet.

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
CB Allen Rossum
NBC Sports/Chevrolet Notre Dame MVP vs. Pittsburgh (punt returns for TDs of 83 and 55 yards)
Offensive Line
NBC Sports/Chevrolet Notre Dame MVP vs. Washington (397 rushing yards, 650 total yards)