Oct. 31, 2006
Two-Minute Drill No. 10/11 Notre Dame returns to Notre Dame Stadium this weekend for a meeting with North Carolina. The matchup is the first between the Irish and Tar Heels since 1975. North Carolina (1-7) is the second ACC opponent for Notre Dame in 2006. The Irish defeated Georgia Tech, 14-10, in the season opener. Notre Dame enters the contest following its decisive 38-14 victory over Navy last weekend. The Tar Heels lost 24-17 to Wake Forest a week ago. Notre Dame and North Carolina will play for the 17th time in series history on Saturday. The Irish hold a convincing 15-1-0 (.938) edge in the all-time series with the Tar Heels, including a current five-game winning streak. Notre Dame and North Carolina have not met on the gridiron since 1975 (see pages 2-5 for more information on the series). Streaks on the line this weekend: consecutive games started (Brady Quinn, 41) … consecutive games with a completion (Brady Quinn, 44) … consecutive passes without an interception (Brady Quinn, 169) … consecutive games with a touchdown pass (Brady Quinn, 7) … consecutive games with a reception (Darius Walker, 23; Jeff Samardzjia, 21).
A Win This Weekend Would… … make Notre Dame 8-1 for the first time since 2002. … be the sixth straight victory for the Irish. … be the sixth consecutive victory over North Carolina and 11th straight victory in Notre Dame Stadium. … improve Notre Dame to 16-1-0 in the all-time series with North Carolina. … improve the Irish to 11-0-0 in the all-time series with the Tar Heels in Notre Dame Stadium. … improve a ranked Irish squad to 11-0-0 all-time against North Carolina. … improve Notre Dame to 14-1-0 all-time against an unranked Tar Heel squad. … improve Weis’ record to 17-4 overall and 2-0 against the Atlantic Coast Conference. … improve Weis’ home record to 9-3. … improve Weis’ record to 5-0 in November games. … improve Weis’ record to 11-4 in afternoon games. … improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 819-267-42. … improve Notre Dame’s all-time record against the Atlantic Coast Conference to 74-27-2.
A Loss This Weekend Would… … make Notre Dame 7-2 for the first time since 2000. … snap Notre Dame’s winning streak at five games. … snap the Irish’s winning streak over North Carolina at five games overall and 10 games in Notre Dame Stadium. … drop Notre Dame to 15-2-0 in the all-time series with North Carolina. … drop the Irish to 10-1-0 in the all-time series with the Tar Heels in Notre Dame Stadium. … drop a ranked Irish squad to 10-1-0 all-time against North Carolina. … drop Notre Dame to 13-2-0 all-time against an unranked Tar Heel squad. … drop Weis’ record to 16-5 overall and 1-1 against the Atlantic Coast Conference. … drop Weis’ home record to 8-4. … drop Weis’ record to 4-1 in November games. … drop Weis’ record to 10-5 in afternoon games. … drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 818-268-42. … drop Notre Dame’s all-time record against the Atlantic Coast Conference to 73-28-2.
A Quick Look at North Carolina North Carolina enters the matchup with Notre Dame riding a five-game losing streak. The Tar Heels have been outscored 163-51 over the span. The Irish will be the fourth ranked opponent for North Carolina this season. The Tar Heels lost to then 16th-ranked Virginia Tech (35-10), then 19th-ranked Clemson (52-7) and 24th-ranked Wake Forest (24-17). North Carolina also dropped its season-opener, 21-16, to a then unranked Rutgers. The Tar Heels were beaten by No. 23 Wake Forest, 24-17, in Chapel Hill last weekend. North Carolina took a 17-14 lead into the fourth quarter, but were unable to hold on for the victory. Ronnie McGill scored a touchdown and rushed for 117 yards on 29 carries in the loss. Joe Dailey and Cam Sexton split the quarterback duties for the Tar Heels. Dailey went 13-for-19 for a 156 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Sexton went 6-for-10 for 80 yards. Brooks Foster and Jesse Holley were tied for the team-lead with four catches. Foster had 49 yards receiving with a long of 35, while Holley had 42 yards with a long of 15. Kareen Taylor led the defensive effort with a team-high eight tackles. North Carolina limited the Demon Deacons to just 289 total yards. North Carolina enters Saturday’s game with the 83rd-ranked rushing offense, 84th-ranked passing offense, 99th-ranked total offense and 108th-ranked scoring offense. The Tar Heels are averaging 118.88 yards per game on the ground, 174.63 yards in the air, 293.50 total yards and 15.25 points per game. McGill leads the Tar Heel ground game with 523 yards (65.4/game). McGill has rushed for six touchdowns and ranks 69th in the NCAA in rushing yards per game. Dailey has completed 61.3 percent of his passes (57-for-93) for 557 yards, two touchdowns and seven interceptions. Sexton has completed 42.2 percent of his passes (57-for-135) for 840 yards, four touchdowns and eight interceptions. Foster has been the favorite target for Tar Heel quarterbacks with 28 catches and 326 yards. The Tar Heels’ defense has also struggled mightily this season. North Carolina ranks 93rd in total defense (376.38/game), 108th in scoring defense (32.63/game) and 115th in rush defense (205.13/game). The Tar Heels pass defense has been solid though. They allow only 171.25 yards per game, 35th in the nation. UNC has totaled 12 sacks. Taylor leads the team with 48 tackles. L Edwards has a team-high 4.5 tackles for loss, while H Taylor has 3.0 sacks. North Carolina’s kicking game has been the team’s strongest unit this season. Conor Barth is 6-for-6 on field goal attempts this season, including 3-for-3 from outside 40 yards. D Wooldridge is averaging 40.9 yards per punt and has dropped 13 inside the 20-yard line.
Notre Dame – North Carolina Series Notes Notre Dame and North Carolina will play for the 17th time in series history on Saturday. The Irish hold a convincing 15-1-0 (.938) edge in the all-time series with the Tar Heels, including a current five-game winning streak. Notre Dame and North Carolina have not met on the gridiron since 1975. The Irish and Tar Heels will renew a rivalry that started during the 1949 season. The top-ranked Notre Dame squad routed North Carolina, 42-6. The two would meet each of the next seven seasons — all Irish victories. The series took a year off in 1957, but started up again for three consecutive years in 1958. In all, the Irish and Tar Heels faced one another 12 times over a 14-year period (1949-62). Notre Dame vs. The ACC Notre Dame is 73-27-2 (.723) against current Atlantic Coast Conference teams. The Irish already defeated Georgia Tech from the ACC earlier this season. The Irish have had more success against members of the ACC than any other major conference. The Irish have a .500 or better record against eight of ten ACC teams Notre Dame has faced. Notre Dame’s 102 games against the ACC ranks as the third-most contests against a conference trailing the Big Ten (338) and Pac-10 (115). The Irish are playing two ACC schools in the same season for the first time since 2002 (Maryland, Florida State and North Carolina State) and only the second time since 1982. Next year, Notre Dame will play three ACC schools as it opens the season hosting Georgia Tech before renewing acquaintances with Boston College and Duke. Notre Dame has faced North Carolina 16 times (15-1-0), tied for the third most meetings by the Irish against any ACC school. The 15 victories are tied for the second most victories for Notre Dame over an ACC foe. Notre Dame has faced Georgia Tech 33 times (27-5-1). Miami has collided with the Irish 23 times (15-7-1), while Boston College (9-7) has also played Notre Dame 16 times. It should be noted that all of Notre Dame’s meetings with Miami and Boston College occurred prior to their moves to the ACC. Notre Dame has played a handful of games versus Florida State (2-4), Duke (2-1) and Clemson (1-1). Additionally, the Irish met three ACC opponents only once. They beat Virginia in the 1989 Kickoff Classic, Maryland in the 2002 Kickoff Classic but lost to NC State in the 2003 Gator Bowl. Notre Dame has posted a 41-9-0 (.820) record against ACC opponents in Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame-North Carolina Connections Notre Dame has a penchant for ending impressive winning streaks in football, contributing to the program’s great tradition. However, the magic is not limited to the football program. The women’s soccer team ended the longest streak in all of NCAA sports and it came against North Carolina.
Oct. 2, 1994: ND women’s soccer plays to a 0-0 tie vs. perennial power North Carolina in St. Louis, stopping UNC’s 92-game win streak (still NCAA record) … one year later, the Irish claimed the national title with College Cup wins over the Tar Heels and Portland.
North Carolina head coach John Bunting served as a co-captain in 1971 when the Tar Heels not only went 9-3 and won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, but made their last visit to Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame’s roster features two players from the state of North Carolina. North Carolina’s roster does not feature a player from the state of Indiana. Freshman DB Raeshon McNeil will renew acquaintances with three former teammates from Davie County H.S. McNeil played along side sophomore SS Cooter Arnold, freshman LB Logan Buchanan and senior LB David Wolldridge. Junior DB William David Williams hails from Raleigh, N.C. and Millbrook H.S. — some 30 miles from the UNC campus. Fourth-year Notre Dame women’s basketball assistant coach Jonathan Tsipis is a 1996 graduate of North Carolina. Assistant AD for compliance, Lisa Deibler, spent the better part of nine years in a similar role at North Carolina.
On This Date Notre Dame has played 15 games in its history on Nov. 4. The Irish are 10-4-1 all-time on this date. The Irish have won their last five games played on Nov. 4 and have not lost on this date since the 1961 season. Notre Dame had fad faced Navy in its last eight games played on Nov. 4.
Nov. 4, 1905: Bill Downs scored six touchdowns, second most in single-game school history, to lead the Irish to a 71-0 rout of DePauw.
Nov. 4, 1978: Vegas Ferguson rushed for 219 yards on 18 carries in a 27-7 victory over Navy in Cleveland. The 219-yard rushing effort ranks as the seventh best in Notre Dame single-game rushing history. The 12.2 yards per carry also ranks fourth best in Irish history.
The Last Meeting No. 15 Notre Dame 21, North Carolina 14 Oct. 11, 1975, Chapel Hill, N.C.
(Joe Doyle, S.B. Tribune) – Ted Burgmeier did not start the game for Notre Dame Saturday. Neither did Joe Montana. But these sophomores ended it for North Carolina with an incredible 80-yard touchdown connection that gave the Irish a tremendous victory in what might have been the greatest rally in school history. Forty years ago, Notre Dame rallied from a 13-0 deficit to spill Ohio State, 18-13, with all three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. But this young Notre Dame team went the Irish of 1935 three points better — 21 points in the final 11:30 of play to erase a 14-0 lead by the surprising Tar Heels. A record 49,500 in Keenan Stadium watched in disbelief as a sputtering Irish attack failed time and again against the host Tar Heels. And when the Irish came up with a bad center snap on a punt, North Carolina scored a third period touchdown. Later on in that period, the Tar Heels connected on a 39-yard touchdown pass for their 14-0 lead. Then good fortune, Irish luck or whatever came to Notre Dame. Rick Slager engineered a 65-yard touchdown march that ended with Al Hunter scoring with 11:26 to play. A two-point conversion pass failed and Carolina held a 14-6 lead. It was still that way with 6:04 remaining. Enter Montana, the baby-faced Monongahela, Pa., sophomore, who got two quick first downs to the North Carolina 41. Down the sideline went Dan Kelleher. Up went Montana’s arm. Kelleher grabbed the pass and raced down the sideline to the 2. On the next play, Hunter slashed over tackle again. It was 14-12, but Montana had the answer. He rifled a two-point conversion pass to tight end Doug Buth, who had never caught a pass for Notre Dame. It was 14-14 with 5:18 to play. Sports writers were checking the record books for the last tie game. But the Irish weren’t through. North Carolina drove to the Irish 24, but place kicker Tom Biddle missed a 41-yard field goal attempt — his third miss of the day. And the Irish had the ball at the 20 with 1:19 left. Montana missed a pass that new father Mark McLane dropped. Then Burgmeier cut down the left sideline in a patter designed to get a first down or more but also out of bounds to kill the clock. Safetyman Jeff Caldwell was close. But Burgmeier spurted past him and won the foot race to the goal for an 80-yard play with 1:03 left and after Pat McLaughlin kicked the point, the Irish fought off a last minute flurry of passes for an incredible 21-14 victory. The 15th-ranked Irish won their fourth victory in five starts, but it was far from easy. The temperature was 79 degrees and there was hardly a breathe of fresh air moving in the idyllic stadium in the Carolina forests. Burgmeier gave up his starting job to freshman Kris Haines because the Irish wanted Ted to double up as a defensive back. “We could not use him there,” said assistant coach Paul Shoults. “He was worn out from those long patterns on offense. But I am glad he had the speed to break that one.” Montana started last week’s game against Michigan State but Slager opened against the Tar Heels. Though he hit on 11 of 21 passes, Slager couldn’t get the Irish on the scoreboard until he engineered a 65-yard march that began late in the third quarter.
The Last Meeting in Notre Dame Stadium No. 7 Notre Dame 16, North Carolina 0 Nov. 9, 1971
(Joe Doyle, S.B. Tribune) – Notre Dame altered its winning football formula only slightly on Saturday, but in the end it was the magnificent defense that assured victory No. 5 of the season. That defense was something in the eyes of North Carolina coach Bill Dooley, who gasped, “Notre Dame is the best defensive football team I have ever seen.” Here were Saturday’s accomplishments for the Irish team that is ranked seventh in the nation: — A second straight shutout and a streak of 14 consecutive quarters in which an opposing team has not scored on the defense. — A goal line stand that shut off North Carolina in four plays from the 4-yard line with tackle Mike Kadish blocking a field goal try to insure a 16-0 victory. — Limiting North Carolina, a team that had averaged 400 yards a game, to 92 running and 57 passing. The Tar Heels could complete only seven of 17 pass attempts. Offensively, Notre Dame insured its victory early — assuming that the defense was going to come up with a shutout — on a new 1971 weapon, the field goal. Sophomore kicker Bob Thomas booted three in succession the first three times the Irish were in possession for a 9-0 lead. And for good measure rookie quarterback Cliff Brown, making his first career start, lofted a fourth quarter scoring pass to record-breaking end Tom Gatewood for the game’s only touchdown. While the Irish offense seemed to sputter when it confronted the Tar Heels near the goaline, Brown performed with promise most of the time. He completed only five of his 14 passes, three of them to Gatewood who broke Jim Seymour’s career record with his 139th catch. Thomas also equalled a Gus Dorias record with his three field goals. Dorais set the mark by booting three in seven tries in 1913 against Texas. North Carolina tried a little bit of everything to score against the Irish. After one kickoff, Lew Jolley ran from the goaline to the 10, then suddenly lateraled the ball across the field to Earle Bethea who ran behind the blocking of six or seven teammates to the Irish 42. Clarence Ellis, the super defensive back, back-pedaled, fought off blocks and finally broke through single-handedly to stop Bethea in what Coach Ara Parseghian said “was absolutely the best defensive play I have ever seen in this stadium.” Ellis then intercepted a pass to choke off the Carolina threat on the next play, but he had company, too, in his bid for individual honors. Mike Crotty, the short but mighty safety, was all over the field, returning punts (81 yards in seven tries) and his blitz rushes kept passer Paul Miller off balance most of the time. The Irish kept running back after running back into action and despite injuries to Andy Huff and Bill Gallagher, they piled up more than 200 yards against a team that had stopped opponents with a 98-yard rushing average in attaining a 4-1 record.
Last Week Against Navy Notre Dame converted on its 15th fourth down of the season in the first quarter touchdown drive. At the time, the Irish were 15-for-19 on fourth down this season – good for a .789 conversion percentage. Notre Dame entered the game tied for fifth in the NCAA in fourth down efficiency. The 36-yard touchdown pass from senior QB Brady Quinn to sophomore WR David Grimes was the ninth play for Notre Dame this season that exceeded 30 yards. The Irish added their 10th of the season, a 33-yard touchdown pass from Quinn to McKnight just before halftime. Five of the 10 plays have gone for touchdowns. Grimes was the sixth different Irish receiver to register a touchdown reception this season. Notre Dame jumped out to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter and then added 14 points in the second quarter. The Irish have scored at least 10 points in a quarter on nine different occasions this season. The 24 first half points are the most for Notre Dame since scoring 28 in the opening 30 minutes against Purdue earlier this season. In fact, the Irish have scored 24 or more points in a half 18 different times under second year head coach Charlie Weis.
Senior QB Brady Quinn conducted a scoring drive on Notre Dame’s final possession of the first half for the sixth time this season. Quinn went 5-for-6 for 64 yards and a 33-yard touchdown pass to senior Rhema McKnight. Over the six scoring drives (Georgia Tech, Penn State, Michigan, Stanford, UCLA and Navy) in the waning minutes of the first half in 2006, Quinn is a remarkable 34-for-40 for 341 yards passing, four touchdown passes and a touchdown run. The Irish converted another fourth down play midway through the third quarter. It was Notre Dame’s 16th fourth down conversion this season. Senior TE John Carlson, who converted both fourth downs with receptions, has given the Irish first downs on four fourth down plays this season (tied with Darius Walker for the team-high). Notre Dame eclipsed the 30-point barrier for the fifth time in 2006. The Irish have scored 30 or more points 15 times under Weis (Navy was his 20th as Irish head coach). The Irish have scored 30 or more points in 17 of the last 22 meetings with Navy. Notre Dame has scored more points against the Midshipmen (2,178) than any of its other 134 opponents in school history. The Irish were not forced to punt in a game for the first time this season and first time since Nov. 12, 2005 against Navy. Notre Dame ran 62 plays over 10 drives Saturday and 70 plays over nine drives in last season’s meeting. The Irish have gone 140 plays against Navy without being forced to punt – dating back to a D.J. Fitzpatrick punt in the fourth quarter of a 27-9 Irish victory in 2004. Notre Dame allowed 211 yards rushing and 14 points in the first half. The Irish not only held the Midshipmen scoreless in the second half, but also limited the Navy option attack to just 60 yards on the ground in the second half. The 24-point margin of victory (38-14) is tied for the second largest victory under second year head coach Charlie Weis (largest margin of victory was 26 points last season against BYU). Notre Dame held Navy scoreless in the third and fourth quarter Saturday afternoon. It marked the 12th and 13th quarters this season that the Irish have held an opponent without any points for an entire period. Notre Dame set season-highs with yards per pass attempt (11.8), total yards (471) and yards per play (7.6). The Irish rushed for 176 yards this afternoon. That rushing effort ranks as the sixth-best game on the ground in the Charlie Weis era.
Senior QB Brady Quinn … recorded his second touchdown rush of 2006 and sixth of his career … the 19-yard run was his longest career touchdown rush and longest rush from scrimmage since Nov. 27, 2004 … posted his 13th career game (fifth in ’06) with at least three touchdown passes … has totaled 21 touchdown passes in the past seven games, after failing to throw a TD pass in the opener versus Georgia Tech … extended his own school record of consecutive passes without an interception to 169 pass attempts … broke Ron Powlus’ (1994-97) previous school record of 43 straight games with a completion (Quinn has completed a pass in 44 consecutive games) … moved past Andrew Walter of Arizona State (2001-04) for 19th place all-time in NCAA Division I-A history for pass attempts … moved past Joe Montana (1978) for ninth most passing yards in single-season history … moved past Ron Powlus (1997) for 10th most total yards in single-season history … moved past Ron Powlus (182, 1997) for fourth most completions in single-season history … moved past Jarious Jackson (184, 1999) for third most completions in single-season history … moved past John Huarte (1964) for eighth most passing yards in single-season history … moved past Ron Powlus (1997) for seventh most passing yards in single-season history … moved past Rick Mirer (1991) for sixth most passing yards in single-season history … moved past Rick Mirer (1991) and Ron Powlus (1994) for second most touchdown passes in single-season history … moved past Rick Mirer (1992) for ninth most total yards in single-season history … moved past John Huarte (1964) for eighth most total yards in single-season history … moved past Joe Montana (1978) for seventh most total yards in single-season history … moved past Gino Guidugli (2001-04) of Cincinnati for 19th place all-time in career touchdown passes in NCAA Division I-A history … moved past Ron Powlus (298, 1997) for fifth most pass attempts in Notre Dame single-season history … moved past himself (191, 2004) for second most completions in Notre Dame single-season history … moved past Steve Beuerlein (1986) for fifth most passing yards in Irish single-season history … moved past Steve Beuerlein (1986) for sixth most total yards in Irish single-season history … moved past Steve Stenstrom (1991-94) of Stanford for 31st place all-time in passing yards in NCAA Division I-A … moved past Charlie Frye (2001-04) of Akron for 18th place all-time in pass attempts in NCAA Division I-A
Junior RB Darius Walker … moved past Nick Eddy (1964-66) for fifth place in career receiving yards for an Irish running back … moved past Bob Scarpitto (1959) and Bob Gladieux (1967) for 10th place in single-season receiving yards by a Notre Dame running back … moved past Raghib Ismail (1988-90) for eighth place in career non-quarterback total yards … eclipsed 100 yards for the third time this season and 11th time in his career … moved past Jerome Heavens (1975-78) for fifth place all-time in career rushes … eclipsed his own previous school record (43) for receptions by a running back in single-season history
Senior TE John Carlson … moved past Mark Bavaro (1984) for fifth place in single-season receptions by a Notre Dame tight end … moved past Ken MacAfee (1976) for fourth most receptions by a tight end in single-season history … moved past Ken MacAfee (1976) for fourth place in single-season receiving yards by tight end … moved past Tony Hunter (1982) for third place in single-season receiving yards by tight end
Senior WR Rhema McKnight … moved past Tony Hunter (1979-82) for seventh place all-time in career receiving yards … his second quarter touchdown reception was his eighth of the season and 15th of his career … his fourth quarter touchdown reception was his ninth of the season and 16th of his career … registered two touchdown catches in a single game for the first time in his career … moved into a tie for fourth place (Jack Snow, 1964) for fourth most touchdown catches in single-season history … moved into a tie with Jim Seymour (1966-68) for fifth most touchdown receptions in career history
Senior DE Victor Abiamiri … moved into tie with Bryant Young (1990-93) for sixth in Notre Dame career sacks history … moved past Brandon Hoyte (2002-05) for seventh in Notre Dame career tackles for loss history … moved into tie with Ryan Roberts (1999-02) for fifth in Irish career sacks history
Sophomore WR David Grimes … recorded his first career touchdown catch on a 36-yard strike late in the first quarter … the reception was also the longest catch of his career (previous career-long grab was a 20-yard catch against Michigan earlier this season)
Senior TB/LB Travis Thomas … recorded his second touchdown run of the season and seventh of his career … the rush was his first carry since a one-yard scoring burst against Penn State earlier this season
Senior SS Tom Zbikowski … registered a season and career-high 14.0 tackles … the 14.0 tackles ties Maurice Crum, Jr.’s season-high for Notre Dame
Senior DL Derek Landri … registered a season-high and career-high 11.0 tackles
Freshman RB James Aldridge … rushed 12 times for 29 yards, both career-highs
How Do They Stack Up? Average weight of the offensive and defensive lines: ND OL 294.0 lbs. vs. UNC DL 274.8 lbs. ND DL 277.0 lbs. vs. UNC OL 298.0 lbs. Average height of the receivers and the secondaries: ND WR/TE 6′ 4″ vs. UNC DB 5′ 11″ ND DB 6′ 0″ vs. UNC WR/TE 6′ 2″
Quinn Near Perfect Last Five Games; Possibly Best Five Game Stretch of Career Senior QB Brady Quinn has been nearly flawless the past five games — all Irish victories. Quinn is completing 67-percent (121-for-181) of his passes for 1,466 yards, 15 touchdowns and just one interception. He currently owns the nation’s longest streak of consecutive passes without an interception at 169 (besting his own Notre Dame school record). Quinn has a 161.22 passing efficiency rating over the stretch of games. Quinn had a similar stretch of games in 2005 that helped him move into Heisman consideration. Over games against BYU, Tennessee, Navy, Syracuse and Stanford, Quinn completed 66.7 percent (120-for-180) of his passes for 1,748 yards, 18 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Att. Cmp. Int. Pct. Yds TD Brady Quinn (2005) 180 120 3 66.7 1,748 18 Brady Quinn (2006) 181 121 1 66.9 1,466 15
One of Nation’s Best Not Needed Against Navy Senior P Geoff Price ranks fifth in the NCAA in punting at 45.3 yards per punt. That average would break Notre Dame’s previous school record for average yards per punt (44.9) set by Craig Hentrich in 1990. While Price has proven to be a weapon for the Irish this season, anytime Notre Dame can get through an entire game without his services is a definite positive. The Irish were not forced to punt last weekend against Navy. It marked the first time Notre Dame failed to punt in a game since Nov. 12, 2005 against the Midshipmen. Notre Dame ran 62 plays over its 10 drives last weekend and ran 70 plays over nine drives in last season’s meeting. The Irish have gone 140 plays against Navy without being forced to punt – dating back to a D.J. Fitzpatrick punt in the fourth quarter of a 27-9 Irish victory in 2004.
Clock Watching Notre Dame has held the time of possession advantage in six of its eight games this season (all victories), including besting Navy last weekend 30:39-29:21. The game against the Midshipmen marked the slimmest advantage in time of possession of those six games. Since Weis arrived at Notre Dame, the Irish are 13-2 when winning the time of possession battle. Notre Dame have won just three times since the start of 2005 when it did not have the ball longer than its opponent (3-2). The Irish held a decisive advantage in time of possession in their win against Purdue earlier this season. Notre Dame held the ball for 38:21. It was the longest the Irish held possession since controlling the ball for 38:40 against USC in 2005.
Irish Rushing Defense Holds Navy Well Below Its Average Navy came into the game with Notre Dame last weekend ranked second in the NCAA in rushing averaging 316.6 yards per game. The Midshipmen were also averaging 5.4 yards per carry. The Irish did allow Navy 271 yards on the ground, but only 60 came after halftime. Notre Dame also limited the Midshipmen to 4.8 yards per carry, including 3.0 ypa after halftime.
Clock Winding Down, Brady At His Best Notre Dame senior QB Brady Quinn has conducted scoring drives to close the first half in six of the Irish’s eight games this season. Against Navy last weekend, he went 5-for-6 for 64 yards and a 33-yard touchdown pass to senior Rhema McKnight. Over the six scoring drives (Georgia Tech, Penn State, Michigan, Stanford, UCLA and Navy) in the waning minutes of the first half in 2006, Quinn is a remarkable 34-for-40 for 341 yards passing, four touchdown passes and a touchdown run. Quinn registered one against Stanford and then led Notre Dame to a field goal drive last weekend against UCLA. He was 7-for-8 for 62 yards and added 14 yards rushing along the way against the Bruins. Against Stanford, he was 5-of-6 for 47 yards and a 15-yard touchdown to senior WR Rhema McKnight on the 68-yard scoring drive. With Notre Dame trailing Georgia Tech, 10-0, and just under five minutes to go in the first half in the season opener, Quinn led the Irish on a 14 play, 80-yard scoring drive. He went 5-of-8 for 39 yards and also added 23 yards rushing on the drive, capped off by his five-yard touchdown scamper. Quinn was even more impressive in his two scoring drives against Penn State and Michigan. Both within the no-huddle, two-minute offense, he spearheaded Notre Dame’s seven play, 69-yard and 1:17 march just before halftime against the Nittany Lions. Quinn was 5-of-5 for 58 yards and a touchdown strike on the drive. He was equally impressive running the two-minute drill late in the second quarter against the Wolverines. Quinn went 7-of-7 for 71 yards and a touchdown during the Irish’s eight play, 72-yard and 2:10 drive.
Football Definitely a Game of Adjustments The Notre Dame defense has shown its prowess in 2006 when it comes to making adjustments at halftime. The Irish have twice blanked opponents (Georgia Tech and Navy) after halftime and allowed four other foes (Michigan State, Purdue, Stanford and UCLA) to seven points or less after intermission. Notre Dame has yielded just 53 points in the second half over its eight games in 2006 (14 of those came in the waning minutes against Penn State with the Irish leading 41-3).
Thomas Also Returns to Notre Dame Lineup With a Bang Senior LB/RB Travis Thomas missed both the Purdue and Stanford games after suffering a rib injury on the final play of the Michigan State game. He returned to the starting lineup against UCLA and totaled seven tackles, including a season-high 2.0 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. Despite missing those two games, Thomas has recorded 27 tackles on the season, including 18 solo stops (fifth-best on the squad).
Thomas Pulling Double Duty Travis Thomas made the switch over to defense in the spring to add some speed and quickness to that side of the football for the Irish. Thomas had three carries, a season-high 44 yards and a touchdown earlier this season against Penn State. He added another rushing touchdown this past weekend against Navy. Thomas is the first Notre Dame player rush for a touchdown in a game in which he started on defense since Jeff Burris on Nov. 20, 1993 against Boston College. Burris, an All-American safety, rushed 16 times for 92 yards and six touchdowns that season.
John Carlson Turning In All-American Type Season; Leads TE Nationwide in Receiving YPG Notre Dame senior TE John Carlson has exploded onto the college football scene in 2006. He has 37 receptions for 529 yards — good for an average of 66.1 yards a game. Despite the season being just eight games old, Carlson has already risen among the top 10 for yards and catches by a tight end in a single-season (Carlson’s 529 yards ranks third and his 37 catches is fourth in single-season Irish TE history). His 14.3 yards per catch leads all Irish receivers. In fact, Carlson is 50th, nationally, in receiving yards per game and tops among tight ends. He also ranks 56th overall in receptions per game and third in the category among tight ends. With Carlson’s 121-yard effort against Michigan State, he became the first Irish tight end to eclipse 100 yards receiving in a game since Anthony Fasano had 155 yards against Purdue on Oct. 2, 2004.
A Look Back at a Past Notre Dame Team That Opened 7-1 With the victory last weekend over Navy, the Irish opened a season 7-1 for the first time since 1998 and 21st time in school history. Notre Dame opened the 1977 season 7-1 following its victory over Georgia Tech. The Irish closed the season with four consecutive victories, including a 38-10 rout of Texas in the Cotton Bowl to secure the program’s 10th National Championship.
Historic Notre Dame Stadium The 2006 football season marks the 76th year of Irish football in fabled Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have played 390 games in the facility to date and own a 295-90-5 (.763) record in the “House that Rockne Built.” The Irish are 186-54-2 (.773) over the last 42 years at home. The most wins in a season by the Irish at home is seven by the 1988 national championship team and the longest home winning streak in Notre Dame football history is 28 games (from 11.21.42 through 9.30.50).
In Front of a Full House Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 189 of its previous 215 games, including 64 of its last 69 contests dating back to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the end of the 2000 season (the 2001, 2003 and 2005 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy at the Meadowlands and the 2005 game at Washington were not sellouts). At Michigan in 2003, the Irish and Wolverines attracted the largest crowd in NCAA history (111,726), marking the third time in the history of the series that an NCAA attendance record was set. It also represented the seventh time in the last four seasons that Notre Dame has been part of establishing a new stadium attendance record (at Nebraska and Texas A&M in 2001; at Air Force and Florida State, home vs. Boston College in 2002, vs. Oregon State in the Insight Bowl in 2004 – the game set a Bank One Ballpark record for football configuration). Notre Dame and Michigan played before an over-capacity 111,386 at Michigan Stadium in September of 2005. The 2005 Washington game was played before less than a capacity crowd as 71,473 witnessed the Irish defeat the Huskies, 36-17, at Husky Stadium (capacity: 72,500) in Seattle. At Purdue, the Irish and Boilermakers played before 65,491 football fans, a Ross-Ade Stadium record (since the renovation of the facility in 2003).
Brady Quinn Surpasses 10,000 Career Yards Senior QB Brady Quinn eclipsed another milestone against UCLA earlier this season. Quinn became the 32nd quarterback in the history of NCAA Division IA football to eclipse 10,000 career passing yards. Here is an interesting comparison of Quinn and some of the other notable members of the exclusive club (players that eclipsed 10,000 career yards and won the Heisman Trophy).
Att. Cmp. Int. Pct. Yds TD Brady Quinn 1,438 833 36 57.9 10,569 79 Ty Detmer 1,530 958 65 62.6 15,031 121 Carson Palmer 1,515 895 49 59.1 11,388 71 Danny Wuerffel 1,170 708 42 60.5 10,875 114 Matt Leinart 1,245 807 23 64.8 10,693 99 Doug Flutie 1,270 677 54 53.3 10,579 67
23 and Counting Junior RB Darius Walker extended his streak to 23 straight games with at least one catch following his three-reception effort against Navy on Oct. 28. His current streak is the longest on the team. Walker has hauled in at least one pass dating back to the Tennessee game on Nov. 13, 2004. He has caught 94 passes for 713 yards and three TDs over the 23 games. He is averaging just over four catches per game, and 7.7 yards per reception.
Brady Stacks Up With The Most Recent Heisman Trophy Winners Notre Dame senior QB Brady Quinn finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting last season. Through eight games, Brady is on pace for 3,628 yards passing and 34 touchdown passes. Here is an interesting comparison between Quinn and the previous five QBs to capture the Heisman Trophy (a QB has taken home the award five of the last six years):
Yds TD INT Pct Brady Quinn, Notre Dame (projected) 3,628 34 6 63.7 Matt Leinart, USC (2004) 3,322 33 6 65.3 Jason White, Oklahoma (2003) 3,846 40 10 61.6 Carson Palmer, USC (2002) 3,942 33 10 63.2 Eric Crouch, Nebraska (2001) *2,625 *26 10 55.5 Chris Weinke, Florida State (2000) 4,167 33 11 61.7 total yards (passing/rushing) and total touchdowns
Quinn Ranks High Among Active QBs Quarterback Brady Quinn currently ranks in the top five among all active Division I-A quarterbacks in 10 categories ranging from passing charts to total offense lists. The following lists the categories he currently ranks in the top five:
CATEGORY RANK TOTAL CURRENT LEADER Pass Attempts 1st 1,438 — Pass Completions 2nd 833 Kevin Kolb, Houston (872) Pass Yards 2nd 10,569 Kevin Kolb, Houston (11,763) Pass Touchdowns 2nd 79 Chris Leak, Florida (81) Total Off.-Yards 2nd 10,673 Kevin Kolb, Houston (12,462) Total Off.-Plays 3rd 1,663 Kevin Kolb, Houston (1,855) Total Off.-TDs 3rd 85 Kevin Kolb, Houston (95) Pass Attempts/Gm 4th 32.7 Colt Brennan, Hawaii (41.3) Total Off.-Yds/Gm 4th 242.6 Colt Brennan, Hawaii (379.2) Pass Yards/Game 4th 240.2 Colt Brennan, Hawaii (361.8)
Third-Quarter Success Notre Dame has owned the third quarter to this point of the season … The Irish have outscored its foes, 55-15, in the third quarter including a combined 27-0 margin in their last four outings against Purdue, Stanford, UCLA and Navy … The Irish have allowed just one touchdown in the third quarter all season — a rushing touchdown from Jehuu Caulcrick of Michigan State on Sept. 23 … Rhema McKnight scored a touchdown on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Brady Quinn against the Boilermakers … Darius Walker scored on a 12-yard run and Carl Gioia booted a 35-yard field goal to help Notre Dame out-score the Cardinal, 10-0 … Gioia kicked a 33-yard field goal as the Irish outscored the Bruins, 3-0 … Brady Quinn had a career-long touchdown rush of 19 yards to help Notre Dame blank the Midshipmen, 7-0 … Notre Dame has racked up at least 100 yards of total offense in the third quarter in four of its eight games, including three of the past four games … The Irish recorded a season-high of 141 total yards (60 rush, 81 pass) in the third quarter against Georgia Tech on Sept. 2 … On the opposite end of the spectrum, Notre Dame has not allowed 100 yards of total offense by any team in the third quarter this season … The Irish have limited their opponents to an average of 57.6 yards of total offense in the third quarter, including just 14.8 passing yards … The Irish have held its opponents to a miniscule 20.0 percent (5-for-25) of its third-down conversions.
Darius Walker The Runner vs. Darius Walker The Receiver Junior RB Darius Walker set a new single-game, career-high with nine receptions against Purdue earlier this season. He had registered seven catches in a game on three different occasions, including twice in 2006. Walker is second on the team with 45 receptions in 2006. He also leads the NCAA in receptions by a running back. Already the Notre Dame career leader in catches by a running back (98), Walker will shatter his previous single-season school record (43) for receptions by a running back.
Need A First Down, Dial Darius Walker Junior RB Darius Walker has touched the football 118 times the past four games. Of those 118 touches, 31 resulted in a first down for the Irish. In fact, Walker leads Notre Dame with 51 first down plays. Against Purdue earlier this season, Walker touched the ball 27 different times in the first-half against the Boilermakers. Of those 27 touches, nine resulted in a first down for the Irish. Walker finished the afternoon with 12.
Cover Me Notre Dame hasn’t let the opposition generate good field position on kickoff’s this season … The Irish is allowing just 17.2 yards per kick return versus its foes in 2006 … Senior Bobby Renkes and freshman Ryan Burkhart are two of the main reasons why … Renkes has five touchbacks on his 21 kickoffs and Burkhart has four touchbacks on 21 kickoffs this season … Notre Dame ranks 16th nationally in kickoff return defense … The Irish has also stepped up its punt return defense in their last four games … Notre Dame has allowed just 28 total punt return yards on four punts versus Purdue, Stanford, UCLA and Navy … Senior punter and Ray Guy candidate Geoff Price, who is fifth in the NCAA with a 45.3 per punt average, has only had 14 of his 34 punts returned this season.
McKnight & Carlson Moving The Chains Senior WR Rhema McKnight and senior TE John Carlson have combined to earn 58 first downs this season. McKnight has 46 receptions and 32 of them have resulted in a first down, while Carlson has registered a first down on 26 of his 37 catches.
Quinn Approaching Rarified Air Senior QB Brady Quinn has tossed 79 career touchdown passes over his brilliant four-year Irish career. Quinn has tossed 53 TD passes over his last 20 games — an average of 2.65 per game. At his current pace, Quinn would finish his career with 12,054 yards passing and 92 touchdown passes. He would become just the ninth player in NCAA Division I history to surpass 11,500 yards passing and 10th to ever pass for 90 or more career TD passes.
Darius Walker Running Into Irish History Junior RB Darius Walker has led the Irish in rushing each of the past two seasons and will most likely do it again in 2006. Walker has rushed for 682 yards over Notre Dame’s first eight games, including 457 over the last four games. He would be the sixth running back in school history to lead the Irish in rushing three consecutive seasons and the first since Autry Denson (1995-98). Walker would be the first running back to lead Notre Dame in rushing over his first three seasons since Emil Sitko (1946-49). Sitko actually led Notre Dame in rushing each of his four seasons. Walker also ranks among the active NCAA career leaders in six different categories. He ranks fourth in all-purpose plays per game (22.5), eighth in career rushes (598), eighth in total all-purpose plays (696), ninth in career rushes per game (19.3), 12th in career rushing yards (2,664), 15th in career rushing yards per game (85.9) and 18th in all-purpose yards per game (109.7).
Charlie And The Irish Offensive Factory Second year head coach Charlie Weis came to Notre Dame with a tremendous reputation as one of the premier offensive minds in all of the NFL. The Irish saw immediate results in 2005, setting 11 school records, including passing yards (3,963), touchdown passes (32), total offense yards (5,728) and total points (440). After Notre Dame scored 40 points against Michigan State earlier this season, the Irish have surpassed the 40-point barrier on eight separate occasions in Weis’ 20 games as head coach. Prior to Weis’ arrival, Notre Dame had eclipsed 40 points just nine times in its previous 97 contests. In addition, the Irish had 83 separate 100-yard receiving games over its first 116 seasons of football, but Notre Dame has had 16 the past two years under Weis. To put those numbers in perspective, Notre Dame averaged a 100-yard receiving effort every 13 games. Under Weis, the Irish is almost recording a 100-yard receiving effort every game.
McKnight & Samardzija Rank Among Nation’s Top Receiving Duo The senior WR tandem of Rhema McKnight and Jeff Samardzjia each rank among the top 10 in ND history for career receiving yards and receptions. McKnight and Samardzjia are second and third, respectively, in school history with 148 and 144 career catches. McKnight is seventh in school history with 1,987 yards receiving, while Samardzjia’s 2,085 yards receiving is sixth best in ND history. His 22 career TD receptions is tied with Derrick Mayes for tops in school history. McKnight and Samardzjia are among the top 20 (McKnight, 17th, Samardzjia, t-20th) in the NCAA among active receivers in catches. Samardzjia is also among the top 20 in reception yards (18th) and career TD catches (7th). Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett, USC, are the only other teammates to be ranked among the top 20 in the NCAA among any of those three categories.
Irish Triple Option Passing Attack The Notre Dame offense has its own version of the triple option in the passing game. The Irish have three players, Jeff Samardzija, Rhema McKnight and John Carlson, each rank among the top 62 in the NCAA in receiving yards per game. Notre Dame and New Mexico State are the only two schools that have three student-athletes in the top 62. Notre Dame also has four receivers, including junior RB Darius Walker, among the top 56 in catches per game. McKnight leads the team with 46 catches, while Walker is second with 45. Samardzjia is third on the Irish with 43 catches and Carlson is fourth with 37 grabs. McKnight ranks 18th, Walker 22nd, Samardzjia (26th) and Carlson (56th) in the NCAA in receptions per game.
Irish Rush Defense Bottles Up UCLA UCLA entered the game with Notre Dame averaging over 143.67 yards a game rushing. In fact, the Bruins leading rusher, Chris Markey, ranked 18th in the NCAA at 98.7 yards per game. UCLA found life quite difficult against the Irish defense. The Bruins managed only 26 yards on the ground on 28 carries, just under a yard per tote. And, Markey had 19 carries for 32 yards and 11 of those yards came on one carry. Notre Dame was even more impressive in the second half. The Irish limited the Bruins to minus-17 yards on the ground.
Notre Dame Defense Dominates UCLA on First Down The Irish defense had struggled for most of the season on first down. Entering the matchup with UCLA, Notre Dame was allowing its opponents 6.79 yards on first down. The Irish limited the Bruins to a total of 24 yards on first down — an average of only 1.0 yard on first down.
Irish Legends Are Made In The 4th Quarter, Brady Definitely Among The Greats Senior QB Brady Quinn has turned the fourth quarter into his own personal sanctuary. Quinn has been at his best in the fourth quarter this season. He is 42-of-65, just shy of 65 percent, for 583 yards and seven TD passes. He has also tossed just one interception in the final quarter over the entire season.
Quinn Not Afraid of the Late Game Dramatics This season marks the 76th year of Notre Dame Stadium. There have been only nine games in the history of the “Stadium That Rockne Built” where the Irish trailed in the final minute and won (four by TD and five by FG). Jarious Jackson (1998 vs. Purdue and 1999 vs. Navy) and senior QB Brady Quinn (2003 vs. Navy, 2006 vs. UCLA) are the only two Irish quarterbacks to lead multiple game-winning drives when ND trailed at home in the final minute. But, Jackson’s drive against Purdue in 1998 does really approach either of Quinn’s, as Tony Driver’s interception of Drew Brees put the ball at the 5-yard line (Jackson handed off to Autry Denson three times which got it down to the 1-yard line before the winning chip shot). Here is a look at both of Quinn’s game-winning drives.
Instant Classic The UCLA game certainly qualifies among the most “fantastic Irish finishes” ever at Notre Dame Stadium. Four times now, in the 75-year history of Notre Dame Stadium, the Irish have scored the winning touchdown in the final minute of regulation:
Oct. 27, 1979: Rusty Lisch’s 14-yard TD pass to Dean Masztak and two-point conversion pass to Pete Holohan with 42 seconds to play beat South Carolina, 18-17. Nov. 14, 1992: Rick Mirer’s three-yard TD pass to Jerome Bettis and ensuing two-point conversion (pass from Mirer to Reggie Brooks) give the Irish a 17-16 victory over Penn State with 0:20 on the clock. Oct. 30, 1999: Jarious Jackson’s 16-yard TD pass to Jay Johnson with 0:36 left gives Notre Dame a 28-24 win over Navy. Oct. 22, 2006: Brady Quinn’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Samardzija produces the game-winning points with just 27 seconds left in a 20-17 win over UCLA.
Samardzjia On The Brink Senior All-American WR Jeff Samardzjia will close his career as one of the most decorated Irish wide receivers of all time. Samardzjia’s has 22 career touchdown catches and 2,085 receiving yards. He is tied with Derrick Mayes for the Notre Dame career record for touchdown passes. Samardzjia is the sixth Irish wideout to ever surpass 2,000 yards in receiving. The most impressive thing about Samardzjia’s numbers are the fact that they have been recorded basically in the past two seasons.
The Firm of Laws & Landri Yields Immediate Results The senior defensive tackle duo of Trevor Laws and Derek Landri spearheaded an Irish rush defense that has dominated the line of scrimmage for the better part of the last four games (Purdue, Stanford, UCLA and second half of Navy). Last weekend against the Midshipmen, Landri totaled a career-high 11.0 tackles, while Laws chipped in with 4.0, including two for loss and a sack. The duo helped the Notre Dame defense limit Navy to just 60 yards on 20 carries in the second half. Against UCLA, Landri made five tackles, added a quarterback hurry and registered a sack on the game’s final play. Laws had four tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery against UCLA. The duo helped Notre Dame limit the Bruins to just 26 yards on the ground on 28 carries, just under a yard per tote. The Irish were even more impressive in the second half. Notre Dame limited the Bruins to minus-17 yards on the ground. Landri and Laws rank fourth (40) and fifth (39), respectively, in tackles for Notre Dame. The interior tackle duo has combined for 13.5 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks and four quarterback hurries. Laws and Landri were also instrumental in neutralizing the vaunted, power running attack of Michigan. The Wolverines needed 41 carries to reach 120 yards — just 2.9 yards per carry. In fact, 18 of Mike Hart’s carries were for two yards or less, including nine for zero or negative yardage. Laws’ 10 tackles were a career-high.
Brockington Making The Most of Senior Season Senior LB Joe Brockington entered the 2006 season with 12 career total tackles in 22 games over the previous two seasons. When an injury sidelined starting LB Travis Thomas, Brockington moved into the starting lineup for the first time of his career against Purdue earlier this season. He has started each of the past four Notre Dame games. Brockington has amassed 21 tackles in his four starts, including a career-high of seven against UCLA.
Zbikowski Right Back in the Saddle After starting 29 consecutive games at strong safety, senior Tom Zbikowski missed the Stanford game due to a shoulder injury. Zbikowski returned to the starting lineup against UCLA last weekend and appeared to not miss a beat. He recorded four tackles and a quarterback hurry as the Irish defense dominated the Bruins for most of the afternoon. Zbikowski was even better last weekend against Navy. He totaled a career-high 14.0 tackles, including 10.0 solo stops. Zbikowski ranks second on the Notre Dame defense with 52 tackles. He has added a tackle for loss, pass break up, two quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a 25-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
Crum, Jr. Making Crumbs Of Ball Carriers Junior LB Maurice Crum, Jr. has been a vital asset to Notre Dame’s defensive effort the past two weeks. He registered 11.0 tackles, four solo, in the victory over Navy. It marked the second time this season that Crum, Jr. has amassed over 10 tackles in a game. He recorded a team-best eight tackles and added a pass breakup and sack against UCLA two weeks ago. Crum, Jr. leads Notre Dame with 62 tackles and 31 solo stops. He is third on the Irish defense with 7.0 tackles for loss, including two sacks. Crum has also added a forced fumble, pass break-up and two quarterback hurries. He had a career-high 14 tackles earlier this season against Penn State.
Victor Violating Opposing Offenses Senior DE Victor Abiamiri has been in Notre Dame’s opposing backfield so often over the last few weeks that teams might start asking him to pay rent. Abiamiri, who leads the Irish with 8.0 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hurries, has been almost unblockable the past four games (Purdue, Stanford, UCLA and Navy). Abiamiri has 8.0 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks and eight QB hurries in that span. Last week against the Midshipmen, he had six tackles, 2.0 for loss and 2.0 sacks. Abiamiri had four tackles, 1.5 for loss and 1.0 sack, as well as 2.0 quarterback hurries against UCLA as well. Abiamiri is sixth on the all-time Irish list for career sacks (19.0) and ranks seventh with 37.5 career TFLs.
Abiamiri Awarded Fanning Scholarship Senior DE Victor Abiamiri, a senior finance major from Baltimore, Md., and Franklin Lakes, N.J., has been named a 2006 recipient of Eugene D. Fanning Scholarships at the University of Notre Dame. Abiamiri was selected by faculty of Notre Dame’s Fanning Center for Business Communication for their excellence in communication skills and exemplary personal characteristics. The scholarships include a $3,500 credit to each student’s tuition account and a commemorative pewter plate. Established in 1995 in honor of the late Gene Fanning, the scholarships are funded by donations from members of the University’s advisory council for the Mendoza College of Business. Fanning, a 1953 Notre Dame graduate, was a Chicago businessman and investor who taught business communication courses as a guest instructor in the college from 1989 to 1995.
Auditions For Notre Dame’s Third Wideout No Longer Needed Sophomore WR David Grimes was instrumental in Notre Dame’s come-from-behind victory over UCLA and added three catches for 72 yards, including a 36-yard TD grab against Navy. Grimes posted career-highs in both receptions (8) and receiving yards (79) against the Bruins. He came up with a huge 14-yard reception for a first down on Notre Dame’s three play, 80-yard game-winning drive. Grimes, who missed the Purdue game, has 16 catches this season for 206 yards. His previous career-high for catches and yards came against Michigan (4 for 48).
Price is Right Despite the fact he entered this season with only two career punts, Geoff Price has made his presence known across the country for Notre Dame. Price is fifth in the NCAA in punting with a per kick average of 45.29. That average would break Notre Dame’s previous school record for average yards per punt (44.9) set by Craig Hentrich in 1990. He not only has dropped 10 punts inside the 20-yard line, including three against Purdue, but also has nine punts of 50 or more yards. Price has averaged 50+ yards in punts in two separate games, including a school-record 51.9 yards per kick (7-for-363) against Michigan.
Ndukwe Making Plays All Over The Field Notre Dame senior FS Chinedum Ndukwe, who played his freshman year with the Irish as a wide receiver, has taken his game to another level in 2006. Ndukwe started all 12 games last season and made 52 tackles. He is third on Notre Dame with 52 tackles, 26 solo stops, this season. Ndukwe, who came up with a huge forced fumble and fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter to help the Irish rally past Michigan State earlier this year, has added two interceptions, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, two quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.
Terrail Lambert Derails Opposition Junior CB Terrail Lambert undoubtedly etched his name along side some of the all-time Notre Dame legends following his performance against Michigan State. His 27-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter capped the Irish’s thrilling 40-37 come-from-behind victory over the Spartans. The pick was not only his first career interception, but was Notre Dame’s first interception return for a touchdown since junior CB Leo Ferrine had a 16-yard “pick six” against Syracuse last year. Lambert was also the first Irish defender with two interceptions in the same game since Sept. 21, 2002, when Gerome Sapp had two picks at Michigan State in a 21-17 Notre Dame victory. Lambert is seventh on the team with 31 tackles, including a career-best 11 stops earlier in the season against Purdue. He also chipped in with a forced fumble and fumble recovery on the same play. Lambert also leads the squad with three interceptions.
Going Down To The Wire In the two seasons since Charlie Weis arrived at Notre Dame, the Irish have played 20 games. Just under half of those, seven of the 20, have been decided by seven points or less and five have been decided by three points or less. Notre Dame has won its fair share. The Irish are 5-2 in games decided by a seven points or less since Weis arrived in 2005. Notre Dame has captured its last four games decided by a touchdown or less.
Notre Dame Normally Comes Flying Out of the Gates While the Irish did not score a touchdown on their opening possession against UCLA or Navy (did get a field goal against the Midshipmen), Notre Dame has recorded a touchdown on its opening drive of the game on two separate occasions in 2006 (Purdue and Stanford) and 10 times in head coach Charlie Weis’ 20 career games on the sidelines. In fact, the Irish have recorded touchdowns on their opening drives of each half in a game six times (Purdue, Stanford, Pittsburgh , BYU , Navy  and Stanford ) under Weis.
Not Too Bad A Drive Notre Dame had three scoring drives of 75 yards or longer last weekend against Navy. The Irish had a pair of 80 yard marches and a 76 yard drive. Notre Dame had two of its longest drives of the season against Stanford and UCLA as well. The Irish closed the first half against the Bruins with a 19-play, 77-yard drive that took 7:18 off the clock. The drive is the longest of the season for Notre Dame in terms of plays and time of possession. Ironically, it was the longest scoring drive that failed to result in a touchdown since Oct. 11, 2003 against Pittsburgh — when the Irish used 9:14 off the clock and did not score (that 16-play, 68-yard drive ran out the clock to end the game). Notre Dame followed that drive with another scoring drive that almost exceeded seven minutes, again resulting in just a field goal. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Irish game-winning three play, 80-yard drive against UCLA took 35 seconds. For the season, the Irish are averaging 67.1 yards, 9.2 plays and a TOP of 3:39 on its touchdown drives. Notre Dame has also had eight scoring drives under two minutes.
Brady Quinn Boiling Hot Against Purdue Purdue must think the Notre Dame senior signal caller wore an Irish uniform for 10 years. Quinn put together a remarkable career in four games against the Boilermakers. He blitzed the Purdue defense for 1,485 yards passing and seven touchdowns. In Quinn’s last three games against the Boilermakers, he has thrown for 432 yards (2004), 440 (2005) and 316 (2006) — the outings in 2004 and 2005 rank fourth and fifth respectively on the ND single-game list. Quinn went 29-for-38 with two touchdowns against Purdue earlier this season. Combined with last year’s game in West Lafayette, Quinn completed 58-for-74 (78.4) and five touchdowns.
Walker Early & Often Junior RB Darius Walker had 20 carries and seven receptions in the first-half against Purdue. He finished with a season-high 31 carries and career-high nine catches. The 40 touches in a single-game tied his previous career-high. Walker recorded 40 touches (35 rushes, 5 receptions) against Stanford on Nov. 26, 2005.
In The Red Zone Notre Dame was 3-of-4 in the red zone, with three touchdowns, in the victory over Navy last weekend. The Irish are now 27-of-30 (.900) in the red zone through the first eight games of the season. Notre Dame has only settled for field goals on five of those occasions and two were against UCLA. The Irish are 72-of-85 (.847) in the red zone during the Charlie Weis era. Notre Dame has recorded 61 touchdowns compared to just 11 field goals goals. In other words, the Irish register seven points almost 85 percent of the time they enter the red zone over the past two seasons. Conversely, Notre Dame’s opponents have scored a touchdown on just 10-of-20 trips into the red zone in 2006 (.500).
On Third & Fourth Down Notre Dame continued to struggle on third down last weekend against Navy going 4-of-11 (.364) on third-down conversions and now is 38-for-112 (.339) on the season. That statistic is way down from a year ago. The Irish converted 90-of-184 (.489) on third downs in 2005, which ranked seventh in the NCAA. While Notre Dame has struggled on third down, fourth down to this point of the season is a completely different story. The Irish are 17-for-23 on fourth down over their first eight games this season and rank 10th in the NCAA with a .739 conversion rate. In fact, only two teams in the country have more fourth down conversions than the Irish.
Five Straight Undefeated Opponents To Open The Season Notre Dame always plays one of the top schedules in all of college football, but the Irish took that to the ultimate extreme this season. Notre Dame faced an undefeated opponent each of its first five games this season. Notre Dame’s opponents, Georgia Tech, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue, are a combined 29-10 (excluding the game with the Irish) and four of those losses came against No. 1 Ohio State or No. 2 Michigan. The 1999 Notre Dame squad was the last Irish team to face five consecutive undefeated foes to open the season.
Irish Road Warriors Notre Dame extended its current road winning streak to seven games with its victory over Michigan State in East Lansing. The seven-game road winning streak is the longest since a nine-game run that spanned four seasons (1991-94). The school record for consecutive victories on the road is 11, set on two occasions by Frank Leahy coached teams. Notre Dame won 11 straight dating from Sept. 28, 1946 to Nov. 6, 1948. Ironically enough, that streak ended with a 14-14 tie against USC. The Irish went on to win five consecutive after the tie before finally losing a road contest at Indiana. In all, Notre Dame was unbeaten in 17 straight road games. The Irish put together another 11-game victory stretch from Nov. 22, 1952 to Oct. 7, 1955. The seven-game road winning streak also also happens to be the first seven road games for second year Irish head coach Charlie Weis. It is the longest road winning streak to open a Notre Dame coaching career since Leahy went 9-0-1 over his first 10 road games.
Irish Comeback For The Ages From the 7-0 victory over Oklahoma in 1957 snapping the Sooners 47-game winning streak, to Harry Oliver’s 51-yd field goal as time expired to defeat Michigan in 1980, to the 31-30 victory over top-ranked Miami in 1988 en route to the school’s 11th national championship, Notre Dame has been part of some unbelievable football games over its 118 years of football. The comeback victory over Michigan State earlier this year will sit along side those previously mentioned games. The Irish overcame a 16-point fourth quarter deficit against the Spartans (actually trailed 37-21 with just under nine minutes remaining), the largest deficit entering the fourth quarter the Irish have overcome since the 1979 Cotton Bowl (Jan. 1, 1979) when Notre Dame trailed Houston, 34-12, with just under eight minutes to go in the game and came back to win, 35-34. Joe Montana threw the winning touchdown pass to Kris Haines as time expired (Joe Unis kicked the deciding PAT) in what was later termed “The Chicken Soup Game.”
Secondary Stands Tall Against Some of the Nation’s Best WR Over Notre Dame’s first five games, the Irish secondary has been dealt the difficult task of guarding some of the countries top wide receivers. Notre Dame faced Calvin Johnson of Georgia Tech, Derrick Williams of Penn State, Steve Breaston of Michigan, Matt Trannon of Michigan State and Dorien Bryant of Purdue (all of who entered the game as their teams top receiver). With the exception of Johnson’s first half in the season opener, Notre Dame has clearly taken away these premier playmakers.
Notre Dame Little Too Unselfish Ervin Baldwin of Michigan State was the third Notre Dame opponent to register a defensive touchdown in consecutive weeks against Michigan and the Spartans. The Wolverines had a pair of defensive scores in their victory over the Irish. Prior to the Sept. 16 against Michigan, the Irish had allowed just three defensive touchdowns total in their previous 34 games.
Notre Dame Defense Comes Through Late After the Irish defense surrendered 31 points in the first half to Michigan State, it would have been hard to imagine that the same defensive group could possibly turn the game into Notre Dame’s favor, but that is exactly what happened. The Irish allowed just six points after halftime and limited the Spartans to 128 total yards on their 33 second half plays. Drew Stanton was just 2-for-9 (both completions coming on Michigan State’s final drive) for 23 yards. Notre Dame also forced three takeaways, two interceptions and one fumble. In fact, the Irish turned over the Spartans on their final three possessions.
Spartans Seeing Brady After senior QB Brady Quinn threw for 487 yards and five TD passes in the 2005 meeting with Michigan State, many figured it would be near impossible to repeat that type of performance in 2006. Well, let’s just say that Quinn met the task. He threw for 319 yards and five touchdowns. Quinn has thrown for five or more TD passes in one game on three separate occasions and two have come against the Spartans. For his career, he was 71-of-137 for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns against the Spartans.
Quinn Threw 21 TDs in Notre Dame Stadium in 2005; 13 Already in 2006 Brady Quinn shattered the Notre Dame record for touchdown passes at Notre Dame Stadium in a season, exploding for 21 in 2005 (5 vs. Michigan State, 1 vs. USC, 6 vs. BYU, 3 vs. Tennessee, 4 vs. Navy, 2 vs. Syracuse). He has a chance of equalling his own school record in 2006. Quinn has 13 TD passes in Notre Dame’s first five games at home in 2006. That total would have eclipsed the previous school record (excluding Quinn’s 2005 season) for touchdown passes in Notre Dame Stadium in a single-season of 11 by Ron Powlus (1994) and Jarious Jackson (1999). Quinn was so dominant that his total home field touchdown passes would have broken the previous single-season record, regardless of venue, of 19 held by Ron Powlus (1994). Quinn threw 11 touchdown passes away from Notre Dame Stadium (32 total).
Weis Guys a Resilient Bunch Notre Dame is 16-4 under head coach Charlie Weis. Even more impressive than his .800 winning percentage, is the Irish’s perfect 4-0 record under Weis following a loss. Notre Dame’s average margin of victory in those four games is 13 points.
Brady’s Bunch Notre Dame senior QB Brady Quinn has spread his pass completions around through the first eight games of 2006. Quinn has completed passes to nine different receivers, a breakdown of five wide receivers, two tight ends and two running backs. Quinn has thrown touchdown passes to a total of six different players this season: John Carlson, Rhema McKnight, Darius Walker, Jeff Samardzjia, Ashley McConnell and David Grimes.
Rhema has McKnight to Remember After missing almost all of 2005 following a knee injury suffered during the second game last year, fifth-year senior WR Rhema McKnight returned to the gridiron with a vengeance at Georgia Tech. McKnight led the Irish with eight catches for 108 yards against the Yellow Jackets. After pacing Notre Dame in catches in 2003 and 2004, McKnight picked up a key 19-yard catch on 3rd and 9 on the final possession of the game, prohibiting Georgia Tech from getting the ball one last time.
Irish Lead the Way in National Graduate Rate The graduation rate for student-athletes at Notre Dame is the highest in the nation among Division I-A colleges and universities in an annual federal report for the Department of Education, and is the second highest in a new survey developed by the NCAA. Notre Dame’s federal graduation rate is 90.4 percent, according to statistics released in January by the NCAA, slightly ahead of Duke University at 89.6 percent as the best among the major football-playing schools of Division I-A. The federal rate is based on the raw percentage of student-athletes who entered an institution and graduated with six years. Students who leave or transfer, regardless of academic standing, are considered non-graduates. Notre Dame ranks second among Division I-A schools on another scale, called the Graduation Success Rate (GSR), which was developed last year by the NCAA. The 98 percent GSR is second only to the 99 percent of the U.S. Naval Academy, which, like all the military academies, is exempt from the federal survey because it does not offer grants-in-aid to student-athletes. The data for both surveys is based upon the entering classes from 1995 to 1998. The two graduation rate reports should not be confused with the Academic Progress Rate, which uses formulas related to student-athlete retention and eligibility to measure the academic performance of all participants who receive a grant-in-aid at every NCAA Division I college and university.
Abiamiri Named to Mid-Season Hendricks Award Watch List Senior defensive end Victor Abiamiri was named to the 2006 Mid-Season Hendricks Award Watch List announced Oct. 24 by the Hendricks Foundation. He has 32 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks in 2006. Abiamiri now has 19.0 sacks for his career. He has been a key member of Notre Dame’s defensive line since his freshman season in 2003 when he became just the fourth freshman to start on the defensive line for Notre Dame since 1991. Abiamiri enjoyed a great season in 2005 totaling 48 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, a team-high eight sacks and seven quarterback hurries helping him earn the team’s Lineman of the Year Award from the Moose Krause Chapter of the National Football Foundation.
Harris Named to Outland Trophy Watch List Senior offensive tackle Ryan Harris was named to the 2006 Outland Trophy Watch List in June by the Football Writers Association of America. The award has been given annually to the nation’s top offensive or defensive interior lineman since 1946. Harris has started 40 career games at tackle, including the last 32 at left tackle protecting quarterback Brady Quinn’s blind side. Harris played a key role in 2005 as the team averaged 36.7 points per game and 477.3 yards of total offense. In 2004, he was named the team’s Westwood One/Guardian Life Insurance Guardian of the Year. Harris earned freshman All-America accolades from Rivals.com in 2003 and second-team freshman All-America honors from The Sporting News after becoming just the third true freshman lineman to start on the offensive line.
Another Weis, Rockne Comparison Second year Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis has avoided any comparisons to any of the great all-time Irish head coaches, especially legendary head man Knute Rockne. However, Weis accomplished something after the victory over Penn State that only Rockne and himself can claim. With Notre Dame’s 41-17 rout of the Nittany Lions, Weis became just the second coach in Irish history to open his first two seasons in South Bend at 2-0. Rockne opened the 1918 and 1919 seasons with consecutive victories.
Defense More Than Carried Its Weight Against Georgia Tech, Penn State Notre Dame held Georgia Tech and Penn State scoreless over for a total of nearly five quarters before the Nittany Lions kicked a field goal at the 11:29 mark of the third quarter on Sept. 9. The scoreless streak spanned 68:16 and was the longest such streak since the 2002 season. Notre Dame went 94:28 without allowing any points over a three-game stretch that included Navy, Rutgers and USC.
Quinn and the Notre Dame Record Book Quarterback Brady Quinn is in his fourth season as the starter. He has already made a lasting mark on the Irish football record book owning or sharing 35 school records. Since 1950, a Notre Dame quarterback has thrown for 300 yards or more 18 times. Quinn is responsible for nine of those performances – the most for any single Notre Dame quarterback. Quinn has thrown for 350 (vs. Boston College, 2003), 432 (vs. Purdue, 2004), 487 (vs. Michigan State, 2005), 327 (at Washington, 2005), 440 (at Purdue, 2005), 467 (vs. BYU, 2005), 432 (at Stanford, 2005), 319 (at Michigan State, 2006) and 304 (vs. UCLA, 2006). Quinn is the only Notre Dame quarterback to throw for over 400 yards five times in a career (in fact, he is the only one to do it twice) – and in Notre Dame’s road game at Purdue in 2005 he became the first to throw for more than 300 yards in three consecutive games. He also is the first Irish quarterback to throw for 300 or more yards four times in a season.
Quinn’s TD Passes Streak Brady Quinn tossed at least one touchdown pass in 16 games in a row for the Irish before the skid ended in the 2006 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, breaking John Huarte’s record of 10 set in 1964. The Dublin, Ohio, native totaled 40 scoring tosses during the run.
Quinn: A Touchdown Machine Brady Quinn accounted for two or more touchdowns in 10 of Notre Dame’s 12 games in 2005 and had an eight-game streak of multiple TD games snapped in the Fiesta Bowl – three (passing) at Purdue, two (one run, one pass) vs. USC, six (passing) vs. BYU, three (passing) vs. Tennessee, four (passing) vs. Navy, two (passing) vs. Syracuse and three (passing) at Stanford.
Morton Selected to the 2006 American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team Senior OL Bob Morton was one of 11 players in NCAA Division I-A chosen to the 2006 American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. The two 11-man teams, a Division I-A team and a combined team from Divisions I-AA, II, III and the NAIA, honor players for their dedication and commitment to community service. Nominees have to be actively involved and committed to working with a charitable organization, service group or involved in other community service activities. Candidates have to display sincere concern and reliability, while also having made a favorable impression on the organizations with which they are involved. On the field success is not a criteria.
Young Makes ND History Still listed as the starter at right tackle entering this weekend, Sam Young made Notre Dame history at Georgia Tech becoming the first true freshman to start the season opener on the offensive line since freshmen became eligible in 1972. Young is just the fourth Irish freshman to start on the offensive line joining an elite club that includes teammate Ryan Harris as well as Brad Williams and Mike Rosenthal. Harris started the final eight games of the 2003 season, Williams made starts against Navy and Boston College in 1996 and Rosenthal started against Ohio State, USC and Air Force in 1995.
Defense Shines at Georgia Tech Notre Dame’s much-maligned defense rose to the occasion against a quick Georgia Tech team with very talented players at the skill positions. After hearing the cries of “617 yards” all summer, the defense responded by allowing just 259 yards of offense to the Yellow Jackets, the second-fewest total during the Charlie Weis era. The defense was at its best late in the game as they allowed just 71 yards of offense in the second half on 21 plays. Included in the second half effort was limiting Tech’s All-American WR Calvin Johnson to just 16 yards on two receptions. A key reason for the success was its effectiveness on third down where Georgia Tech converted on just 2-of-10 chances for the game and was 0-for-4 in the third and fourth quarters.
Zbikowski’s Rapid Returns Safety Tom Zbikowski, a senior in 2006, has made a name for himself in the Notre Dame record books. Zbikowski scooped up a fumble and raced 25 yards for a touchdown against Penn State earlier this season. With the return, Zbikowski became the Irish all-time leader in fumble return yards (100) and joined Tony Driver (1997-00) as the only Notre Dame players to ever return a pair of fumbles for touchdowns. Zbikowski, who has six career TD returns (two interceptions, two punts, two fumbles), has clearly established himself among the best big-play return specialists in Notre Dame history. In a three-game stretch against USC, BYU and Tennessee in 2005, he returned a punt or interception for a touchdown four times – the first Irish defensive player to accomplish such a feat. Zbikowski also returned a fumble 75 yards for a TD against Michigan State in 2004. With his interception and punt return for a touchdown against Tennessee on Nov. 5, Zbikowski became the first Irish player to accomplish that feat (interception return and punt return in the same game) since Nick Rassas against Northwestern in 1965. Rassas returned an interception 92 yards for a touchdown and a punt 72 yards for a score in Notre Dame’s 38-7 rout.
Samardzija’s Record Season Earned All-America Honors Wide receiver Jeff Samardzija returns for his senior season in 2006 after earning consensus first-team All-America honors in 2005 when he led the team with 77 catches for 1,249 yards and 15 touchdowns. He became Notre Dame’s first 1,000-yard receiver since 1970 on an 80-yard touchdown pass against Stanford on Nov. 26 of last season. Samardzija eventually broke Tom Gatewood’s single-season receiving yardage record against Stanford, pushing his season total to 1,190 yards and tied Gatewood’s single-season receptions mark. He also surpassed the single-season touchdown total as his 15 scoring receptions led the nation and bested Derrick Mayes’ previous record of 11 from 1994.
Samardzija Opened 2005 with TD Catches in Eight Straight Games Jeff Samardzija entered the 2005 campaign without a touchdown catch in his career, then proceeded to catch a touchdown pass in each of Notre Dame’s first eight games of last season. The two-sport athlete (also a top-line pitching prospect for the Chicago Cubs after he was drafted in the fifth round in this year’s Major League Baseball draft) became the first Irish receiver to begin the season with eight consecutive games with a touchdown catch – which made him the Notre Dame record holder for consecutive games with a touchdown reception. He surpassed Malcolm Johnson’s six-game run from 1998 against BYU. Samardzija, who also serves as the team’s holder on field-goal attempts, tied a Notre Dame record with three touchdown receptions versus Michigan State (later broken by Maurice Stovall, who posted four touchdown receptions against BYU). Samardzija was the seventh player to catch three touchdown passes in a game and the first since Tom Gatewood versus Purdue in 1970.
Walker Rushed 1,000 Yards in Dramatic Fashion Running back Darius Walker became the ninth Irish player to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season with 1,196 yards on 253 carries and seven touchdowns last year. Walker surpassed the 1,000-yard barrier during a career-best 35-carry, 186-yard outing at Stanford during which he scored the winning touchdown and added a two-point conversion for the final score. Walker also set an Irish mark for receptions by a back with 43 for 351 yards and two scores. Walker’s ever against Stanford pushed him into the top-10 all-time on the single-season rushing yardage list as well.
Walker’s 100-Yard Games Darius Walker rushed for 100 yards seven times last season, marking the first time since 1993 that an Irish player posted seven or more 100-yard rushing performances in a season. Lee Becton ended the 1993 campaign with seven consecutive 100-yard performances.
Older and Wiser The 2006 Notre Dame offensive line is one of the most experienced units in school history. The Irish offense boasts over 100 combined career starts on the line. Senior tackle Ryan Harris has started 40 Notre Dame games and led the veteran group in starting assignments. Seniors Bob Morton and John Sullivan were second and third with 36 starts and 26 career starts, respectfully, while senior Dan Santucci has 21 starts to his credit.
Quinn, Samardzija and Walker Named to Maxwell Award Watch List Senior quarterback Brady Quinn, senior wide receiver Jeff Samardzija and junior running back Darius Walker have been named to the 2006 Maxwell Award Watch List. The Maxwell Award is presented annually by the Maxwell Football Club to the top collegiate football player. Notre Dame’s three players on the Maxwell Award Watch List matches USC, Ohio State, Michigan and Miami (FL) for the most nominees. The list will be trimmed to 12 semi-finalists in October before three finalists are named in November.
Sullivan Named to Rimington Watch List Senior center John Sullivan has been named to the Rimington Trophy Spring Watch List. He joins 38 other centers on the list for the Dave Rimington Trophy, awarded annually to the most outstanding center in college football. The Boomer Esiason Foundation presents the award to the center who receives the most first team All-America votes determined by the AFCA, Walter Camp Foundation, Sporting News and FWAA. Sullivan started the last seven games at center for the Irish in 2005, while making appearances in all 12 games. As a junior in 2004, he started all 12 games and called out all blocking assignments for the offensive line. He has started all eight games in 2006.
Quinn, Samardzija Named to Walter Camp Watch List Senior quarterback Brady Quinn and senior wide receiver Jeff Samardzija were two of 35 “players to watch” chosen by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. The nation’s fourth-oldest individual college football award will have its watch list narrowed to 10 semi-finalists in early November before the winner is chosen based on voting conducted by the 119 Division I-A head coaches and sports information directors.
Zbikowski Named to Nagurski and Bednarik Watch Lists Senior defensive back Tom Zbikowski has been named to both the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List and Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List for 2006. The Nagurski Trophy is given to the nation’s top defensive player at the Charlotte Touchdown Club annual awards banquet. The Bednarik Award is given annually to the nation’s top defensive player as voted on by head coaches, members of the Maxwell Football Club and various sports writers throughout the country. Zbikowski was named third-team All-America by the Associated Press after the 2005 season when he made 62 tackles and led the team with five interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. He also added two touchdowns on punt returns. Zbikowski has started 26 straight games and has scored touchdowns via interception return, punt return and fumble return during his Notre Dame career.
Notre Dame at Air Force on CSTV Saturday, November 11 CSTV: College Sports Television will broadcast the Notre Dame at Air Force game on Saturday, Nov. 11 (4:00 PM, ET). This game marks the only time this season that a cable network will broadcast a Notre Dame football game. CSTV is currently available through cable operators across the country and also on satellite via DISH NETWORK and DIRECTV. CSTV is offering a special Sneak Peek programming offer to its affiliates beginning Friday, Nov. 10 and will continue throughout the weekend, which will ensure that CSTV, and the Notre Dame @ Air Force game, will be seen in 22 million incremental households. DIRECTV, DISH NETWORK, Comcast, Brighthouse, Time Warner Cable, Suddenlink Communications, and numerous other smaller MSO’s have agreed to carry CSTV in their most widely distributed packages the weekend of November 10th. A final list of participating systems will be published as game day nears. CSTV is also offering the game through a special broadband Pay Per View package, which can be purchased online at CSTV.com. The cost is $14.95 advance order and $19.95 day of game. If you purchase the package, you can also watch it afterward on-demand. Tom Hart will be joined by analyst Trev Alberts to call the action, along with Anne Marie Anderson reporting from the sideline.
“Chicago” to Perform with Notre Dame Band Members of the band Chicago will perform with the Notre Dame Marching Band during halftime of the University of North Carolina game, this Saturday, November 4. Chicago the band was formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois and was one of the first popular rock groups to make use of band instruments such as trumpet, trombone, and saxophone. One of the group’s original mentors, Father George Wiskirchen, C.S.C., was then the band director at Notre Dame High School in Niles, Illinois, where Chicago member James Pankow had attended and played in the school band. Father Wiskirchen served as Assistant Director of Bands at Notre Dame from 1972 to 2001 and maintained a close connection between the Notre Dame Band and the group Chicago. As a musical and historical tribute to this connection, the Band of the Fighting Irish will perform this halftime show incorporating the music of Chicago. Joining the Notre Dame Band on the field will be original Chicago band performers James Pankow, trombone, Lee Loughnane, trumpet, Robert Lamm, keyboard, and Walt Parazaider, saxophone; along with current members Bill Champlin, organ, Jason Scheff, bass, Larry Klimas, saxophone, Tris Imboden, drums, and Keith Howland, guitar. Chicago will also perform in concert Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. at the Morris Performing Arts Center in downtown South Bend.
Former All-American Jerome Bettis Named 2006 Most Caring Athlete By Dennis McCafferty Jerome Bettis came to South Bend, Ind., in 1990, ready to play football and get a good education. Almost immediately, Bettis remembers, he was transformed by Notre Dame in ways that went far beyond the Fighting Irish’s storied sporting traditions of “Touchdown Jesus,” Knute Rockne and 11 national titles. In fact, it was the Catholic university’s culture of community service that sparked the young man’s passion for helping others. “Notre Dame is about a lot more than football and tradition,” says Bettis, taking a break during a photo shoot for this weekend’s magazine cover. “You’re in the national spotlight all the time, and they stress community and character there. Man, I was never exposed to anything like that. Shortly after I got there, I understood that Notre Dame could be used as a platform to try to influence other young people’s lives and hopefully do some good.” So the freshman Bettis returned to his Detroit home on breaks, determined to reach out to other inner-city young people at churches and rec centers about making the right choices in life. Since then, Bettis has continued to take advantage of his place on the public stage when it comes to making a difference. His Detroit- and Pittsburgh-based Jerome Bettis The Bus Stops Here Foundation, among other efforts, has sent more than 5,000 inner-city kids from ages 8 to 18 to the JB Football Camp in Detroit, has awarded no fewer than 30 college scholarships, has built or renovated playgrounds in struggling areas and has attempted to bridge the digital divide by teaching computer literacy to more than 200 children. The latter effort is called the Cyber Bus program, and Bettis is especially gratified when he gets a sense of the impact it makes. “We not only teach kids how to use a computer,” he says, “but we teach them how to tear one down and build it back up. I had one little girl who amazed me, building a computer from its parts and adding stuff like extra memory. I used to get my haircut in Pittsburgh where her mom went, and one day she told me, ‘Cyber Bus helped my daughter get to college.’ That’s something you always remember.” The running back has just finished a future Hall of Fame career as a Pittsburgh Steeler. His punishing profile earned him the nickname “the Bus,” thus the name of his charitable foundation. And Bettis’ profile has grown in other ways this year, as he joined NBC as a studio analyst for “Football Night in America,” part of the network’s much-anticipated prime-time Sunday package. Anyone who knows football realizes that Bettis capped off his playing career in storybook fashion, winning the Super Bowl in his last game, in his hometown of Detroit. When it comes to raising foundation support, a good story like that never hurts. “People always want to come up to you and shake your hand and talk to you and get their picture taken with you,” he says. “But even more so after the Super Bowl. They come up to me saying they’re so happy I finally got my championship ring. And, sure, that builds up the kind of energy and interest that helps me bring more attention to my foundation.” And these days, there’s another change that’s increasing his zeal for The Bus Stops Here: his 20-month-old daughter, Jada Bettis, with wife Trameka. Having Jada in his life has added to his perspective when he works on a new foundation project. “Anytime I see a place that needs a playground now, I think about her,” Bettis says. “As a parent, I know how important playgrounds are for children when it comes to developing physically and having a safe outlet for activities. And it helps them work on their social skills, too. So when I see a place without one, it makes me all the more determined to do something about it.”
Notre Dame Makes First Offer Of Football Season Tickets In Three decades; Revenue To Fund Repairs To Stadium To fund repairs to historic Notre Dame Stadium, the University of Notre Dame announced today the sale of 5,000 football season tickets beginning in 2007 – the first such offering in more than three decades. The University also announced that, in response to unprecedented demand, it is instituting changes to several policies that will increase ticket access for alumni in the general football ticket lottery. The 5,000 season tickets will be sold first to people directly affiliated with Notre Dame and then to the general public. In addition to the face value of the tickets, the cost will include an annual ticket rights fee based on seat location: $2,000 per ticket for sideline seats, $1,500 for corner seats, and $1,250 for end zone seats. The revenue generated through the ticket plan will be used to assist in paying for repairs and ongoing preservation of the 76-year-old Notre Dame Stadium’s original seating bowl. The exact cost of the project is yet to be finalized, but is expected to exceed $40 million. University officials studied other revenue-generating options – including the addition of luxury boxes – before deciding on the ticket rights fees. “Notre Dame Stadium is a legendary landmark in American athletics, and we are committed to preserving and maintaining both its structural integrity and its historic look and feel,” said John Affleck-Graves, executive vice president of the University. “By providing a rare opportunity to purchase Notre Dame football season tickets, we are developing revenue for this important project, giving fans a chance to invest in the future of `The House that Rockne Built,’ and protecting current and future resources necessary for our primary mission of teaching and research excellence.” Engineering studies have indicated that the structural supporting frame of the stadium remains in good condition. However, freeze/thaw damage over three-quarters of a century has led to deterioration of the seating bowl concrete. Stadiums of the same vintage as Notre Dame’s facility at the University of Michigan and Ohio State and Purdue Universities have faced similar maintenance issues in recent years. The repair project was to begin last spring, but the University put it on hold to conduct further engineering analysis. Fans interested in purchasing season tickets can find information on the process on the Web at http://stadiumpreservation.nd.edu. A waiting list for the potential future sale of season tickets will be established after all of the current allotment has been sold. Affleck-Graves emphasized that none of the new season tickets will be drawn from tickets currently available in the general alumni lottery. The 5,000 tickets will come from season tickets that have been returned over the past several years, as well as a reduction in internal University ticket allocations, he said. Though unrelated to the season ticket offering, the University also has responded to the high demand for Irish football tickets in the 2006 general alumni ticket lottery by revising policies that will reallocate tickets among several groups in order to increase opportunities in the general lottery. “Notre Dame has the most inclusive alumni ticketing process of any high-demand program in the nation, and we remain committed to continuing that access,” Affleck-Graves said.
Notre Dame Stadium Gate A Now “All-America Gate” The University of Notre Dame’s 79 consensus All-America football players are now honored inside Gate A of Notre Dame Stadium, as part of a multi-year plan to theme the five entrance gates to Notre Dame’s home football facility. Each display inside Gate A at the stadium is a 10-by-16-foot Notre Dame blue powder-coated aluminum plate with the ND logo in gold at the top. The displays are entitled “Consensus All-Americans” in Notre Dame gold letters eight inches high across the top of the blue panel. Featured on the panels are authentic Notre Dame helmets with name plates representing the consensus All-Americans from Notre Dame, plus room for four future consensus All-Americans. The name plates are made of bronze, with black etched letters identifying each player’s name, year(s) he was named a consensus All-American, and hometown. A bronze plaque is also mounted on one of the two displays to explain how a consensus All-American is selected. Players accorded the majority of votes at their positions by selectors are designated consensus All-Americans. Current teams utilized in designation of consensus selections are those chosen by the Associated Press, the American Football Coaches Association, the Football Writers Association of America, the Walter Camp Foundation and The Sporting News. Wide receiver Jeff Samardzija in 2005 was Notre Dame’s most recent consensus pick – with the first coming in 1913 (quarterback Gus Dorais). Two-time consensus selections include Frank Carideo (1929-30), Marchy Schwartz (1930-31), Bob Dove (1941-42), George Connor (1946-47), John Lujack (1946-47), Bill Fischer (1947-48), Leon Hart (1948-49), Emil Sitko (1948-49), John Lattner (1952-53), Ross Browner (1976-77), Ken MacAfee (1976-77), Bob Crable (1980-81), Michael Stonebreaker (1988, 1990), Todd Lyght (1989-90), Chris Zorich (1989-90) and Aaron Taylor (1992-93). The displays were designed by Rockwell Group of New York and fabricated by Show Motion Inc., of Connecticut. The Notre Dame Monogram Club funded the project. There are plans to theme the other three entry gates at the Stadium — with the intention of creating specific recognition of Notre Dame’s national championships and its national championship coaches. Prior to the 2005 season, three-by-eight foot replica Heisman Trophies were added to the Gate B display, where pictures of all seven Irish Heisman winners were placed earlier. The honoring of Notre Dame’s Heisman Trophy winners took the form of seven individual panels installed within existing brick niches of the old stadium wall just inside Gate B. There is one display each for Angelo Bertelli, John Lujack, Leon Hart, John Lattner, Paul Hornung, John Huarte and Tim Brown
Notre Dame Athletics in Print Four new books either about Notre Dame athletics or written by past or current Irish coaches will be available in bookstores this fall. Head coach Charlie Weis is scheduled to release his autobiography, NO EXCUSES, Oct. 10. With the help of NFL.com national editor and author, Vic Carucci, the book will tell the remarkable story of his journey from being a student of Notre Dame to becoming head coach of his alma mater. Stories from his professional career of working in the NFL to personal events involving himself and his family will also be chronicled. Former head coach Lou Holtz’ autobiography, Wins, Losses, and Lessons hit bookshelves Aug. 15. Detailing stories from his youth to his days as a football head coach, this book is said to be a “reflective, inspiring and candid look back at an extraordinary life and career from a coaching legend.” Fighting Irish Legends, Lists and Lore is the latest book by Karen Heisler, wife of Notre Dame Senior Associate Athletic Director John Heisler, and “captures the history, tradition, and spirit of one of the nation’s most storied and revered athletic programs.” The book recounts stories of Notre Dame’s most famous athletes and coaches in every sport. Longtime writer and editor for Blue & Gold Illustrated Tim Priste released his latest book entitled, The New Gold Standard Aug. 16. The book takes readers inside head coach Charlie Weis’ first season at Notre Dame and how he “returned the program to its rightful (and historic) place among college football’s elite.”
Notre Dame Leads the Way in National Graduate Rate The graduation rate for student-athletes at the University of Notre Dame is the highest in the nation among Division I-A colleges and universities in an annual federal report for the Department of Education, and is the second highest in a new survey developed by the NCAA. Notre Dame’s federal graduation rate is 90.4 percent, according to statistics released in January by the NCAA, slightly ahead of Duke University at 89.6 percent as the best among the major football-playing schools of Division I-A. The federal rate is based on the raw percentage of student-athletes who entered an institution and graduated with six years. Students who leave or transfer, regardless of academic standing, are considered non-graduates. Notre Dame ranks second among Division I-A schools on another scale, called the Graduation Success Rate (GSR), which was developed last year by the NCAA. The 98 percent GSR is second only to the 99 percent of the U.S. Naval Academy, which, like all the military academies, is exempt from the federal survey because it does not offer grants-in-aid to student-athletes. The data for both surveys is based upon the entering classes from 1995 to 1998. The two graduation rate reports should not be confused with another new NCAA initiative, the Academic Progress Rate, which uses a series of formulas related to student-athlete retention and eligibility to measure the academic performance of all participants who receive a grant-in-aid on every team at every NCAA Division I college and university.
Football Ticket Demand Hits a Record High How much interest is there in University of Notre Dame football games for 2006? There’s enough that the Sept. 9 Notre Dame-Penn State game and the Sept. 16 Notre Dame-Michigan game qualify as the two highest-requested games in the history of Notre Dame’s ticket lottery. There’s enough that four ’06 home games rank in the all-time top 10 for requests — and all seven games rank in the top 30. There’s enough that the Nov. 25 Notre Dame-USC game in Los Angeles qualified as the most-requested road game in Irish ticket history. And there’s enough that the Notre Dame ticket office expects to mail refunds worth more than a record $11.7 million (compared to refunds of $5.2 million a year ago) to unsuccessful lottery participants in the University’s ticket distribution for contributing alumni, monogram winners, undergraduate parents and benefactors. There was a 37 percent increase in applications submitted to the ’06 lottery compared to a year ago. Notre Dame alumni making an annual contribution of $100 or more to the University are eligible to apply for two tickets to as many home and away football games as they choose. In excess of 30,000 tickets per game are available for each home contest for contributing alumni. Any time the number of applications exceeds the supply, a lottery is held – and lotteries were required for all seven 2006 home games (meaning every home game automatically sold out). Demand was highest for the Sept. 9 home game vs. Penn State (66,670 tickets requested) and the Sept. 16 home game vs. Michigan (61,631), making those games the two highest-demanded home games in the history of Notre Dame Stadium. The previous all-time high was 59,368 requests for the 2001 home game against West Virginia. The high in 2005 was 54,211 for the USC game at Notre Dame Stadium. Other high-demand home games in ’06 are contests against North Carolina (54,838 requests for sixth all-time), UCLA (51,933 for 10th all-time), Stanford (50,491 for 13th all-time) and Purdue (47,655 for 17th all-time). The high demand for road games came for the regular-season finale at USC (an all-time record 33,251 requests). Notre Dame receives 15,000 tickets as the visiting team in that contest.
New Fighting Irish All-Access Package Launched on Aug. 4 The University of Notre Dame official athletic website, und.com, entered a new era on Friday, Aug. 4. The Fighting Irish All-Access package underwent a complete overhaul and und.com will bring Notre Dame alumni and fans full coverage free of charge for the 2006-07 season. Irish fans will no longer be required to subscribe or sign up for audio/video coverage on und.com. It features a new media player, which includes a bigger display screen and easier access to und.com’s multimedia offerings. As part of the new Fighting Irish All-Access launch, the und.com crew will post a bevy of video offerings from a variety of Irish sports and the University archives – just the first step toward developing und.com into the top source for Fighting Irish fans on the world wide web. Check und.com for more details.
Former Heisman Winners to be Honored at Notre Dame Home Games All former Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winners will be featured on home game tickets as well as the corresponding game programs and schedule cards this season. The seven winners or family members of the winners have been invited back to Notre Dame to be honored during the weekend their likeness is featured on the game ticket and program. Angelo Bertelli graces the cover of the Penn State game, Johnny Lujack is on the Michigan game cover, John Lattner is featured during the Purdue weekend, Leon Hart will be honored at the Stanford game, Paul Hornung will be on the cover of the UCLA game, the North Carolina game ticket and program will honor John Huarte, while Tim Brown will be featured at the Army game.