April 28, 2001
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Though the system of keeping score was more complex than an algebraic equation, the difference in the game was simple: a solid Notre Dame defense took advantage of a sloppy offense Saturday.
Shane Walton returned an interception 44 yards on a 12-point play, Clifford Jefferson and Pat Ryan had interception returns for five points each and Donald Dykes and Andy Wisne recovered fumbles for five points each as the Irish defense beat the offense 74-40 in a controlled scrimmage Saturday.
"It shows us that when you turn the ball over, there's going to be bunch of points for the other team," coach Bob Davie said. "It's a great lesson to our team."
The Irish used a controlled scrimmage because with 14 scholarship players, including nine starters, out with injuries there weren't enough healthy bodies to run a regular scrimmage.
"It's hard to draw any conclusions. It's obvious it was very vanilla from a scheme standpoint. That's by intention," Davie said.
There were no kickoffs or punts, so the Irish who excelled in special teams last season didn't get a chance to test those much. The only special teams play came on field goals. Nick Setta kicked a 29-yard field goal and missed a 45-yard attempt, and David Miller made a 37-yard field goal.
There has been speculation since the end of the season whether Clark or Carlyle Holiday might be able take over as starting quarterback for LoVecchio, who started the final eight games last season, leading the Irish to seven wins. Although all three quarterbacks played about the same amount Saturday and LoVecchio had the worst stats, Davie said LoVecchio is a proven starter.
"He's the starter going into Nebraska," Davie said. "When we walk out there in Lincoln I want a guy who's been under the gun and can play."
LoVecchio was 3 of 10 passing for 48 yards. Holiday was 7 of 13 for 66 yards with one interception. Clark was 3 of 7 for 78 yards with one interception and one fumble.
"I thought Matt displayed a little bit more poise than the other two kids because he's already been weaned as far as being out on the field alone," offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers said.
Rogers said he was impressed by the progress of Holiday and Clark over the spring, though.
"From where they were to where they went in a matter of 15 days is really good, but by the same token they're a long way from being a finished product," he said.
The biggest surprise on defense came from end Kyle Budinscak, who will be a sophomore next season. He had five sacks, for two points each, and had two other tackles.
"He showed he's a guy we can count on to be coming on," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. "He's got very, very explosive movement and he's going to play with a lot of toughness."
The Irish announced their four captains on Saturday, with Grant Irons
becoming the first repeat captain since quarterback Ron Powlus in 1996-97.
Irons missed most of last season with a dislocated shoulder. The other
captains are outside linebacker Rocky Boiman, flanker David Givens and
defensive end Anthony Weaver.