Aug. 29, 2005
Notre Dame (0-0) vs. (#23 AP/25 USA Today) Pittsburgh (0-0)
The Date and Time: Saturday, Sept. 3, 2005, at 8:07 p.m. EDT (7:07 p.m. EST in South Bend).
The Site: Heinz Field (65,000, grass surface) in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The Tickets: The game is officially sold out. A limited number of standing-room only tickets will be available starting Tuesday through Ticketmaster outlets only. Saturday's game will be the 172nd sellout in the last 197 games and 36th in the last 38 involving Notre Dame (the 2002 game at Stanford and 2003 game vs. Navy were not sellouts).
The TV Plans: ABC split national telecast with Keith Jackson (play-by-play) and Dan Fouts (analysis), Todd Harris (sideline), Mark Loomis (producer) and Derek Mobley (director).
The Radio Plans: For the 38th consecutive season all Notre Dame football games are to be broadcast on approximately 300 stations in 50 states by Westwood One with Tony Roberts (play-by-play) and former Irish running back Allen Pinkett (analysis). This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 141 for the Pitt game) as well.
A live broadcast from the Notre Dame student station, WVFI, also is available via the Notre Dame official athletics website at www.und.com (subscription service). All Notre Dame home games may be heard in South Bend on U93-FM (92.9) with pre-game analysis featuring Sean Stires, Brian Noe, Vince DeDario and Colin Burns. The post-game show is hosted by Jack Nolan and features former Notre Dame players Reggie Brooks and Mirko Jurkovic. See page 17 of this notes package for more information on Irish football radio and television shows.
Real-Time Stats: Live in-game statistics will be provided through College Sports Online's Gametracker via each school's respective official athletic websites.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), Pittsburgh (www.pittsburghpanthers.com).
Two-Minute Drill (what you need to know about this weekend's Notre Dame - Pittsburgh matchup) -
Saturday's game will mark the Notre Dame debut of head coach Charlie Weis. A four-time Super Bowl winner in the NFL as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator and a 1978 graduate of Notre Dame, Weis will be in his first game as a head coach since a one-year stint at Franklin Township (N.J.) High School in 1989 (see page 3 for more information on Weis' first year with the Irish).
Notre Dame and Pittsburgh are meeting for the 63rd time with the Irish holding a 43-18-1 advantage in the series. Pittsburgh won last season's meeting 41-38 in Notre Dame Stadium on a last-second field goal by Josh Cummings (see pages 3-4 for more information on the Notre Dame - Pitt series).
Notre Dame is 98-14-5 (.859) in season openers and has won its season debut in 16 of the last 19 years.
Notre Dame and Pittsburgh are meeting in each other's season-opening game for the first time since 1977, a 19-9 victory by the third-ranked Irish over the seventh-ranked Panthers in Pitt Stadium.
The Irish claimed a 20-14 victory over Pittsburgh in their previous (and only) visit to Heinz Field in 2003 and have been victorious in five of their last six trips to Pitt.
Charlie Weis will be making his Notre Dame coaching debut on an opposing team's field against Pittsburgh. The last Irish coach to face that challenge was Ara Parseghian in 1964 (a 31-7 victory at Wisconsin).
Notre Dame will open the season with a night game (8:07 p.m. EDT kickoff) for the second consecutive season and third time in the last four years. The last time Notre Dame played back-to-back night-game season openers was 2001-02 (at Nebraska in `01, vs. Maryland in the Kickoff Classic in `02).
Pittsburgh's Dave Wannstedt is making his Pitt coaching debut on Saturday. Pitt coaches are 3-17 against Notre Dame in their first meetings with the Irish. The last Pitt coach to win his first matchup with Notre Dame was Mike Gottfried, whose team took a 10-9 victory in 1986. The `86 matchup was also the last time two new coaches from Notre Dame and Pittsburgh met on the sidelines - Lou Holtz debuted as the Irish head coach that season.
The Irish are 29-7-2 (.789) in season openers on the road. Notre Dame's last season-opening victory on the road came in Giants Stadium against Maryland in 2002. The last win on an opponent's home field to begin the year was a 14-7 victory at Vanderbilt in 1996.
Notre Dame is 54-20-1 (.726) against current BIG EAST Conference teams, but has lost its last three games to BIG EAST teams (including last season's conference alignment, i.e. including Boston College). The last Irish victory against a BIG EAST team was over Pittsburgh, 20-14, at Heinz Field in 2003.
Pittsburgh is ranked #23 in the AP Poll and #25 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll. The Panthers are the first ranked team Notre Dame will face in its opener since a 22-0 victory over #21 (AP) Maryland in the 2002 Kickoff Classic in Giants Stadium. Since 1987, Notre Dame has played 86 games against ranked opponents, going 45-39-2 (.534) in those games. Going back to 1950 (ND's first season opener against a ranked team) the Irish are 15-4-1 (.775) against ranked teams in season-opening games.
2005: The Charlie Weis Era Begins
The 117th season of Notre Dame football is the first in the tenure of head coach Charlie Weis, who is commencing his initial campaign Saturday with a matchup with #23/25 Pittsburgh.
Weis was named the 28th head football coach in Notre Dame history on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2004. A 1978 Notre Dame graduate, Weis takes the reins of the Irish program after a highly-successful career as an assistant coach in the National Football League.
The owner of four Super Bowl champion rings as products of a stellar 15-season career as an NFL assistant, Weis is a widely-respected disciple of professional-coaching standouts Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. He came to Notre Dame after excelling as offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, where he played an integral role in New England's victories in three of the last four Super Bowls.
Weis is the first Notre Dame graduate to hold the football head-coaching position at his alma mater since Hugh Devore (a '34 graduate) served as interim coach in 1963 and is the first Notre Dame graduate to serve as the Irish football coach on a full-fledged basis since Joe Kuharich (a '38 graduate who coached at Notre Dame from 1959 through '62).
A veteran of 26 seasons in coaching, Weis coached nine seasons with the Patriots, including five as offensive coordinator. He helped produce four Super Bowl championships (New York Giants following the 1990 season, Patriots following '01, '03 and '04 seasons), five conference titles and seven division crowns.
Coach Weis Vs. Coach Wannstedt
Charlie Weis of Notre Dame and Dave Wannstedt of Pittsburgh are making their collegiate head coaching debuts this weekend and are no strangers in terms of coaching competition on the football field. During their careers in the college ranks and the National Football League, Weis and Wannstedt have played each other on opposite coaching staffs 22 times. Weis carries a slight edge, as his teams have won 12 of the 22 meetings.
The first meetings between the two coaches occurred when Weis was an assistant at South Carolina and Wannstedt was with the Miami Hurricanes (1986-87). The coaches then met on opposite sidelines during the New York Giants - Dallas Cowboys rivalry during the 1990s in the NFL. As Weis moved from the New York Giants to the New England Patriots, New York Jets and back to the Patriots, the two coaches met several more times with Wannstedt coaching the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins. Most recently, the two coaches met on the NFL gridiron in 2004 - splitting a pair of games between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.
Irish First-Year Head Coaches
As Charlie Weis heads into his first season at the helm of the Irish, here are a few notes on Notre Dame's head coaches in their inaugural years.
The 27 previous head football coaches in Notre Dame history have combined to amass a 168-60-12 (.700) record in their first years at the helm.
Since Notre Dame Stadium was opened in 1930, five Notre Dame coaches - Hunk Anderson, Ed McKeever, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Tyrone Willingham - have opened away from home in their first seasons - going 5-0 in those games. In fact, no Notre Dame coach has ever lost his debut game on the road.
Weis will be the first coach to begin his Notre Dame tenure with the first two games on the road and on the opponent's home field since Knute Rockne in 1918 (at Case Tech, at Wabash - both wins). Anderson faced his first two games away from Notre Dame in `31 (at Indiana, vs. Northwestern at Soldier Field - a win and a tie, respectively) and Devine also started with two games away from South Bend in `75 (vs. Boston College at Foxboro, at Purdue - both wins).
The two most recent Irish head coaches (Bob Davie; 7-6 in 1997, Tyrone Willingham; 10-3 in 2002) posted winning records in their first seasons. The last Irish coach to turn in a sub - .500 season in his first year is Lou Holtz, whose `86 team finished 5-6.
The longest winning streak for a Notre Dame head coach to begin his career with the Irish is nine games, by Harper (1913-14) and Parseghian (`64).
Weis is the second Notre Dame coach to face Pittsburgh on the road in his first game with the Irish. McKeever took on the Panthers in 1944, his first and only season at the helm, and came away with a 58-0 win.
Since 1913, four Notre Dame coaches - Layden, Parseghian, Holtz and Willingham - have taken over a program the year after their predecessors were either .500 or below. All but Holtz, who went 5-6 in `86, posted a winning record in their first seasons and the quartet had a combined 30-13 record in such seasons. The `04 Irish went 6-6 under Willingham.
Notre Dame - Pittsburgh Series Notes
This year's opener will mark the 63rd meeting between Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, with the Irish holding a 43-18-1 series lead. Notre Dame won the previous matchup between the two schools in Heinz Field, 20-14, on Oct. 11, 2003. The Irish also own a 19-9-0 record against the Panthers in Notre Dame Stadium, despite last year's 41-38 loss.
Notre Dame has won 11 of its last 13 games against Pittsburgh, but dropped a 41-38 decision in the last meeting on Nov. 13, 2004, at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish also have won 25 of their last 32 contests against the Panthers, dating back to 1964 (Ara Parseghian's first as Notre Dame's head coach).
Pittsburgh has been ranked higher than Notre Dame entering a matchup in the series seven times, winning the first four games (1937, `56, `60 and `63), but losing the last three (1978, `82 and `03). Notre Dame was unranked in all three of those upset victories.
In the most recent meeting, at Notre Dame Stadium last season, the Irish dropped a 41-38 decision to Pitt on a last-second field goal by Panthers kicker Josh Cummings (see page 15 for a complete recap).
Over the last 12 games in the series, Notre Dame has outscored the Panthers 434-168, topping the 40-point mark six times in that span and producing an average score of 36-14.
Notre Dame is 73-30-3 (.689) all-time against schools from the state of Pennsylvania, with the Pittsburgh series accounting for more than half of the games played (63) and the Irish victories (43).
Dating back to 1990, the Irish are 6-1 against Pittsburgh when the Panthers finish the game with more passing yards than Notre Dame.
Since 1990, the Irish have scored 40 or more points a total of 37 times and five have come against Pittsburgh. That number is tied for the most against any opponent during that time frame, as Notre Dame also has accomplished the feat five times against Navy.
Since 1990, Notre Dame has committed fewer turnovers than Pittsburgh in a head-to-head matchup five times and the Irish are 5-0 in those games.
Since 1990, Notre Dame is 8-0 against Pittsburgh when an Irish runner scores multiple rushing touchdowns and just 1-1 when no one scores more than one.
Since 1990, the Irish and Panthers have faced off in years ending with an odd number six times, and Notre Dame is 5-1 in those contests.
Since 1990, Notre Dame is 8-0 against Pittsburgh when at least one Irish runner reaches the century mark in terms of rushing yards and just 1-1 when none do.
Only four teams have beaten the Irish more times than Pittsburgh's 18 - USC with 29, Purdue with 25, Michigan State with 24 and Michigan with 18.
2005 Personnel Breakdown
A summary of the Notre Dame roster heading into 2005 fall practice reveals that 13 positional starters and kicker/punter D.J. Fitzpatrick will return for action from the 2004 season: 10 offensive starters, three defensive starters and the punter and placekicker. Overall, 34 monogram winners return from the `04 Irish (19 offense, 13 defense, two specialists).
Monogram winners From 2004
Monogram Winners Returning 34
Special Teams 2
Starters Returning 14
Special Teams 1
Monogram Winners Lost 17
Special Teams 0
Career Starts Returning
Career Starts Returning - Offense 191 games
Career Starts Returning - Defense 47 games
Career Starts Returning - Specialists (K/P) 20 games
Career Starts Lost
Career Starts Lost - Offense 76 games
Career Starts Lost - Defense 194 games
Career Starts Lost - Specialists (K/P) 0 games
Same Faces, New Places (On Numerical Roster)
Seven Notre Dame veterans will suit up with a new number in 2005. The following is a list of Irish players whose numbers have changed.
Player New Number Old Number Darrin Bragg 7 18 Leo Ferrine 15 38 Brandon Harris 36 81 Junior Jabbie 8 37 Terrail Lambert 20 34 David Wolke 14 13 Anthony Vernaglia 4 42
2005 Irish Captains And Team Representatives
Members of the 2005 University of Notre Dame football team voted linebacker Brandon Hoyte and quarterback Brady Quinn as team captains during the spring workout schedule. By virtue of the vote, Hoyte and Quinn will be the team's designated captains for each game of the '05 season, to be joined each week by a special-teams performer to be determined by the coaching staff. In `04, captains were selected on a game-by-game basis, with Hoyte earning the nod against Michigan State and Navy.
The following players have been named to the 2005 Irish Football House of Representatives, also by a vote of team members. These players comprise the team's Leadership Committee for `05 (group title for each member in parenthesis).
Victor Abiamiri (defensive line) - Veteran defensive end has played in all 24 Irish games over the last two seasons, amassing 37 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and three sacks. The Randallstown, Md., native has five career starts and is poised to earn starting role this season.
Anthony Fasano (tight ends) - Verona, N.J., native has been a vital component of the Irish offense over the last two years while developing into one of the nation's most-productive tight ends. He hauled in 27 catches for 367 yards in '04, including a Notre Dame tight end-record 155-yard outburst versus Purdue. In two years, he has turned in 45 catches for 536 yards and six touchdowns.
D.J. Fitzpatrick (special teams) - Former walk-on and local product (Mishawaka, Ind.) who has worked his way into eighth place in Notre Dame history in field goals made (23) heading into the '05 season. Serves as both placekicker and punter for the Irish, with a long field goal of 50 yards and a long punt of 67.
Brandon Hoyte (defensive team captain) - Fifth-year senior is a leader for the Irish both on and off the field, notching 74 tackles and eight tackles for loss in `04. The Parlin, N.J., native has totaled 205 career tackles, along with six sacks and four forced fumbles and is active in several community service projects.
Corey Mays (linebackers) - One of the team's elder statesmen, the Chicago native has made almost 600 special-teams appearances in his career, racking up 45 tackles and blocking two kicks. A force at linebacker as well, Mays has six tackles for loss and three sacks in an Irish uniform.
Rhema McKnight (receivers) - The leader of the Irish receiving corps, McKnight could threaten the Notre Dame career records in receptions and receiving yards. He is currently seventh in school history in both categories with 98 for 1,301. The versatile native of La Palma, Calif., also has returned nine punts for an average of 10.7 yards for the Irish.
Rashon Powers-Neal (running backs) - A versatile back who has seen a majority of his work at fullback the last two seasons, Powers-Neal has 387 career rushing yards and 126 career yards receiving. The St. Paul, Minn., native caught his first career touchdown pass in the '04 upset of Michigan.
Brady Quinn (quarterbacks/offensive team captain) - Already one of the most prolific passers in Notre Dame history, Quinn is poised to continue his assault on the record books under head coach Charlie Weis. Last season, he compiled 2,586 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air - the finest statistical season for a sophomore quarterback in school history. The Dublin, Ohio, native has 4,417 passing yards and 26 touchdowns in his career.
Dan Stevenson (offensive line) - The Barrington, Ill., native is a three-time letterwinner who could emerge as one of the finest guards in the country this season. He started all 12 games last season, logging 348:05 of playing time and has a total of 33 games and 22 starts under his belt.
Tom Zbikowski (defensive backs) - As a sophomore in '04, the Arlington Heights, Ill., native had a breakout year in his first season as a starter with 63 tackles and a fumble return for a touchdown. Known for his hard-nosed play, Zbikowski also displays intelligence and big-play ability on the field, as evidenced by his 75-yard touchdown scamper after forcing a fumble and recovering it against Michigan State to spark a 31-24 Irish win.
"Leadership is something we often talk about but is usually an intangible quality," head coach Charlie Weis says. "Leadership has to come from many places - the head coach and the coaching staff, for sure - but ultimately it must come from the players themselves. That's why the Leadership Committee will be such an important facet of our football team."
National Award Watch Lists
Maxwell award -
In June, Irish junior quarterback Brady Quinn was one of 53 players named to the 2005 Maxwell Award Watch List. The award, presented by the Maxwell Football Club, is given annually to the college football player of the year.
Quinn threw for 2,586 yards in `04, his second as the starting quarterback for Notre Dame. His sophomore season ended up as the best second-year campaign ever for an Irish quarterback, finishing second in ND history on the single-season passing list behind Jarious Jackson's 2,753 yards in `99. Quinn's attempts (353) and completions (191) last season stand atop the single-season lists at Notre Dame. He accouunted for 20 touchdowns (17 passing, three rushing) in `04.
Starting the last 21 consecutive games at quarterback for Notre Dame, Quinn already has posted the top freshman and sophomore statistical seasons in school history. He currently ranks fifth all-time on the Notre Dame passing list, just 403 yards behind Jackson for fourth place.
The award is named after Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell, a Philadelphia native and former All-American guard at Swarthmore and Chicago who went on to a career that included professional football, coaching and sportswriting. Notre Dame has seen four different players earn the Maxwell Award five times in the football program's history. Tight end Leon Hart was the initial recipient in 1949, followed by HB John Lattner (1952 and `53), LB Jim Lynch (1966) and DE Ross Browner (1977).
MACKEY AWARD -
On Aug. 1, Anthony Fasano was named to the 2005 John Mackey Award Watch List which is given annually to the nation's best collegiate tight end.
Fasano is coming off his most-productive season in 2004. As a junior, he finished second on the team with 27 catches for 367 yards and four touchdowns. Proficient in pass catching, route running and blocking, Fasano is poised for a breakout year in Notre Dame's new offense - under the direction of head coach Charlie Weis and offensive coordinator Michael Haywood.
Fasano caught four passes for 60 yards in the '04 season opener against BYU and continued to be a reliable force in the Irish offense throughout the campaign. He exploded for career highs in catches and yards against Purdue, nabbing eight receptions for a Notre Dame tight-end-record 155 receiving yards.
He was named the John Mackey National Tight End of the Week for his performance against Purdue.
The Verona, N.J., native, one of 20 players on the watch list, also caught two touchdown passes against Washington and added scoring receptions at Tennessee and against Oregon State in the Insight Bowl.
Fasano also was a key contributor in 2003. As a sophomore, he caught 18 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. He did not play during his freshman season in 2002.
NFL Hall of Famer John Mackey is considered to be the best to have played the tight end position. The award honors his leadership and career of excellence.
The John Mackey Award has been presented since 2000, with four NFL players as alumni: Dallas Clark ('01), Daniel Graham ('02), Kellen Winslow, Jr. ('03) and Heath Miller ('04).
Nassau County Sports Commmission, a non-profit organization to enhance quality of life by "Improving Life through Sports" and promote "Healthy Sports for Healthy Kids," presents this national football award as a tribute to Nassau County sports legend and native John Mackey.
GROZA AWARD -
D.J. Fitzpatrick has been named to the Lou Groza Award Preseason Watch List as one of 30 preliminary candidates for the annual award recognizing college football's finest placekicker.
Fitzpatrick is entering his third season as the primary placekicker and punter for the Fighting Irish and is coming off an excellent season in 2004 in which he connected on 11 of 15 field goal attempts (73.3 percent), including a long of 47 yards. He scored 64 points on the season while making 34 of 35 conversion attempts. A proven performer in pressure situations, Fitzpatrick has made 22 of 28 attempts inside 50 yards for his career. He already ranks eighth in Notre Dame history for career field goals made with 23.
Kickers on the Lou Groza Award Preseason Watch List were chosen based on statistics from the 2004 season and 2005 preseason expectations. However, all Division I-A kickers are eligible for consideration for the award. A panel of more than 300 experts votes on the award, including Division I-A head coaches, sportswriters and sportscasters, conference representatives, professional kickers and all previous Groza Award finalists.
The 20 semi-finalists for the Lou Groza Award will be announced on Monday, Oct. 31, 2005, with the naming of the three finalists two weeks later on Monday, Nov. 14, 2005. The three finalists are recognized during the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award Banquet and Silent Auction on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2005, at the Palm Beach Gardens Marriott and the winner is announced on Thursday, December 8, 2005, during the ESPN Home Depot College Football Award Show in Orlando, Fla.
The award, now in its 14th year, is named for National Football League (NFL) Hall-of-Fame kicker Lou Groza, who played 21 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Groza won four NFL championships with Cleveland and was named NFL Player of the Year in 1954. Nicknamed "The Toe," Groza helped usher in the idea that a player could be used exclusively for kicking.
BUTKUS AWARD -
Senior linebacker and defensive team captain Brandon Hoyte has been named one of 65 candidates on the 2005 Butkus Award watch list. The award honors the nation's top collegiate linebacker.
A fifth-year senior in 2005, Hoyte is a two-time academic all-district honoree with 205 career tackles, six career sacks and four forced fumbles (including three in 2004). A native of Parlin, N.J., Hoyte is a leader both on and off the field for the Irish.
Voted defensive team captain by his teammates, Hoyte has seen action in 37 career games, making 15 starts and piling up 19.5 tackles for loss. He also is active in several community service projects including Notre Dame's "Tackle The Arts."
Hoyte finished second on the team in tackles last season, making 74 stops (38 solo) along with eight tackles for loss and three sacks. Projected as a starter on the outside for the Irish this season, Hoyte is poised to end his Irish career with an outstanding senior campaign.
Named a freshman All-American by The Sporting News in 2002, Hoyte has collected more than 50 tackles in each season (57 in '02, 74 in '03, 74 in '04).
Don't Forget The Anniversary
The 2005 football season marks the 75th anniversary of the opening of fabled Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have played 379 games in that facility to date and own a 287-87-5 (.757) record in the "House that Rockne Built."
The Irish were 3-3 in Notre Dame Stadium in `04, running their home record to 91-28 (.765) over the last 20 years.
The most wins in a season by the Irish at home is seven by the `88 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 `55, the stadium's 25th anniversary, Notre Dame went 8-2 on the season for coach Terry Brennan, including a 4-0 home record; the Irish turned in a 9-2-1 overall record and a 5-0 home mark, to commemorate Notre Dame Stadium's 50th anniversary in `80.
Irish Will Face Another Loaded Schedule
With the release of the AP and USA Today/Coaches Poll, Notre Dame found out just how tough the preseason prognosticators think the 2005 slate will be (rankings are AP/USA Today):
Notre Dame is the only team that will play three games against top-four teams - #1/1 USC, #3/3 Tennessee and #4/4 Michigan in the poll.
Only one other school - Ohio State - has multiple games against the top four teams in the poll (vs. #2/2 Texas and #4/4 Michigan).
Notre Dame is the only school that will face three teams that are in the top 10 of both polls this season.
A Little Perspective
The Irish collected the program's 800th football victory during the 2004 season when Notre Dame knocked off Stanford, 23-15, at Notre Dame Stadium on Oct. 9.
The 1,100th game in Notre Dame football history occurred on Oct. 2, 2004, against Purdue (a 41-16 loss at Notre Dame Stadium).
Notre Dame's 6-6 record in `04 marked the fifth break-even season in Irish football history, joining similar .500 marks in `50 (4-4-1), `59 (5-5-0), `61 (5-5-0) and `62 (5-5-0).
Notre Dame scored 289 points in `04 and allowed opponents to score the exact same total, the only time in Irish football history that has happened.
In Front Of The Nation
In 2004, the Notre Dame football team once again received more network television exposure and played in more highly-rated games than any other program in college football.
The Irish played in the highest-rated network game of the `04 regular season (and the highest-rated regular-season game overall in two seasons) in its `04 regular-season finale at USC. That game, televised by ABC Sports, received a 6.3 Nielsen rating and was seen in 6.898 million households.
Overall, Notre Dame played in six games that ranked among the top 25 highest-rated network telecasts, and no other school played in more than five (Tennessee and Georgia each played in five).
Including the Insight Bowl carried on ESPN, Notre Dame now has a remarkable streak of 148 consecutive games (more than 12 full seasons) that have been carried by either NBC (80), ABC (42), CBS (14) or ESPN (12). You have to go all the way back to the `92 season to find a Notre Dame game that wasn't on one of those four networks.
Home Series History A Plus
Notre Dame's series record in Notre Dame Stadium against their six home opponents in 2005 (Michigan State, USC, BYU, Tennessee, Navy and Syracuse) is a combined 67-27-1 (.705). Their best mark over one of those opponents is the 25-3 advantage they own at home against Navy, and they have a losing record on their own field against only Tennessee (1-2).
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame's 2004 season was its penchant for playing close games. The Irish were 4-3 in games decided by eight points or less, defeating No. 7 Michigan (28-20), Michigan State (31-24), Stanford (23-15) and No. 9 Tennessee (17-13), while losing to BYU (20-17), Boston College (24-23) and Pittsburgh (41-38).
The 2004 team had Notre Dame's third-most wins by eight points or less in a season. The record of six victories was set in `39, when the Irish had a 6-2 record in games decided by eight points or less, and equaled when the `02 squad went 6-1 in such games. The `37 and `74 teams both had five eight-point wins, while the `04 team joined the `29, `40, `84, `90, `97 and `98 Irish with four eight-point victories.
The Sky Is Falling (on opposing defenses)
The Notre Dame offense produced an average of 218.1 yards per game via the pass in 2004, ranking as the third-best per-game average in Notre Dame history (according to records kept since `46). Only two other Irish teams averaged more passing yards: the `70 squad led by Joe Theismann averaged 252.7 yards per game and the `99 unit led by Jarious Jackson passed at a clip of 238.2 yards. That success in the air contributed to Notre Dame's total offense average of 357 yards per contest in `04, the most by the Irish since `99 (419.7 ypg).
Handling The Pill
The Irish completed 2004 with an impressive streak of six consecutive games without losing a fumble. Overall, Notre Dame did not lose a fumble in seven of 12 games and lost more than one only once all season (two at Michigan State). Since a fumble lost against Stanford on Oct. 9, the Irish enter the `05 season having gone 24 quarters and 184 rushing attempts without losing a fumble. Over that span, Notre Dame only fumbled twice, recovering both drops (vs. Navy and USC).
Below Average Is Great For Irish
Only one of Notre Dame's 12 opponents (Pittsburgh) achieved its rushing average for 2004 against the Irish. Just three opponents managed to break the century mark in ground yardage (Michigan State, Washington and Navy) and only one averaged more than four yards per attempt (Michigan State, 4.7 yards per rush). Navy's 216 yards (on 61 carries - a 3.5 avg.) marked the only 200+-yard outing by an opponent. The chart below show's each opponent's season rushing average and its final NCAA statistical ranking in comparison to how effectively Notre Dame contained their rushing offense.
Opponent Season Avg. (NCAA rank) Yards vs. ND Difference BYU 103.2 (102nd) 22 -81 Michigan 153.6 (61st) 56 -98 Michigan State 238.5 (10th) 165 -73 Washington 120.2 (90th) 112 -8 Purdue 125.3 (87th) 99 -26 Stanford 81.2 (114th) 67 -14 Navy 289.5 (3rd) 216 -73 Boston College 140.1 (74th) 62 -78 Tennessee 186.0 (24th) 58 -128 Pittsburgh 97.8 (105th) 98 ---- USC 177.4 (33rd) 82 -94 Oregon State 70.7 (117th) 20 -51
Taking it `To the House'...
Notre Dame was solid on both sides of the ball in the red zone (inside the 20-yard line) in 2004. On offense, the Irish made 36 trips to the red zone, coming away with 25 touchdowns (a 69.4% TD percentage). Opponents visited the red zone 38 times, managing 19 touchdowns (a 50% TD percentage).
In Front Of A Full House...
Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 171 of its previous 196 games, including 35 of its last 37 games dating back to the end of the 2001 season (the `03 game at Stanford and last year's game vs. Navy at the Meadowlands were not sellouts). At Michigan in `03, 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 has been set. It also represented the sixth time in the last three seasons that Notre Dame has been part of establishing a new stadium attendance record (at Nebraska and Texas A&M in `01; at Air Force and Florida State, home vs. Boston College in `02).
Making The Grade...
The last four seasons of Notre Dame football have produced some impressive semesters in the classroom for the Notre Dame football team. In fact, the Irish had a 2004 spring semester in which the team's 104 players combined for a 2.96 grade-point average that ranks as the program's best semester GPA on record (dating back to 1992). The Notre Dame football program's top six semester GPAs since `92 were all posted in the seven semesters prior to the fall of `04, including the three semesters from fall of `02 to fall of `03 (2.84 in fall of `02, 2.79 in spring of `03 and 2.82 in fall of `03). The football program's second-best semester GPA of the past 12 years came in the spring of `02 (2.90), followed by a 2.80 in the spring of `01 and a 2.69 in the fall of `01. Upon closer examination, the 2004 spring semester saw 11 Irish football players post a Dean's List GPA (sliding scale, based on major), while 21 turned in a semester GPA of 3.4-plus and more than half (53) had a GPA of 3.0 or better. In addition, two players - former DE Kyle Businscak and senior LB Brandon Hoyte - received Academic All-District V honors in `03, marking Budinscak's third selection and Hoyte's second to the prestigious squad. Budinscak followed up with another All-District V honor in `04.
Taking Care Of Business Off The Field, Too
The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) annually honors the school with the highest graduation rate based on a particular entering freshman football class, and Notre Dame has won the award six times, most recently in 2001 with its 100-percent graduation rate (22 of 22 entering freshmen from `96 earned their degrees within five years). The `01 award followed Notre Dame's previous honors in `82, `83, `84, `88 and `91. Notre Dame also holds the distinction of producing the first 100-percent rate in a single year when 24 of 24 student-athletes from the entering class of `82 earned their degrees within a five-year period (and 16 of those 24 did so within four years). Only eight other times has a school registered a 100-percent graduation rate. The `88 award had special meaning, as it was the first time a school won the national championship on the football field - as Notre Dame did, finishing 12-0 after a Fiesta Bowl win over unbeaten West Virginia - and in the classroom. Including the special mention category, the Irish have received some sort of recognition in 23 of the 24 years the award has been presented, with Duke next at 21.
Quinn Setting The Tone Early In Career
Among the top-10 passing leaders in Notre Dame history who saw significant playing time in their first two varsity seasons, junior Brady Quinn leads the way in yards, attempts and completions - and compares favorably in interceptions thrown, touchdowns and completion percentage. Compared to Ron Powlus (1994-95), Steve Beuerlein (1983-84), Terry Hanratty (1966-67) and Tom Clements (1972-73) - all passers who rank in the top-10 on Notre Dame's career passing yardage chart and earned key roles in their first two seasons - Quinn leads the way in completions (348), attempts (685) and yards (4417).
A breakdown - Attempts Quinn 685 Powlus (1994-95) 439 Beuerlein (1983-84) 377 Hanratty (1966-67) 353 Clements (1972-73) 275 Completions Quinn 348 Powlus 243 Beuerlein 215 Hanratty 188 Clements 143 Yards Quinn 4,417 Powlus 3,582 Beuerlein 2,981 Hanratty 2,686 Clements 2,045 Interceptions Powlus 16 Clements 18 Beuerlein 24 Quinn 25 Hanratty 25 Completion Percentage Beuerlein . .570 Powlus . .553 Hanratty . .532 Clements . .520 Quinn . .508
In 2005, junior quarterback Brady Quinn is poised to become just the 13th signal caller in Notre Dame history to start under center for three years. The following is a list of Quinn's predecessors, along with their stats (when available) from their third starting season. In the 12 seasons played by three-year starting Irish quarterbacks, the group amassed a 90-30-4 combined record.
Player Year Att.-Comp. Yards TD-Int. Record Nate Silver 1905 5-4 Gus Dorais 1912 7-0 Jim Phelan 1917 6-1-1 Ralph Guglielmi 1954 127-68 1160 6-7 9-1 Daryl Lamonica 1962 128-64 821 6-7 5-5 Terry Hanratty 1968 197-116 1466 10-9 7-2-1 Tom Clements 1974 215-122 1549 8-11 10-2 Blair Kiel 1982 219-118 1273 3-10 6-4-1 Steve Beuerlein 1985 214-107 1335 3-13 5-6 Tony Rice 1989 138-70 1176 8-7 12-1 Rick Mirer 1992 234-120 1876 15-6 10-1-1 Ron Powlus 1996 232-133 1942 12-4 8-3
Jinx?, What jinx?
Sophomore running back Darius Walker set a Notre Dame freshman rushing record in 2004 with 786 yards, eclipsing the mark of 756 Jerome Heavens set in 1975, en route to earning third-team Freshman All-America honors from The Sporting News. If Walker stays on the pace he set in his first season with the Irish, he will be primed to turn in one of the finest statistical seasons ever by an Irish sophomore. Here's a look at how the top 10 rushers in Notre Dame history, plus a few other notables, fared in their sophomore year.
Player Year Carries-Yards Avg. TD Autry Denson 1996 202-1179 5.8 8 Allen Pinkett 1983 252-1394 5.5 16 Vagas Ferguson 1977 80-493 6.2 6 Julius Jones 2000 162-657 4.1 7 Jerome Heavens 1976 54-204 3.8 0 Phil Carter 1980 186-882 4.4 6 George Gipp 1918 98-541 5.5 1 Randy Kinder 1994 119-702 5.9 4 Tony Brooks 1988 117-667 5.7 2 Emil Sitko 1947 60-426 7.1 5 Jerome Bettis 1991 168-972 5.8 16 Ryan Grant 2002 261-1085 4.2 9 Walker's Freshman Totals: 2004 185-786 4.2 7
Older and Wiser...
The 2005 Notre Dame offensive line is one of the most experienced units in school history. With the entire starting group from a year ago still in the fold, the Irish offense boasts almost 100 combined career starts on the line. Senior tackle Mark LeVoir has started the last 24 Notre Dame games and leads the veteran group in starting assignments. Seniors Bob Morton and Dan Stevenson are a close second with 22 starts each, while junior Ryan Harris has 19 starts to his credit and junior John Sullivan is the junior man of the group with 12. Here is a look at the 10 most experienced offensive line units to wear the blue and gold since `85, with the `05 group added in for comparison.
Year Starts Heading Into Season 2005 99 1997 84 2002 76 1985 56 1996 56 1998 52 1987 50 1995 49 1993 46 1989 45 1990 43
On the `Fas' Track to Success
Senior tight end Anthony Fasano turned in a breakout 2004 season for the Irish, catching 27 balls for 367 yards and four touchdowns. Against Purdue, the 6-4, 257-pound Fasano hauled in a career-high eight passes for a career-high and Notre Dame tight end-record 155 yards and was named John Mackey National Tight End of the Week. His 27 catches in '04 tie him with former Irish standout Pete Chryplewicz for the fifth-highest single-season total by a tight end.
Barring injury, Fasano will move onto Notre Dame's top five all-time tight end receiving list this season. Here's a look at where he stands heading into 2005.
Player Receptions Years Ken MacAfee 128 1974-77 Derek Brown 62 1988-91 Dean Masztak 62 1978-81 Tony Hunter 55 1979-82 Mark Bavaro 55 1981-84 Mike Creaney 46 1970-72 Anthony Fasano 45 2003-present
Fasano's signature game - the eight-reception, 155-yard outburst versus Purdue in '04 - placed him at the top of the record books in terms of yards for a single game. The following is a list of how he stacks up against Notre Dame's top five tight end receivers in terms of career yards.
Player Yards Years Ken MacAfee 1759 1974-77 Dean Masztak 924 1978-81 Derek Brown 899 1988-91 Mike Creaney 890 1970-72 Mark Bavaro 771 1981-84 Tony Hunter 700 1979-82 Anthony Fasano 536 2003-present
What makes Fasano's totals even more impressive is the fact that he has tallied them in only two years of action, after not playing his freshman year in 2002. Here's a breakdown of what Notre Dame's other prolific pass-catching tight ends did in their third seasons in the blue and gold.
Player Receptions-Yards Touchdowns Ken MacAfee 34-483 3 Mike Creaney 17-321 2 Derek Brown 15-220 1 Dean Masztak 8-97 0 Mark Bavaro 23-376 3
Already in The Books
Notre Dame senior wide receiver Matt Shelton cemented his name in the lore of Notre Dame football last season by setting a single-season record for average yards per reception. Shelton's average of 25.8 yards per catch eclipsed Tony Hunter's mark of 25.6 from the 1979 campaign. Here's a look at the top five single seasons in school history in terms of yards per reception.
Player Avg. Year 1. Matt Shelton 25.8 2004 2. Tony Hunter 25.6 1979 3. Jim Morse 22.1 1956 4. Raghib Ismail 21.8 1990 4. Kris Haines 21.8 1978
The record for most receptions by a pair of classmates at Notre Dame is 210, achieved by the 1966-68 combination of Jim Seymour (138) and Bob Gladieux (72). A prolific 2005 season by seniors Rhema McKnight and Maurice Stovall could eclipse that standard. Entering `05, McKnight has 98 career catches and Stovall 61 for 159 total - needing 51 catches combined to reach the record. It should be pointed out, however, that both McKnight and Stovall played as freshman - Seymour and Gladieux piled up 210 catches in just three years of varsity action.
All 2005 pep rallies will be held in the Joyce Center Arena (south dome) on Fridays before Saturday home games, beginning at 6:00 p.m. (EST). The football team enters the arena at 6:30 p.m.
"Notre Dame Experience" Returns for 2005 Season
For years, the Joyce Center has been the `pregame meeting place' for several thousand Notre Dame alumni. In an effort to add to this tradition, the Notre Dame athletics department is providing an interactive fan experience for each of the 2005 home football games in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse (north dome). For the fourth consecutive season, the "Notre Dame Experience" will combine with the Notre Dame Alumni Association Hospitality Center with interactive inflatables, photo booths, autograph sessions, football trivia and stage activities. Gates open three hours prior to kickoff and admission is free.
Tickets Available for 2005 Football Kickoff Luncheons
Tickets are now on sale for all the 2005 Notre Dame Kickoff Luncheons, held in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse (north dome) on the Friday prior to home football games. The luncheons feature head coach Charlie Weis and Irish players and assistant coaches, plus special guests and other attractions.
Tickets are $18 each, with a handling fee of $3 - there are 10 seats per table - and if you wish to sit as a group at the same table with other guests, please return all reservations in one envelope. Checks should be made payable to "University of Notre Dame" and maided to: Athletics Business Office, 112 Joyce Center, Notre Dame, IN, 46556. Telephone and credit card reservations are not accepted. A printed reservation form is available on Notre Dame's athletics web site - www.und.com.
Notre Dame Athletics Continues Relationship with SIRIUS Satellite Radio
After a successful debut season in 2004, SIRIUS Satellite Radio will continue to offer Notre Dame football, and selected men's/women's basketball, games on its nationwide service.
Go to www.sirius.com for more information on the service. Notre Dame's September football games can be heard on the following SIRIUS channels -
Sept. 3 vs. Pittsburgh 141
Sept. 10 vs. Michigan 123
Sept. 17 vs. Michigan State 125
Sept. 24 vs Washington 123
Inside the Irish Huddle DVD
Legendary Notre Dame Quarterbacks, a project dedicated to the lore and history of University of Notre Dame football and its rich quarterbacking tradition, is beginning its existence with the release of a DVD, Inside the Irish Huddle, Stories from the Legendary Notre Dame Quarterbacks.
The DVD is now available and can ordered on NDQB1.com, the official website of the Legendary Notre Dame Quarterbacks.
Inside the Irish Huddle, made in association with Indianapolis and Chicago based Pathway Productions, includes interviews with and collegiate highlights of some of the most high-profile players and coaches in Notre Dame and college football history. Joe Montana, Joe Theismann, Paul Hornung, Johnny Lujack, Tom Clements and Terry Hanratty are just a few of former players featured on Inside the Irish Huddle.
The project is spearheaded by former Irish quarterback Blair Kiel (1980-83).
Notre Dame Stadium Update
Thanks to funding by the Notre Dame Monogram Club, Notre Dame Stadium will feature a new look for its 75th anniversary this season.
Positioned in the 195 portals of the original Stadium walls (now visible in the lower bowl concourse), there now are individual, four-by-10-foot, mesh banners with old-school, black-and-white photos highlighting Notre Dame's 11 consensus national-championship seasons, its 139 first-team football All-Americans, its seven Heisman Trophy winners, its five national-championship coaches and its eight representatives in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Hanging from the ceiling around the lower concourse are 15 full-color, 12-by-15-foot banners - 10 of them featuring action shots of members of the 2005 Irish squad, and five featuring the 75th anniversary logo for Notre Dame Stadium. In addition, there will be four other five-by-eight-foot representations of the logo within the Stadium.
One addition visible from inside the Stadium is a sign on the facing of the wall just above the tunnel - it reads "Irish" and includes the Monogram Club logo.
Attached to light polls on Moose Krause Circle surrounding the Stadium and in the Stadium and Joyce North and South parking lots are 100 two-by-four foot pole banners, all of them featuring various Notre Dame marks and phrases - including combinations of Irish, We Are ND, a shamrock, the leprechaun, University of Notre Dame, Here Come the Irish, Fighting Irish, a gold helmet and the 75th anniversary Stadium logo.
In addition, there are plans over the next few years to theme the entry gates at the Stadium - with the intention of creating specific recognition of Notre Dame's national championships, its All-Americans, its Heisman Trophy winners and its national championship coaches. The first gate to be completed will be Gate B. It will recognize the Irish Heisman winners and will be completed later this fall.
Most of the signage and design work is being handled by Sport Graphics, Inc., in Indianapolis, Ind. Additional work for the gate designs is by the Rockwell Group in New York, N.Y.