Sept. 17, 2007
DATE: Saturday, September 22, 2007
TIME: 3:43 p.m. ET
SITE: Notre Dame Stadium (Notre Dame, Ind.)
TICKETS: The game is officially sold out making it the 194th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Since 1966, every Notre Dame home football game has been a sellout except one -- a 1973 Thanksgiving Day game vs. Air Force. The Irish have now played in front of sellouts in 242 of their last 243 home games.
TV: NBC national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play) and Pat Haden (analysis), Alex Flanagan (sideline), David Gibson (producer) and John Gonzalez (director). NBC will stream a live 30-minute pre-game show (3-3:30 p.m.) and post-game show on NBCSports.com.
RADIO: For the 40th consecutive season, all Notre Dame football games are to be broadcast on approximately 200 stations in 50 states by Westwood One with Don Criqui (play-by-play), former Irish running back Allen Pinkett (analysis) and Jeff Jeffers providing pre-game, halftime and post-game reports. This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 159) and will be streamed live on the Irish official athletics website at www.und.com.
All Notre Dame home games may be heard in South Bend on U93-FM (92.9) and WDND-AM (1490) with pre-game analysis featuring Sean Stires and Vince DeDario. The post-game show is hosted by Jack Nolan and features former Notre Dame players Reggie Brooks and Mirko Jurkovic. See page 11 in the PDF version 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 CSTV Online's Gametracker via each school's respective official athletic websites.
WEB SITES: Notre Dame (und.com), Michigan State (msuspartans.com).
POLLS: Notre Dame failed to receive any votes in either the Associated Press or USA Today coaches' polls. Michigan State received one top 25 vote from the AP and 21 votes from the USA Today coaches.
SERIES INFO: This meeting will be the 71st all-time between the rivals. It is the Irish's fourth-most played series (trailing only Navy, USC and Purdue) and the second-most frequent with any school in the Big Ten. Notre Dame holds a 44-25-1 lead in the series and took last year's meeting, 40-37, in Spartan Stadium. Michigan State has won seven of the past 10 games in the series, including five consecutive wins in Notre Dame Stadium (23-7 in 1997, 23-13 in 1999, 17-10 in 2001, 22-16 in 2002 and 44-41 in overtime in 2005). Only Purdue (1954-62) has won five consecutive games in Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have not defeated the Spartans at home since 1993. (see All-Time Series Results on page 2 in the PDF version of this notes package).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Michigan State has defeated the Irish five straight times in Notre Dame Stadium ... the Spartans could become the first team to ever win six consecutive in South Bend ... Purdue also won five times in a row at Notre Dame Stadium (1954-62).
NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH Charlie Weis: Charlie Weis (Notre Dame, 1978) is in his third season as the Notre Dame head coach. The Irish finished his inaugural season with a 9-3 mark and an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. Notre Dame followed that campaign with a 10-3 record last season and another BCS Bowl berth (Sugar). With 19 wins over his first two seasons, Weis has captured more games than any other previous Irish coach through his first two years on the Notre Dame sidelines. In addition to leading one of three schools to consecutive BCS Bowl games, Weis guided the Irish to their most wins over any two-year span since 1993-94. Weis is 1-1 vs. Michigan State, picking up a 40-37 victory over the Spartans in East Lansing in 2006.
MICHIGAN STATE HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Mark Dantonio (South Carolina, 1979) established himself as one of the nation's up-and-coming coaches during his three-year tenure at Cincinnati. In 2006, Dantonio led the Bearcats to a 7-5 overall record and a 4-3 BIG EAST mark, making Cincinnati bowl eligible for the second time in three years. Dantonio accomplished the feat against the second-toughest schedule in the country, as UC's opponents compiled a 69-42 record. His Bearcats upset then-No. 7 Rutgers, 30-11, on Nov. 18, handing the Scarlet Knights their first loss of the season and marking the highest-ranked opponent ever defeated by UC.
Highly respected as one of the top defensive coaches in the country, Dantonio's Bearcats finished the 2006 regular season ranked among the NCAA leaders in six statistical categories: No. 21 in tackles for loss (6.8 per game), No. 23 in pass efficiency defense (109.3 rating), No. 27 in rushing defense (107.5 yards per game), No. 31 in total defense (304.3 ypg.), No. 34 in scoring defense (19.3 points per game) and No. 34 in sacks (2.4 per game).
Dantonio compiled an 18-17 overall record in his three years at Cincinnati and led the program in its transition to the BIG EAST Conference. He became the first head coach in 23 years to direct a team to a winning season in his first year at UC. The Bearcats' went 7-5 in 2004, including a 5-3 mark in Conference USA to finish second in the league standings, and defeated Marshall in the Fort Worth Bowl.
Prior to his appointment at Cincinnati, Dantonio served as the defensive coordinator at Ohio State for three seasons, where his defensive unit became known as one of the stingiest in the country. During the Buckeyes' 2002 National Championship season, OSU ranked second nationally in scoring defense and third in rushing defense, and the following year, his unit ranked No. 1 in the country in rushing defense and ninth in total defense, sparking the Buckeyes to an 11-2 mark and a No. 4 national ranking.
Dantonio is familiar with East Lansing, as he spent six seasons (1995-2000) as Michigan State's secondary coach, including associate head coach duties in 2000. He contributed to Michigan State's successful 1999 season, during which the Spartans went 10-2, won the Florida Citrus Bowl, led the Big Ten in total defense and ranked No. 7 in the final polls.
A WIN THIS WEEK WOULD...
A LOSS THIS WEEK WOULD...
NOTRE DAME VS. BIG 10
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN STATE SERIES NOTES
ON THIS DATE
Notre Dame has played six previous games in its history on Sept. 22. The Irish are 3-3 all-time on this date, including a pair of meetings with Michigan State.
IRISH RECORD SETTERS IN THE NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN STATE SERIES
NOTRE DAME-MSU CONNECTIONS
LAST WEEK AGAINST MICHIGAN
HOW DO THEY STACK UP?
Average weight of the offensive and defensive lines:
ND OL 301.8 lbs. vs. MSU DL 268.3 lbs.
ND DL 284.3 lbs. vs. MSU OL 314.4 lbs.
Average height of the receivers and the secondaries:
ND WR/TE 6' 1" vs. MSU DB 6' 0 ¾"
ND DB 6' 0" vs. MSU WR/TE 6' 3 1/3"
100,000 FANS (OR MORE) AWAIT THE IRISH
Notre Dame is quite accustomed to playing in front of huge crowds, but the Irish have taken it to another level in 2007. Notre Dame travelled to Penn State and Michigan in consecutive weeks. The Irish played in front of the second largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history (110,078) and 111,178 at Michigan Stadium last week. Notre Dame became the second school to play consecutive road games before crowds exceeding 100,000. Minnesota is the only other school to ever play consecutive road games before 100,000 (Penn State and Michigan during the 2005 season).
IN FRONT OF A FULL HOUSE
IRISH SECONDARY BLANKET STAR WIDEOUTS
Over its first three games, Notre Dame has faced the like of James Johnson (2 rec., 42 yards; Georgia Tech), Derrick Williams (2 rec., 14 yards; Penn State), Jordan Norwood (3 rec., 20 yards; Penn State), Mario Manningham (2 rec., 35 yards; Michigan) and Adrian Arrington (2 rec., 15 yards; Michigan). That quintet of receivers has managed just 11 receptions for 126 yards (only 11.5 yards per catch). That same group of wideouts is averaging 13.3 yards per reception against everyone else.
IRISH SECONDARY ONE OF THE MOST IMPROVED IN THE COUNTRY
With the return of experienced defensive backs, including senior SS Tom Zbikowski, senior DB Terrail Lambert, senior DB Ambrose Wooden, sophomore DB Darrin Walls and the emergence of junior FS David Bruton, the Irish figured to have a vastly improved secondary in 2007. Well, the improvements are significant and it looks as though Notre Dame could have one of its best units in years. The Irish are allowing just under 90 fewer yards per game in the air this season and 150 fewer yards when compared to 2005. The 114.0 yards passing per game would rank as the best for a Notre Dame defense since 1980 (when the Irish limited their opponents to 103.0 ypg).
TREVOR LAYING DOWN THE LAWS
Senior DE Trevor Laws has been quite active in his new role as DE in the Notre Dame 3-4 defense. Laws, who finished fifth on the Irish in tackles last year, totaled nine stops in the season opener against Georgia Tech, followed with a career-high 10 stops at Penn State and seven more tackles last week against Michigan. He also added a quarterback hurry and blocked field goal against the Yellow Jackets. The field goal block was the fourth of his Irish career.
ZIBBY BECOMES ALL-TIME LEADER IN TACKLES BY A DEFENSIVE BACK
After picking up six tackles against Penn State, two-time All-American strong safety Tom Zbikowski became the Notre Dame career leader for tackles by a defensive back. With 238 career stops, Zbikowski ranks ahead of Jim Browner (228, 1976-78) for the top spot.
WATCH OUT FOR WALLS
Sophomore DB Darrin Walls not only registered his first career interception, but the Pittsburgh, Pa., native returned it 73 yards for a touchdown against Penn State. The interception return was the first for the Irish since senior DB Terrail Lambert turned the task against Michigan State in 2006. The 73-yard INT return was the longest interception return since senior SS Tom Zbikowski returned a pick 83 yards against BYU on Oct. 22, 2005.
BROCKINGTON MAKES HAPPY RETURN TO HAPPY VALLEY
Senior ILB Joe Brockington, a native of Palmya, Pa., finished the night with a game-high tying 10 tackles, including six solo stops. He added 1.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. Brockington is third on the Irish with 22.
ZIBBY HAS A KNACK FOR THE FOOTBALL
Senior All-American SS Tom Zbikowski forced the fifth and sixth fumbles of his career against Penn State. He became the first Irish player to record two forced fumbles in the same game, since, well, himself against Michigan State in 2004. For his career, Zbikowski has six career interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) and two fumble recoveries (both returned for TDs).
KUNTZ HAS CAREER NIGHT AGAINST PENN STATE
Junior NT Pat Kuntz entered the 2007 season without a single start and just 11 tackles in 21 career games. Kuntz has excelled in Notre Dame's new 3-4 defensive scheme. He has registered 16 tackles, almost his entire total from the previous two seasons, over the first three games. Kuntz picked up a career-high eight stops and a half-tackle for loss against Penn State.
CRUMBLING THE COMPETITION
SOMETHING BRUTON IN THE NOTRE DAME SECONDARY
Junior FS David Bruton made quite an impression in his first career start for the Irish in the season opener against Georgia Tech. He finished with a game-high tying nine tackles, two for loss, and a sack. Bruton also managed to pick up a special teams tackle on senior Geoff Price's 55-yard punt -- denying the Georgia Tech returner to gain a single yard. He once again led Notre Dame in tackles against Michigan. Bruton recorded nine stops and one for loss.
NO LOADING IN THE RED ZONE FOR GEORGIA TECH
Notre Dame limited Georgia Tech to a pair of field goals (another field goal attempt was blocked) on the Jackets' three first half red zone opportunities. In fact, the Jackets drove inside the Irish 26-yard line on six different occasions in the opening 30 minutes and came away with just 16 points (three FGs, one TD).
MORE FROM THE IRISH DEFENSE AGAINST THE YELLOW JACKETS
With a pair of seniors, Notre Dame enjoys an abundance of experience in the secondary. Fifth-year senior, two year captain and two-time All-American strong safety Tom Zbikowski leads the Irish secondary. Zbikowski, who entered the 2007 preseason camp at a trim 207 pounds (down 10 pounds from 2006), looks to close his Irish career on a high note. After a 2005 season that saw Zbikowski register five interceptions, two for touchdowns, and return a pair of punts for scores, he failed to pick off a single pass in 2006. Zbikowski has started 39 of Notre Dame's last 40 games -- missing only the Stanford game of 2006 due to injury.
Fellow fifth-year senior CB Ambrose Wooden has made 16 career starts at right cornerback, including all 12 games in 2005 before an injury forced a set-back in 2006. He finished third on the 2005 Irish in tackles (74) and tied for second in pass breakups (5). Junior Terrail Lambert returns to the fray at left cornerback. Lambert started the final 10 games of 2006 and was second on the Irish with three interceptions, including a 27-yard game-winning INT return against Michigan State.
The lone new face in the secondary is junior David Bruton at free safety. Bruton replaces two-year starter Chinedum Ndukwe (now with the Cincinnati Bengals). Bruton, who was a special teams stalwart for Notre Dame in 2006, captured defensive MVP honors at the 2007 Blue-Gold game after returning an interception 35 yards for a touchdown and recording four tackles. Sophomore Darrin Walls, who picked up his first career interception and INT return for touchdown last week against Penn State, has made five career starts at corner, while senior Leo Ferrine has started a pair and junior Ray Herring started the Stanford game in 2006 (replaced an injured Zbikowski). Junior Kyle McCarthy and sophomores Raeshon McNeil and Munir Price (converted from running back) also play into the mix in the secondary.
CLAUSEN GETS THE BALL IN HAPPY VALLEY
Jimmy Clausen became the first freshman quarterback to start for Notre Dame since Brady Quinn got the call against Purdue on Sept. 27, 2003. His start against Penn State, just the second game of the year, was the earliest start into a season for an Irish freshman quarterback. Clausen also is just the eighth freshman quarterback to start for the Irish in the last 57 seasons (1951-present), joining Ralph Guglielmi (1951), Blair Kiel (1980), Steve Beuerlein (1983), Kent Graham (1987), Paul Failla (1991), Matt LoVecchio (2000) and Quinn (2003) in that elite club. Notre Dame is 6-2 since 1951 when a freshman quarterback makes his first-ever start for the Irish.
QUARTERBACKS EFFICIENT, DESPITE CONSTANT DURESS
Despite constant pressure from the Georgia Tech defense that led to nine sacks, the Notre Dame quarterback trio of sophomore Demetrius Jones, junior Evan Sharpley and freshman Jimmy Clausen still managed to complete 15-for-22 passes -- good for 68.2%. The completion percentage ranked 10th best in the Charlie Weis era. Sharpley finished 10-for-13 on the day for 92 yards. His 76.9% completion percentage is third best since Weis arrived at Notre Dame.
AR(MAN)DO TO BE RECKONED WITH
Freshman HB Armando Allen has totaled 257 all-purpose yards over the first three games this season. He led Notre Dame with six receptions against Penn State and returned three kicks for 67 yards (including a long of 25 yards). Allen registered 110 all-purpose yards in his first career game with Notre Dame. Allen recorded 84 kick return yards on five tries and 25 yards rushing on three carries. He also added a reception for one yard.
NO TURNOVERS = VICTORY (USUALLY)
Notre Dame did not commit a turnover in six of its 13 games last season -- and to the surprise of nobody -- the Irish were 6-0 in those contests. Excluding the 2006 Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State and the 2004 regular season finale at USC, the Irish had not lost a game in which it failed to commit a turnover since 1985. That USC defeat snapped an amazing 41-game unbeaten streak (40-0-1) for the Irish when they didn't commit a turnover. Prior to the `04 game with the Trojans, the last time a Notre Dame team lost a game without committing a turnover was in a 34-30 loss at Penn State on Nov. 12, 1983. In all, Notre Dame is 48-2-1 since 1983 when not turning over the football.
CHARLIE AND THE IRISH OFFENSIVE FACTORY
Third-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, bested in 2007), total offense yards (5,728) and total points (440). Notre Dame has surpassed the 40-point barrier on 10 different occasions in Weis' 28 games as head coach. Prior to his arrival, the Irish 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 19 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.
MORE ON WEIS' OFFENSE
Notre Dame has registered its top two passing seasons in school history each of the last two years. The Irish averaged 330.3 yards in the air in 2005 and 264.7 in 2006. Notre Dame has also eclipsed 400 points each of the last two seasons. The Irish had only topped 400 points in a season on five previous occasions (1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996). In fact, the 843 total points scored over `05 and `06 are the most points ever scored in consecutive years -- besting the previous school record of 835 (1991 and 1992).
SPREADING THE WEALTH
The trio of Jones, Sharpley and Clausen completed passes to a total of nine different Irish receivers against Georgia Tech (five of those receptions were the first career grabs for the respective player). It was the first most different Notre Dame receivers to register a catch in a single-game since nine logged receptions at USC on Nov. 27, 2004. Clausen, who made his first career start at Penn State, then completed passes to seven different receivers against the Nittany Lions.
The Notre Dame offense boasts an experienced pass-catcher at the tight end position, but at running back and wide receiver, the Irish will be utilizing some young talent in 2007. The current group of wideouts boasts a grand total of 79 career catches and 37 of those come from the hands of junior David Grimes (served as Notre Dame's #3 receiver a year ago). Sophomore George West has just eight career catches (two last week), but played in all 13 games in 2006 and registered one touchdown rush and 16 returns (12 on kickoff and four on punt). Sophomore Robby Parris, who was the only other wideout on the Irish roster with a reception entering the year, grabbed three balls for 30 yards against Georgia Tech and added a career-long 35-yard grab at Penn State. Junior D.J. Hord, who missed all of last season with a torn achilles, did see action in six games during the 2005 season. He picked up his first career catch against the Yellow Jackets. Freshman WR Duval Kamara (four catches for 39 yards), sophomore TE Will Yeatman (two grab for 16 yards), senior RB Junior Jabbie (one for three yards) and Armando Allen (eight for 53 yards) all recorded their first career catch in the season opener. Sophomore Richard Jackson played in 12 games last year, mostly on special teams, but did not see action last week.
RED ZONE SUCCESS
The Irish offense had a 89.9 percent success rate in the "red zone" last fall. Notre Dame converted 44-of-49 chances inside the opponents' 20-yard line, including 37 touchdowns. The Irish registered a touchdown 75.5 percent of the time entering the "red zone." In 2007, Notre Dame is 2-of-3 inside the red zone, but both scores were field goals.
John Carlson TURNED IN ALL-AMERICAN TYPE SEASON IN 2006
Despite an injury that sidelined him for nearly three full games, Notre Dame senior TE John Carlson exploded onto the college football scene in 2006. He had 47 receptions for 634 yards -- good for an average of 57.6 yards a game and 13.5 per reception. Carlson's season ranked as one of the best ever by an Irish tight end. His 634 yards receiving ranks second best in single-season tight end history, while his 47 catches was tied for second best. Carlson's 13.5 yards per catch was second among all Irish receivers in 2006. He was 81st, nationally, in receiving yards per game and fourth among tight ends. He also ranked 78th overall in receptions per game and sixth in the category among tight ends. With Carlson's 121-yard effort on four grabs against Michigan State (also tied an ND record for average yards per reception in a single-game), 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.
Carlson, who became the 49th Irish football player to be named ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-American, is the only 2006 Mackey Award finalist to return in 2007. He is one of three tight ends on the Maxwell Award watch list. Carlson ranks third all-time for receptions (63) in Notre Dame tight-end history and needs just 30 grabs this season to move into second.
He proved to be one of the top tight ends in 2006 and his numbers compared quite favorably with the last seven John Mackey Award winners.
YOUTH ON SERVE
Notre Dame used a total of 61 players against Georgia Tech. An incredible 31 of those players were either freshmen or sophomores, including five that started. Just over 50% of the players on the field were in their first or second year with the Irish. On the other hand, Georgia Tech started just one freshmen or sophomore and played only 19 first or second year players.
The 31 freshmen and sophomores playing in a season opener stands as the most in Irish history. The previous high for first and second year players in a Notre Dame season opener came during the 1983 and 1989 seasons (29).
NEWCOMERS THROWN INTO ACTION
In the season opening loss against Georgia Tech, nine members of the 2007 signing class saw their first action. Armando Allen (Fr., HB), Jimmy Clausen (Fr., QB), Robert Hughes (Fr., HB), Duval Kamara (Fr., WR), Kerry Neal (Fr., LB), Matt Romine (Fr., OT), Golden Tate (Fr., KR), Brandon Walker (Fr., PK) and Ian Williams (Fr., NT) each played in their first season with the Irish. In addition to those nine players from the 2007 signing class making their Notre Dame debuts versus Georgia Tech, the following players saw action in an Irish uniform for the first time: Thomas Bemenderfer (Jr., OC), Dan Wenger (So., OG), Demetrius Jones (So., QB), Leonard Gordan (So., DS/DC), Luke Schmidt (So., FB), Paddy Mullen (So., DT) and Kallen Wade (So., DE). In all, 16 of the 61 players that played against Georgia Tech for Notre Dame were making their first ever appearance in an Irish uniform.
MORE ON THE FRESHMEN
Notre Dame used nine freshmen in its season opening loss to Georgia Tech. It was tied for the fourth most used in an opener since the freshman eligibility rule became enacted in 1972. The Irish used 11 freshmen in the 2006 opener against the Jackets. A total of 14 frosh played in the 36-13 win over Virginia in the 1989 Kickoff Classic and 12 saw action in the 52-6 blowout of Purdue in 1983.
Five offensive players and four players on the defensive side of the ball picked up their first career starts in the loss against Georgia Tech. George West (X), Paul Duncan (LT), Michael Turkovich (LG), Dan Wenger (RG) and Demetrius Jones (QB) each started the game for the first time for the Irish offense, while Pat Kuntz (NT), John Ryan (OLB), Anthony Vernaglia (OLB) and David Bruton (FS) hit the field the first play for the Notre Dame defense.
IRISH ALL-STARS ON WATCH LISTS
Notre Dame senior strong safety Tom Zbikowski is a candidate for nearly every defensive award this season. The two-time All-American has been named to preseason watchlists for the Bednarik Award, Lott Trophy, Nagurski Trophy and Thorpe Award. In addition, senior tight end John Carlson, a Mackey Award finalist in 2006, was distinguished as one of 50 preseason candidates for the Maxwell Award. Senior linebacker Maurice Crum, Jr. is on the watch lists for the Bednarik, Nagurski and Lott, while senior center John Sullivan is on the Outland and Rimington lists. Sullivan, senior defensive end Trevor Laws and Crum are also on the Lombardi watch list.
SIX IRISH PLAYERS EARN PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Senior strong safety Tom Zbikowski was a preseason first-team All-America selection by ESPN.com, Athlon, The Sporting News and Phil Steele. He also earned preseason second-team honors from Lindy's and honorable mention accolades from Street & Smith's. Senior tight end John Carlson also earned multiple preseason first-team All-America selections. Athlon and Phil Steele each named Carlson a preseason first-team All-American. He also garnered second-team accolades from Lindy's and Street & Smith's. Senior center John Sullivan was the third and final Irish player to receive preseason first-team All-American honors. Sullivan was chosen by Street & Smith's. He also earned second-team honors from Phil Steele and third-team from Lindy's. Senior cornerback Ambrose Wooden, senior punter Geoff Price and sophomore offensive tackles Sam Young all earned honorable mention preseason All-American from Street & Smith's. Price was also tabbed a second-team All-American by Lindy's.
ONLY THE BIG BOYS
Notre Dame is one of just five NCAA Division I-A programs that has never faced a non-Division I-A opponent since the current division setup was established in 1978 (the division's names have undergone a change this year, but the setup is still the same). The four remaining schools that have yet to play a non-Division I-A opponent since the advent of the current format are Michigan State, USC, UCLA and Washington. The list stood at seven entering this season, but Michigan and Ohio State each opened its respective seasons with Appalachian State and Youngstown State on Sept. 1.
NOTRE DAME IN SEPTEMBER
LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE '07
Every spring after spring drills, the Irish coaching staff votes on the Leadership Committee, which head coach Charlie Weis brought to Notre Dame in 2004. The Leadership Committee consists of players who serve in an advisory role.
Much change has been happening with and around the Notre Dame football team since the final second ticked off the scoreboard against LSU in the Sugar Bowl. Here are some of the more notable changes:
ZBIKOWSKI'S RAPID RETURNS
THEY SHALL RETURN
PRICE IS RIGHT
The following Notre Dame players have birthdays coming up in the near future:
Notre Dame opened the season earlier in the calendar year (Sept. 1) than they have since Aug. 31, 2002 against Maryland (Giants Stadium).
Notre Dame is 2-4 all-time in overtime games. The last time the Irish played an OT game was a 44-41 loss to Michigan State on Sept. 17, 2005.
EIGHTH-BEST IN THE NCAA SINCE 1988
Notre Dame has the nation's eighth best record over the last 20 seasons, or since the start of 1988. The Irish have posted a 162-68-2 record.
Notre Dame has 10 players with double digit career starts. Leading the way is two-time All-American strong safety Tom Zbikowski with 38 career starts.
HISTORIC NOTRE DAME STADIUM
The 2007 football season marks the 77th year of Irish football in fabled Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have played 393 games in the facility to date and own a 297-91-5 (.762) record in the "House that Rockne Built." The Irish were 4-2 at home in 2005 and 6-1 in 2006 to push the team's record at home to 101-34 (.754) over the last 23 years. 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).
SULLIVAN NAMED FIFTH TEAM CAPTAIN; FOUR WALK-ONS AWARDED FOOTBALL SCHOLARSHIPS FOR 2007 SEASON
Five Notre Dame football players were pleasantly surprised by head coach Charlie Weis at the beginning of practice on Aug. 23. In an impromptu announcement given in front of the team, fifth-year senior center John Sullivan was named a team captain and junior center Thomas Bemenderfer, senior cornerback Wade Iams, senior long snapper J.J. Jansen and senior cornerback William David Williams all were awarded scholarships for the 2007-08 school year.
The coaching staff unanimously decided to name Sullivan the fifth team captain for 2007 based on the leadership role he demonstrated throughout the summer and training camp. He joins fellow fifth-year seniors John Carlson, Travis Thomas and Tom Zbikowski along with fourth-year senior Maurice Crum Jr. as team captains. Sullivan is the most experienced returning offensive player, having started 21 consecutive games at center and 33 games at that position in his Notre Dame career. He was named to the 2007 watch lists for the Outland Trophy and Rimington Award and was tabbed a first-team preseason All-American by Street & Smith's.
Bemenderfer began his college career as a scholarship athlete at Northwestern University before transferring to Notre Dame for the 2006-07 school year. The Mishawaka, Ind., native and Penn High School graduate walked onto the football team last year and is currently listed as a backup center.
Iams is also a local product as he hails from Mishawaka, Ind., and is a graduate of Penn High School. The four-year walk-on earned a 4.0 grade-point average during the 2006-07 school year and currently holds a 3.921 cumulative GPA.
Jansen earned a scholarship for the second-consecutive season and serves as the team's long snapper. The Phoenix, Ariz., product became the team's long snapper in the middle of the 2005 season and has held that position ever since.
Williams is in his third year with the Notre Dame football team. A Raleigh, N.C., native, he earned a 3.933 GPA during the 2007 spring semester and his cumulative GPA for the 2006-07 school year was 3.893.
IRISH CHAMPIONSHIP FOOTBALL COACHES HONORED WITH NOTRE DAME STADIUM GATE DISPLAY
The five coaches who have produced national championships in football at the University of Notre Dame -- Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz -- are now honored as part of the third Notre Dame Stadium gate to feature the history and tradition of the Irish football program.
Mixed media wall relief portraits and action montages of the five Notre Dame national championship coaches this week were positioned at Gate D of Notre Dame Stadium, as part of a multi-year plan to theme the five entrance gates to Notre Dame's home football facility. They were created by Lou Cella, senior sculptor of Timeless Creations, Inc., a division of the Rotblatt-Amrany Fine Art Studio in Highland Park, Ill.
Cella created the statue of former Detroit Tiger broadcaster Ernie Harwell at Comerica Park in Detroit, and he also did the sculpture of Father Theodore Hesburgh and Father Edmund Joyce (former Notre Dame president and executive vice president) just south of the Hesburgh Library on the Notre Dame campus. Rotblatt-Amrany is responsible for the Michael Jordan statue in front of the United Center in Chicago, as well as various statues of sports figures Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Vince Lombardi, Al McGuire and George Halas.
The national championship coach display at Gate D is the third of the Notre Dame Stadium gates to be finished, following the Heisman Trophy display at Gate B that opened in 2005 and the All-America display at Gate A that opened in 2006. Funding for all the themed gates has been provided by the Notre Dame Monogram Club.
Notre Dame's 79 consensus All-America football players are honored inside Gate A with panels containing authentic Notre Dame helmets with nameplates. Those displays were designed by Rockwell Group of New York and fabricated by Show Motion Inc., of Connecticut.
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 - with one display each for Angelo Bertelli, John Lujack, Leon Hart, John Lattner, Paul Hornung, John Huarte and Tim Brown.
Each display consists of a three-by-eight-foot aluminum panel, powder-coated in Notre Dame blue and serving as a background for holding an oversized, three-foot-tall replica of the Heisman Trophy. The Heisman replicas are finished in bronze, cantilevered off of the blue aluminum panels and sculpted from an original Heisman Trophy.
IRISH WILL WEAR THROWBACK UNIFORMS AGAINST USC
Notre Dame and adidas will honor the 30th anniversary of the 1977 National Championship team by wearing the authentic green jerseys and gold pants for the USC game on October 20th. The throwback uniforms will be designed to replicate those worn by the 1977 team.
NEXT WEEK: PURDUE
Notre Dame hits the road for the third time in four weeks as the Irish pay a visit to Purdue on Sept. 29. The Boilermakers, who enter the week with a perfect 3-0 record, face Minnesota. Last year, Notre Dame knocked off Purdue, 35-21, in Notre Dame Stadium.