The Head Coach
The Injury Update (as of Dec. 5)
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL NOTES
IRISH SEASON NOTES
DAVIE NAMED COACH OF THE YEAR FINALIST
IRISH POST THIRD-BEST TURNAROUND IN SCHOOL HISTORY
NOTRE DAME-OREGON STATE NOTES
Notre Dame twice has played a team coached by Dennis Erickson when he was the head coach at Miami. The top-ranked Irish lost to the seventh-ranked Hurricanes 27-10 in 1989, ending Notre Dame's school-record 23-game winning streak. In the final game of the Notre Dame-Miami series, the sixth-ranked Irish beat the second-ranked Hurricanes 29-20 in 1990 at Notre Dame Stadium.
The fifth-ranked Beavers are the highest-ranked Pacific-10 opponent for Notre Dame other than games played versus longtime rival Southern California. Of the 32 games played vs. non-USC Pac-10 teams, the Irish have faced four ranked opponents -- losing to 19th-ranked Stanford teams in '92 and '97 and defeating 15th-ranked Washington in '95 and the 16th-ranked Huskies in '96.
Oregon State is the first Pac-10 bowl opponent for the Irish since the first bowl in which Notre Dame ever played -- a 27-10 win over Stanford in the 1925 Rose Bowl.
The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl marks the eighth occasion the Irish will begin a series with an opponent in a bowl game. Notre Dame has a 5-2 record in those games -- defeating Stanford ('25 Rose Bowl), Alabama ('73 Sugar Bowl), Houston ('79 Cotton Bowl), West Virginia ('89 Fiesta Bowl) and Florida ('92 Sugar Bowl) and losing to Georgia ('81 Sugar Bowl) and Texas A&M ('88 Cotton Bowl). The bowl games vs. Houston, Georgia and Florida remain the only Irish meetings with those teams.
Notre Dame will be making its second consecutive national appearance on ABC. The 38-21 Irish win at USC on ABC drew a Nielsen rating of 4.5 -- the highest rated college football game of the Thanksgiving weekend.
SUN DEVIL STADIUM, ARIZONA NOTES
The trip to Sun Devil Stadium marks a return for first-year Irish athletics director Kevin White, who served as athletics director at Arizona State from 1996-2000.
Seventh-year Irish assistant coach and fourth-year assistant head coach Kirk Doll (linebackers) coached the outside linebackers at Arizona State from 1985-87.
Second-year Irish assistant coach Lou West (safeties) coached the defensive backs at Arizona Western Junior College in 1979 and 1980 was a graduate assistant coach at Arizona in 1977.
Head senior manager Michael Ball lives in Phoenix and graduated from Paradise Valley High School.
LoVecchio's passing efficiency rating finished at 151.70, a rating which currently would place him seventh in the country if LoVecchio met the NCAA minimum of playing in 75 percent of a team's game. He has played in eight of 11 games (.73). LoVecchio's rating edged the 151.3 rating of McDougal in '93 for the best by an Irish QB since 1990. Other high ratings for Irish QBs in the '90s are Jarious Jackson's 149.5 in '98, Rick Mirer's 149.2 in '91, Powlus' 141.3 in '96, Powlus' 140.7 in '95 and Jackson's 140.3 in '99.
IRISH EARN ALL-AMERICA, INDEPENDENT RECOGNITION
The Sporting News has named senior LB Anthony Denman to its All-America second team and fifth-year OL Mike Gandy to its All-America third team, while Denman also was a Rivals.com second-team selection.
Senior Joey Getherall is a third-team kick-returner All-America pick of Collegefootballnews.com and fourth team by CBSSportsLine.com.
Denman has been named the Independent Player of the Year by Football News. He also joins senior FS Tony Driver, junior TB Tony Fisher, Gandy, sophomore P Joey Hildbold and junior DE Anthony Weaver among Irish players on the Football News All-Independent team.
Following a freshmen season in which he won all seven starting appearances, QB Matt LoVecchio has been selected by Rivals.com to its True Freshman All-America team. LoVecchio is one of seven first-year QBs on the honorable mention list, while North Carolina State's Phillip Rivers was the only first-team selection (there were no second or third teams).
SCOUTING THE IRISH OFFENSE
Backs - Freshman Matt LoVecchio (73-125 for 980 yards, 11 TDs, 300 yards rushing) turned in a memorable season as the starting quarterback -- the third starting Irish QB of the season -- by winning each of his seven starts. He made his first career start vs. Stanford after first coming off the bench against Michigan State in the second half and threw at least two TD passes in each of his first four starts -- the first Irish QB to throw at least 2 TDs in four consecutive games since Rick Mirer in 1992. Junior Arnaz Battle (13-31-173, 2 TDs, 157 yards rushing vs. Texas A&M and Nebraska) suffered a fractured left navicular (wrist) against Nebraska -- an injury that required surgery and will keep him out for the season-- and will move to flanker next season. Battle's injury thrust sophomore Gary Godsey into the starting spot against Purdue (14 of 25 for 158 yards in first career game) and Michigan State (4-15 for 20 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). Godsey returned to tight end following the Air Force, a move that has afforded him the most playing time. LoVecchio broke the school record for lowest interception percentage (0.80, 1 for 125) and finished with the fourth-best single-season completion percentage in school history (.584). Freshmen Jared Clark and Carlyle Holiday back up LoVecchio but neither has played a down this season.
A trio of tailbacks -- sophomore Julius Jones (162-657, 7 TDs, 6-50 receiving) and juniors Tony Fisher (132-607, 6 TDs, 12-106 receiving, 3 TDs) and Terrance Howard (75-424, 4 TDs) -- have given the Irish a talented and diversified running attack as each started at least once in the first four games. The trio were at their collective best vs. USC as Jones and Fisher each had 71 yards rushing, while Howard added 47. Each of the three also had one of Notre Dame's five rushing TDs in the game.
The elusive Jones had three 100-yard rushing games this season (126 vs. Michigan State, 105 vs. Navy and 111 vs. Air Force) before leaving the Boston College game with an injury that also forced him to miss the Rutgers game -- the first game he has missed in his brief career. Fisher, who started all 12 games last year and started six games this season, had the best rushing game for an Irish player since 1992 with his 196-yard game against Boston College. He followed up that performance with another 100-yard rushing day vs. Rutgers (27-135). Howard (career-high 7-96 vs. West Virginia) adds a combination of quickness and power and scored two TDs vs. Rutgers. Sophomore Chris Yura (first four carries of his career vs. Navy, four-yard gain on fake punt vs. BC) also helps out at tailback.
Senior Jason Murray (4-14, 2 catches for 12 yards, TD) shares the fullback duties with junior Tom Lopienski (9-19, 5-79 receiving, TD) who was hindered by a shoulder injury during the middle of the season. Lopienski moved into the starting fullback spot for the first four games after carrying the ball 25 times for 76 yards in all 12 games last year. Junior Mike McNair also helps out at fullback after recovering from an injury-plagued '99 in which he played only in the opener against Kansas.
Receivers - Senior Joey Getherall (17-323, 4 TDs) has been a big-play receiver for the Irish with TD receptions of 68 and 43 yards and had a three TD performance against Air Force, while junior David Givens (25-310) shares time with Getherall at flanker and had career bests for receptions and yards against Purdue (6-86) and touchdowns against Stanford (2). Junior Javin Hunter (13-256, 3 TDs) moved into the starting position at split end after playing in every game last year. Senior Jay Johnson (2-58, TD) played in the final 11 games of '99 and plays behind Hunter but did not play against West Virginia and Air Force with a hamstring injury. Another strength for the Irish is at tight end where senior All-America candidate Jabari Holloway (6-97) and fifth-year and '99 honorable mention All-American Dan O'Leary (10-87, TD) give the Irish a pair of talented, experienced tight ends. Holloway missed the USC game with a knee injury. Former converted QB Gary Godsey returned to TE following the Air Force game, a position he played as a freshman in '99 and saw action there vs. Rutgers and USC.
SCOUTING THE IRISH DEFENSE
Linebackers - Led by senior Anthony Denman (team-high 84 tackles, 14 for loss, 5 sacks) and junior Rocky Boiman (58 tackles, 8 for loss, 3.5 sacks, forced fumble), the Irish linebackers have played a large role in Notre Dame's defensive success. Denman started every game at inside linebacker for the second straight year, while Boiman anchors the outside spot. Junior Tyreo Harrison (46 tackles, 5 for loss, sack, two fumbles forced and one recovered) moved into a starting spot at inside linebacker after playing all 12 games in '99 with two starts. Fifth-year Anthony Brannan backs up Boiman on the outside, while sophomore Courtney Watson (11 tackles, 1 for loss) plays behind Denman. Junior Carlos Pierre-Antoine (2 tackles) fills in at inside linebacker.
Backs - Old faces and new faces make up the Irish secondary starters. Seniors Tony Driver (65 tackles, sack, two fumble returns for TDs, INT, 7 pass deflections) and Brock Williams (49 tackles, 5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 INT, 8 pass deflections) returned to starting roles in the Irish secondary -- a unit that held its opponents to 35 fewer passing yards/game than in '99. Senior Ron Israel (47 tackles, 4 for loss, team-high 3 INT, 3 pass deflections) and junior Shane Walton (40 tackles, 2 for loss, 2 INTs, 60-yard INT TD, 3 pass deflections) moved into starting spots. Driver plays at free safety for the first time since '98 after playing seven games in '99 at tailback. Williams is back at left cornerback where he started eight of the last 10 games in '98. Israel moved from top reserve in '99 to starter at strong safety in '00. Walton -- who had his first career interception against Nebraska and had a 60-yard INT return against Purdue's Drew Brees -- won the starting spot at right cornerback after playing in nine games in '99 following a freshman season in which he starred on the Irish men's soccer team. He started the first 10 games this season before suffering a broken forearm vs. Rutgers. Sophomore Jason Beckstrom (17 tackles, 3 pass deflections) made his first career start vs. USC in replace of Walton. Junior Clifford Jefferson (21 tackles, forced fumble) returned to action at cornerback vs. USC after missing two games. Sophomore Glenn Earl (20 tackles, INT, fumble recovery, blocked punt and FG) has provided a number of big plays as a capable reserve. Freshman Vontez Duff (4 tackles, 1 pass deflection) played a large part of the Rutgers game and had his first career interception. The other reserves are sophomore Gerome Sapp (37 tackles, 2 for loss) at strong safety and junior Donald Dykes (18 tackles) at free safety.
SCOUTING THE IRISH SPECIAL TEAMS
DRIVER NAMED TO THE SPORTING NEWS MIDSEASON ALL-AMERICA TEAM
DRIVER 'RETURNS' TO RECORDBOOK
Driver also became the first Irish player in a season or a career to return a pair of fumbles for TDs, let alone in one game or one quarter.
The last Irish defensive player to score two touchdowns was Dave Waymer, who ran back two interceptions in a 40-15 win against Miami (Fla.) in the 1979 Mirage Bowl in Toyko.
WEAVER LEADS STRONG DEFENSE
Weaver also has two interceptions (vs. Michigan State to set up go-ahead TD and vs. Boston College on Eagles' first possession to set up early TD), a fumble recovery (vs. Stanford with the Cardinal threatening to score on ND's 15-yard line), five deflected passes (including one vs. Air Force on third down with the Falcons having to settle for a field goal after the incomplete pass) and two forced fumbles (vs. USC and Rutgers to set up an Irish TD four plays later).
Junior RE Ryan Roberts had at least one sack in each of the first four games, becoming the first Irish player since Kory Minor in 1996 (vs. Boston College, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and USC) to have at least one sack in four consecutive games. He had a fifth sack vs. USC.
Notre Dame's six sacks against Michigan State stand as the most under head coach Bob Davie and the most since the Irish had nine sacks against Rutgers in 1996.
IRISH DEFENSE GETS OFFENSIVE
IRISH SPECIAL TEAMS TRULY SPECIAL
Texas A&M: With the Irish trailing 10-7 in the third quarter and being forced to punt after three plays result in a loss of one yard on its opening series of the second half, sophomore P Joey Hildbold booms a 69-yard punt that is downed at the Aggies' three-yard line. After Notre Dame's defense forces A&M to punt from its eight-yard line, Arnaz Battle connects with Javin Hunter for a 46-yard TD pass just two plays later for what would be the game-winning TD.
Nebraska: Trailing the top-ranked Huskers 21-7 in the third quarter, the Irish use a kickoff return for a TD and a punt return for a TD to send the game into overtime. Julius Jones answers a Nebraska TD with a 100-yard KO return in the third quarter, before Joey Getherall takes a Husker punt 83 yards in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 21.
Purdue: In Notre Dame's 23-21 win over eventual Big 10 champion and Rose Bowl bound Purdue, sophomore Glenn Earl blocks Travis Dorsch's punt on the Boilers' first possession as the Irish took over at the Boiler four-yard line -- leading to the first Irish touchdown in the victory. Nick Setta seals the win with another special teams' highlight -- the fifth game-winning field goal at 0:00 in Notre Dame history with a 38 yarder in just his third career game.
Stanford: With the Irish leading by a 7-0 score, junior David Givens blocks Mike Biselli's punt as Notre Dame takes over at the Stanford 10-yard line with just 39 remaining in the first half -- leading to Notre Dame's second touchdown in the 20-14 win.
West Virginia: With the score tied at 14, Courtney Watson tackles punter Mark Fazzolari at the WVU 16-yard line following a high snap to set up the go-ahead TD three plays later. Getherall scores the fifth of five consecutive Irish TDs with a 73-yard punt return and a 42-14 lead in the victory.
Air Force: With the game tied 28-28 and the Falcons lining up for a potential game-winning field goal from 28 yards, Earl comes up with his second blocked kick of the season as time expires in the fourth quarter -- sending the game into overtime in the 34-31 Notre Dame victory.
Boston College: With a tenuous 21-10 lead over the Eagles and less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Setta lines up for a FG but instead takes a pitch from holder Adam Tibble -- who is tackles just before pitching to Setta --and runs untouched into the end zone for a five-yard TD run and a 28-10 lead.
Rutgers: The Irish convert a fake FG for the second consecutive week, as Setta takes a direct snap from John Crowther and connects with FB Tom Lopienski for a 25-yard TD in the first quarter. Leading 24-17 in the third quarter, Chad DeBolt recovers another Givens blocked punt -- followed two plays later by a 25-yard TD pass from Matt LoVecchio to Javin Hunter and a two TD lead.
IRISH CONTINUE QB'S FIRST-START MAGIC
From 1985-98, Notre Dame was victorious in nine straight games in which an Irish quarterback was making his first career start, including four coming in a season opener. Notre Dame's nine-game, first-start streak ended in the 10-0 loss at USC on Nov. 28, 1998, when Eric Chappell started in place of the injured starter Jackson (then-freshman Arnaz Battle also played a large chunk of that game).
Battle also became the 10th consecutive Irish quarterback making his first start to lead the Irish to victory in a season opener, a streak dating back to 1965: Bill Zloch (vs. Cal, '65), Terry Hanratty (vs. Purdue, '66), Pat Steenberge (vs. Northwestern, '71), Tom Clements (vs. Northwestern, '72), Rick Slager (vs. Boston College, '75), Rick Mirer (vs. Michigan, '90), Kevin McDougal (vs. Northwestern, '93), Ron Powlus (vs. Northwestern, '94) and Jarious Jackson (vs. Michigan, '98).
Last 13 starting debut games by Notre Dame quarterbacks
LoVECCHIO 3RD STARTING QB IN FIRST FIVE GAMES, JUST 4TH FROSH QB IN 49 YEARS
Steve Beuerlein started his fourth game as a freshman against Colorado (8-12 for 133 yards in 27-3 win) in 1983. Beuerlein took over for senior Blair Kiel -- who, in 1980, became the first Irish freshman to start at quarterback since Ralph Guglielmi in 1951 vs. North Carolina. Kiel made his first start in the fourth game of the season against Miami (4-17 for 35 yards in 32-14 win).
Here's a comparison of the last four freshman QBs to start at Notre Dame (figures do not include bowl games):
BOIMAN NAMED TO THE SPORTING NEWS TEAM
JULIUS JONES NAMED TO "HALF-AMERICA TEAM"
JULIUS JONES TAPPED FUTURE STAR
JONES, GETHERALL, GIVENS GO LONG DISTANCE AGAINST HUSKERS
Notre Dame's 204 kickoff return yards established a modern Irish record for single-game kickoff returns, eclipsing the 192 by Notre Dame (all by Raghib Ismail) against Michigan in 1989. The Irish had 354 kickoff return yards against Kalamazoo in 1922.
Jones' 175 return yards were the most for a Notre Dame player since Clint Johnson returned two kickoffs vs. Stanford for 179 yards and one touchdown. Jones' 100-yard TD return marked the first kickoff touchdown return of his career, the longest since Johnson went 100 yards vs. Stanford and the first for the Irish since Jarious Jackson returned an onside kick for a TD against Pitt in '97.
Getherall's 83-yard punt return tied Allen Rossum's 83-yard punt return against Pittsburgh in 1996 for the eighth-longest in Irish history. The last Irish player to return a punt longer was Ricky Watters who set the record with a 97-yarder vs. SMU in 1989.
Givens started the Nebraska game with a 41-yard kickoff return, the longest of his career.
FOUR RANKED OPPONENTS IN A ROW
After games against 23rd-ranked Texas A&M, top-ranked Nebraska and 13th-ranked Purdue to open the season, the Irish played their fourth consecutive ranked opponent at 23rd-ranked Michigan State, marking the first time since the inception of the Associated Press poll in 1936 that Notre Dame has opened a season with four ranked opponents. The Irish played four consecutive games against ranked opponents during the regular season for the first time since 1957 and for only the third time ever (1943 was the first time).
Here's here how the 1943 Irish fared against their four consecutive ranked opponents:
Here's here how the 1957 Irish fared against their four consecutive ranked opponents:
FISHER FILLS IN WITH BACK-TO-BACK 100-YARD GAMES
Junior Tony Fisher's 196-yard rushing day vs. Boston College marked the most proficient day for an Irish runner since Reggie Brooks gained 227 yards vs. USC in 1992 and the third best since 1983.
His performance stands 11th best in the 1,056 games played in 111-plus seasons of Irish football.
Fisher took the majority of the carries after sophomore starter Julius Jones left with an injury and gained the most yards ever in a single game for an Irish backup TB as each of the six runners who account for the top 10 rushing games were starters.
HOWARD'S RUN 15TH LONGEST IN IRISH HISTORY
His 80-yard run stands as the 15th longest in Notre Dame history and the second longest for the Irish in the last 27 years (Robert Farmer had an 81-yard TD run against Boston College in 1996).
The run also set a Mountaineer Field record for the longest by a West Virginia opponent, eclipsing a 74-yard run by Maryland's Mike Beasley in 1988.
He finished with 96 yards rushing against WVU, the second consecutive week he has rushed for career-high yards after 68 against Navy.
GIVENS HIS ALL
While Walton underwent a less traditional soccer-to-football transition, fifth-year Matt McNew made the more natural switch from soccer player to placekicker. After exhausting his four years of eligibility with the Irish men's soccer team, McNew tried out in the '00 spring season and was invited to join the team in the fall. In his first collegiate football game, McNew boomed five kickoffs for the Irish against the Aggies, including three kickoffs touchbacks. His 59 kickoffs in '00 have resulted in average opponent starting position at the Irish 25.9-yard line. Nearly half of his KOs resulted in drives starting at or behind the 25-yard line, while only seven percent (4 of 59) have ended with opponents starting with better field position than Notre Dame's 35-yard line. These four KOs were a squib kick just before halftime vs. Stanford (43-yard line), a failed onsides kick vs. Air Force (43-yard line), an opponent season-high 36-yard return by Rutgers' Dennis Thomas (41-yard line) and a 33-yard return by Southern California's Frank Strong (38-yard line).
Junior walk-on Chad DeBolt has made 72 special teams appearances in '00 -- including a season-high 13 vs. USC -- and was one of just four walkons on the usual travel list. In the last two games, he has recovered a blocked punt vs. Rutgers and blocked a punt vs. USC -- both of which led to Irish TDs. DeBolt also stars for the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team. The Waterloo, N.Y., native played in all 14 games last year as a defensive midfielder and won over 60 percent of the faceoffs he attempted for the men's lacrosse team - which turned in one of its best seasons ever in '00 by reaching the NCAA quarterfinals for the second time in its history.
SETTA JOINS IN FIRST-YEAR SUCCESSES
Setta's conversion percentage of .978 (44 for 45) is tied with former Irish kicking great Craig Hentrich's '89 season for seventh best behind six perfect PAT seasons --including Hentrich's '90 (41 of 41) and '91 (48 of 48) performances. Setta's .978 percentage is the best for a Notre Dame kicker since Stefan Schroffner was 30 of 30 in '94.
Setta's 44 PATs also stand tied with Hentrich for third most on the Irish single-season PAT list. Hentrich holds the record with 48 extra points in '91, while Kevin Pendergast is second with 45 in '93.
Following the blocked PAT vs. Stanford on his unlucky 13th career attempt, Setta has converted 32 consecutive PATs, the fifth longest streak in Irish history and the longest since Hentrich connected on a school-record 136 from Sept. 30, 1989 to Sept. 26, 1992 -- a streak that ended on a low snap in a rainy 48-0 win over Purdue.
To go along with his 44 PATs, Setta also has eight FGs for a total of 68 points by kicking -- tied for seventh best for an Irish kicker. Setta's 68 kicking points are tied with Hentrich, who also had eight FGs and 44 PATs in '89. Setta also scored a rushing TD for a total of 74 points -- the first time a kicker has led the Irish in scoring since Pendergast's 87 in '93 and just the second time in the last 10 years.
SETTA SAILS WINNING KICK
SETTA AND GODSEY SHARE UNLIKELY BOND
BIG CROWDS EVERYWHERE
COACHING IN THE CLUTCH
2000 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE AMONG TOUGHEST
IRISH OPPONENT UPDATE
Notre Dame Opponents' Combined Record in '00 (not including games vs. ND): 61-50 (.550)
IRISH LIFE SKILLS PROGRAM HONORED AS ONE OF NATION'S BEST The Notre Dame CHAMPS/Life Skills Program has been identified as one of the best in the nation by the NCAA Division I-A Athletic Directors' Association. Notre Dame received one of four program of excellence awards at the Association's Sept. 25 awards dinner in Dallas. Honored along with Notre Dame were Arizona State University, the University of Iowa and Michigan State University. Notre Dame's Life Skills Program currently is under the direction of Bernard Muir, associate athletic director for student-athlete welfare.
In existence since August 1996, Notre Dame's Life Skills Program is committed to the total development of the University's student-athletes. It fosters the cultivation of skills that allow for their maximization on and off the playing field. The program develops and implements events and activities which are designed to facilitate learning in five key areas: academic excellence, athletic success, career preparation, community involvement and personal development. By the time a Notre Dame student-athlete graduates, he or she will have participated in approximately 40 hours of required skill building and development workshops in each key area. All freshmen and their parents participate in orientation sessions designed to assist in the transition into the University and to inform them about the Life Skills Program as well as other support services.