Fighting Irish Facts (Part VII)

The Irish aim for their second straight season of averaging as many as 30 points per game, a feat accomplished eight of nine times from 1988-96.

• Three 2015 opponents – Clemson, Wake Forest and Boston College – have at least two full weeks of preparation between their previous game and their clash with Notre Dame. Alabama is the only Power 5 conference team with four such games – Louisiana Monroe, Texas A&M, Tennessee and LSU. (Alabama also has the week off before playing LSU.)

Wake Forest and Georgia Tech are the only other Power 5 conference teams that play as many as three opponents that have an extra week of preparation.

• Notre Dame has its top three receivers from 2014 returning to the fold this year – Will Fuller (76-1,094-15), Corey Robinson (40-539-5) and Chris Brown (39-548-1). The last time the Irish had their leading receiver returning from the previous season was 2011 when Michael Floyd came back for his senior season (100-1,147-9) after a 79-catch, 1,025-yard, 12-touchdown junior campaign.

• Notre Dame returns its top 11 tacklers from a year ago – LB-Jaylon Smith, S-Max Redfield, S-Elijah Shumate, LB-Joe Schmidt, S-Matthias Farley, CB-Cole Luke, LB-Nyles Morgan, DT-Sheldon Day, DT-Jarron Jones, DE-Romeo Okwara and DE-Isaac Rochell. The last time Notre Dame’s top tackler returned was in 2012 when Manti Te’o – coming off a 128-tackle junior season – recorded a team-leading 113 tackles with seven interceptions as a senior.

• The 29.2 points per game averaged by Notre Dame’s 13 opponents in 2014 is the highest/worst figure in the history of the program. Charlie Weis’ 2007 squad allowed 28.7 points per game. Bob Davie’s 1999 unit surrendered 27.6.

In the last 12 seasons, opponents have averaged at least 20 points per game 11 times. The exception was the 2012 defense coached by Bob Diaco, which allowed just 12.7 points per game.

• Notre Dame averaged 32.8 points per game in 2014, the first time in the Brian Kelly era the Irish reached 30. Charlie Weis’ 2005 squad – led by quarterback Brady Quinn – averaged 36.7 points per game. From 1988-96 – nine seasons – Lou Holtz’s squad averaged better than 30 points per game eight times.

• Brian Kelly has won at least eight games for nine straight seasons, beginning with his final season at Central Michigan (9-4) in 2006 and continuing through his three seasons at Cincinnati (10-3, 11-3, 12-0 from 2007-09) and five at Notre Dame (8-5, 8-5, 12-1, 9-4, 8-5 from 2010-14).

• Kelly has gone undefeated in August/September two of the last three seasons. Tyrone Willingham was the last coach before Kelly at Notre Dame to be unscathed the first month (2002). Lou Holtz went undefeated in September five times –1987-90 and 1993.

• Of the 65 games coached by Brian Kelly at Notre Dame, the Irish have gone into 33 games ranked among the nation’s top 25 in the Associated Press poll. The Irish are 23-10 when ranked entering the game. Notre Dame was never ranked in 2010 and went 1-2 as a ranked team in ’11, 11-1 in ’12, 4-4 in ’13 and 7-3 in ’14.

• Justin Yoon is expected to be Notre Dame’s first freshman to handle place-kicking duties beginning with his first collegiate game since Nick Tausch kicked five extra points in the 2009 season-opener against Nevada (a 35-0 Irish victory). Tausch was 14-of-17 on field goals and 27-of-30 on extra points in ’09 before a late-season leg injury forced David Ruffer into the starting lineup, a starting position that Ruffer didn’t relinquish for the next two years.

• In the last 50 seasons, a kicker has led Notre Dame in scoring 26 times. The kickers were: Joe Azzaro, Scott Hempel, Bob Thomas, Dave Reeve, Harry Oliver, Mike Johnston, John Carney, Ted Gradel, Reggie Ho, Craig Hentrich, Kevin Pendergast, Nicholas Setta, D.J. Fitzpatrick, Brandon Walker, David Ruffer and Kyle Brindza.

The last receiver to pace the Irish in scoring was Golden Tate in 2009. The last running back to lead the way in points was Julius Jones in 2003.

Running back Jerome Bettis holds the Notre Dame record for points scored in a season with 120 in 1991. The only other Irish players to score as many as 100 points in a season were Vagas Ferguson, Tate and Allen Pinkett. Ferguson scored 102 in 1979 and Tate tallied 108 in 2009. Pinkett is the only two-time 100-point scorer in Notre Dame history with 110 in 1983 and 108 in 1984. Top Stories