Samardzija's meteoric rise from a third down receiver to an All-American shows he always had the athletic ability and when fit into the right system, he would flourish. That's what happened as soon as head coach Charlie Weis set foot on campus. The offense allows Samardzija opportunities to show off his above average skills at the wide receiver position. The first two years at Notre Dame, he amassed a total of 24 catches for 327 yards and no touchdowns. Now, he's just 449 yards short of Mayes's all-time yardage mark of 2,512 and 14 shy of Tom Gatewood's reception record of 157.
"Every time Jeff gets the ball, he's trying to score," Weis said. "I can point to a couple of other plays in the game he didn't score on, but he caught a little five yard option route over there on the left side one time, which a lot of people aren't trying to score and the next thing you know he's breaking to the inside trying to take it to the house.
"We run that little flag pattern from him in the slot going to our left early in the game for a 20 yard completion. But instead of running out of the bounds like a lot of other people would do, he's planting and spinning to the outside trying to take it to the house. When Jeff gets the ball in his hands, he's not content with getting a completion. He's always trying to score. That's what separates him from a lot of other receivers."
*Notre Dame was 4-for-5 on fourth down conversions on Saturday, keeping right in line with Weis's aggressive nature. That makes 18 attempts this year on fourth down. Remarkably, there are six teams in Division 1A that have gone for it more on the do-or-die down. The leader in attempts: Toledo with an astounding 29. However, the Irish's 77.8 percent conversion rate is the highest among teams with a minimum of 18 attempts.
*The Notre Dame rushing woes this season have been noticeable through seven games. Currently, the Irish are 99th in the nation in yards on the ground, averaging just 97 per game. A look at the past 10 years (with the exception of 1998) shows that this total would be the lowest figure by 30 yards. In 2004, under Tyrone Willingham, Notre Dame rushed for 127 yards per game. The most in this time period: an unbelievable 269 yards per game on the ground in 1996, which was Lou Holtz's last season in South Bend.
One final note on the struggles of the offensive line: Notre Dame is also 99th nationally in sacks allowed. The Irish surrender 2.86 per contest. This past weekend, UCLA's Justin Hickman and Bruce Davis registered five between them.
*The weekly Geoff Price watch list. The Irish punter did not have one of his better weekends. The senior booted six balls for an average of 39.3 per punt. This lowered Price's season average down to 45.3 but still on track to break Craig Hentrich's year record of 44.9.
*With five contests to play (and more than likely a possible sixth because of a bowl game), tight end John Carlson has 32 receptions on the season. The senior needs 22 more grabs to catch Ken MacAfee's single-season record for tight end set back in 1977.