News and Notes: 11/9/2006

*Air Force is the sequel in the service academy trilogy this season for Notre Dame. Another scheduling feature is that all three contests are played in a four week span towards the end of the season. It gives the Irish a crash course in option football.

All three academies run the option. There are slight variations to some of the attacks. The Falcons sometimes employ a tight end in their sets while Navy usually goes with two wide receivers. The closeness of all the games allows the Irish defense ample opportunity to prepare for the not-often seen offensive system. Notre Dame finally figured the Midshipmen out in the second half.

"We just knew with the two option teams that we're going to have to get ready for option football," Irish safety Tommy Zbikowski said. "I haven't even really looked at Army at all just because it's still a week away. You're getting prepared for Air Force and like I said before, three days is a short amount of time to get ready for a brand new offense. We've got to get ready for that. There's not really much you can do but take each game like we have the whole year.

*The interception streak continues for Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn. It's been 22 quarters and 204 pass attempts since his last interception. Quinn already had multiple weapons to throw to in Rhema McKnight and Jeff Samardzija. The emergence of John Carlson to the passing attack has added another dimension. The Irish senior leads the nation among tight ends in receiving yards per game (68.9 per contest). All this, along with Darius Walker's running, helps open up the passing lanes.

"Obviously our system allows us to be in a good play in every situation," Quinn said. "We're always going to have somebody to go to where we can get out of a bad play. Offensive line has done a great job for us this year really protecting things up, not allowing any pressure. Again, our wide receivers know that if there is any opportunity for a DB to intercept the ball, their number one job is to become a DB and really bat it down and make sure they get it out of harm's way."

*Notre Dame is not looking past Air Force. Two contests away, a road game at USC awaits. But first, the Irish have to take care of two service academies, Air Force and Army. The Falcons have shown an ability to play with the big boys. In the season opener at No. 13 Tennessee, Air Force went for the two-point conversion and the win but failed and lost 31-30. The Irish players have taken notice.

"I think if you're going to look at any game to try to get an indication of Air Force, you've got to look at the Tennessee game," Quinn said. "Tennessee is a great team and I think they walked out of there losing 31 30 at Tennessee, which says a lot about their defense.

"We know they're going to come to play. We know they're going to be a tough team and we know we're going to get minimal opportunities having the ball. It's one of those things where we have to be efficient on offense and make sure we're productive."

*The speaker for the 2006 Notre Dame football banquet has been announced. Former Irish head coach Gerry Faust will provide the duties for the 86th annual banquet, sponsored by the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley. It'll be held on December 1st in the north dorm of the Joyce Center. A reception on the concourse, as well as a silent auction in the Monogram Room, both start at 5:45 p.m. with the dinner beginning at 7:00.

For those interested in attending, tickets are now on sale. They'll cost $42 per seat, or $336 for a table of eight. They can be ordered at the second floor ticket window at the Joyce Center or by calling 574-631-7356. Another way to secure a ticket is to write to the Ticket Office, 113 Joyce Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Order forms can be printed out at www.und.com. Checks should be made payable to the University of Notre Dame Football Banquet. The deadline for ticket requests is November 20th and all tickets will be distributed through the Joyce Center Will Call on the night of the banquet.

Faust did not have as much success at the college level as he did in high school. Picked to replace Dan Devine, Faust went 30-26-1. One of these victories was that 1983 Liberty Bowl. He resigned at the end of the 1985 season. In high school, Faust led Moeller in Cincinnati to a 174-17-2 mark, including seven unbeaten seasons, four mythical national titles and five Ohio state championships.

*Notre Dame has played in six overtime contests in school history. Two of them have come against Air Force. The Falcons won 20-17 in 1996 at Notre Dame Stadium while the Irish returned the favor in 2000 with a 34-31 home victory.

*The Irish have a .788 winning percentage against the Mountain West Conference. They've totaled a 26-7 record versus teams from the league. This is the second best in school history against a Division 1A conference. Notre Dame has a .884 mark (23-3) in games with members from Conference USA.

*The Air Force coaching staff has built up a lot of years of experience. The Falcons have 100 years of coaching experience. This is good for third among Division 1A teams. The only two programs with more experience: Penn State with 111 years and Florida State at 105 years.

*DeBerry ball? That could be the moniker in Colorado Springs. Since 1990, Air Force has blocked 93 kicks. This is second only to Virginia Tech. Currently, there are four players on the Falcons roster who have blocked a kick. They've also forced four turnovers on special teams, which is No. 2 nationally only to Louisiana Tech's five.


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories