2007 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team

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2007 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
NotreDameFightingIrish.svg
Conference Independent
2007 record 3–9
Head coach Charlie Weis (3rd year)
Offensive coordinator Michael Haywood (3rd year)
Offensive scheme Pro-style
Defensive coordinator Corwin Brown (1st year)
Base defense 3–4
Captain John Carlson
Captain Maurice Crum Jr
Captain Travis Thomas
Captain Tom Zbikowski
Home stadium Notre Dame Stadium (c. 80,795, grass)
Seasons
« 2006 2008 »
2007 Division I FBS independents football records
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
Navy           8 5  
Army           3 9  
Notre Dame           3 9  
Rankings from AP Poll

The 2007 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team was the college football team that represented the University of Notre Dame in the 2007 NCAA Division I-A football season. The team was coached by Charlie Weis in his third year as head coach, and played its home games at Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana. For the first time in school history, Notre Dame opened the season with five losses (Notre Dame's worst opening prior to 2007 was 0–3).[1] Their nine-loss season was also a school record.[2]

Pre-season[edit]

Coaching changes[edit]

With the end of the 2006 season, two assistant coaches' contracts came up and were not renewed by the Irish. Rick Minter, the defensive coordinator who had been with the Irish since the 2005 season, was replaced by Corwin Brown, and Peter Vaas, the quarterback coach who had also been with the Irish since 2005 after David Cutcliffe left the position, was replaced by former Irish quarterback, Ron Powlus. Both Powlus and Brown played college football and had time playing in the NFL. Brown was previously an assistant coach for the New York Jets and Powlus had been Notre Dame's director of personnel development since 2005.[3]

Roster changes[edit]

The Irish lost a number of players to graduation and the NFL. Former consensus All-American,[4] and two-year starting wide receiver, Jeff Samardzija, was signed by Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs as a pitcher,[5] while twelve others were signed onto NFL teams. Former offensive starters Brady Quinn, Ryan Harris, and Dan Santucci and defensive starters Victor Abiamiri, Derek Landri, Mike Richardson, and Chinedum Ndukwe were taken in the 2007 NFL Draft, while five others, Marcus Freeman, Chris Frome, Travis Leitko, Rhema McKnight,[6] and Darius Walker,[7] signed contracts with NFL teams. The team returns three starters on offense and five on defense.[8] Despite the number of high profile losses, Weis refused to call it a "rebuilding year," citing a number of fifth-year seniors that he owes to try to win.[9]

Recruiting[edit]

The Irish added 18 players to its roster with high school recruits. Included in the class were five-star quarterback recruit Jimmy Clausen, nine four star recruits on offense, and four on defense. The class was named a top-15 class by most media.

Award candidates[edit]

Four players were named to six national awards watch lists in the pre-season:

Roster[edit]

Coaching staff[edit]

Name Position Year at
Notre Dame
Alma Mater (Year)
Charlie Weis Head Coach 3rd Notre Dame (1978)
Michael Haywood Offensive Coordinator
Running Backs
3rd Notre Dame (1986)
Rob Ianello Recruiting Coordinator
Receivers
3rd Catholic (1987)
John Latina Assistant Head Coach (Offense)
Offensive Line
3rd Virginia Tech (1981)
Bill Lewis Assistant Head Coach (Defense)
Defensive Backs
3rd East Stroudsburg (1963)
Corwin Brown Defensive Coordinator 1st Michigan (1993)
Jerome "Jappy" Oliver Defensive Line 3rd Purdue (1978)
Bernie Parmalee Tight Ends
Special Teams
3rd Ball State (1990)
Brian Polian Assistant Defensive Backs
Special Teams
3rd John Carroll (1997)
Ron Powlus Quarterbacks 1st Notre Dame (1997)

Schedule[edit]

The 2007 Notre Dame schedule was ranked the 13th hardest in the country by Sports Illustrated.[16] The road schedule was ranked as the 10th most difficult.[17]

Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result Attendance
September 1 3:30 pm Georgia Tech Notre Dame StadiumNotre Dame, IN NBC L 3–33   80,795
September 8 6:00 pm at #15 Penn State Beaver StadiumState College, PA ESPN L 10–31   110,078
September 15 3:30 pm at Michigan Michigan StadiumAnn Arbor, MI ABC L 0–38   111,178
September 22 3:30 pm Michigan State Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN (Megaphone Trophy) NBC L 14–31   80,795
September 29 12:00 pm at #25 Purdue Ross-Ade StadiumWest Lafayette, IN (Shillelagh Trophy) ESPN L 19–33   62,250
October 6 8:00 pm at #25 UCLA Rose BowlPasadena, CA ABC W 20–6   78,543
October 13 3:30 pm #4 Boston College Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN (Ireland Trophy) NBC L 14–27   80,795
October 20 3:30 pm #9 USC Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN (Jeweled Shillelagh) NBC L 0–38   80,795
November 3 2:30 pm Navy Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC L 44–46 3OT  80,795
November 10 2:30 pm Air Force Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC L 24–41   80,795
November 17 2:30 pm Duke Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 28–7   80,795
November 24 3:30 pm at Stanford Stanford StadiumStanford, CA ESPN W 21–14   48,953
#Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.

Game notes[edit]

Georgia Tech[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Georgia Tech 6 10 3 14 33
Notre Dame 0 0 3 0 3

While deciding who would be the starting quarterback two weeks before the opener, Weis, wanting to keep the Yellow Jackets guessing, would only tell the media that the quarterback and his backup knew their roles.[18] Demetrius Jones started the game, with Evan Sharpley and Jimmy Clausen both seeing action as quarterback. Giving up nine sacks and two fumbles, and having negative 8-yards rushing, the Irish lost 33–3 in their most lopsided season opening loss in the history of the program.[19]

Penn State[edit]

Notre Dame at Penn State during White Out
1 2 3 4 Total
Notre Dame 7 0 3 0 10
#15 Penn State 7 7 10 7 31

After the opening loss, Weis named freshman Jimmy Clausen the starting quarterback. Clausen would become the eighth Notre Dame freshman to start at quarterback since 1951 and would be the earliest to start when he faced the 15th ranked Penn State Nittany Lions in Happy Valley.[20] The Nittany Lions won the game 31–10. The Irish ended the game with no rushing yards, and had only 144 total yards. They also amassed 97 yards in penalties.[21]

Michigan[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Notre Dame 0 0 0 0 0
Michigan 10 21 7 0 38

With both teams starting the season 0–2, for the first time ever a combined 0–4,[22] the Irish next faced the Michigan Wolverines.[23][24] Michigan played without their starting quarterback Chad Henne due to a leg injury.[25] Michigan senior running back Mike Hart guaranteed a victory over the Irish.[26]

Quarterback Demetrius Jones did not board a bus for the trip to Michigan. Charlie Weis issued a statement saying, "At 2:30 today, while boarding the bus to Michigan, I was notified that Demetrius Jones had decided not to make the trip. I have not spoken to Demetrius and can only say that he missed the team bus. Any additional comment would be without all the facts."[27] On game day, it was reported that he had enrolled at Northern Illinois University,[28] however, he later revealed that he was transferring to the University of Cincinnati.[29]

Michigan won 38–0, tying their largest-ever win over Notre Dame set during the 2003 season. For only the second time in school history, Notre Dame opened the season with three losses.[30]

Michigan State[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Michigan State 14 3 14 0 31
Notre Dame 7 7 0 0 14

Despite scoring their first two offensive touchdowns of the season (the first resulting from a fumble by MSU's quarterback, Brian Hoyer, at the 9-yard line), Notre Dame fell to Michigan State 31–14. For the first time in 119 seasons of Notre Dame football, the Irish had started a season 0–4. Michigan State also became the first opponent to win six in a row at Notre Dame Stadium.[31]

Purdue[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Notre Dame 0 0 6 13 19
#25 Purdue 10 13 3 7 33

Despite outgaining the Boilermakers in total yards (426–371) and Clausen throwing his first collegiate touchdown, the Irish fell to 0–5 on the season to Purdue by a score of 33–19. Down 23–0 at halftime, the Irish came out in the second half and drove to a 37 yard touchdown drive with Clausen's pass to John Carlson. Clausen left the game afterwards with an undisclosed injury. Evan Sharpley replaced him and threw his first collegiate touchdown in the fourth quarter and later threw another to put the Irish down by a touchdown, but they wouldn't score again. The Irish had much trouble in their kicking game with only one extra point made on three attempts and a blocked field goal.[32]

UCLA[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Notre Dame 3 0 17 0 20
#25 UCLA 3 3 0 0 6
Jimmy Clausen directs the ND offense

UCLA was without its two starting quarterbacks. UCLA starter Ben Olson went out with a knee injury late in the first quarter, which left freshman walkon redshirt McLeod Bethel-Thompson to lead the Bruins.[33] This was the first appearance for the Irish in the Rose Bowl stadium since the 1925 Rose Bowl. The Irish were able to capitalize on Bruin offensive mistakes to recover loose balls. This ended one of the worst slumps in Fighting Irish football, and prevented the Irish from equaling their longest losing streak in their history.[34] In the 1960 college football season, the Irish lost eight straight games.[35] The biggest cheer during the entire game came when the score of the 2007 Stanford vs. Southern California football game was announced. Fighting Irish and Bruins fans, who together are arch-rivals of the Trojans, cheered together.[36]


Boston College[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
#4 Boston College 6 7 14 0 27
Notre Dame 0 0 14 0 14


USC[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
#9 USC 7 10 14 7 38
Notre Dame 0 0 0 0 0
Notre Dame and USC take the field in the 79th edition of the rivalry.

In what was the largest margin victory the Trojans have put forth on the Irish to date, Notre Dame was shut out by USC for the first time since 1998. USC came into this game 5–1,[37] while Notre Dame came in 1–6.[38] Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis announced during that summer that his team would wear throwback green jerseys for the matchup, signifying the 30-year anniversary of the Irish beating the Trojans in their green jerseys in 1977, when Weis was a senior at Notre Dame. Because of John David Booty's injured finger, USC back-up quarterback, Mark Sanchez, was the starter. In his second game as a starter, Sanchez managed to complete 21 of 38 passes with a combined total of 235 yards and 4 touchdown passes.[38] This was the Trojans' 6th consecutive victory over the Irish and in the process, they became only the third team to accomplish this feat (Michigan and Michigan State share the record with eight straight wins in non consecutive years).[39]

Navy[edit]

1 2 3 4 OT 2OT 3OT Total
Navy 0 14 6 8 7 3 8 46
Notre Dame 7 14 0 7 7 3 6 44

Notre Dame came into the game with 43 consecutive wins against Navy since the last loss in 1963.[40] In triple overtime, Navy (5–4) scored a touchdown and successful two-point conversion on their possession. Notre Dame (1–8) likewise scored a touchdown, but failed to make their own two-point conversion on a rush attempt.

Air Force[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Air Force 10 7 14 10 41
Notre Dame 0 10 0 14 24

ESPN reported, "A week after the Midshipmen eked out a triple overtime victory against the Fighting Irish for the first time since 1963, Air Force beat Notre Dame 41–24 for its worst loss to a service academy since that Navy victory 44 years ago...It was the largest margin of victory for Air Force in six wins over the Irish and the biggest by a military academy since Navy beat the Irish 35–14 in 1963 behind Roger Staubach."[2]

With the loss to Air Force, the Fighting Irish have lost nine games in one season for the first time in school history.[2]

Duke[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Duke 0 0 0 7 7
Notre Dame 0 14 7 7 28

Notre Dame garnered its second win of the season in a game between what ESPN's Lee Corso called the two worst teams in major college football. Notre Dame was led with three Jimmy Clausen touchdown passes of 25, 25 and 9 yards each.[41] Freshman running back Robert Hughes also added a touchdown in the 3rd quarter.[41] The win would be the Irish's only home win of the season, avoiding what would have been its first winless season at home in 74 years.[41] The Irish gained 220 yards rushing behind the hard running of freshman tailbacks Robert Hughes and Armando Allen.[41] After a scoreless first quarter, Notre Dame managed to capitalize on two forced fumbles in the final 1:12 of the 2nd quarter to take a 14–0 half time lead.[41] Clausen was 16-for-32 for 194 yards and had his second straight three-touchdown game.[41]

Stanford[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Notre Dame 7 7 0 7 21
Stanford 7 7 0 0 14

The Irish concluded their season on a high note, winning its second straight game and its second win on the road.[42] Robert Hughes ran for 136 yards and the go-ahead 6-yard touchdown with 6:06 remaining in the 4th quarter to help the Irish beat Stanford 21–14.[42] Jimmy Clausen went 19–32 for 196 yards and one touchdown.[42] The game was one of missed field goals, turnovers and controversial calls against the Irish. The Cardinal missed 4 field goals and turned the ball over twice.[42] Notre Dame, meanwhile, committed 4 turnovers, including 3 fumbles and an interception.[42] Notre Dame would have added a score in the 3rd quarter, but a touchdown pass from Clausen to David Grimes was overturned on inconclusive evidence, despite the ruling on the field of a touchdown.[42]

Notre Dame almost added another score on what would have been a spectacular finish to the half.[42] David Bruton intercepted Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard's last-play heave at the 3-yard line and began a three-lateral return to the end zone that was called back on a personal foul on Notre Dame defensive lineman Trevor Laws.[42] Safety Tom Zbikowski ran the final 30 yards after a lateral from Darrin Walls.

Post season[edit]

Awards[edit]

Upon the conclusion of the 2007 season, several players won All-American honors. Freshman standout Ian Williams was named to the 2007 AON Insurance Freshman All-America Team, the Football Writers Association of America announced during their annual banquet.[43] He was one of six true freshmen named to the defensive unit on the FWAA Freshman All-America Team and was one of 13 of the 28 freshman All-America selections who was a true freshman this season.[43] Williams was also named to the CollegeFootballNews.com all-freshman third team and was an honorable mention member of The Sporting News all-freshman team.[43] Seniors John Carlson and Trevor Laws also picked up second team Academic All-American honors from ESPN The Magazine and the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).[44]

NFL Draft[edit]

Four Notre Dame players were drafted in the 2008 NFL Draft.[45] Senior tight end John Carlson went 38th overall to the Seattle Seahawks.[45] Later in the second round, DE Trevor Laws was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles at 47th overall.[45] In the third round, safety Tom Zibikowski was the 86th selection, going to the Baltimore Ravens.[45] Center John Sullivan was the final Notre Dame draftee, going to the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round.[45] Three players that were not drafted quickly signed with NFL teams as free agents following the NFL Draft: linebacker Joe Brockington signed with the Buffalo Bills, long snapper J.J. Jansen signed with the Green Bay Packers, while running back Travis Thomas will join former teammate and co-captain Brady Quinn in Cleveland.[45]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Irish drop to 0–5 after defeat to Purdue". MSNBC. September 29, 2007. Archived from the original on 29 October 2007. Retrieved September 30, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c "Air Force 41, Notre Dame 24 – Fighting Irish suffer school-record ninth loss this season". The Disney Company. November 11, 2007. Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved November 10, 2007. 
  3. ^ "Notre Dame Coaching Staff Changes Press Conference Transcript". UND.cstv.com. January 19, 2007. Retrieved June 30, 2007. 
  4. ^ "Jeff Samardzija Named Consensus All-American". UND.cstv.com. January 9, 2007. Retrieved June 30, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Jeff Samardzija Signs Five-Year MLB Deal With Chicago Cubs". UND.cstv.com. January 19, 2007. Retrieved June 30, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Seven Notre Dame Football Players Drafted Into NFL; Four Others Sign Free Agent Contracts". UND.cstv.com. April 30, 2007. Archived from the original on 3 July 2007. Retrieved June 30, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Texans Sign Notre Dame Running Back Darius Walker". AOL Sports. May 10, 2007. Retrieved June 30, 2007. 
  8. ^ Schlabach, Mark (May 11, 2007). "Breaking down the independents". ESPN. Archived from the original on 15 July 2007. Retrieved June 30, 2007. 
  9. ^ "Head Coach Charlie Weis Press Conference Transcript – 2007 Notre Dame Football Media Day". UND.cstv.com. August 6, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2007. 
  10. ^ "John Carlson Named to Maxwell Award Watch List". UND.cstv.com. June 26, 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2007. 
  11. ^ a b "Crum and Zbikowski Named to 2007 Bronko Nagurski Watch List". UND.cstv.com. June 12, 2007. Archived from the original on 15 June 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2007. 
  12. ^ a b "Maurice Crum and Tom Zbikowski Names to Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List". UND.cstv.com. June 26, 2007. Archived from the original on 29 June 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2007. 
  13. ^ a b "Crum, Zbikowski Named To Lott Trophy Watch List". UND.cstv.com. April 2, 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2007. 
  14. ^ "John Sullivan Named To 2007 Rimington Award Spring Watch List". UND.cstv.com. May 2, 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2007. 
  15. ^ "John Sullivan Named to Outland Trophy Watch List". UND.cstv.com. June 12, 2007. Archived from the original on 15 June 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2007. 
  16. ^ Megargee, Steve (June 21, 2007). "Top 25 toughest schedules". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved September 3, 2007. 
  17. ^ Megargee, Steve. "Road to glory will be tough one for Seminoles". Yahoo. Retrieved June 21, 2007. 
  18. ^ "Notre Dame to reveal it's QB secret in opener against Georgia Tech". ESPN. August 31, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2007. 
  19. ^ "Yellow Jackets shut down, nearly shut out Irish". ESPN. September 1, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2007. 
  20. ^ "Clausen gets starting nod at QB against Penn State". ESPN. September 4, 2007. Retrieved September 11, 2007. 
  21. ^ "Nittany Lions' defense punishes Clausen in Notre Dame debut". ESPN. September 8, 2007. Retrieved September 11, 2007. 
  22. ^ Walters, John (September 9, 2007). "Notre Dame, Michigan: Chagrin and bear it". NBC Sports. Retrieved September 11, 2007. 
  23. ^ https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/news?slug=dw-notredame090807
  24. ^ http://news.google.com/archivesearch?q=Notre+Dame+Michigan+%22Toilet+Bowl%22&btnG=Search&um=1&ned=us&hl=en&scoring=a
  25. ^ "Henne listed as week-to-week after injury against Oregon". ESPN. September 10, 2007. Retrieved September 11, 2007. 
  26. ^ "Weis says there's good reason for Hart's victory pledge". ESPN. September 10, 2007. Retrieved September 11, 2007. 
  27. ^ "Jones' status in doubt after not boarding team bus to Ann Arbor". ESPN. September 14, 2007. Retrieved September 15, 2007. 
  28. ^ Schad, Joe (September 15, 2007). "Source: Irish quarterback Jones enrolls at Northern Illinois". ESPN. Retrieved September 15, 2007. 
  29. ^ "Former Irish QB Jones transfers to Cincinnati, eligible next year". CBS Sports. September 27, 2007. Retrieved September 30, 2007. 
  30. ^ "Michigan has Hart, much more in rout of winless ND". ESPN. September 15, 2007. Retrieved September 15, 2007. 
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  32. ^ "Notre Dame scores first passing TD but remains winless". ESPN. September 29, 2007. Retrieved September 30, 2007. 
  33. ^ Notre Dame takes advantage of UCLA walk-on QB to win first game Associated Press (ESPN web site). October 6, 2007
  34. ^ UCLA turnovers help Notre Dame earn first win of year. Associated Press, in USA Today, October 7, 2007. Quote:"Jimmy Clausen scored on a quarterback sneak and Maurice Crum returned a fumble 34 yards for another touchdown during a 50-second span of the third quarter as Notre Dame fought its way out of one of the worst slumps in school history with a 20–6 victory over No. 25 UCLA on Saturday."
  35. ^ Sinking Irish in Pasadena for first time since Knute Rockne days. Associated Press, October 6, 2007, Hosted on ESPN.COM Quote:"Already off to the worst start in school history, another loss would match Notre Dame's longest losing streak – eight in a row. The last time the Irish lost eight straight was in 1960, when they won their opener, then didn't win again until the final game of the season."
  36. ^ Chris Dufresne – You look upset, Los Angeles. Why the long fall from grace? Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2007. Quote:"With the Rose Bowl game mired in 6–6 slog, UCLA and Notre Dame fans collectively erupted with 4:46 left in the third quarter at the Rose Bowl when Stanford's epic upset at the Coliseum was announced – - Pete Carroll's first home loss since Stanford beat the Trojans in 2001"
  37. ^ "2006 USC Media Guide: USC Football History". usctrojans.cstv.com. Archived from the original on 24 May 2008. Retrieved April 25, 2008. 
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  44. ^ "John Carlson and Trevor Laws Named Second Team Academic All-Americans". November 29, 2007. Retrieved July 6, 2008. 
  45. ^ a b c d e f "Four Notre Dame Players Selected in 2008 NFL Draft". UND.cstv.com. April 27, 2008. Archived from the original on 8 June 2008. Retrieved July 6, 2008.