Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Notre Dame Football 2005
Issue 10: Senior Day (Syracuse)

90 Brian Beidatsch59 James Bent53 Joseph Boland71 James Bonelli31 Jake Carney93 Dan Chervanick88 Anthony Fasano54 David Fitzgerald19 D.J. Fitzpatrick87 Marcus Freeman75 Chris Frome36 Brandon Harris39 Brandon Hoyte32 Jeff Jenkins66 Derek Landri73 Mark LeVoir79 Brian Mattes46 Corey Mays5 Rhema McKnight37 Matt Mitchell12 Marty Mooney76 Bob Morton84 Michael O'Hara16 Rashon Powers-Neal62 Scott Raridon30 Mike Richardson43 Anthony Salvador50 Dan Santucci25 Nate Schiccatano82 Matt Shelton74 Dan Stevenson21 Maurice Stovall81 Rob Woods
Above are your seniors. I first did this last year before the USC game. Then, I didn't think the team had much of a chance, so I fired up a nice "win one for these guys" speech. Well, this year things should go a little better. So, here they are: Some will be back next year; some won't. Some are well known for their play on Saturday; others get no credit for the effort they give on the practice field. There's been injuries, position changes, and coaching changes. None of this matters now - this one is for them.

Syracuse Rush Offense vs. ND Rush Defense

Syracuse's main offensive weapon is running back Damien Rhodes. Rhodes averages 86 yards on 21 carries per game. He has scored 7 of the Orange's 11 offensive touchdowns. Rhodes' backup is Kareem Rush, who has run 32 times for 101 yards this season. Starting fullback Steve McDonald on has two carries on the season, so don't look for much from him. In fact, it looks like Syracuse relies greatly on one-back sets. Starting quarterback Perry Patterson is a pocket passer, but backup Joe Fields has scrambled for a net 64 yards. Syracuse has 4 runs by wide receivers this year, but look for them to pull out all the stops in this one.
Notre Dame is giving up 131.2 yards rushing per game. Senior Brandon Hoyte leads the team with 70 tackles, including 11 tackles for a loss. Fellow senior Corey Mays is fourth on the team with 52 tackles, and third with 6 TFL.

ND Rush Offense vs. Syracuse Rush Defense

Darius Walker is still the starting tailback for Notre Dame. His average day is about 89 yards for 20 carries. In several categories, Walker's numbers are very similar to Rhodes'. The main difference is that Walker, playing with an unspecified thigh injury and without the aid of artificial turf, has a long run of only 20 yards, compared to Rhodes' 54. Travis Thomas has stepped up lately in Rashon Powers-Neal's absence. He's averaging 25.7 yards on just over 6 carries per game. In this game, look for senior Jeff Jenkins, who has gained 51 yards on 15 carries this season.
Syracuse is giving up 189.6 yards per game on the ground - yet another reason to look for a big game from Walker, Thomas, and Jenkins. Their leading tackler is linebacker Kelvin Smith with 69.

Syracuse Pass Offense vs. ND Pass Defense

Perry Patterson perhaps isn't the perfect prototypical pocket passer. PP's average day consists of completing 11 of 24 passes for 130 yards. On the season, he has 4 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. Syracuse's top four receivers all average between 26 and 35 yards per game. They are wide receivers Tim Lane (24 catches, 317 yards, 1 TD) and Rice Moss (19, 234, 0), running back Rhodes (22, 271, 0), and tight end Joe Kowalewski (12, 158, 1). As you can see, they all average 1-3 catches per game. The Orange's other two receiving touchdowns belong to freshman wideout Nicholas Chestnut, who has only 6 total catches on the year.
Notre Dame's bend-don't-break pass defense is giving up 267.6 yards per game against some good competition. Safety Tom Zbikowski now has 5 interceptions on the season, while Victor Abiamiri is tied with Brandon Hoyte for the team lead in sacks with 4. Senior Mike Richardson has been the defense's most improved player this season. He has 3 interceptions and is tied for the team lead with 5 pass breakups. Syracuse has given up 31 sacks this year, so look out for senior linemen Derek Landri and Brian Beidatsch as well.

ND Pass Offense vs. Syracuse Pass Defense

Brady Quinn may have trouble keeping his seniors happy in this game. Maurice Stovall, Matt Shelton, Anthony Fasano, and Marcus Freeman are all potentially playing in their last game at Notre Dame Stadium this Saturday. For Stovall and Fasano, it will be business as usual, as both have played extremely well in the past few games. Stovall is up to 50 catches and 9 touchdowns, while Fasano now has 40 catches and 2 TDs. Shelton is averaging 2 catches and 20 yards per game. Freeman, who had a decent 2004 under Ty Willingham, has yet to catch a pass this season. Of course, if anyone can keep all four of these players happy, it's Quinn. He's completing 24 passes for 325.7 yards and 3 touchdowns per game.
Syracuse is giving up an impressive 163.2 passing yards per game. Of course, when you can pile up 190 rushing yards against an opponent who's only going to put up 14 points, why would you need to pass all that much? The Orange do have 12 interceptions on the season, led by free safety Anthony Smith with 6. Defensive end Ryan LaCasse has 7 of Syracuse's 19 sacks, while defensive tackle Kader Drame has 4.

Special Teams

John Barker is Syracuse's field goal kicker. He's 6 for 9 overall with a long of 45, but he's 3 for 6 from 30 yards or farther. Ricky Krautman and Patrick Shadle are a combined 1 for 3 (Krautman converted from the 20-29 yard range); I'm not sure if their opportunities were due to injury, inconsistency, or garbage time. Neither Krautman or Shadle have numbers that suggest they are long range specialists. DJ Fitzpatrick is 9 for 11 on the year with a long of 48 yards.
Brendan Carney comes in to punt for the Orange 7-8 times per game. He's got an impressive average of 43.3 yards with a long of 71 (gotta love the Astroturf rolls). He's had 8 touchbacks, 8 inside the 20, and 16 punts fair caught. DJ will punt 3-4 times for the Irish in an average game. He averages 40.2 yards per punt with a long of 60, 7 punts inside the 20, and only one touchback.
Backup running backs Kareem Jones and Curtis Brinkley share Syracuse's kick return duties. Jones is averaging 24.1 yards per return with a long of 52, while Brinkley is averaging 22.2 yards per return with a long of 35. DJ kicks off for the Irish for an average of 60.4 yards, with 7 of his 49 kicks going for touchbacks. After an average 20.7 yard return, Notre Dame opponents will start with the ball around the 26 yard line.
Freshman receiver David Grimes is ND's primary kick returner. He's averaging 21.8 yards per on 10 returns, with a long of 40. Punter Brendan Carney is Syracuse's kickoff specialist. He averages 63 yards per kick and has 12 touchbacks on 32 kicks. A 23.6 yard return average by Orange opponents gives them a start around the 26 yard line.
Corner Steve Gregory and receiver JJ Bedle share punt return responsibility for Syracuse. Gregory has an average of 11.5 yards with a long of 34. Bedle has an average of 4 yards with a long of 20. Notre Dame is yielding 6.3 yards per punt return.
Tom Zbikowski has now returned 17 punts for the Irish. He's averaging 19 yards per return, with a long of 78 and two touchdowns. Syracuse gives up 9 yards per punt return.

Look for a big game from: See the pictures above.

Notre Dame 42, Syracuse 13: Let's see here: Stovall, Shelton, Jenkins, Fasano, Mays, and Richardson. No, they don't cover, but only because the Orange get a cheap score when the senior walk-ons are in.

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