Saturday, October 22, 2005

Injuries, Awards, and Trophies | by Pat

Injuries. Notre Dame lost two players for the year as Weis offically announced that both Rhema McKnight and Chris Frome will miss the rest of the 2005 season with injury. McKnight has been sitting out since wrenching his knee during the Michigan game while Frome twisted his knee during the game against Southern Cal while jumping over a teammate.

Both will be able to return next year and play as 5th year seniors. McKnight is quick to point out the positives of that situation.

"I get another year in this system and hopefully it pays off for me," McKnight said."If Brady (Quinn, Notre Dame's quarterback) and myself as well as the other receivers have another year in this type of offense, it's going to be fantastic," he added.
McKnight also added on the educational benefits of a 5th year at Notre Dame.

McKnight is on track to graduate in December, so he'll start work on his master's degree in January.

What, no ballroom dancing classes, a la USC's quarterback Matt Leinart?

"Nah," he said, "although it would be nice to be more cultured."

Before the 2005 season, the 2006 wide receiver depth chart looked like a potentially veteran-laden team's biggest question mark, but now is looking like it will be able to provide proven production to go along with potential. McKnight and now Samardzija are proven players that will be much needed mentors for the rest of the young and inexperienced (Grimes, Hord, Anastacio, Gallup, Parris, West) receiving corp.

As for Frome, he will return to a line that returns everyone from the 2-deep except one (Beidatsch) and possibly could be bolstered with the return of Travis Leitko. In the meantime, Ronald Talley -- my pick for this season's surprise player thusfar-- will get the start at defensive end and be backed up by Justin Brown.

"I know Coach (Jappy) Oliver talked to them extensively (Monday) and said, 'This is your time,' because now they're not just in the background, they're in the mix," Weis said of Talley and Brown. "They're going to be out there and they're going to be playing and they're going to be playing a lot. We need for them to step up and make a bunch of plays."

As with the McKnight injury, Coach Weis has made it a point not to dwell too much on the fact the team is minus another starter.

“It pushed (Brown and Talley) up a spot. That’s what it does. That’s the way we think around here. One guy goes out, the next guy goes in. That’s the way it is.”

Awards. One of the pre-season award lists that actually did include a Notre Dame player has narrowed down its list and Brandon Hoyte did not make the semi-finalist cut for the Butkus Award. Hopefully this means that Hoyte isn't forever barred from coaching high school football on ESPN or high school basketball on Teen NBC.

The semi-finalists who did make the cut include Chad Greenway (Iowa), Aaron Harris (Texas), Spencer Havner (UCLA), AJ Hawk (Ohio State), D'Qwell Jackson (Maryland), Tim McGarigle (Northwestern), AJ Nicholson (FSU), Paul Posluszny (Penn State), DeMeco Ryans (Alabama), and Ernie Sims (FSU).

Let's take a look at how Hoyte matches up statistically. The first two columns are per game averages.

Player Tackles
Brandon Hoyte
Chad Greenway
13.29 1.0
Aaron Harris
Spencer Havner
1.5 1
AJ Hawk
11.33 1.33
D'Qwell Jackson
Tim McGarigle
AJ Nicholson
Paul Posluszny
DeMeco Ryans
Ernie Sims

Plenty of great linebackers on this list. But I would certainly hope that Hoyte was close to making the semi-finalist cut because statistically he's right there with most of these players. Ernie Sims seems a bit lacking in the stats department, but there is more to being a good linebacker than just numbers. And, I suppose it's fair to say that there is sometimes more to making semi-finalists lists like this than just being a good linebacker.

Interestingly, it appears that Texas likes to give its players a bit of a statsitical bonus. Usually on assisted tackles for loss, a player gets credit for 0.5 tackle, just like for a sack. That's how the NCAA and pretty much every other school records it. Texas however on their official site gives the player credit for a whole tackle. So the NCAA site says Aaron Harris has 8.0 TFL (7 solo, 2 assisted) while the Texas site credits him with 9.0 (7 solo, 2 assisted). Nothing to complain about too much, but it is interesting and something that should be kept in mind.

Trophies. Notre Dame is moving ahead with the plan to add "themes" to each gate of Notre Dame Stadium with the dedication of the "Heisman Gate" at what is also known on your ticket stub as Gate B. The display includes large banners of each Notre Dame Heisman winner displayed inside the concourse along with a larger-than-life replica of the Heisman Trophy attached to the wall. Next time you head to a home game, swing over and check it out. posted a photo gallery of the new design including a profile shot that gives a good look at the Heisman replicas.

Along with this new pro-tradition campaign in and around the Stadium and photos like this one of ND's National Championship rings that recently popped up on, I do enjoy the fact that Notre Dame is being more outgoing about the proud history of the football program.

While the University can sometimes get a bit too cheesy with their football promotions, I think the new banners are very well done. If the other gates are completed in a similar manner as this one I'll consider the whole thing a success.