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Notre Dame
2004 Season | Team Page
Charlie Weis
Damian Strohmeyer/SI
The Lowdown 2005 Schedule
Coach: Charlie Weis (first season)
2004 record: 6-6 (Lost to Oregon State in Insight Bowl)
2004 I-A offensive rankings:
Rushing: 85th (127.4 ypg)
Passing: 54th (218.1 ypg)
2004 I-A defensive rankings:
Rushing: 4th (88.2 ypg)
Passing: 116th (281.3 ypg)
Date Opponent
Sept. 3at Pittsburgh
Sept. 10at Michigan
Sept. 17Michigan State
Sept. 24at Washington
Oct. 1at Purdue
Oct. 15USC
Oct. 22BYU
Nov. 5Tennessee
Nov. 12Navy
Nov. 19Syracuse
Nov. 26at Stanford
Depth Chart: Offense
10 returning starters in red
Ps. No. Player Yr. No. Player Yr.
WR5Rhema McKnightSr.82Matt SheltonSr.
WR21Maurice StovallSr.83Jeff SamardzijaJr.
LT68Ryan HarrisJr.79Brian MattesSr.
LG76Bobby MortonSr.50Dan SantucciSr.
C78John SullivanSo.76Bobby MortonSr.
RG74Dan StevensonSr.50Dan SantucciSr.
RT73Mark LeVoirSr.62Scott RaridonSr.
TE88Anthony FasanoSr.87Marcus FreemanSr.
QB10Brady QuinnJr.14David WolkeSo.
FB16Rashon Powers-NealSr.35Ashley McConnellJr.
RB3Darius WalkerSo.26Travis ThomasJr.
Depth Chart: Defense
3 returning starters in red
Ps. No. Player Yr. No. Player Yr.
DE95Victor AbiamiriJr.97Travis LeitkoSr.
DT98Trevor LawsJr.90Brian BeidatschSr.
NG66Derek LandriSr.93Brandon NicolasSo.
DE75Chris FromeSr.97Travis LeitkoSr.
LB39Brandon HoyteSr.52Joe BrockingtonJr.
LB46Corey MaysSr.47Mitchell ThomasJr.
LB18Chinedum NdukweJr.40Maurice Crum Jr.So.
CB30Mike RichardsonSr.20Terrail LambertSo.
CB22Ambrose WoodenJr.8Junior JabbieSo.
SS9Tom ZbikowskiJr.4Anthony VernagliaSo.
FS2Freddie Parish IVJr.15Leo FerrineSo.
Special Teams
Ps. No. Player Yr.
K19D.J. FitzpatrickSr.
P19D.J. FitzpatrickSr.
KR33Justin HoskinsSo.
PR5Rhema McKnightSr.

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As soon as Charlie Weis said it, he began to backtrack. Having just been introduced as the 28th head football coach at his alma mater, Weis knew his use of the word "nasty" might be misinterpreted.

As a 1978 graduate of Notre Dame, Weis knows the delicate balance a coach must strike between developing well-rounded student-athletes off the field and bloodthirsty, nasty football players on it. So when he described the type of player he wanted playing for the Irish, he knew he better offer a quick explanation.

Actually, Weis need not have worried. The throngs of Irish fans worldwide immediately bought in to his bold talk, which included the promise to get the Irish back on track faster than the national experts might project.

"The most important thing to understand is that nasty is not a negative, nasty is a positive," said Weis during the spring. "It's when you're playing with passion and you're playing with emotion and you're giving it your all, all the time, and you're going to hit them before they hit you."

Weis believes his players are starting to take on the attitude that defines him as a coach.

"I think it's really important for the attitude of the head coach to permeate through the team," said Weis, who returned to South Bend sporting three Super Bowl rings as offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots.

"Each head coach has his own personality and the way they like to do business, and in my case I've taken what I've learned under the two Bills -- Belichick and Parcells -- and I've tried to copycat the things I think have worked the best.

"The team has to have the personality of the head coach. I think they're on their way to getting what I stand for."

OFFENSE

Quarterback Brady Quinn has 21 starts under his belt and should benefit greatly from Weis' tutelage. He improved his completion percentage from 47.3 as a freshman to 54.1 as a sophomore, threw for 755 more yards, and went from a 9-to-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio to 17-to-10. Darius Walker rushed for 786 yards as a freshman in 2004 and should excel even more behind an offensive line that returns intact. Watch for senior Rashon Powers-Neal to be utilized as a halfback and fullback. The receiving corps underachieved as a whole, but senior Matt Shelton (20 catches, 25.8-yard average, six touchdowns) is a big-play threat every time he lines up. Seniors Rhema McKnight (team-leading 42 receptions in 2004) and Maurice Stovall (21 receptions last year), and junior Jeff Samardzija (17 catches, including five in the Insight Bowl) appear primed to thrive in Weis' Patriots-style attack. The most talented position on the team might be at tight end, however, where Anthony Fasano (45 career catches, six touchdowns) leads a three-man pack.

DEFENSE

Stalwart defensive ends Justin Tuck and Kyle Budinscak, tackle Greg Pauly and linebackers Derek Curry and Mike Goolsby are gone from a defensive front seven that was the strength of a .500 ball club.

Noseguard Derek Landri had a stellar '04 campaign, and juniors Victor Abiamiri (end) and Trevor Laws (tackle) have star potential.

Brandon Hoyte is the lone holdover at linebacker. Fifth-year senior Corey Mays has paid his dues and moves into the starting lineup. Converted wide receiver/strong safety Chinedum Ndukwe takes over at the apache (outside) linebacker spot.

The losses in the secondary are ample (safety Quentin Burrell, and cornerbacks Dwight Ellick, Preston Jackson and Carlos Campbell), but the unit struggled when a Jan. 1 bowl bid was still on the line in November.

Junior strong safety Tom Zbikowski will be the stabilizing force. Senior Mike Richardson encountered some tough times last year, but is the most technically sound returning cornerback. The rest of the playing time in the back row will be divvied up among safety Freddie Parish IV, along with cornerbacks Ambrose Wooden, Junior Jabbie and Terrail Lambert.

SPECIALISTS

He kicks, he kicks off, he punts. Senior D.J. Fitzpatrick was a one-man kicking corps for the Irish in '04. Fitzpatrick converted 11-of-15 field goal attempts, made all but one extra-point attempt (the miss came in a one-point loss to Boston College) and averaged a solid 41.8 yards per punt.

FINAL ANALYSIS

The Irish have not been able to corner the market on talent the way they once did. In fact, they haven't been able to consistently land top-10 recruiting classes since Lou Holtz stepped down nearly a decade ago.

Weis, with his impressive NFL resume, plans to end the talent drought in South Bend -- but first he'll try to work his championship magic on an offense that returns 10 starters, with hopes of getting Notre Dame back in a prominent bowl game.

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