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Pressure forces Irish fullbacks into blocking role

Joe Hettler | Thursday, September 11, 2003

After falling behind 19-0 to Washington State Saturday, the role of Notre Dame’s fullbacks changed.

Instead of giving running backs Ryan Grant and Julius Jones a break or catching short passes out of the backfield, the two had to prepare to block for quarterback Carlyle Holiday, since the Irish were going to resort to passing the ball more than rushing.

That was just fine with Rashon Powers-Neal and Josh Schmidt.

“On Saturday we kind of had to switch up the game plan a little bit because of the situation of the game,” Powers-Neal said.

The two fullbacks combined for just one carry and one reception. But neither seemed to mind, as long as the Irish would win.

“We know our role. We know our No. 1 job is pass blocking,” Schmidt said. “We have to be equally versatile, run routes well and catch the ball out of the backfield and also run the ball if the coaches call a fullback running play.”

Excited for game day

Darrell Campbell was excited after Wednesday’s practice. It was just hard to tell which situation he was more excited about.

First, he told reporters how excited he was to face Michigan this weekend.

“It’s an extremely large rivalry. It’s just going to be a war,” Campbell said. “It’s exciting simply because this is what we’ve done since high school. To go out there and play game game upon game where the competition gets better, that’s what we live for. Michigan definitely raises the bar, and we have to go out there and raise it more just to have a chance. We’re licking our chops.”

Campbell is also excited to be getting one of his defensive members back for Saturday against the Wolverines in linebacker Courtney watson.

“Courtney’s back. I don’t really want to say too much because I get so excited,” Campbell said. “Courtney has some of the greatest celebrations, and he’s all over the place. The intensity he brings – it’s just crazy.”

With all the excitement surrounding Campbell, he hasn’t forgotten the talent level of the upcoming opponent.

He would not take anything away from the Wolverines, despite the two teams they’ve faced this season – Central Michigan and Houston.

“You never downplay anyone’s offense,” Campbell said. “If they’re No.1, those are the statistics you believe in order to up your game. Great players and great teams come out and dominate, and that’s what they did, and that’s why they earned such a high ranking.”


ESPN’s College GameDay will make its seventh trip to Ann Arbor, when it broadcasts its pregame show from Michigan Stadium.

The Wolverines are 11-4 overall and 5-1 at home when GameDay is present, while the Irish are 5-6 overall and 2-3 on the road. However, Notre Dame has won its last two GameDay appearances.