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Collins becomes receiving threat

Mike Gilloon | Monday, October 11, 2004

Irish tight end Jerome Collins looks like he has finally found a position that suits his talent. After being a reserve linebacker the last four years, the fifth-year senior switched to tight end during spring practice. He flourished on Saturday, catching three passes for 45 yards while also recording two tackles on special teams.”It felt really good [to be involved in the win],” he said. “I felt like I was contributing a lot more than just being a special teams player. Today was a special day for me, and I can’t be any happier than I am right now.”Punting improves”Punting” and “spectacular” are words not often used in the same sentence. But Irish coach Tyrone Willingham did just that when talking about Notre Dame punter D.J. Fitzpatrick’s performance against Stanford and throughout the entire season. “He has been almost spectacular,” Willingham said. “He has really stepped up and given us honestly probably more than I thought he would. That has energized our PAT [point-after-try], our field goal team and our punting.”Fitzpatrick had six punts in the game and three times pinned the Cardinal inside their own 20-yard line. Stanford deep man David Marrero averaged only 5.3 yards per return as Fitzpatrick’s high, arching punts gave the Irish coverage team time to sprint downfield and swarm Marrero before he could get anything going.With both offenses struggling, Fitzpatrick’s punting was especially important in the field position battle. Notre Dame’s average field position in the second half was the Irish 43, while Stanford’s was the Cardinal 24. The win columnNotre Dame added another figure to its thick record book as the Irish won the program’s 800th game Saturday. The only school with more wins is the University of Michigan with 838.Quinn shaken upIrish quarterback Brady Quinn was shaken up on a play late in the fourth quarter, and backup quarterback Pat Dillingham came in for the last few snaps. Willingham made only vague comments on Quinn’s condition. “It was an illness at the end of the ballgame,” Willingham said. A reporter then asked if Quinn got his bell rung. “I’d probably say that’s close to what happened,” Willingham said.Coaches said Quinn should be ready to start next week at Navy.UndefeatedWillingham improved to 3-0 against Stanford since he left The Farm for South Bend in 2002. Irish head coaches are now 17-1 against schools where they were formally the head coach, the only loss being the Dan Devine-led Irish against Missouri in 1978. CaptainsGameday captains were defensive end Kyle Budinscak, linebacker Mike Goolsby, running back Ryan Grant and wide receiver Rhema McKnight.