Injuries plague Irish at Insight
Matt Lozar | Wednesday, January 12, 2005
PHOENIX – Starters Maurice Stovall and Justin Tuck didn’t dress for the Insight Bowl. Stovall had been having injury troubles through most of the second half of the season.
Meanwhile, Tuck was experiencing problems with his knee and found out two days before the game he wouldn’t be playing.
“We did everything we could to get me ready, that knee just wouldn’t respond this week for some reason,” Tuck said. “My only regret is that I couldn’t get out there. Sometimes things just don’t happen the way you want them to.”
Starting left offensive guard Bob Morton also didn’t play in the game. Dan Santucci played in his place.
Wide receiver Matt Shelton suffered a knee injury during Insight Bowl practice in Arizona. However, Shelton suited up and came in for one play in the fourth quarter to qualify for a Notre Dame record. Catching a shovel pass from Brady Quinn allowed Shelton to have the highest per catch single-season average in Notre Dame history at 25.8 yards per catch. Tony Hunter was the previous record holder with a 25.6 yards per catch average in 1979.
“We were pretty beat up going into this game,” Irish interim head coach Kent Baer said. I thought the rest of those guys stepped up and did a tremendous job.”
Wooden moves up the depth chart
Coming to Notre Dame as a highly-rated offensive player out of high school, Ambrose Wooden has been lost in a position change to cornerback.
In the Insight Bowl, Wooden got his chance.
Seeing Wooden make plays in practice, Baer and the coaching staff decided to move Wooden up the depth chart and the sophomore saw playing time on passing downs.
“He’s done such a great job in practice and he’s got great ball skills, plays the deep ball well,” Baer said. “He’s a great athlete and he’s going to be a tremendous player for Notre Dame in the future. I think the young [defensive backs] are going to be tremendous and I think he’s one of them.
Wooden now has a world of confidence going into the offseason and with a new coaching staff arriving.
“I’m definitely more confident now. I’m making plays on the deep ball. I have to go into the offseason,” Wooden said. “We’re going to have a young secondary next season, and we’re just going to have to come together and do what we have to do.”
One player noticeably absent from the defensive backfield was Freddie Parish After starting at cornerback against Southern California, Parish didn’t start against Oregon State and didn’t play on passing downs.
Offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick opened up the playbook early against Oregon State. On Notre Dame’s first offensive play from scrimmage, Diedrick called a halfback pass for freshman Justin Hoskins. The pass intended for Rhema McKnight was overthrown.
As the Irish opened up their next offensive series, Diedrick called a screen pass that featured a fake reverse before falling incomplete. Later in that same series, Chase Anastasio lost 13 yards on a reverse.
Backup quarterback Pat Dillingham saw action in the first quarter after starting quarterback Brady Quinn had to miss two plays after getting poked in the eye on the ill-fated Anastasio reverse.
Dillingham handed off to Darius Walker on the first play and threw an incomplete pass to McKnight on a slip screen on third down.
Quinn returned to the field for the next Irish series and played the rest of the game.
uWalker broke the freshman rushing record in the second quarter and finished the season with 786 yards.
uJerome Havens held the record previously with a total of 757 yards in 1975.
u”A lot of outside people try to keep up with that, but I don’t keep up with that too much,” Walker said. “I knew I was somewhat close and coming out this game, we had the chance to have an extra game. God-willing I broke it.”
uNotre Dame’s second quarter touchdown drive tied for the season-high in plays (13) and was the longest in time (6 minutes, 53 seconds) on the year.
uThe Bank One Ballpark roof was open for the start of game, but had to be closed early in the first quarter due to rain.
Insight Bowl captains
Notre Dame’s team captains for the Insight Bowl were Derek Curry, Mike Goolsby, Ryan Grant and Carlyle Holiday. The team selected those four players were selected as season captains at the team banquet on Dec. 3.