Samardzija snaps Mayes’ school mark
Kevin Brennan | Monday, November 7, 2005
Jeff Samardzija’s third- quarter touchdown was his 12th on the season, breaking the Notre Dame record for receiving scores in one year. The record was previously held by Derrick Mayes, who had 11 touchdown catches in 1994.
Samardzija also extended his own school record for consecutive games with a touchdown reception.
The junior has scored at least once in each of the first eight games of the season.
Samardzija’s 12 touchdown catches place him in a tie for third place in the nation. USC’s Dwayne Jarrett leads the country with 14 on the season.
Weis attributed much of Samardzija’s success to the receiver’s precise route running and excellent hands.
“Every pro scout that comes in here is drooling over him a couple years from now saying, ‘God, this guy catches everything.'” Weis said. “And he does.”
Clearing a path
The 35-yard first quarter touchdown reception by Maurice Stovall was his sixth of the season and the 13th of his career. The senior now has the fifth-most career touchdown receptions in school history. Mayes holds the record, with 22 from 1992-95.
Stovall only recorded one catch in the game after his touchdown, but the receiver certainly made his presence felt. Stovall threw key blocks on both Anthony Fasano’s and Samardzija’s touchdown receptions, as well as on Samardzija’s 73-yard catch late in the third quarter.
Stovall appreciates how important blocking is to the wideout position.
“A big block is just as big as a catch,” the senior said.
Samardzija has been extremely impressed with Stovall’s blocking all year.
“Maurice is a great blocker,” he said.
“From what I’ve seen around the nation he is easily one of the top blockers in the country. It’s something that gets overlooked.”
Rough and tough
Tennessee impressed the Irish with its hard-hitting and physical play. The massive Volunteer defensive line weighs an average 287 lbs. per person, whereas the Notre Dame front four weighs only 269 lbs. per person.
“Coach Weis warned us it was going to be a boxing match, it was going to be a brawl, a bar fight,” Stovall said. “When you’re playing a team that really doesn’t have a great record … they really don’t have anything to lose.”
Anthony Fasano, Darius Walker and Trevor Laws all suffered injuries during the game for Notre Dame. None of the injuries are thought to be serious and all three of the players returned to the game.
Weis received a Gatorade bath after the victory from defensive linemen Justin Brown and Trevor Laws. He wasn’t too thrilled in the postgame press conference, when he was still not sure who gave him the shower.
“I’m going to get the video tape and find out who did that,” Weis said. “I’m not big on that but that’s all right. I’ll take one for the team.”
Running up the score
Notre Dame scored at least 31 points for the sixth straight game Saturday and the seventh time on the season. The only game in which the Irish have not reached that mark in 2005 was the 17-10 victory at Michigan on Sept. 10. Notre Dame reached 31 points just five times in the previous two seasons.
Tennessee won the toss and elected to receive. Notre Dame defended the south end zone.
Brady Quinn, Brandon Hoyte and D.J. Fitzpatrick were Notre Dame’s three captains for the game. Quinn and Hoyte are the offensive and defensive captains for the season, while the special teams captain is selected by the coaches each week.