Irish Spring: By The Numbers

0 Career starts at cornerback entering the 2012 campaign. The graduated tandem of Gary Gray and Robert Blanton had 59 starts between them. This year will mark the first time since 1997, Bob Davie’s first season as head coach, the Irish enter a season with zero career starts at corner. In ‘97 the Irish had to replace the tandem of Allen Rossum and Ivory Covington, but even then 1996 starting free safety Deveron Harper was moved to cornerback.

Running back/slot receiver Theo Riddick will be an essential figure if Notre Dame is to improve its yards per catch figure from 2011.

4 Notre Dame players in history who recorded consecutive 1,000-yard rushing campaigns: Vagas Ferguson (1978-79), Allen Pinkett (1983-85), Autry Denson (1996-98) and Darius Walker (2005-06). Cierre Wood will attempt to become the fifth after posting 1,102 yards and 5.1 yards per carry last season.

10.7 Yards per catch averaged last year by Notre Dame’s top four returning wideout candidates, Theo Riddick and TJ Jones (who had 38 catches apiece), Robby Toma and John Goodman. That modest figure was posted even with the presence of Michael Floyd, a projected first-round pick this April. Rarely do you ever see a tight end like Tyler Eifert with a 12.7 average lead the team in that category. First-year offensive coordinator Chuck Martin has talked about being “more vertical” this season, but the Irish will have to be a greater threat with the run, including at QB, to achieve that.

16 Career starts by quarterback Tommy Rees — tied for fourth most in Notre Dame history by a QB entering his junior campaign. Only Jimmy Clausen with 22 in 2007-08, Brady Quinn with 21 in 2003-04 and Steve Beuerlein with 18 in 1983-84 had more entering their true (non-red-shirt) junior season. Rees is tied with Blair Kiel (1980-81), the uncle of early enrollee Gunner Kiel, at the fourth spot.

16 This also represents the number of points given up in the third quarter last year by Notre Dame — the fewest in any quarter since the 1988 national champs yielded the same amount in the first quarter of their 12-0 campaign.

19 Quarterback hurries combined by the 2011 dynamic freshman defensive line tandem of Aaron Lynch (14) and Stephon Tuitt (5), or 41.3 percent of the team’s 46. Lynch had twice as more than anyone else (graduated Cat linebacker Darius Fleming had seven), and Tuitt had the versatility to line up at end or nose.

26 Consecutive starts by offensive left tackle Zack Martin. With two years of eligibility remaining, Martin is halfway home toward breaking the Notre Dame career record of most starts held by 2006-09 offensive tackle Sam Young, who had 50.

90 Receptions snared by Tyler Eifert as he enters his senior season, highlighted by an Irish single-season tight end record of 63 last year. He needs 39 this season to break the school tight end standard of 128 set by three-time All-American Ken MacAfee (1974-77), who was the Walter Camp Award recipient for the 1977 national champs and is in the College Football Hall of Fame.

118th Ranking among 120 teams last year in turnover margin (minus 1.15). Especially disconcerting is the 14 forced in 13 games is believed to be the lowest ever at Notre Dame. There is a lot of talk about the Irish building a championship defense in the near future, but the unit will need to be much more productive in this area.

324 Tackles recorded by Manti Te’o through his first three seasons. That ranks eighth on the all-time Irish chart. This season he is well on pace to join Bob Crable (1978-81) and Bob Golic (1975-78) in the Irish “400 Club.” Crable has 521 and Golic 479.

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