Senior Swan Song
Kelly to honor Johnson (right) and 38 others
Kelly to honor Johnson (right) and 38 others
Posted Nov 16, 2011

A review of the class of 2008's accomplishments as they approach their final home game at Notre Dame Stadium...

Saturday marks the final home game for the second-ranked recruiting class of 2008 – now 21 members strong. Add a six-pack of 2007 freshmen that remained (or transferred to) South Bend with a 5th-season of college eligibility, and 27 scholarship players plus 12 senior walk-ons will enter the Stadium’s north tunnel for the last time.

(14 of the 27 scholarship players are eligible to apply for a 5th-season in 2012, though it would be a major surprise if more than 5-6 of the 14 return due to a numbers crunch regarding incoming freshmen prospects.)

Below is a look at how the group, after two defections – one to the NFL, one a 2009 summer transfer – has fared to date.

Class Superlatives

The class of 2008 has compiled a 28-20 record to date, with wins in 11 of their last 14, the best 14-game stretch since November 2006.

  • Record when coached by Brian Kelly/staff: 15-8
  • Record when coached by Charlie Weis/staff: 13-12
  • Record at home: 15-10 (one remaining)
  • Record on the road: 8-10 (one remaining)
  • Neutral record (regular season): 3-0 (one remaining)
  • Bowl record: 2-0 – the class could be the first to win three bowl games since the famed recruiting haul of 1990 (3-1 in four New Year’s Day/BCS-equivalent Bowls)
  • Longest Winning Streak: 4 games (2010: Utah, Army, USC, Miami and 2011: Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Air Force)
  • Longest Losing Streak: 4 games (Navy, at Pittsburgh, UConn, at Stanford 2009)
  • Longest home winning streak: 4 games from Sept. 6 to Oct. 4 2008 (San Diego State, Michigan, Purdue, and Stanford); snapped by Pittsburgh on November 1.
  • Longest road winning streak: 3 games (Pittsburgh, Purdue, and Wake Forest, 2011). 4 games including neutral site win vs. Maryland last week.

  • Record vs. Top 25 opponents: 2-5 (defeated Michigan State in September 2011; defeated Utah last November; lost at UNC and at USC ’08; vs. USC and at Pittsburgh ’09; and at home vs. Stanford 2010) – one opportunity remains, potentially two with a bowl matchup pending.

  • Record vs. teams that finished with a winning record: 10-15 entering the season. In 2011, Notre Dame is 3-0 vs. teams with a losing record (Purdue, Navy, Maryland); 3-1 vs. teams presently standing at 5-4 or 5-5 (South Florida, Pittsburgh, Air Force, and Wake Forest); and 1-2 vs. teams assured of a winning record at season’s end: (Michigan, Michigan State, USC). Remaining games vs. Boston College (3-7) and Stanford (9-1) will add to both sides of the ledger.
  • Record vs. teams that finished with a losing record: 13-2 (also beat 6-6 Western Michigan) with three wins and a loss pending…

  • September Record: 9-7
  • October Record: 11-5
  • November Record: 6-8
  • December Record: 2-0
  • Record prior to Bye Weeks: 2-2
  • Record following Bye Weeks: 2-2
  • Record in prime time: 8-8 (with one remaining)

  • Leading Receiver: Michael Floyd (258 receptions, 3,461 yards, 35 TD plus one rushing score)
  • Leading Rusher: Jonas Gray (178 carries, 1,059 yards, 11 TD)
  • Most Rushing Touchdowns: Gray (11); Dayne Crist (4)
  • Leading Passer: Dayne Crist (199-338, 2,327 yards, 16 TD, 9 INT)
  • Longest TD Scored: Michael Floyd (88 yards vs. Nevada, 2009). Departed classmate Kyle Rudolph scored on a 95-yard touchdown toss vs. Michigan in September 2010.
  • Longest TD Combination: Dayne Crist to Michael Floyd (80 yards vs. Western Michigan, 2010) …Also, Crist-to-Rudolph: 95 yards vs. Michigan in Week 2, 2010.

  • Most Tackles: Robert Blanton (183 total) – 5th-year senior Harrison Smith (292)
  • Most Tackles for Loss: Darius Fleming (30.5)
  • Most Interceptions: Robert Blanton (8); Smith (7); Gray (6)
  • Most Fumbles Forced: Kapron Lewis-Moore (3); Darius Fleming (2)
  • Most Passes Defended: Smith (34); 5th-year Gary Gray (21); Blanton (21)
  • Most Sacks: Darius Fleming (14) Ethan Johnson (12.5)
  • Most Games Played: Smith (48); Fleming (47); Blanton (47); Steve Filer (45); Trevor Robinson (45); Gray (43); Johnson (43); Floyd (40)
  • Most Career Starts: Smith (48); Michael Floyd (39); Trevor Robinson (37)

  • Total Touchdowns Scored by the class’ remaining members: 54 (Floyd 36, Gray 11, Crist 4, Blanton 2; Goodman 1). Early NFL Draft Entrant Kyle Rudolph added 8 in 29 games.
  • Offensive MVP to date: Michael Floyd with special mention to Jonas Gray for his senior season.

  • Defensive MVP to date: Robert Blanton, followed closely by Ethan Johnson, Darius Fleming, and Kapron Lewis-Moore. Including 5th-years, Harrison Smith would be the defensive MVP and Gary Gray would be added to the overall list of candidates.

  • Special Teams MVP to date: Including 5th-year players, David Ruffer, who set a Notre Dame record with 23 consecutive successful field goals during his tenure. Special mention to two-time ST tackles leader Steve Filer.

  • Best individual games to date:
    Offense: Floyd vs. Nevada in the 2009 season opener (4 receptions, 189 yards, 3 TD).
    Defense: Blanton vs. Michigan State in 2011: (6 tackles including three for lost yardage; a sack, three passes defended and an 82-yard interception return from the shadow of the Irish goal line to seal the contest late).

    Runner-up candidates: Floyd on at least a dozen occasions; Smith vs. Miami in the 2010 Sun Bowl (three interceptions and seven tackles); Fleming vs. Purdue in Week Four, 2009 (4 tackles, 3 for lost yardage with a sack) and Blanton vs. Purdue in Week Four 2008 (5 tackles and a 47-yard interception touchdown).

  • Aggregate Starts: 237 for the class of 2008, but including 5th year players, the seniors honored Saturday will have started 331 games (plus 28 from departed Kyle Rudolph).
  • Transferred Player: Tight end Joseph Fauria (prior to 2009 season)
  • Early Draft Entry: Tight end Kyle Rudolph

Players appearing in their final home game

Notre Dame will honor 39 seniors Saturday afternoon:

  • Taylor Dever (2007)
  • Gary Gray (2007)
  • Andrew Nuss (2007)
  • Mike Ragone (2007)
  • David Ruffer (2008 walk-on transfer, 2011 scholarship player)
  • Harrison Smith (2007)

  • Robert Blanton (2008)
  • Braxston Cave (2008)
  • Lane Clelland (2008)
  • Patrick Coughlin (walk-on, part-time special teams starter)
  • Dayne Crist (2008)
  • Sean Cwynar (2008)
  • Darius Fleming (2008)
  • Steve Filer (2008)
  • Jonathan Frantz (walk-on)
  • Michael Floyd (2008)
  • Mike Golic, Jr. (2008)
  • John Goodman (2008)
  • Jonas Gray (2008)
  • Mike Grieco (walk-on)
  • Ethan Johnson (2008)
  • Ryan Kavanagh (walk-on, two-year special teams starter)
  • Kapron Lewis-Moore (2008)
  • Nick Lezynski (walk-on)
  • Dennis Mahoney (walk-on)
  • Dan McCarthy (2008)
  • Anthony McDonald (2008)
  • Matthew Mulvey (walk-on)
  • Brandon Newman (2008)
  • Sean Oxley (walk-on)
  • Andrew Plaska (walk-on)
  • David Posluszny (2008)
  • Trevor Robinson (2008)
  • Chris Salvi (walk-on, two-year special teams starter)
  • Ryan Sharpley (walk-on)
  • Ryan Sheehan (walk-on)
  • Jamoris Slaughter (2008)
  • Hafis Williams (2008)
  • Deion Walker (2008)

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