Less prominent players impress Davie in scrimmage
By KERRY SMITH
With a limited offense, a coaching staff using only a portion if its playbook and eight of next year's probable starters on the sideline, Saturday's Blue-Gold scrimmage was not indicative of things to come in the 2000 season.
Add in a newly-formatted scoring system that allowed the defense to score points for certain plays and the most any fan could garner from Saturday's Blue-Gold scrimmage was a glimpse at some of the talent the Irish squad has stored in its walk-on and reserve players, rather than a preview of the complete Irish arsenal slated to take the field when it counts in the fall.
One of Saturday's biggest surprises was senior Matt McNew's performance at kicker. A walk-on from Arlington, Tex. who led the Irish men's soccer team for four years as a defender, McNew proved he has what it takes to kick for the Irish.
An impressive kicker during his high school career, McNew chose soccer over football in his first four years at Notre Dame, was perfect on Sunday, nailing 5-5 field goals.
"In high school, Matt kicked a 52-yard field goal in the state tournament at Texas Stadium," said Irish head coach Bob Davie. "He came here to play soccer, but really wanted to play football. Now he's exhausted his four years and wants to try to give football a shot."
With Davie trying to come up with a better kicking game than he has produced in the past, that shot seems to be as good as the four shots McNew put through the uprights in the pre-scrimmage field goal contest. McNew tied fellow kicker David Miller by connecting on 32-yard, 37-yard, 42-yard, and 45-yard attempts.
McNew later hit a 23-yard field goal under tighter defensive pressure in the second quarter.
Davie doesn't envision McNew's impact to be on the scoring end, however. He plans to use McNew's talent on kickoffs.
"He has been really impressive with the kickoffs, and if we had to play tomorrow, he would have a really good chance at being our starting kickoff man," Davie said. "He has a chance to be back in the fall with a scholarship."
McNew showed his ability in the pre-scrimmage kickoff contest, when he and Miller again tied with kicks to the 15-yard line.
Sophomore Chris Yura may have earned himself some playing time with a solid performance as well. The 5-foot-11, 211-pound fullback/tailback from Morgantown, W. Va., led the Irish in rushing yards.
"Chris Yura helped himself today," said Davie. "You can see why when he was in Morgantown High school he gained all those yards. He's a talented football player and between fullback and tailback we just might have to find a spot for him."
Backup quarterback Gary Godsey found a good runner in Yura, who topped the Irish roster with 11 carries for 46 yards.
Two junior walk-ons also made their mark in Sunday's drills.
For the second-consecutive time in his college career, 5-foot-5, 170-pound tailback Timmy O'Neill led his team in rushing average in the Blue-Gold scrimmage. O'Neill carried the ball three times for 22 yards, averaging 7.3 yards a carry. Last year, O'Neill averaged 5.7 yards a carry in the scrimmage.
Fellow walk-on Matt Sarb, 5-foot-11, 201-pound strong safety scored five points for the defense when he recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter when senior tight end Joe Recendez dropped the ball after catching a pass from Godsey at the 44-yard line.
All Sports Stories for Monday, May 1, 2000