"Wrecking Crew" looks to crush Irish hopes
By KATHLEEN O'BRIEN
Associate Sports Editor
The "Wrecking Crew"of Texas A&M hopes to demolish Notre Dame's hopes of a season-opening victory Saturday.
Senior outside linebackers Roylin Bradley and Jason Glenn tallied 27 tackles for losses and 12 sacks a season ago. Along with two experienced inside linebackers in Cornelius Anthony and Brian Gamble, the Aggies' linebackers have their sights set on breaking up the Irish offense. Notre Dame's offense must counter the Aggies despite having a rookie quarterback and an unproven offensive line.
"Every time we touch the ball on offense, there's going to be someone new handling it," Irish coach Bob Davie said. "Whether we're in the shotgun or whether the quarterback is under center, that's a concern."
Texas A&M finds itself in a similar position, with a new quarterback in sophomore Mark Farris. Farris virtually mirrors Notre Dame quarterback Arnaz Battle at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, and both players will have all eyes on them every time they set foot on the field.
If Farris comes through, he's got a talented running and receiving corps.
Running back Ja'Mar Toombs led the Aggies in rushing a season ago, racking up 583 yards and nine rushing touchdowns. In the air, the best options are Chris Taylor and Bethel Johnson, the top two wide receivers in 1999.
While the Irish starters at linebacker — Tyreo Harrison, Anthony Denman and Rocky Boiman — form a solid block, Davie is concerned about the opposition.
"The question will be, can we block really explosive players like A&M has, [a really] explosive scheme like they have?" Davie asked. "How do we handle their quickness up front? How do we handle their experience up front?"
The Aggies' offensive line, like that of the Irish, has suffered from injuries which struck at their consistency. The defensive line, on the other hand, starts an experienced trio in noseguard Ron Edwards and ends Ronald Flemons and Rocky Bernard.
Texas A&M will be hard-pressed to replace All-American punter and kicker Shane Lechler, but punter Terence Kitchens and Timm Gergeni will give it their best shots.
Texas A&M and Notre Dame, both schools with storied histories, are coming off less than satisfactory seasons. The Aggies finished last year at 8-4, while the Irish were 7-5. Head coach R.C. Slocum, a member of the 100-career victories club, was Irish coach Bob Davie's mentor a few years back.
With close parallels in the two teams, Saturday's matchup should be well balanced and hard-fought. Texas A&M is ranked 25th while Notre Dame is looking to break into the top 25. Both teams are looking to raise their rankings with a season-opening victory.
All Sports Stories for Friday, September 1, 2000