Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 14, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 34 of 55 NOV. 14, 2020 35 BY PATRICK ENGEL P hil Jurkovec, as the kids say, wanted the smoke. Back in January, during his first media availability since transferring from Notre Dame to Bos- ton College, he hinted at one contest he was already eyeing. That game was in 2022, when the redshirt sophomore once anointed the Fighting Irish's answer at quarterback would be a fifth-year senior. At the time, it was the next scheduled oppor- tunity for the Eagles and Irish to play. He relished in the idea of playing his former team and against old friends. "They are on the schedule in a cou- ple years," Jurkovec said, offering a toothy grin and shrug. "If the chance comes, that'd be awesome to play." That was, of course, before CO- VID-19 took its grip on the world and forced college football down some al- ternate routes. Notre Dame joined the ACC for a year. The conference sched- ule expanded to 10 outings, with four new games for each ACC team. The new version threw him a bone: a Nov. 14 meeting between Notre Dame and Boston College in Massachusetts. The N C A A a l s o gave him his wish: a waiver for immediate eligibility. "I'm really e x c i t e d f o r that," Jurkovec said in August. "I know all those guys. We wanted them on the schedule and I'm glad they made it happen." All in a span of a couple weeks, fun speculation turned into reality and an inevitable deluge of hot takes, the tem- porary renewal of the contrived Book versus Jurkovec quarterback battle and referendums issued on both play- ers with every throw they make. The ebbs and flows that will come with every Jurkovec dart or Notre Dame passing offense misstep will be strong enough to knock a building off its moorings. But that's just one subplot of an im- portant game for both teams. It's the game after the game for Notre Dame, a spot that has led to prior ambushes. Irish fans need no reminding of their team's 1993 loss to Boston College in the exact same situation. The Eagles' ACC title hopes are all but extinguished, but they're good enough to push and perhaps pick off a highly ranked team. They just did it Oct. 31, taking a 28-10 lead at Clemson before allowing 24 unanswered points to end the game. It was encouraging progress for a program that hadn't stayed close in its annual meetings with Clemson since the Tigers reached behemoth status. But they're not inter- ested in praise for a near-miss. "We lost, and I still feel sick to my stomach about it," first-year head coach Jeff Hafley said. "I probably al- ways will, because we lost the game." Notre Dame represents a chance for the Eagles to finish the job and punch above their per- ceived weight class. Jurkovec has given their passing offense p u l s e , a f t e r they lacked one in former head c o a c h S t e v e Addazio's final years, and elevated the pieces around him. Through seven games, he had thrown for 1,875 yards with 14 touchdowns and four inter- ceptions. He was completing 61.3 per- cent of his throws on 7.6 yards per attempt, and there is a gunslinger style to his play. "You're going to make mistakes," Jurkovec said. "Just go and let it loose." Jurkovec's complementary pieces are effective, beginning with one of the ACC's most reliable pass catch- ers in redshirt junior tight end Hunter Long (41 receptions for 478 yards and three touchdowns) and one of its fast- est players in sophomore receiver Zay Flowers (32 catches for 536 yards and five scores). Long leads all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) tight ends in catches and yards. Only two FBS play- ers have been targeted on third down more often than him. He's 14th in first- down rate among all tight ends with at least 15 targets. Flowers, meanwhile, is Boston Col- lege's best deep threat and ranked third in the ACC in receiving yards heading into November. He has twice had 162 yards in a game. His stat line against Clemson (three catches for 63 yards) doesn't stand out, but it in- cluded receptions against three top- level defenders. Flowers beat corner Derion Kendrick for an 11-yard touch- GAME PREVIEW: BOSTON COLLEGE Facts & Figures NOTRE DAME AT BOSTON COLLEGE Game Info Date: Nov. 14, 2020 Site: Alumni Stadium at Chestnut Hill, Mass. Kickoff: TBD Television: TBD Radio: This game can be heard on Notre Dame's IMG affiliates. Series Facts: Notre Dame leads 15-9 and won the last meeting 40-7 in South Bend on Nov. 23, 2019. Head coaches: Boston College — Jeff Hafley (5-3, first season); Notre Dame — Brian Kelly (99-37, 11th season). Noting Boston College: The Eagles have lost at least five games in every season since 2008, with their last 10-win season in 2007 under Jeff Jagodzinski … They have appeared in the Asso- ciated Press poll in one campaign since 2008 … Boston College fired head coach Steve Addazio in December 2019 after he posted a 44-44 record in seven seasons — with a 22-34 mark in ACC games — and bowl appearances in all but one season … Notre Dame has won the last seven games against Boston College, with the Eagles' last win coming in 2008. The last two victories have been by a combined 62 points. We KnoW ThaT Guy Old friend Phil Jurkovec leads the Eagles' hopes of catching Notre Dame off guard Jurkovec, who spent the previous two years at Notre Dame, has given Boston College's passing offense a spark and is averaging 267.9 yards per game. PHOTO COURTESY BOSTON COLLEGE ATHLETICS "I'M REALLY EXCITED FOR THAT. I KNOW ALL THOSE GUYS. WE WANTED THEM ON THE SCHEDULE AND I'M GLAD THEY MADE IT HAPPEN." JURKOVEC IN AUGUST ON THE OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY HIS FORMER TEAM

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