Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 14, 2020

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

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36 NOV. 14, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED down, bested corner Sheridan Jones for a 17-yard catch and got safety No- lan Turner for a 35-yarder. To fully appreciate that feat, con- sider that Kendrick has allowed two other catches and no touchdowns in seven games. Jones' longest comple- tion allowed was Flowers' catch. None of the three has opponent NFL passer ratings allowed of more than 50.2. All told, Flowers has five catches on throws at least 20 yards downfield, four of them for touchdowns. "If you have the ability on offense to strike fast and make explosives like that, it changes how you think on de- fense," Hafley said earlier this season. "If people want to bring guys up in the box to stop the run, we have to be able to throw it over their head. That is what Zay and some of our other guys give us the ability to do." But there is a catch. "Eventually, you'll see that it makes us be able to run the ball more ef- fectively," Hafley said. "Once we do that, we've got a team right where we want them." Just as Boston College's passing of- fense has awoken, its running game has quieted. Sustaining a pace of 253.2 yards per game (eighth nationally) on just more than 50 attempts an outing was unreasonable after losing AJ Dil- lon and his 4,382 career rushing yards to the NFL. But no one imagined a plummet to just 94.6 yards per game. That's not sack-adjusted, but four rushes of 20 or more yards in seven games is a concerning pace. An aver- age of 4.02 yards per carry, excluding sacks, is equally uninspiring. "Late in the season, the running game is important," Jurkovec said. "We're going to have to run the ball well. I feel confident in it and like how I'm coming along in the run game, making some of those reads and mak- ing a defense respect my running." A meeting with Notre Dame's run defense, though, is not a friendly situ- ation to spark a turnaround. The Irish did not allow a 100-yard rusher in their first six games and surrendered only five runs of 20-plus yard in that stretch. Generating pressure should be achievable, too. Boston College ranks 71st in sack rate, while Notre Dame's defense is 16th. Hafley's defensive background has led to some improvement on that side, but Boston College had one direction to go and that's upward. The Eagles' defense ended last season near the bottom 20 nationally in yards per play, opponent pass efficiency, com- pletion rate and third-down conver- sion rate. They were last in plays of 10-plus yards allowed. The numbers are up in many cate- gories, but are still middle-of-the-pack nationally. Boston College's yards al- lowed per play have dropped from 6.33 to 5.63, which ranks 57th nation- ally. Its defense isn't porous, but it's not yet steadily reliable either. Explosive plays are still a bugaboo. Only four teams have allowed more 20-plus yard gains than the Eagles' 39. Hafley has also lamented tackling, particularly after a 40-14 loss to Vir- ginia Tech Oct. 17, when he counted 26 whiffs. Among the individual stars on defense is redshirt junior defensive lineman Marcus Valdez, whose 20 quarterback hurries are third nation- ally, per Pro Football Focus. Fifth-year senior linebacker Max Richardson, a second-team All-ACC selection in 2019, has a team-high 69 tackles and is second with 6.0 tackles for loss. Sophomore cornerback Josh DeBerry has allowed only 8.9 yards per catch and had four passes broken up. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: BOSTON COLLEGE Sophomore wide receiver Zay Flowers had five catches of at least 20 yards and two 162-yard games dur- ing Boston College's 4-3 start. PHOTO COURTESY BOSTON COLLEGE ATHLETICS 2020 BOSTON COLLEGE SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 19 at Duke W, 26-6 Sept. 26 Texas State W, 24-21 Oct. 3 North Carolina L, 26-22 Oct. 10 Pittsburgh W, 31-30 Oct. 17 at Virginia Tech L, 40-14 Oct. 24 Georgia Tech W, 48-27 Oct. 31 at Clemson L, 34-28 Nov. 7 at Syracuse W, 16-13 Nov. 14 Notre Dame TBA Nov. 27 Louisville TBA Dec. 5 at Virginia TBA 2020 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 12 Duke W, 27-13 Sept. 19 South Florida W, 52-0 Oct. 10 Florida State W, 42-26 Oct. 17 Louisville W, 12-7 Oct. 24 at Pittsburgh W, 45-3 Oct. 31 at Georgia Tech W, 31-13 Nov. 7 Clemson W, 47-40 (2OT) Nov. 14 at Boston College TBA Nov. 27 at North Carolina (ESPN) TBA Dec. 5 Syracuse (NBC) 2:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at Wake Forest TBA

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