Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 25, 2017

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

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Page 24 of 55 SEPT. 25, 2017 25 BOSTON COLLEGE RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE After rushing 16 times for 94 yards in the first half, Boston College junior running back Jon Hilliman was held in check in the second when his six carries netted 28 yards — none more significant than no gain on fourth-and-one from the Irish 30 with Notre Dame clinging to a 14-13 lead. The Eagles had no speed threat (only one of the 44 carries gained more than 10 yards), and the Irish linebackers and rovers, who combined for 41 stops, covered the gaps well against a rebuilding, unseasoned offensive line. The 185 rushing yards and 4.2 yards per carry by the Eagles were respectable, all things considered, but only 68 came in the second half when the game got away from them. ADVANTAGE: Even BOSTON COLLEGE PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE The combination of quarterback Anthony Brown and captain Charlie Callinan (seven catches for 82 yards, highlighted by a leaping 22-yard touchdown grab, plus a 14-yard score) had its moments, but the Eagles averaged only 9.0 yards on their 24 completions and 5.4 yards per attempt. Their bread-and-butter was the play-action off the bootleg, but once the ground game became far less productive in the second half, so too was the play-action passing. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME RUNNING GAME VS. BOSTON COLLEGE RUN DEFENSE What more can be said when the Irish rushed for their most yards (515) in a game in 48 years and the most yards ever per carry (10.1)? Junior running back Josh Adams (229 yards) set the table in the first half with 65- and 64-yard dashes, and then quarterback Brandon Wimbush (207 yards) did more damage in the second half with a 46-yard scramble on third-and-10 when the Irish led only 14-13, and later added a 65-yard touchdown scamper. The 225-pound Adams again demonstrated he is at his best as a downhill, between-the-tackles runner as opposed to an edge figure, where he was not as effective the week prior against Georgia (10 of his 19 carries were two or less yards). His ability to slash through tackles were crucial in both of his long runs. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. BOSTON COLLEGE PASS DEFENSE Outside of one tight end, Alizé Mack (five catches for 43 yards), displaying better hands and effectiveness in the short run-pass option game, and a perfect 33-yard completion to another tight end, Durham Smythe, on a corner route, the Irish pass attack had a dismal day, often having issues with separation. It became irrelevant because of the rushing prowess and the ad-lib running and elusiveness of Wimbush when protection broke down. Junior wideout Equanimeous St. Brown was targeted about 10 times but managed only one catch for three yards. No other wideout emerged, while Wimbush saw a number of his attempts sail high. He finished at less than 50 percent (11 of 24), which is unusual in today's game, but more pertinent is the 96 yards averaged only 4.0 yards per attempt, an anemic figure. Almost never will you see a team average 10.1 yards per rush and 4.0 per pass attempt. Usually, those numbers are reversed. ADVANTAGE: Boston College SPECIAL TEAMS One reason the game was close the first 40 minutes was the pooch and con- ventional punting of Eagles senior Mike Knoll. Seven of his eight punts were placed inside the Irish 20, and most between the 10 and 15. Senior Tyler Newsome had his moments, too, with three of his punts going inside the 20, highlighted by a 57-yard boot. Boston College had a 99-5 advan- tage in return yardage, mainly because of an 80-0 figure on kickoffs, but that was inconsequential. ADVANTAGE: Boston College THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS Notre Dame finished 9 of 18 (50.0 percent) while Boston College was 4 of 17 (23.5 percent). More relevant, Adams busted through a stacked line for a 65-yard jaunt on third-and-two in the first quarter, Wimbush scrambled for 46 yards on third-and-10 to set up the TD that made it 21-13 Irish, Wimbush ran for the 65-yard touchdown on third-and-seven, and junior running back Dexter Williams had a 14-yard run on third-and-six to keep the final touchdown march alive. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame TURNOVERS Boston College forced the game's first two turnovers, near the end of the first half (interception) and on the opening series of the second half (fumble), but managed only three points from them, despite good field position. Notre Dame then generated the game's final three turnovers — and re- sponded with touchdowns on all three Eagles miscues. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame ANALYSIS The game was competitive for the first two and a half quarters before the Irish defense turned the tide by making the fourth-and-one stop at its 30 while leading only 14-13. From there, Boston College seemed demoralized, while Notre Dame was revitalized and finished the final 20:04 of the game on a 35-7 run, aided by three Eagles turnovers, with junior cornerback Shaun Crawford coming up with the ball on all three. There is no greater helpless feeling in football than the inability to stop the run, and Boston College felt it to the fullest. It's offense, which has been among the nation's worst the past three years, was respectable but lacked the overall firepower of Notre Dame. ON PAPER REVISITED BY LOU SOMOGYI Junior tight end Alizé Mack hauled in a team-high five receptions for 43 yards, but for the most part the Irish aerial attack struggled. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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