Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 25, 2017

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

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Page 28 of 55 SEPT. 25, 2017 29 Boston College finished with a 23.5 percent conversion rate, marking the third time in three games that Notre Dame's defense has held the opposi- tion to less than 30 percent. It's a big reason Notre Dame has allowed just 18.7 points per game. "There are a lot of different things that I could point to. I think that our kids are communicating so much better," head coach Brian Kelly ex- plained. "They really are tuned into what we're doing defensively, and we're getting better at the packages that we're running. "We're not running a lot of things. [Defensive coordinator] Mike Elko is not teaching a lot of things, but what we are doing, we're doing very, very well. Just executing a lot better." Notre Dame's pass rush was abys- mal last year, with only 14 sacks on the season. The Irish already have six sacks through three games and are getting more consistent pressure on the quarterback. Boston College's signal-callers completed 58.5 percent of their passes, but many of the throws were within five yards of the line. The abil- ity to disrupt the pass game with the pass rush was a major factor in Notre Dame's third-down success. "One of the areas that we've been really good is that we've been able to get some pressure on the quarterback on third down," Kelly said. "They've been forced to get the ball out quick. "I think our pass rush is better, and we've tackled better on third down." HIT OR MISS Junior quarterback Brandon Wim- bush made a lot of plays with his legs, rushing for 207 yards and four scores in the game, but as good as he was on the ground he was equally ineffective throwing the ball. The junior competed just 11 of 24 passes for 96 yards, including an in- terception late in the second quarter. Making just his third start, Wimbush continues to be hit or miss. Head coach Brian Kelly knows Wimbush must play better, but he praised the effort his quarterback showed in the win. "We've got a fantastic competitor," Kelly said. "The kid has terrific grit and toughness. "As we move into the season now, we're starting to develop a little bit more of who we are offensively and what he can do and what his skill set is. "He's going to develop in the pass- ing game. That's just a matter of time. But we know that he's a great com- petitor and is going to keep fighting. Our guys love that. It really creates a positive feeling on the sideline when they know they've got a guy who's never, ever going to back down." CAREER DAY FOR SHAUN CRAWFORD Shaun Crawford was expected to be Notre Dame's starting nickel back as a true freshman in 2015, but a fall camp knee injury cost him the entire season. The Lakewood, Ohio, native bat- tled back from that injury, earning a starting cornerback spot in 2016, but early in the second game against Nevada Crawford was again lost for the season, this time after tearing the Achilles tendon in his left foot. Crawford has once again battled back, and he was rewarded with a career day against Boston College, picking off a career-high two passes and coming up with the first fumble recovery of his career. "It felt great, but I just have to BOSTON COLLEGE VS. NOTRE DAME QUARTER-BY-QUARTER COMPARISON Boston College 1st Qtr. 2nd Qtr. 3rd Qtr. 4th Qtr. 1st Half 2nd Half Total Time of Possession 8:30 7:43 7:04 7:08 16:13 14:12 30:25 Third-Down Conversions 1-5 1-4 0-4 2-4 2-9 2-8 4-17 Fourth-Down Conversions 0-0 0-0 0-1 1-1 0-0 1-2 1-2 Average Field Position BC-36 BC-34 BC-43 BC-18 BC-35 BC-29 BC-32 Notre Dame 1st Qtr. 2nd Qtr. 3rd Qtr. 4th Qtr. 1st Half 2nd Half Final Time of Possession 6:30 7:17 7:56 7:52 13:47 15:48 29:35 Third-Down Conversions 1-4 2-5 4-5 2-4 3-9 6-9 9-18 Fourth-Down Conversions 0-0 0-1 0-0 0-0 0-1 0-0 0-1 Average Field Position ND-21 ND-13 ND-24 ND-43 ND-17 ND-32 ND-25 PLAY CHART (NO. OF PLAYS) Yards ND BC (-) 6 2 0-5 50 50 6-9 12 9 10-19 14 10 20-29 3 0 30-39 0 3 40-49 0 1 50 or more Yards 0 3 RED ZONE EFFICIENCY (INSIDE 20-YARD LINE) No Poss. TD FG Score Boston Coll. 3 1 2 0 Notre Dame 6 6 0 0 Junior cornerback Shaun Crawford accounted for all three turnovers the Irish forced, intercepting two passes and recovering a fumble. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA BIG PLAYS (25 YARDS OR MORE) Boston College • 1-10 BC25 Hilliman rush for 29 yards to the ND46 Notre Dame • 3-2 ND33 Adams rush for 65 yards to the BC2 • 2-10 ND19 Adams rush for 64 yards to the BC17 • 3-10 ND45 Wimbush rush for 46 yards to the BC9 • 1-10 ND25 Adams rush for 36 yards to the BC39 • 1-10 BC39 Wimbush pass complete to Smythe for 33 yards to the BC6 • 3-7 ND35 Wimbush rush for 65 yards and touchdown • 1-10 BC35 Wimbush rush for 32 yards to the BC3

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