Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 25, 2017

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

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32 SEPT. 25, 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED What Worked Keep Pounding The Rock: It didn't feel like Notre Dame finished with 515 rushing yards, but that's exactly what the Irish offense did in its 49‑20 win over Boston College. Early on the offense was all about big plays, with junior running back Josh Adams ripping off runs of 65 and 64 yards to set up both of Notre Dame's first‑half touchdowns. Those two runs accounted for 129 of Notre Dame's 218 rushing yards in the first half. Combined with junior quar‑ terback Brandon Wimbush completing just 7 of 16 passes, the Irish offense could not re‑ ally get rolling in the early going. That changed at halftime. Notre Dame kept pounding the Boston College defense. By sticking with the run game, offensive coordinator Chip Long was able to allow his line to wear the Eagles out. The Irish offense had 21 non‑sack rushes in the first half for 210 yards. Adams had the two long runs mentioned above, but Notre Dame had just 81 yards on the other 19 carries. Only 11 of those 21 at‑ tempts went for four yards or more. In the second half, Notre Dame had 293 non‑sack yards on 27 rushes, and 17 of the runs went for four yards or more, including four runs of at least 32 yards. Two offensive players topped the 200‑yard mark rushing in the same game for the first time in school his‑ tory, Adams finishing with 229 yards and Wimbush totaling 207 yards while scoring four touchdowns. S i t u a t i o n a l D e f e n s e : N o t re Dame's defense gave way too much ground to the Boston College offense, which accumulated 400 yards for the first time against a Power Five op‑ ponent since doing it against North Carolina State on Oct. 11, 2014. Despite the yardage yielded, though, the Irish defense was able to get off the field and keep the points down. Boston College converted just 4 of 17 third downs, which means the Irish defense has now held each of its first three 2017 opponents to less than 30 percent in that all‑important category. Putting Boston College in third‑ and‑long situations was important to the defense's success. Nine of the 17 third‑down chances were third‑and‑ seven or longer, and the Eagles were only 1 of 9 in those spots. Redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Brown completed 6 of 12 passes on third down, but four of those completions failed to pick up first‑down yardage. Brown threw one interception and was sacked once on third down. Boston College penetrated into the red zone three times in this game, but was held to just one touchdown, adding to Notre Dame's situational effectiveness. What Didn't Work Missed Opportunities For Wim- bush: Notre Dame can and must play a lot better on offense, especially Wimbush, who completed just 11 of 24 passes for only 96 yards. Notre Dame had plenty of receivers break‑ ing open, but Wimbush could not connect with them. On three occasions, he sailed the ball over the head of ju‑ nior wideout Equanimeous St. Brown (who caught only one pass for three yards), including a throw that was picked off late in the second quarter. All three of those passes could have gone for significant yardage. There were numerous op‑ portunities for tight end Alizé Mack (five catches for 43 yards) to make some big plays in the game, but again Wimbush could not get him the football accurately. Wimbush made a lot of plays in the second half with his legs, but moving forward he will have to be more effec‑ tive as a passer if Notre Dame wants to beat the better oppo‑ nents on the schedule. Tackling Issues Hurt De- fense: The Irish defense had tackling issues on all three levels against Boston College. Notre Dame's defensive line had chances to come up with stops near the line of scrim‑ mage but far too often it was not able to make the play. Senior linebacker Nyles Morgan, junior linebacker Te'von Coney and senior linebacker Greer Martini played well as a whole, combining to make 32 tackles, but even with that group there were misses that allowed Boston College running back Jon Hill‑ iman to pick up yards after contact. The back end is where Notre Dame had the most problems. The corner‑ backs, as a whole, gave up too much ground after initially hitting receiv‑ ers or backs. The safeties had a few too many missed tackles, though junior safety Devin Studstill did play well versus the run game. ✦ Boston College: What Worked And What Didn't CLOSER LOOK BRYAN DRISKELL Bryan Driskell has been a football analyst for Blue & Gold Illustrated since April 2015. He can be reached at Junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush did the majority of his damage to Boston College with his elusiveness and running skills that produced 207 rushing yards. However, he will need to improve his touch and accuracy with his passing after connecting on only 11 of 24 throws for 96 yards. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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