|Eagles Hope To Suppress LeFevour||10.29.09 at 8:20 pm ET|
If you looked at Boston College’s schedule this summer and saw Central Michigan the week after Notre Dame, you probably thought that the Eagles would be getting a bit of a breather before heading into the final month of the season.
Well, you would be wrong.
This is not a trap game for the Eagles. In fact, if you are a Central Michigan Chippewa, this may be a trap game for you.
“I think it is more of a trap game for them than us,” senior center Matt Tennant said. “They are 7-1 and are going to be ranked in the Top 25 here soon. We are the ones with the freshman quarterback, guys transferring and everything. We are the ones with nothing to lose, we can just go out there and play, we don’t have to worry about those things.”
Boston College is 5-3 (3-2 ACC) and has been a very up-and-down team this year. Granted, things on Chestnut Hill have gone a little bit better than expected so far, but it is still definitely a team in transition. Central Michigan has won seven straight, including a win over Michigan State, after losing to Arizona in its season opener. The Chippewas have votes in every single poll. Another win over a BCS conference opponent will probably set them into the national rankings and towards a major bowl game. So, Tennant is right, Central Michigan does have more to lose than Boston College. The Eagles are trying to scrap together a respectable season whereas the Chippewas are a rising star.
The star has a name, too: Dan LeFevour. The senior quarterback is near the top of a bunch of NCAA career active lists. First in total offense and career completions. Second in passing yards. Third in touchdown passes. The only other two NCAA quarterbacks on those lists are Colt McCoy (Texas) and Tim Hiller (Western Michigan). You may have heards those names . . . once or twice, perhaps.
LeFevour is a big guy at 6-foot 3-inches, 238 pounds. That is tight end big (actually, LeFevour is the same height as the Chippewas starting tight end, David Blackburn, but outweighs him by five pounds). He can throw. He can run. People say he reminds them of a certain quarterback who plies his wares in the swamps of Florida.
“He reminds you of [Tim] Tebow,” sophomore cornerback Donnie Fletcher said. “He can run, he can throw it. He is pretty hard to bring down in the open field. He makes good reads, has a strong arm. Pretty good quarterback.”
If you are compared to Tebow, that means you are probably a pretty good college quarterback, a runner with size and determination. At the same time, if you share career high lists with McCoy, that means that you also are a well-above average pocket passer. Sound deadly?
It could be.
The Eagles have had a fair amount of trouble stopping opponents’ passing games this year. The soft spot of the Boston College defense is underneath. Opponents have been running routes to clear out the linebackers from the middle and hitting receivers for five yards, gains that often become eight or nine yards. On the outside, the cornerbacks do not play press coverage and quarterbacks know they can hit wide receivers on four-yard slants or outs and let them run.
This hurt Boston College last week against Notre Dame, most evidently on the winning touchdown. Jimmy Clausen hit Golden Tate on a medium corner route and Tate shed Fletcher and raced to the end zone. The Eagles figured they would cede the yardage and make the tackles, as they had all year. But, with a guy like Tate, that is playing with fire and BC got burned.
Central Michigan does not have a receiver like Tate, but that does not mean they have cupcakes on the outside either. The Chippewas depth chart says they start three wide receivers (as opposed to a fullback), all of them upper-classmen — seniors Bryan Anderson and Kito Poblah along with junior Antonio Brown. Of the three, Brown has the best numbers with 48 catches, 544 yards and seven touchdowns on the season but Anderson (33 catches, 436 yards) and Poblah (30 catches, 342 yards) both have numbers similar to the Eagles’ top receiver, senior Rich Gunnell (32 catches, 439 yards, 4 touchdowns).
Boston College does not have a guy like LeFevour under center, and as such, the Eagles feature more of a running game. Still, it is saying something about LeFevour and his receiver corps to have three guys with that level of production.
The Eagles will need to put some pressure on LeFevour, as they have been wont to do this year. That said, hitting LeFevour and actually knocking him down are two separate things entirely.
“He is a big kid, six-three, 240, you know?” defensive end Alex Albright said. “I wouldn’t have a lot of trouble taking on guys, too, most guys are shorter than me. Just lower my shoulder and hope for the best. I think the best thing we got to do is just hit him, you know? Just take advantage of free shots on the quarterback.”
- To Meter and Chach: A Chippewa is a tribe of Native Americans also known as the Ojibwe, located in the northern United States and Canada. The French refer to them as Salteurs. The name “Chippewa” is the English term for “Ojibwa.” From the Central Michigan media guide, “The university’s goals are to use the name with honor and respect, increase supportive connections between CMU and Native Americans, and improve efforts to sensitize students, faculty and staff to Native American traditions and cultures.” Just saying.
- Freshman running back Rolandan Finch, who is expected to take up much of the slack after the departure of Josh Haden from the team, will probably be a game-time decision with some type of illness. Coach Frank Spaziani said that Finch is undergoing blood tests and other medical tests. It is believed Finch has some type of flu or strep throat.
|Meter & Chach preview the Central Michigan Game||10.29.09 at 3:20 pm ET|
|BC Players Surprised By Haden And Tuggle Transfers||10.28.09 at 9:46 pm ET|
It isn’t uncommon for college athletes to transfer. It is the nature of being young and having expectations, either on the playing field or on campus, and then having those expectations not work out. For some players that is the time to move on.
But not a lot of players do that in the middle of the season, as is the case with redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Tuggle and sophomore running back Josh Haden, who announced yesterday that they are leaving Boston College.
“You don’t want guys to jump ship before the ship’s even landed,” defensive end Alex Albright said. “That’s their decision. If they want to get an early decision of where they are going to go, then more power to them. I wish them the best of luck.”
For the most part, the rest of the BC squad was taken by surprise.
“I was surprised. I like Tuggle, I like Josh. It is hard to see them go,” freshman quarterback Dave Shinskie said. “It is tough to see anyone go, they are good guys. They are good football players, you know. You’d like to keep them on the team, but that is their decision.”
The writing was on the wall for Tuggle. He began the year as the starter and gradually ceded playing time to Shinskie as the 25-year-old gained confidence and recovered from cracked ribs he suffered in camp. Shinskie took over the full-time starter status in the fourth game of the year against Wake Forest and has not really looked back.
“It was pretty much a shot out of the blue,” senior co-captain Rich Gunnell said. “Like, Tuggle, I didn’t know he was leaving or anything, and Josh, he got hurt and wasn’t too happy, so you could kind of foresee that maybe he was thinking about leaving.”
What was especially telling for Tuggle was in the sixth game of the season at Virginia Tech. With Shinskie laying a goose egg as the Eagles got pounded, coach Frank Spaziani decided to yank the former pitcher. The natural thought, to that point in the season at least, would have been to go to Tuggle. Instead, Spaziani went to 18-year-old true freshman Mike Marscovetra for mop up duties against the Hokies.
“We brought [Marscovetra] in because we feel that he has some potential to make some plays and do certain things that might be more beneficial to us down the road,” Spaziani said the week following the Virginia Tech loss. “It is not like there is massive separation between any of the quarterbacks, there really isn’t. That was just a decision we made.”
Tuggle perhaps did not see it that way. With three quarterbacks all in their same year of eligibility, it was probably a foregone conclusion that one of them would ship out. Tuggle saw himself at the bottom of the ladder and felt it was time to go.
“With Justin’s situation, three guys competing at quarterback, I guess you can kind of expect one to leave but you have no idea what’s going to happen going down the road or anything,” Albright said.
Haden leaving is more of a surprise in a straight football sense. The “1-2 punch” with Montel Harris (or Double H: The Horse and Hound, as we liked to call them here) was an effective tool for the Eagles, especially with three freshman quarterbacks finding their way. From talking to the players, it seems that there had been some rumblings that Haden might leave after he got hurt in the NC State game. For a memory recall, after Haden went down against the Wolfpack, Harris took it upon himself to carry the Eagles and set two school records with 264 yards and five touchdowns. When the guy ahead of you on the depth chart goes out and does something like that, it has to be hard to feel that you are still going to be relevant.
“Josh, when he first got hurt, you kind of heard him talking about it, but I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Gunnell said.
It is hard to tell yet if the transfers will be much of a psychological blow to a team that is still in search of a true identity. Some of the younger players on the depth chart, such as true freshman running back Rolandan Finch, will have to step up. Older players such as junior fullback James McCluskey and senior running back Jeff Smith also may see additional duty.
“You just have guys step up, like, last week, Montel went down for a couple of plays and we threw the ball,” Shinskie said. “Your game plan might change a little bit, but we have other guys like Jeff Smith and Rolandan Finch that need to step up and they are going to step up because they are athletes and they play for BC.”
|BC’s Tuggle and Haden to Transfer||10.27.09 at 11:29 am ET|
Boston College issued the following statement about the transfer of quarterback Justin Tuggle, who started the season opener for the Eagles, andrunning back Josh Haden:
Boston College Football Coach Frank Spaziani announced today that redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Tuggle and sophomore running back Josh Haden have decided to transfer and have left the football program.
“Both young men expressed a desire to pursue their educations and football careers elsewhere,” Spaziani said. “Each has contributed to our football program, and we wish them well.”
Tuggle started the first three games for the Eagles this season. He completed 13-of-37 passes for 229 yards and four touchdowns. Haden has 58 carries for 213 yards and one touchdown this season.
|Five Things We Learned: Turnovers Doom Eagles Against Irish||10.24.09 at 9:38 pm ET|
Notre Dame finally stopped the bleeding in the collegiate football Holy War against Boston College after a decade of dominance by the Eagles. The Fighting Irish created five turnovers en route to a 20-16 victory in South Bend, Indiana.
In many ways, this was kind of a break out game for Boston College true freshman quarterback Dave Shinskie. He had fallen flat on his face in road games against Clemson and Virginia Tech and the rest of the offense fell with him. In terms of offensive output against Notre Dame Shinskie was a revelation — 17-35 for 279 yards and a touchdown. That is about 277 yards more than he had on the road coming into the game.
The problem for Shinskie though? He also threw three interceptions.
The freshman quarterback is probably not going to add Notre Dame senior strong safety Kyle McCarthy to his Christmas card list anytime soon as McCarthy picked Shinskie off twice in the second half. Brian Smith can kiss his spot off that list as well.
With the Eagles trailing in the final minutes, Shinskie and company were finding a way to move the ball. Shinskie had just hit Rich Gunell for a 30 yard completion on fourth-and-17 to keep hope alive and McCarthy had just committed a pass interference penalty on Justin Jarvis to get the Eagles into Irish territory. It looked as though Boston College had a chance to march all the way down for the winning touchdown. That is when Shinskie blew it. On a broken play he rolled out to the right flat and threw the tried to force the ball through traffic. Instead, it landed right into the hands of Smith.
Game. Set. Match.
“We got flustered and made a play that we probably would like to have back,” head coach Frank Spaziani told reporters. “Once again, we have a true freshman, I don’t care how old Uncle Dave is, he is a true freshman. You’ve got 80,000 people on national TV with the game on the line, it’s a tough task. We have to get to the point where we can make those plays but we just didn’t do it today.”
Without the interceptions, Shinskie had a good game. He hit 10 throws of at least 20 yards, most of them to Gunnell.
“Am I happy to have 10 ‘explosives’ in the same game? Absolutely not,” Irish head coach Charlie Weis said.
But Shinskie was not the only Eagle responsible for giving the ball away. Montel Harris can lay claim to that dubious distinction as well. Harris had come into the game on a streak of 356 carries without losing a fumble. In this game he fumbled three and lost two.
The worst of it came in the third quarter with Boston College looking to drive for a back-breaking touchdown with the score 16-13 Eagles. Harris was looking to punch the goal line when Irish safety Sergio Brown got his helmet on the ball, knocking it loose of Harris on the 2-yard line. The Irish recovered.
That was probably the swing play of the game. If Harris had been able to break the plane then the Eagles would have taken a 23-13 lead and been able to play a more conservative game meaning that Shinskie would not have been in the position he was to throw those interceptions.
So, the duo that are normally responsible for Eagles victories handed the game to the Irish. Sometimes that is just how things work out.
Here are four other things we learned as the Irish won their first game against Boston College since 2000 …
RICH GUNNELL HAS BEEN WAITING FOR THIS
You kind of had to feel bad for Gunnell this season. The senior co-captain would have loved to put up some monster numbers to help increase his draft status next spring but he has been cursed with a trio of freshman quarterbacks learning how to cope with life in big time college football.
It is not that Gunnell has not been getting the ball. Entering the game he led the team with 22 receptions for 260 yards and three touchdowns through seven games. That would leave him short of matching the 49 catches he had last year or the 64 he had in 2007.
Well, Gunnell finally got up to speed with Shinskie. His 10 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown nearly double his output for the season.
“I am sure he would have liked to have a couple more. We need Richard to play well for us to do well,” Spaziani said.
Gunnell was instrumental in helping the Eagles move the chains. Through the middle of the game when it looked like Boston College was going to come out of Notre Dame with a seventh consecutive victory against the Irish, it was Gunnell and Shinskie leading the charge. Any time that the offense faced a third down, Gunnell would find a way to get open to keep the Eagles alive.
THE DEFENSE HAS A SOFT UNDER BELLY
Here is what Weis had to say about the Irish game plan heading into the game:
“I told Jimmy [Clausen] that we are not throwing the ball down the field,” Weis said. “How would you like to be quarterback who is a front line quarterback and everybody is tooting your horn and you say ‘we are not throwing the ball down the field.’ I said because they are going to play him deep and we are going to dump the ball off, that is what we are going to do. We are going to throw the ball to the flat, we are going to throw it short, that is what we are going to do.”
“I thought that [running back] Armando Allen would have been the leading receiver in the game. Our intent was to dump the ball to Armando . . . I wanted to wear Armando out,” Weis said.
Weis and his coaching staff obviously studied the film from Boston College’s win last week against NC State where Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson really worked the underneath against the Eagles for good yardage. If there is a chink in the Eagles defensive armor it is definitely that they are susceptible to the short throw, almost by design. The cornerbacks normally do not play press coverage and the linebackers play more of a read-and-react coverage game as opposed to a hard coverage game.
Clausen finished the game 26-39 for 246 yards with a great majority of those receptions on short-to-medium range routes. The evidence of attack the underneath is evident statistics. You would figure that a quarterback who completed 26 passes would have much more than 246 yards. The one long reception of the game, Golden Tate’s game-winning 36-yard touchdown, was a 10-yard corner route where sophomore cornerback Donnie Fletcher slipped after the catch and Tate raced to the end zone.
The “give up the underneath” scheme has worked reasonably well for Boston College this season, even if opponents have been able to move the ball pretty well. But after the way Notre Dame exploited that aspect of the defense this afternoon the Eagles may want to step back and reassess the philosophy.
STILL GOOD ON THE GOAL-LINE
At the same time the defense gets tough when it is backed up in its own five yard line. For the third time this season the Eagles stuffed an opponent on the 1-yard line. With 11:27 left and the score 16-13 Notre Dame had marched down the field and was looking for the go-ahead touchdown. Weis decided to gamble and go for it on fourth down. The Irish staff chose an odd play though, choosing to go to the Wildcat (which the Irish call the Leprecat) with second string running back Robert Hughes taking the direct snap.
Hughes faked the handoff to running back Theo Riddick and tried to slip the line of scrimmage only to be met by a human rocket in the form of senior strong safety Marcellus Bowman. Hughes came up inches short.
If not for Shinskie’s interceptions and Tate’s touchdown, the stand would be remembered as the play of the game. With the way that the game ended it will probably not be much of a discussion point in the breakdown this week.
DELEON GAUSE AND RYAN QUIGLEY HAD GREAT PERFORMANCES
Give a game ball to junior cornerback Gause. For the first time this year Gause was the primary kick returner and and on four returns Gause averaged 26.3 yards with a long of 39. That is more than six yards above the season average of 19.9 (good for 10th in the ACC). Perhaps the Eagles will employ him in that position more in the future if he is healthy.
Gause was also instrumental in holding the Fighting Irish to a field goal at the 8:58 mark in the second quarter. Clausen was looking for Tate on the goal line near the pylon on second-and-7. Clausen rifled the ball to his star receiver but Gause, who had started the play covering John Goodman, stepped in front to nearly pick off the pass and break up the play. One play, covers two men, nearly picks off Clausen and helps keep the Fighting Irish out of the end zone. Not bad.
Gause left the game late in the third quarter with an injury and was replaced by Fletcher. Would Tate have scored the winning touchdown if Gause was still in the game?
For Quigley’s part, he pinned the Irish deep in their own zone three times in the first quarter, landing punts 12, 7 and 8 yard lines. Quigley also had a great punt from his own end zone (after Boston College went three-and-out after the goal line stand) as he boomed a 53 yard kick past mid-field to put Notre Dame back further than they had hoped to start its next series.
|Dave Shinskie and Rich Gunnell Find A Rhythm||10.24.09 at 6:26 pm ET|
If someone told you before the game that Dave Shinskie would have nine passes for 20 yards or more at the end of the third quarter you probably would have slapped them and called them silly.
Well, it is true.
Shinskie has finally found a rhythm with Rich Gunnell. Hey, it only took till the eighth game of the season. Better late than never. Gunnell has eight catches for 139 yards and a touchdown on the day, good for a 17.4 yards per catch average. Shinskie has been able to sit back and let Gunnell and Colin Larmond, Jr. get separation from the Notre Dame corners and safeties and has been hitting the receivers with good touch passes.
Yet, turnovers are hurting the Eagles. Montel Harris, who had gone 356 carries without losing a fumble, has lost two today. The last came on what had been an impressive Boston College drive when Notre Dame strong safety Sergio Brown got his helmet on the ball as Harris drove toward the end zone at the 3 yard line. Boston College stopped the Irish and received the punt on the Irish 40 but Shinskie ended up heaving an interception Kyle McCarthy.
|Halftime – Much Better Second Quarter For Shinskie||10.24.09 at 5:24 pm ET|
Well, Dave Shinskie has finally gotten something done on the road. He must of said a prayer to Touch Down Jesus before the game.
After his dismal 2-9 performance in the first quarter Shinskie was much better in the second going 7-9 for 101 yards and a 7-yard touchdown pass to senior co-captain Rich Gunnell. On the touchdown drive Shinskie accounted for 100-percent of the Eagles offense as they drove 68 yards in 4:04 to take their first lead of the day 9-6. Shinskie was 4-6 for 75 yards on the drive (the difference in the total drive and Shinskie yards is a 5-yard holding penalty and a run of negative 2 yards by Montel Harris). Harris is being stifled as the Irish defense keys on him going 9 carries for 10 yards on the day.
The Fighting Irish came right back and retook the lead 13-9 with a 11-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Clausen to Golden Tate.
The Boston College defense is playing well, but it is definitely playing a little soft. Clausen is getting his completions, going 19-27 for 168 yards and the touchdown to Tate. Like the string of good quarterbacks that have come before him, Clausen is using the underneath of the Eagles defense to his advantage to move the ball but also using the sidelines to hit Tate and Duval Kamara.
|Eagles Offense Starting Slow, Trail After First||10.24.09 at 4:40 pm ET|
It is the bottom of the fourth inning in South Bend and the Fighting Irish baseball team leads the Eagles 3-2 . . . .
No, this is a football game.
Notre Dame opened the game with a 10 play, 53 yard field goal drive (Nick Tausch 37 yards) with Heisman hopeful Jimmy Clausen going 3-5 for 41 yards. Boston College came back with a safety when Jim Ramella chased Clausen in the end zone and Clausen threw the ball away. Clausen was outside of the tackle box but the ball did not reach the line of scrimmage thus leading to intentional grounding from the end zone resulting in the safety.
Quarterback Dave Shinskie did not have a good opening to the game, going 2-9 in the first quarter. He has been erratic with balls sailing high, low and everywhere in between. Montel Harris is yet to break out with 5 carries for 9 yards.
Overall it has been a better start to the game by the Eagles offense in comparison with their other road games with 77 yards thus far.
*Update – Harris fumbles a handoff from Shinskie early in the second quarter. Notre Dame recovers on the Fighting Irish 47 yard line.
|DeLeon Gause To Pay Tribute To Jasper Howard||10.24.09 at 3:18 pm ET|
Boston College cornerback DeLeon Gause will pay tribute to slain University of Connecticut football player Jasper Howard by wearing number six this afternoon as the Eagles take on Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Howard was stabbed to death last Sunday.
Gause, who normally wears number nine, knew Howard as a high school opponent in Miami, Fla and the two have family connections.
“I thought of anything I could do. My sister called me the morning after it happened. After talking to them, I had to do something so that was one of the things that I would do,” Gause said.
Gause also said that Clemson cornerback Chris Chancellor in tribute will wear number six today as the Tigers visit the University of Miami.
Senior running back and primary kick returner Jeff Smith wears number six normally though it will not be a problem as the players will not be on the field at the same time.
- It looks as though that sophomore running back Josh Haden will not be playing today as he continues after sustaining an ankle injury last week against NC State. Freshman Rolandan Finch has been bumped up to the number two running back on the depth chart.
- Sophomore middle linebacker Will Thompson will be active for the first time this season after sustaining a stretched nerve in his neck and shoulder during the summer. He is slotted in the as the second middle linebacker after Mike McLaughlin.
- Junior fullback James McCluskey continues to make his comeback after a broken leg and staph infection in his achilles. He is slated behind tight end /fullback Lars Anderson.
Stayed tuned to The BC Blog all day for updates as the Eagles take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
|Notre Dame Preview: Charlie Weis And His Heisman Hopeful||10.22.09 at 8:51 pm ET|
CHESTNUT HILL — Willie Nelson should be commissioned to sing “On The Road Again” as the theme song for Boston College’s trip to Notre Dame this Saturday.
The Eagles’ road woes have been well documented. They have laid eggs in the homes of both the Clemson Tigers and Virginia Tech. In both instances, they got caught in the quicksand early and were unable to climb out of the muck. Death Valley and Lane Stadium are some of the most notorious venues in the country for opposing teams, but this week’s trip to South Bend — “the mother of all stadiums,” according to senior linebacker Mike McLaughlin — is another matter entirely.
Boston College and Notre Dame are similar schools, on and off the field. Both are private Catholic institutions and have storied football traditions and excellent academic reputations. Players on both sides have family and friends who attended the other school and a significant rivalry exists between the two universities. At the same time, Boston College cannot shake the notion that Notre Dame views it as more of a little sibling rather than an equal.
“There will always be a chip on our shoulder considering how some people who go to Notre Dame feel that BC is [its] little brother school,” defensive end Alex Albright said. “I am definitely going to take the mentality that they think we are lesser. That is another reason to play hard . . . I feel the team treats us as a good team but the overall school does not feel the same way.”
The rivalry has come to a balance point. The all-time series is 9-9 (though Boston College has won the last six matchups to make it so). This year both teams have two losses and are separated by five votes in the latest USA Today/Coaches poll (Notre Dame has 31 votes, Boston College 26 — the two highest vote totals for teams not in the Top 25). Boston College is a good running team while the Fighting Irish are a great passing team.
The challenge for any team that has faced Notre Dame since former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis took over the program is how to contain its passing game. Weis first had Brady Quinn and turned him into the career leader in just about every one of the Fighting Irish passing categories. Now Weis has Jimmy Clausen on the same path. Clausen is a legitimate Heisman candidate. He is second in the nation in passing efficiency at 166.35 and ninth in total yards at 292.5 a game. Weiss has put weapons around Clausen that make the offense dangerous, such as wide receiver Golden Tate (fifth in the nation in receiving yards at 119.83 per game), receiver Michael Floyd (five touchdown catches) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (24 catches, 3 touchdowns).
“This guy is the real deal, it is not a mistake that he is up for the Heisman,” McLaughlin said. “He has the best weapons we faced all year with the tight end Rudolph and the wide receivers, Golden Tate . . . As far as an offense, it is scary to say it, but this is the best we are going to face.”
No description of a Boston College opponent is complete without McLaughlin saying, “He is a big time college quarterback, no doubt about that.”
He said that about Riley Skinner (Wake Forest), Russell Wilson (NC State), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech) and now Clausen. While it is true that all of them are good college quarterbacks (Skinner and Ponder are right behind in passing yards), Clausen is just a step better. Considering the march of quality arms listed above, that is saying something.
“Every quarterback is going to be an issue along the way. Clausen is our focus this week, Notre Dame is the only issue at hand. Yeah, it is a daunting task but it is any time you play a team like Notre Dame on the road,” junior free safety Wes Davis said.
For Weis, it almost seems that he searches for quarterbacks to mold into his own college version of Tom Brady. Clausen is third on the Notre Dame career list in passing attempts with 876 (behind Quinn and Ron Powlus), fourth in passing yards (Quinn, Powlus, Steve Beuelein) and should finish his Fighting Irish career second to Quinn in just about every category.
“I think they run the right offense for [Clausen],” Albright said. “He does a good job of getting it to all his receivers and when a quarterback like that has a lot of weapons, they are going to make him look good . . . We have definitely seen Jimmy Clausen progress the last few years.”
On defense Notre Dame is an aggressive, blitzing team. They try to penetrate the backfield by bringing linebackers in on the blitz through its 3-4 scheme, especially sophomore Darius Flemming from the strong side. Flemming is 12th in the nation in tackles for losses (second among linebackers) and is the epitome of the Fighting Irish’s defense.
“Good defense,” Montel Harris said. “I see a lot of aggressiveness on defense. When a defense is aggressive it helps out the running game as well as the passing game, so we should be able to switch it up on them.”
Notre Dame is 31st in the country in scoring defense and 63rd in rushing defense. The Eagles’ hope is that they can get Harris on track the way that they did against NC State last week, when the running back set school records with 264 yards and five touchdowns. Even half of those totals (perhaps 130 yards and 2 touchdowns) would mean that Boston College has put behind its road woes and came to play.
The key for the Eagles offense will be to get going early. In both the Clemson and Virginia Tech games, the offensive output in the first half was nonexistent, both times heading to the locker room with nearly zero yards.
“We just have to get first downs,” sophomore Colin Larmond Jr. said. “Once we get first downs everyone settles down. If you keep going three-and-out from the start it is kind of rough because everyone is getting the jitters and the defense is going out quickly. So, if we can get a first down everyone relaxes. The quarterbacks get comfortable, the running backs, everyone just eases off on the stress when we get our first first down.”
Boston College is looking for its sixth win of the year, which would make them bowl eligible. That, along with the prospect of building on the six-game winning streak against Notre Dame, offers the Eagles plenty of incentive. No player on this B.C. squad has ever lost to Notre Dame and the veterans would like to keep it that way.
“I am sure they hope they can get back at us this year, but it’s not happening,” senior defensive end Jim Ramella said.
Join Meter, Chach, and Rowinski on the BC Blog at noon this Friday, Oct. 23, for a live chat about Boston College football, Notre Dame and the state of gridiron affairs on the Heights. Click here to join the conversation — see you there!