|Notre Dame third down a real downer for Eagles in loss||11.11.12 at 11:08 am ET|
Midway through the third quarter, it seemed as though quarterback Everett Golson and the Notre Dame offense would’ve been content spiking the ball on first and second down and still manage to gain a first down.
Why not? The Fighting Irish started off the game off by going perfect 10-for-10 on third down, twice overcoming penalties that had backed them up or taken away a successful conversion. Of those eight conversions, Golson ran or five and passed for two. He also threw for two touchdowns and ran for another score in a 21-6 win at Alumni Stadium.
“You have to play good defense to win, and you certainly have to play good third down defense,” coach Frank Spaziani said. “Some of it was our execution and some of it was their execution and some of it was their improvisation. It goes back to my topic sentence: We have to make some plays and when we get the opportunity, we have to make our share of them.”
The Eagles were heavy underdogs heading into the game and were predicted to get steamrolled by the undefeated Irish. With that said, Notre Dame came in and scored the easy victory, but it’s difficult to say that they blew the doors off BC. The Eagles defense allowed six yards of offense per play, but did not surrender many big plays, giving up no breakaway plays over 25 yards or quick-strike scores.
Instead, Irish coach Brian Kelly and the offense showcased a gameplan of cold-hearted efficiency that lead to sustained, but, more importantly, successful drives. Each of Notre Dame’s three scoring drives went at least nine plays and lasted at least four minutes, 56 seconds. The Irish’s most sustained drive was a grueling 16-play, 97-yard drive scoring drive right before the half that lasted eight minutes, 30 seconds.
“Whenever you’re facing a national-caliber team, you know they’re going to execute, and that’s something that we struggled with this year,” linebacker Steele Divitto said. “We gave them the third-and-long and we just can’t get off the field and that’s something we have to work on and continue to build on in the future.”
The Eagles, though, were never truly out of the game, as the lead never stretched past 18 points and came back within two scores in the fourth quarter. However, the Eagles, who spent much of the game watching the Irish convert time after time, couldn’t sustain their drives, going 8-of-15 on third down conversions and had converted 4-of-8 before Notre Dame faltered once on third down.
The main source of frustration, especially on third down, came in the form of Golson, a redshirt freshman that is known as a dual-threat quarterback, going 16-of-24 through the air for 200 yards while rushing for 39 yards on 11 carries. Both sets of skills were on display Saturday, as Golson showed his scrambling abilities as well as a capacity to manage the game in an effort to sustain drives.
“He’s good. He’s still a freshman, though,” Divitto said. “He’s very dynamic, he’s quick and he’s a good athlete. He’s definitely a playmaker. He’s definitely a guy they can go to to make plays. He’s been the guy who led them down the field in the fourth quarter or whatever it was and he’s done a heck of a job so far.”
While the Irish thrived in the running game, recording 184 yards on 40 carries as a team, the Eagles failed to get a consistent ground game going, leading to unfavorable third down situations. While the output far outshined last week’s effort that produced 12 yards on 21 carries against Wake Forest, BC totaled just 53 yards on 23 carries, a 2.3 average, thanks in large part to quarterback Chase Rettig losing 36 yards from sacks.
|Clemson’s second-half surge ends BC’s early bid||09.29.12 at 9:46 pm ET|
After three games and one win over an FCS opponent, Boston College had yet to find a spark offensively, especially early on. However, against the most dynamic offense they’ve seen this season, the Eagles did just that in the early going of their 45-31 loss to Clemson on Saturday at Alumni Stadium.
The Eagles led 21-17 late in the first half before Clemson turned on the jets as quarterback Tahj Boyd and the Tigers racked up 576 yards of offense, finishing the game on a 28-10 run. The Eagles showed they could do some damage on offense, but they couldn’t keep up with this type of performance from the Tigers, something Eagles coach Frank Spaziani knew well going into the game.
“Those Clemson payers are very good players and they’ve done it to a lot of people,” Spaziani said. “I don’t think we were too complicated. If anything, we tried to make sure we were fundamentally sound and not be too vanilla but also got our guys lined up and let recognition go.”
Junior quarterback Chase Rettig finished the day 25-of-43 for 341 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. BC’s solid aerial attack produced a career-high 193 yards receiving for junior Alex Amidon (the third-highest total in school history). Where BC struggled, though, was in its attempt to establish a consistent ground attack. The Eagles finished the day with 51 rushing yards on 28 attempts, good for an average of 1.8 yards per carry.
“Any game where we’re moving the ball well is a fun game to be in, regardless of what they’re doing on the other side,” Rettig said of the high-scoring affair. “It puts a little edge on it, when it goes back and forth. It was fun, but we just have to do better, execute better.”
Clemson had a chance pull away from BC early, bursting out to a 17-7 lead with momentum after scoring on the first play of the second quarter. However, after his offense sputtered once again, BC sophomore safety Sean Sylvia picked off a deep bomb from Boyd that triggered two straight scoring drives from the Eagles. It was a huge stop for the BC defense that spent much of the game trying to contain the Tigers and give its offense a chance to respond.
“It kind of puts more on our shoulders because the offense is putting points on the board,” Sylvia said. “We have to take more ownership, start stopping some people.”