Boston College Preview: Irish Keys to Victory
Notre Dame vs. Boston College — 2017
BC and Notre Dame are both unranked heading into this contest.
BC is 1–1 , winning in their opener 23–20 at Northern Illinois, and coming off a home loss to Wake Forest last week, 34–10.
Notre Dame is 1–1, with a season opening 49–16 win over Temple, and following up with a 20–19 loss to Georgia, both in South Bend.
Notre Dame and BC have played each other 23 times with the Irish holding a 14–9 advantage. Their last meeting was a Shamrock Series game held at Fenway Park in Boston, which the Irish won 19–16.
Notre Dame is a 13 point favorite at the time of this posting.
Who/What to Watch For:
Boston College QB Redshirt Freshman Anthony Brown (#13) has completed 37 of 71 passes with 4 interceptions and 3 touchdowns in the first two games. He has rushed 10 times (2 sacks) for a net 18 yards.
Junior WR Michael Walker (#3) has 10 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. He is also a very dangerous punt and kickoff returner, who had a career long 67 yard kickoff return against ND in 2015. Freshman WR Kobay White (#9) also has 10 catches for 118 yards.
The Eagles have two RBs that share the carries. Junior Jon Hillman (#32) has carried 33 times for 81 yards and Freshman AJ Dillon (#2) has carried 20 times for 63 yards. Senior WR Thadd Smith(#18) has also chipped in with 101 yards on 11 carries from his WR spot. Boston College has no rushing touchdowns thus far this season.
On defense, Junior Safety DB Will Harris(#8), and Junior DE Zach Allen (#2) lead the team in tackles with 19 and 17 respectively. Senior DE Harold Landry (#7) has 22 career sacks.
Notre Dame QB Junior Brandon Wimbush (#7) has thrown for 394 yards on 37 of 70 passing, with one interception. He has 2 passing touchdowns and has been sacked 5 times. He has rushed for 107 yards on 28 carries and 2 touchdowns.
Junior WR Equanimeous St. Brown (#6) has 6 catches for 96 yards and a TD to lead the ND receiving corps. Graduate Transfer Cameron Smith (#15) has 7 catches for 54 yards. Junior Chris Finke (#10) earned more playing time with big catches against Georgia and has 3 for 36 yards for the year.
Junior RB Josh Adams (#33) has 38 carries for 214 yards, with 2 Touchdowns. He also has 6 catches for 60 yards out of the backfield. Junior RB Dexter Williams (#2) had 6 carries for 124 yards, with a touchdown, all in the game opener, but no touches against Georgia.
The Irish Defense has been the bright spot for Notre Dame this year. Senior LB Nyles Morgan (#5) leads the team with 15 tackles. Senior LB Greer Martini (#48) , Senior DE Jay Hayes (#93), and Junior LB Te’von Coney (#4) have 12 tackles each. The Irish have logged 5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. Senior ROV Drue Tranquill (#23) has recovered a fumble and had an interception. Sophomore DE Daelin (#9) has a fumble recovery. The Irish defense has given up just one rushing touchdown this season.
Keys to Victory:
Be the More Physical team
- Let’s try this one again. Run the ball, stop the run. Not just lip service, but a real dedication to the Irish running the ball is important, and helps in forcing your will on the opponent. The BC run game has not been very productive, and their inexperienced QB has had 4 interceptions in two games. Stopping the BC run and forcing them to throw should make things easier for an Irish defense that is making strides.
Give Wimbush Some Help
- 56 of the 77 plays against Georgia were either a Wimbush pass or a Wimbush run. Wimbush is a gifted athlete and a good player, but there is no reason to put so much of the weight of the offense on his shoulders. The Irish have a lot of talented players (Adams, St. Brown, Williams, Smith, Finke, Mack, Weishar, Jones to name a few). We should not throw the ball 40 times against BC (43 if sack adjusted), like we did against Georgia. The game plan should also involve more diversity with personnel. Wimbush is our second leading rusher in terms of carries with 28, trailing only Adams’ 38 carries. No other Irish rusher has more than 7. Getting the ball to more of our talented players not only relieves some of the pressure from Wimbush, making his first ever road start, but forces the opposing defense to have to address more weapons.
Play a Clean Game/Take Care of the Ball
- Be fundamentally sound. Avoid penalties and turnovers on offense, and limit missed assignments. On defense and special teams, limit the big plays. Continue to pay attention to the details. And win the turnover battle, or at least be even.
Be Great Road Warriors
- A new quarterback’s first start on the road is always an area of concern. Brandon Wimbush is a quality player who will likely do just fine against an undermanned Eagles team. But you always need to be sure to pack your special teams and defense when you go on the road if you want to be successful. The Eagles Stadium only holds 44000, so there cannot be that many more road fans there than we encountered last week at home. But Boston College always has a chip on their shoulder when it comes to the Irish and always plays us tough.
On paper, this should be a game that the Irish can dominate. A few intangibles can get in the way of that happening, however. BC will be pumped to get a chance to beat up on Big Brother. And a tough loss to Georgia last week, coupled with our first trip away from home could open the door to question our confidence. We will get a chance to see how team 129 bounces back from adversity.
The Irish need to regroup and come together to get things back on track. Senior captain Drue Tranquill said they are more determined than ever and he actually feels sorry for the teams remaining on our schedule. If the Irish come out with toughness, are physical, and impose their will on the Eagles, I think he will be proven right, at least this week.
September 16, 2017
Game Time — 3:30 pm ET
Chestnut Hills, MA