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  • Irish Sleepwalk Past BC

    by John Vannie

    Everett Golson passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, and the Notre Dame defense made key stops when it needed to as the Irish shook off pesky Boston College by 21-6. The win was the tenth of the season for undefeated Notre Dame, whose hopes for a BCS championship opportunity were bolstered when top-ranked Alabama lost at home on Saturday. The game in Boston was anything but an artistic success, and it appeared the Irish were simply playing not to lose after building a 21-3 lead early in the third quarter.

    Notre Dame dominated the first half with two long touchdown marches, and stopped themselves with a fumble in its only other possession. Boston College had some success on offense in the  middle of the field, but the Irish controlled the red zone and held the Eagles to just three points. The Irish then took the second half kickoff and marched 65 yards to score as John Goodman was left alone in the end zone for an 18-yard reception.

    Nate Freese kicked a 45-yard field goal early in the fourth period to move Boston College within 21-6, and Notre  Dame fans spent the rest of the evening waiting for a clinching score that never materialized. Turnovers and uninspired play kept the Irish scoreless in the final 25 minutes, but the defense made sure the Eagles never threatened. An interception by Manti Te’o with 5:14 remaining, coupled with a flurry of sacks of BC quarterback Chase Rettig in the final minutes, sealed the victory.

    Theo Riddick lead Notre Dame with 104 yards rushing and four receptions for 56 yards. Tyler Eifert caught six passes for 67 yards and displayed All-American form on several occasions. Rettig completed 27 of 43 passes for the Eagles, but most were underneath the coverage umbrella imposed by the Irish secondary. Meanwhile, Prince Shembo terrorized Rettig in the pocket whenever it appeared BC might threaten.

    Notre Dame will return home next week to play Wake Forest in its final home game of the season. The Irish will be favored to prevail in this Senior Day matchup, but fans would certainly like to experience an explosion of points after two relatively unsatisfying offensive performances. As Coach Brian Kelly stated before and after the game, winning is difficult, so those expecting style points along the way are not taking into account that an undefeated team is everyone’s target in November. One needs only to ask Alabama to provide verification of that axiom.

    Let’s look at the answers to our pregame questions for additional insights on this contest.

    Can the Eagles hold the Irish under 200 yards rushing while gaining more than 100 themselves? BC “held” Notre Dame to 185 yards rushing, but could manage only a net 54 itself as they were forced to become one dimensional.

    Will Golson throw the ball downfield with success? Yes, in a relatively modest way. Goodman’s touchdown reception was a strong throw back across the field and the Irish signal caller hit on 67% of his passes for 200 yards.

    Can Rettig find time to complete more than 50% of his passes? Yes, but the underneath tosses did little to advance the ball into scoring territory.

    Will the Irish continue to commit unforced errors against weaker opponents? Unfortunately, fumbles by Notre Dame running backs killed two drives that would have made the final score much more satisfying.

    Will Notre Dame’s special teams show any improvement? Not really. Penalties for illegal blocks marred the first two such opportunities, but George Atkinson made it to the 35 yard line on one kickoff return. Baby steps.

    How many Eagle fans will still be in the stands during the fourth quarter? Quite a few were present near the end, but like everyone else watching at home, they were all asleep by then.

    If the game is a blowout, will Brent Musburger consume too much liquid refreshment? Brent had moments of lucidity although he called a first down that wasn’t. Mike Golic’s extended visit to the television booth during the third quarter probably kept his flask in his pocket.

    The only real negative element of the evening occurred when wide receiver DeVaris Daniels left the game with an injured left shoulder. There was no further report regarding his status before the end of the ABC broadcast, but various post-game chatter on Twitter suggested that Daniels would miss the final two games of the regular season.

    44 Responses to “Irish Sleepwalk Past BC”

    1. KellyGruene says:

      If you had been on an international flight, landed in an airport and found the score, you’d probably be pretty satisfied. You’d also remember the Irish are 10-0. So, while I am sure there will be a lot of posts offering ideas as to how the game should have been coached and played, the Irish head home to a game against Wake as one of only three undefeated bowl-eligible teams. ‘Bama only wishes they could be one of those three.

      • Mark Napierkowski '88 says:

        The good news about this game, besides the fact that it was a “W” (obviously), is that the team is well aware of its deficiencies. I seriously doubt that the players will go into the WF game overconfident; there’s just way too much improvement to make before they get too excited about themselves. My only concern is that BK keeps reminding us (and his team) that every team will battle them to the end. And while it’s fine to remind your team that its opponents will not lie down and die, there seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy that every game has to be a nail-biter. The next game on the schedule is WF, and I believe ND needs to go into that contest with the mentality of delivering a knockout punch relatively early in the game; there is no particular need for drama late in the fourth quarter.

        • Here is my problem with this. Game 11 and we are still saying way to much improvement is needed. Maybe Kelly needs to take the reins off of the offense and run it wide open against Wake. I believe he is going into games with the idea that the defense will not let it get out of control so we dont need to score. USC is still talented and physically tough. There were many times last night that SC would have taken it to the house. If they cant be excited about themselves after being 10-0 when will they be excited about themselves. We need to open it up against Wake to make sure we can. We know we can control the clock and tempo when needed now, we need to see this baby run.

    2. Seems like the Irish are trying to patent the winning ugly formula. Bottom line:10-0.

    3. The team doesn’t have the killer instinct.

      • I disagree. This team is not good enough for style points, yet. But it most certainly has a killer instinct. Watch Shembo and Tuitt hustle on that last series. They did not want to allow any more points. I think the Stanford and BYU games show that killer instinct, as well. Their just not good enough offensively to blow teams out every week.

        • Disagree with the comment that they are just not good enough offensively to blow teams out. What would you call 50-10 (Navy) and 41-3 (Miami)? How about pulling away from #8 Oklahoma 30-13? Had it not been for two fumbles on drives that were going deep into BC territory, this game could have easily ended 35-6 (or, at the very least, two FGs leaving it 27-6). So, I don’t know where this comment stems from, but you are wrong on that note. They have every bit the capability of knocking teams out as evidenced by the games mentioned above.

      • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

        Seemed like BC wanted it more because this was their National Championship Bowl game, but they bright spot was Kelly’s play-calling is continuing to improve. The misdirection running plays were a thing of beauty and he’s letting Golson throw the ball down the field more. One more practice game and then it’s parts West for a date … with destiny … finally.

    4. 10-0. 3 more wins to possibly win it all. Sneek by USC, and bring on those mighty midgets of Oregon. If ND can ‘lock in’ on those smaller guys, win or lose – I see a lot of ducks waddling off the field.

      • I have never seen a defense as small as Oregon’s. No wonder they give up a ton of points against bigger teams.

    5. martinjordan says:

      And then there were three.

      1. One of the three unbeatens will loose and the BCS will sort itself out – just ask ‘bama.
      2. The last two weeks have been reminiscent of 2010 and ’11 as ND is now the hunted.
      3. Wake is the most important game of the season.
      4. The game is slowing down for Golson.
      5. Often times when Mayock or Herbie say that he’s misssing wide open receivers then stop the replay to make their point it looks to me like a DB with good closing speed could easily make a play.
      6. The shuffle pass was a nice addition and worked well.
      7. Two weeks in a row downfield holding penalties negated big runs.
      8. Penalties, turnovers, and special teams – enough said.
      9. Boston College openned up the playbook and threw everyting they could at ND.
      10. It’s probably the logical result of the “bend but don’t break” “keep everything in front of you” philosophies but the D hasn’t generated many turnovers lately.
      11. It’s great to be 10 and 0 and part of the conversation in November.

      • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

        Texas will expose K-State for the vastly overrated team they are.

        • martinjordan says:

          In the AP poll Oregon is #1 with 45 first place votes, KSU is #2 with 14 first place votes, and ND is #3 with one first place vote. Alabama dropped to #4. Oregon gave up 51 points to USC and the defense has been suspect. They have Stanford at home and Oregon State n the road.

          Offense puts fans in the stands but defense wins championships. This is the perfect team to take on one of those high scoring teams – besides Alabama – IF Kelly can be patient. Just ask Oklahoma. The defense keeps everything in front of them and doesn’t give up the big plays that these teams thrive on. They bend but don’t break and force field goals or force turnovers in the red zone. They’ve played against a variety of offensive schemes this year and been successful.

          On offense the mobile quarterback, running attack, and throwing game grind defenses down, chew up colck, and keep the opposing offense off the field. ND had a 95 yard drive which took about seven minutes and an 87 yard drive which took over eight minutes. They need to cut down on the penalties and turnovers and improve on special teams.

          • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

            Two of K-State’s wins have come against Missouri State and North Texas. That’s the functional equivalent of playing two good but not great local high schools. Will someone please tell me how they can be ranked against of the Irish?

            • Because of ND’s loss to FSU in the bowl game. The absurd system that is the BCS absolutely (consciously or not) does preseason ranks based on the bowl games from the prior year. Diaco changed the defensive game plan (that was working fabulously well) in the 2nd half and ND lost. Kansas State was ranked ahead of ND preseason and still is. If ND wins out and does not play for the title it is just another example of how much inequity and inherent incompetence resides in the BCS.

    6. Interesting to watch ‘Bama go down

      whoever invented the phrase ‘Johnny football’ should be shot

      it would be nice if brent and his buddy would spend some time watching the game

      How many out there thought we would be complaining about ‘style points’ 10 games into the season? (Alright, not EVERYBODY, but a goodly number of us?)

      Golson’s best game yet.


      • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

        Johnny Football is everybody’s fan’s newest best friend.

        • not everybody

          didn’t you get the memo?

          • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

            I take it you mean the Manti Teo for Heisman memo, and yes I was cc’d, but absent a brilliant performance by J-Foot, we wouldn’t have made the National Championship game and absent that Manti wouldn’t be doing the Desmond Howard anytime in our lifetime, trust me.

            • And that is pretty sad considering that the award itself used to be given to the “best player in college football”. Now it is given to the “best player on the best team” in college football. RGIII is the exception in this case. There was no way he was going to be denied. There has not been a talent like him in quite a long time.

    7. One more pre-season game to go and then we’ll start the real season. The most painful experience imaginable is to go out to the Colosseum the Saturday after Thanksgiving undefeated and suffer humiliation at the hands of those big bad Trojans. The significant anti Notre Dame world goes absolutely nuts when that happens and it has happened. Irish fans have a long cold winter after that horror. So – NOT this year. This will be Manti’s Heisman game!

    8. Hats off to these guys. By the way, I recall the players having the exact same attitude about last year’s season at this point as they are showing now — very high expectations for themselves and not blaming anyone but themselves if the don’t achieve their goals. They have known all along that they could be undefeated this year, but that they have to go out and get it done. So far, they have.

    9. Watching this football is like watching the Irish hoops team the past few seasons run the burn offense. It isn’t pretty and it doesn’t lead to blow-out wins by the Irish, but it is effective and wins.

      Here are 3 scenarios I’m cheering for, in order of preference:
      1. Irish play in the national championship game.
      2. Oregon and K State win out and Irish end up in the Rose Bowl for first time since 1925.
      3. Other BCS Bowl.

      • Ryan from Omaha says:

        My list is almost identical:

        1. BCS NCG.
        2. Rose Bowl against Nebraska.
        3. BCS against Louisville (my current location).

    10. Defense allows 0 touchdowns again and digs in when it is absolutely necessary. The conditioning of this team is the cause of their 10-0 standing. Manti just seems to hover over the scene until he determines when to make his presence known. If the opposing QB cannot get of his pass in under 4 seconds he better be adept at scrambling because our front line will smother him.

    11. Ghost of Joe Moore says:

      I agree with the prior post – ND still doesnt have the killer instinct. Nothing BC did was really considered a threat. The Irish not being in a conference need to be aware and be able to put up style points. It is the nature of the beast especially with the way the BCS is set up.

      They are definitely moving in the right direction but are not good enough or confident enough from a coaching perspective / play calling to generate style points. Yes Irish opponents are gunning against
      ND but the same remains for the Alabamas, Oregons, LSU’s etc….what a revelation that is… no offense.

      In this case, a win is a win is a win is not necessarily true from the BSC standpoint….and if you want a shot you have to play the style point mentality game. The just taking care of business approach, while good for team focus just doesnt cut it anymore when dealing with BSC rankings and a shot at the national title. Sad but true. GO IRISH!

    12. Before the season, most of us would have taken 10-3 and a Bowl win. Even if it’s 12-1, I consider it a fabulous season. Notre Dame will be a better team next year, with Golson having a year under his belt.

      • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

        Earth to Ron, you have only so many chances in a lifetime to go undefeated. This is totally doable this year. The caked is baked against Wake. All that needs to happen at this point is that the offense needs to take care of bidness against SC and it’s on to the National Championship game against KSU or the Sitting Ducks because either K-State loses to Texas or Oregon loses to Stanford, Oregon State or SC in the Pac 12 Championship. Next year is next year. This is our time.

    13. The Irish got by B.C. In other years, they wouldn’t .Go Irish.Beat Wake Forest

    14. K-State “rolled over” TCU; K-State “bolstered national title hopes by tackling TCU”, etc. etc. ….they won 23-10, against a very similarly overmatched opponent as ours, and were even outgained in yardage. But ND just “stayed unbeaten”, “had a “test”, and “survived” BC. The media is a lazy, formulaic joke.

    15. Agree. A win is a win. But we are looking at a flawed team that has the potential to be exposed if the team that played against BC/Pitt shows up to play USC or Wake. Great teams get better week after week during the course of a long season, barring significant injury. It seems as if we peaked with OU and maybe are starting to get into the habit of just showing up. Maybe beginning to believe a bit of the hype? Don’t know.

      What I do know is that this team has exceeded anyone’s wildest expectations, and with recruiting going the way it is we should have many great seasons to look forward to. Go Irish.

    16. I am very happy to be 10-0 however I can’t believe how we continue to struggle running the ball. BC is one of the worst run defensive teams we’ll probable see for some time and we struggled to move the ball on the ground. The last couple of games we played against inferior talent, and how we struggled is very concerning. Thank God for a great defense GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    17. irishhawk50 says:

      Agree with some of the other posters. Many of us saw this as an 8-4 year, 9-3 if we were lucky. This team has exceded all expectations and Kelly is bringing the Irish back into the national elite. He has managed a 10-0 record at this point with a red shirt freshman and a good defense, many his recruits. The recruiting classes are going well and more importantly player development is taking place. This season is a success not matter what happens in the coming weeks, but we would all be happier at 13-0! Go Irish!

      By the way, didn’t someone call me out last week when I said Alabama didn’t look that great in the LSU game?

    18. Well it certainly wasn’t a sexy, Saturday night prime time matchup. But I sort of expected as much considering our opponent was BC. It’s easy to get caught up in the style points mentality (we are only human) but I’m still trying to be happy with what the good Lord has given us. Their is decent odds that either Oregon or K State will slip up at some point and provide an opening for the championship game. All ND needs to do is keep winning by any means necessary and the rest will take care of itself. Those couple of fumbles were certainly frustrating, as those djrives were as good as in the bank. But if anything it shows that ND is better than the final score indicated and when properly motivated I think we can take on anyone. Onto Wake (not USC!) another motivated underdog who will be fighting for our scalps. Go Irish!

    19. El Capitano says:

      My guess is that despite the “process” that Kelly vaunts most of the kids on this team are having a hard time focusing on anything but USC. The seniors on this team have been owned by USC and I think it is affecting their leadership right now. Hopefully we can get part WF at home and the the seniors will retake the locker room and lead is past the Trojans. Fingers crossed.

    20. each win is huge whether it is ugly or not so great for ND. However the special teams get a bit worse each week and they are clearly the worst of any ranked team and overall may be the worst in all Division I football. This phase of the game often determines the outcomes. Kelly has ignored this for three years. The offense is lackluster and not because of Goldson. I think Kelly is very scared to let the offense loose and as a result they are tight and mistake prone. We are turning the ball over like we did last year. We seem to have regressed a good bit the last two games

    21. With the exception of Navy this team has the annoying habit of playing down to the level of teams it should run rampant over. That can come back and bite them on the ass.

      If we beat WF and come to LA unbeaten – I remember the 1964 game.

    22. scott taylor says:

      just play for the Seniors, play for Manti, play for Goody, play for Brax!!!!!

      this team does that and Wake will not have a chance, and be over middle of the 3rd qtr.

      It is Senior day, these guys last game in Notre Dame Stadium. How much motivation do you really think they need??????????? GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    23. The Irish need to lay a serious woodshed beatdown on Wake Forest to sway any voters. At least a 3 touchdown differential.

    24. Some great comments here. If you love ND football you can not discount or live with the fact that special teams have tanked the last 3 weeks. Why has this happened? Looks like old ND. Comments …please

    25. Goodness, Vannie! Those strong dominating defensive plays cannot be called “sleepwalking”! You fail to judge the real weight of the team’s strategy. The 2012 Irish are about DEFENSE. For reasons nobody truly knows, the offense is not clicking as fans want. And the coaches are not going to badmouth the players on offense. They have not thrown anyone under the bus yet, and Tommy Rees may be paying the brunt of many brothers’ underplaying. But what happens in the Green Mile stays IN the Green Mile, while the team is 10-0. It’s really a band of brothers.

      • John Vannie says:

        I don’t think the defense was all that great throughout most of the game. There were no three and outs for BC and they always seemed to move the ball far enough to keep ND pinned deep in its own territory. It was a fairly uninspired effort overall, and special teams continue to be horrid. Thankfully, BC is a lousy team and ND was never in danger of losing.

    26. Why has the old ND team of lost let the pittfalls back into the game? Special teams has regressed to the losing years. G. Atkinson needs no more benching on kick returns at this point.