Eagles Bring Attitude to ND

Notre Dame (8-2) will play its final home game of the season on Saturday afternoon as the Fighting Irish take on the Boston College Eagles (5-5) on Senior Day. NBC will televise the game nationally beginning at 2:30 PM Eastern time. Mike Tirico and Doug Flutie are the announcers for the broadcast. Also, the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will provide a simulcast using the NBC feed. This option features the Irish radio team of Paul Burmeister and Ryan Harris in the booth.

Head coach Steve Addazio, who spent three years as an assistant at Notre Dame under Bob Davie, is now in his seventh season at the helm for Boston College. He holds a 43-43 record, and had recorded winning seasons in five out of six previous campaigns. The teams last played in September 2017 on the BC campus, where the Irish pounded the Eagles by 49-20.

Addazio hopes to fire up the Eagles

Having coached on both sides of this rivalry, Addazio understands that the games were much more intense in the 1990’s than in recent years. He is attempting to motivate his squad this week by tapping into those feelings.  “In today’s world, the history of these things isn’t like the same as it used to be, you know what I mean?”, Addazio said this week. “So you’ve got to bring it back to life. We’ve been bringing it back to life and talking about it,” he added. “I’m going to do some other things as the week goes on to make sure they understand the intensity of this game.”

Meanwhile, Notre Dame has been on a roll the past two weeks behind strong performances by Ian Book and the emergence of young players on offense. The defense has been more aggressive, which has created increased turnovers and negative plays. The team has not been visibly slowed despite injuries along the offensive line and defensive front seven.

The Eagles have experienced fewer injuries to starters, but they lost quarterback Anthony Brown earlier to a season ending knee injury. This forced sophomore Dennis Grosel to make his first career start four weeks ago. Free safety Mike Palmer and tailback David Bailey were injured in the Eagles’ last game against Florida State, but last week’s open date provided sufficient time to recover. Both are expected to play, along with linebacker Isaiah McDuffie, who missed the first two months of the season after suffering a leg injury in spring practice.


Boston College has surrendered an alarming 32 points per game this season. Teams have averaged over 300 yards passing and nearly 200 on the ground against them, and Notre Dame is poised to add to their misery. The Eagles employ a 4-3 defensive alignment anchored by T.J. Rayam and Tanner Karafa at the tackle positions. Veteran weak side linebacker Max Richardson is the best athlete in the group and the team’s leading tackler by a wide margin. Freshman Joe Sparacio was thrust into the middle linebacker position when McDuffie went down, and he will continue to start while McDuffie provides situational relief.

This defense has recorded just 11 sacks this season, with Richardson accounting for three and a half. Rush end Brandon Barlow is the only other player with more than one. The poor pass rush has put pressure on young cornerbacks Jason Maitre and Brendan Sebastian, and the Eagles have paid the price. Safeties Palmer and Medhi El Attrach are more experienced, but don’t match up favorably with Notre Dame’s receivers and tight ends.

Braden Lenzy leaves defenders in the dust

We’ve seen more recently what Book can do given sufficient time in the pocket, so the Irish should score plenty of points unless they stop themselves with self-inflicted wounds. The ground game should also become more productive after a mediocre outing versus Navy. The Midshipmen loaded up against the run last week and tried to blitz Book into mistakes, but the senior made them pay a heavy price with his best career performance. Boston College will have to respect Book’s throwing ability which should open things up a bit for the ground game to do its share.


Despite its leaky defense, Boston College is a .500 team because they score a lot of points behind a prolific rushing attack. The tailback tandem of 250-pound A.J. Dillon and the 240-pound Bailey account for more than 220 yards per game. The pair runs behind a capable offensive line led by center Alec Lindstrom, right guard John Phillips and right tackle Ben Petrula. All are three-year starters. Wideout Zay Flowers is also used frequently on jet sweeps.

The Eagles primarily line up in a double tight end formation to further enable their running game. Korab Idrizi, Hunter Long and Jake Burt are plus sized blockers who rotate in these two slots. Long is the best receiver in the group and usually comes in on passing downs.

Powerful AJ Dillon breaks through arm tackles

Grosel is only a 50% passer to date despite having the luxury of a credible running threat. Most of his throws are short tosses aimed at the tight ends. The starting wide receivers are Kobay White and Ben Glines, with Flowers replacing a tight end in three-receiver sets. White and Flowers have some speed but the Irish have lined up against better competition this season.

Key matchups for Notre Dame are its rotation of defensive linemen against the BC offensive front, and the Irish linebackers against the plus-sized Eagles’ tight ends and backs. Even though the Boston College offense is methodical rather than explosive, it’s unrealistic to believe that the hosts can keep them from scoring. Therefore, the Irish offense will have to play with a high level of efficiency as they have shown so far this month.

Veteran Eagle kicker Aaron Broumerhi has struggled this season on field goals from medium to long range. Everything over 30 yards out has been a 50/50 proposition at best. Punter Grant Carlson averages over 42 yards and does not usually allow much room for returns. Reserve wideout Travis Levy is the kickoff return man. More than most other teams, the Eagles prefer to attempt a kickoff return rather than settle for a fair catch. This strategy has not yielded a statistical advantage to date. Levy also returns punts with modest success.

The Irish return men have showed signs of life recently, where a couple of returns have come close to going the distance. Chris Finke (punts) and Lawrence Keys (kickoffs) have caused a few moments of excitement in recent games, but always seem to be one good block away from glory. Kicker Jonathan Doerer continues to be solid while punter Jay Bramblett has had a few freshman moments in an otherwise fair first season. Both the Notre Dame and Boston College cover teams have been very good this season, allowing no significant returns.


It’s not difficult to imagine the offensive game plan Addazio will develop for this contest. After watching the film of Notre Dame’s loss to Michigan, the Eagles will believe they can bludgeon the Irish into submission with twin battering rams Dillon and Bailey. Conversely, Notre Dame must man up and force Grosel into low percentage third down situations.

Former BC QB Doug Flutie is an NBC analyst

BC’s conservative approach usually keeps them competitive in games because they rarely turn the ball over, give up sacks or commit costly penalties. They will need a similar high level of efficiency to have a chance on Saturday, since the Irish offense appears to be too versatile and athletic for the Eagle defense to handle.

Both teams can put points on the board, but Notre Dame can score more quickly and easily.

Here’s a few questions that will shed light on the outcome:

Will Boston College be able to run for their season average of 282 yards per game?

Can the Irish offense achieve balance and keep the Eagles guessing?

Which defense will best be able to get a stop on third down?

Can Notre Dame win the turnover battle against the stingy Eagles?

Which special teams will have a positive impact on the outcome?

Can the Irish match the emotional intensity that Addazio expects BC to bring?

Will cable subscribers who don’t get NBCSN have to use the mute button on Flutie?


OL Trevor Ruhland plays his final ND home game

Once again, Boston College will come into Notre Dame Stadium with a chip on their shoulder and nothing to lose. To neutralize this raw emotion, the Irish need to be aggressive from the start and achieve a semblance of control by halftime. The Eagles’ offensive scheme is not difficult to defend if the hosts can match their physicality, while Grosel is not capable of leading BC to victory by himself. Besides, Notre Dame is riding a 17-game home winning streak and wants to give its outgoing seniors another clean slate to remember. I expect to see plenty of points scored in this contest, but the Irish are the better team and should not feel threatened in the fourth quarter.


Tell John what you think in the comments below

15 thoughts on “Eagles Bring Attitude to ND

  1. BC’s ability to pound the ball does concern me. While there not nearly as talented as Michigan, the blueprint is there. In the end, they’ll be too much Claypool and Book’s newfound confidence should be the difference. Irish 37-27

  2. I flew in twice from California for the ND-BC games in 2002 and 2004 when Tyrone Willingham was coach and saw ND lose both those games. The 1993 game still haunts me to this day when Pete Bercich should have intercepted Boston College, but instead BC set up a game winning field goal. 2011 was much closer than it should have been and I hope ND comes out like they did against Navy and has a great game against BC. I have never liked BC and I did not appreciate their team tearing up ND’s locker room years ago. I usually like the Catholic schools to do well, but I do not like BC and it stinks that Doug Flutie has to do the play by play this weekend for the game.

    GO IRISH, beat Eagles!!!!

    • Doug who? He’s just another mouth on NoBody Cares AFAIC. Outside of his one lucky play (and a really lucky one at that) back in 1983, he’s a virtual nobody.

      • He was far from a virtual nobody. He brought BC to National relevance and was beyond exciting to watch especially in big games. The Hail Mary was certainly fortunate but he was immense in that game. That said, Go Irish!!!

      • I think you mean Doug Flutie.

        It’s one thing to not like him because he is a “Fredo” grad who had a lucky play and hates Notre Dame and sucks as a broadcaster and shouldn’t call Fighting Irish games because he is a biased hack. Although that is an “opinion”, most of the people on this board would probably agree with it as a valid opinion. At least it isn’t Mark May or Keith Jackson calling the games.

        But… to say he was a “virtual nobody” because of one lucky play 35 years ago just proves that you know nothing about the game, or the history of it.

        Many would consider that Brady Quinn is probably the best starting quarterback that Notre Dame has had in the past 20 years. Easily arguable, and probably the best since Rick Mirer. Brady Quinn’s career, (which included invites to the Heisman Trophy ceremony twice, two All American designations, and the Maxwell Award), included 95 touchdowns, a 58% completion rate, and nearly 12,000 yards. His “Passer Rating” (the standard by which all passing quarterbacks are compared) for his career was 134.36 (his senior year when he had 37 TD’s was a blistering 146.65). I think we can agree that those are rather impressive numbers – enough to be drafted in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft.

        Doug Flutie (the biased hack that spews forth nonsense for seven Saturday’s every fall) had a career passing rating of 132.18, which included a PR of 152.91 for his senior year. Even if you extract that “one really lucky play”, his senior year PR was still an impressive 151.14. Better than Quinn’s.

        So, are you sure you want to call him a “virtual nobody”?

        Oh, and that “NoBody Cares” network that televises Notre Dame games so that people can complain about “virtual nobodies” like Doug Flutie – they fund a very large number of non-athletic scholarships of the University. Notice how not many people around the country were able to watch the Duke game this year – that’s one game out of 13 that isn’t televised nationally. Without NBC, I doubt ND would get more than six nationally televised games each year – and that’s probably being generous.

        Yes, we all have to endure the insufferable Doug Flutie because NBC refuses to hire good, qualified, former Notre Dame players as analysts and color commentators. But Flutie wasn’t a slouch, and at least we get to watch Notre Dame Football on TV for more than half the season. We fans can all suck it up for one day out of the year and endure 3+ hours of bleating goats for the sake of cheering on our team.

        Go Irish! Crush the “Fredo”

        • Sure, whatever you say. It’s my opinion and I am entitled to it. And, to say that I know nothing about the game or its history is a bit preposterous. But, apparently you feel you know more based on your real snoozer of a post.

  3. BC is tailor-made for the Irish to roll up a nice, high score, while holding the Eagles to 20-ish points, with perhaps 7-10 of those in the 4th quarter garbage time. I thought ND would not have the passion last week, and I was wrong. I believe this week they will have it again, and John’s prediction is right on! Go Irish!

  4. No matter what anyone says I’ll bet that every time Flutie walks into the stadium he thinks of that game back in 1993 and smiles. No matter how many points ND scores and how many times they beat BC that score will always remain the same.

    ND beat FSU and then the next game they couldn’t defend their home turf against the 17th ranked team in the country. Meanwhile FSU beat 5th ranked Florida on Florida’s home turf.

    If you can’t defend your home turf you don’t deserve to be ranked #1, and it’s as simple as that.

  5. I live in South Bend now after finishing up graduate school at ND. I have only missed one ND home football game since moving back to South Bend in 2012. I missed the 2013 Michigan State game because I could not get a ticket to that game and watched it at home on TV. I have gone to most of the pep rallys before the games and I do not understand why they have to hold them at a different venue each time. It used to be they were always in the basketball arena and the students were there in full force and it was the different dorms being rowdy and getting the whole fan base into it.

    I understand that there are other sports happening that may prevent the pep rallys being held in the basketball arena, for instance: volleyball, basketball, and now the north dome of the Joyce Center is unavailable because the fencing team is in there now, and it is also unavailable to the fans on Saturdays.

    Having a pep rally at Eddy St. Commons is just to promote Kite Realty’s newest projects and way overpriced condos and houses to the multi-millionaire clients.

    I have been to the last 3 pep rallys that were held in the Compton Family Ice Arena. The Virginia Tech one was a week after the melt down at Michigan. The hype video did not play and BK had that deer in the headlights look and did not have any of the players talk at the rally.

    Last week before Navy, BK brings in 3 of the players who had season ending injuries and tells the fans that the rest of the team is back at the hotel eating and getting ready for Navy. (Lame excuse for not bringing the team). Maybe BK was upset that the game was not going to be a sellout and decided to not bring the team. Not fair to the fans who filled the hockey arena for the team. That is the reason why you have the pep rally; it is about the TEAM!
    Today, I went to the final pep rally. The band was there, Mike Brown, the former leprechaun back in 2001, does an outstanding job, introducing the pom squad and band and getting the fans excited about the pep rally, a class act. Leprechaun Sam and the cheerleaders and pom squad, all do a fantastic job!

    Then BK comes in with just the senior walk ons. They had a hype video and it was great to see the walk ons there, but this was the final pep rally before the final home game and the whole team should have been there, and all the seniors on that team should have been honored. BK did not mention why the team was not there this time. I think it was a slap in the face to the fans who came out to support the team. I tried to sit in the center of the arena and the usher said it was reserved for students. I said the students do not come to the pep rallys anymore except the first one of the year and maybe a big game like U$C. Anyway… I sat somewhere else and when I looked to the student section, there was not a single student there. SAD.

    I am being sarcastic when I say: I like what Jack Swarbrick had to say about the stadium not being filled: He would rather have 75,000 raucous fans, than a quiet full stadium. Maybe if they did not charge outrageous prices for the tickets and parking and food etc. It is getting to where they are catering to the big time people who can afford the suites and luxury boxes, (they have a 10 year lease with them).
    I am not a fan of Fr. Jenkins. I think he is spineless and needs to go. He just got another 5 year term. Jack Swarbrick is arrogant and pompous and needs to go.

    Brian Kelly says all the right things, but treats the football program like a business and nothing he says comes from the heart. He is like a politician spewing what people want to hear, but lacking heart. Lou Holtz understood Notre Dame, and when he talked, it came from his heart.

    I know God put our eyes in front so we keep looking forward and not looking back. I am looking forward to the day when we can get a man of integrity like Fr. Ted back to lead Notre Dame, a class act like Moose Krause who understood Notre Dame, and a coach like Lou, Ara, Knute, who coached from the heart.

    Our Lady of Victory, Pray for us! GO IRISH, BEAT EAGLES!!

    St. Anthony, find us a great president to lead ND, a great Athletic Director and a great coach!