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Friday, Feb. 23, 2024
The Observer

Head-to-Head 2020: Boston College Eagles

Notre Dame Passing

Not long ago, the edge may have gone to BC here. However, BC has struggled in two notable areas: the big play and defending running backs in the passing game. The latter has been a strength for Notre Dame all season, and after opening up the playbook last week, the deep ball is becoming a weapon that offensive coordinator Tommy Rees is confident in utilizing. Javon McKinley again looked like a top receiver last week, while Avery Davis emerged as another downfield threat. 

EDGE: Notre Dame


Notre Dame Rushing

Boston College is actually halfway decent against the run this season. They rank 49th in the FBS giving up 143.8 yards per game on the ground, albeit while ceding 13 scores on the ground in the process. Halfway decent would have worked (and frequently did in fact) against last year’s Notre Dame team, but not this one. The Irish ran for over 200 yards on Clemson, albeit with a 65-yarder and two overtime periods thrown in there. Clemson is still 22nd nationally in rushing defense even after that performance by the Irish, and the Eagles certainly don’t present the same level of personnel as the Tigers’ defensive front.

EDGE: Notre Dame


Notre Dame Offensive Coaching 

Tommy Rees let his guys speak for him in last week’s win over Clemson. Ian Book has struggled more than usual with the deep ball this year, but Rees has maintained confidence in his offense. That was pretty explicit when he drew up the Avery Davis deep ball as the clock ran down in the fourth quarter last week. That being said, Rees has worked with Jurkovec in the past, so he’ll have to be careful in what he draws up. Jeff Hafley is also a defensive-minded coach, something else Rees will have to be prepared for. After Rees proved clutch in his play calls last week, he should find a way to get it done against BC this week. 

EDGE: Notre Dame


Notre Dame Offensive Special Teams

Confidence has got to be at an all-time high in this area for Notre Dame. Jonathan Doerer saved a stalling offense last week with four field goals, plus some pressure-filled PATs to extend the game on multiple occasions. Jay Bramblett was a little inconsistent, but he unleashed a booming 51-yard punt that traveled over 60 yards in the air to flip the field in a critical situation. We saw the fear of Chris Tyree become very real, as Clemson opted to kick the ball out of the back of the end zone every time, rather than give him a chance to return. This one belongs to the Irish. 

EDGE: Notre Dame


Boston College Passing

This one brings a little hesitation after Notre Dame’s corners were burned repeatedly last week by Clemson. Notre Dame’s safeties — Kyle Hamilton and Shaun Crawford —  have been great, but the Irish are getting burnt on the outside a few more times than they should. That plays into BC’s greatest strength, which is lofting up deep balls to Zay Flowers downfield. Overall, Notre Dame should be OK in this matchup, but that weakness makes this one a wash. 



Boston College Rushing

I don’t know if there is a more clear advantage in any facet of the game for Notre Dame than in this area. Last week, the Irish bottled up Clemson star Travis Etienne for 28 yards on 18 carries. Take away his longest rush, and it was 15 yards on 17 carries. BC enters with no running back averaging over 3.9 yards per carry, and they virtually have no run game to complement their passing attack. Notre Dame’s fearsome defensive front does not give up rushing yards easily, and that doesn’t figure to change this weekend. 

EDGE: Notre Dame


Boston College Offensive Coaching

Frank Cignetti’s resume speaks for itself as a former Power 5 and NFL offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He’s worked with the likes of Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers, and now he’s in his first season working to rejuvenate a Boston College offense that went stagnant under “Seven-Win Steve” Addazio. The Eagles are averaging 26.1 points per game, good for 83rd in the FBS, and their offense is the definition of boom or bust. It’s one-dimensional without a legitimate rushing attack, and Irish defensive coordinator Clark Lea feasts on one-dimensional offenses. He should do the same against the team that passed him up as head coach for Jeff Hafley this offseason.

EDGE: Notre Dame


Boston College Offensive Special Teams

Though Aaron Boumerhi has been perfect in extra points this year, he’s struggled to get it between the uprights on field goals, particularly from distance. He’s 4-4 within 29, 5-6 in the 30s, 1-2 in the 40s and 0-2 over 50. On the other end, the Eagles are averaging less than four yards per punt return. That trend won’t likely change against a stout Irish coverage unit.

EDGE: Notre Dame