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Game Review: ND/BC

Posted By Ian Boynton On Oct 3 2010 @ 6:09 pm In Boston College | No Comments

Notre Dame came out firing against Boston College, and by the time the Eagles could blink the Fighting Irish had stretched their lead to 21-0. In just one quarter, Notre Dame had nearly put the game out of reach of a floundering Eagles squad.

Hope was quickly restored when Rettig hit a wide-open Bobby Swigert for a 58-yard Sheeckutz-like touchdown to bring the Eagles within 14 of the Fighting Irish, but as fast as hope was reestablished, it was lost when Rettig went down early in the second quarter with an ankle injury. While the Eagles defense was able to compose itself and hold Notre Dame to 10 points for the remainder of the game, the offense was never able to gain any momentum under the quarterbacking of Mike Marscovetra.

Of the many Boston College games I have attended, Saturday’s showing may have been the most demoralizing. The performance of almost every unit was sub-par, and it is hard to envision where the Eagles will find offensive production. Of of the most glaring issues is the fact that the Eagles simply do not have a viable option at quarterback. With Chase Rettig injured in the, and Marscovetra performing poorly, the Eagles may have no option but to go with recently demoted Dave Shinskie – the same Dave Shinskie who, only a week ago, fans were booing off the field.

More worrisome than the quarterback situation, though, is the lack of an Eagles rushing attack. While some of this rests on Montel Harris, a lot of the responsibility rests on the highly touted offensive line that simply has not produced this year. Up until this game, I had been confident that at some point the line would “click” and live up to the lofty expectations. After this week’s showing against Notre Dame, that confidence is now gone.

Until Chase Rettig was injured, I had no complaints with the offensive coordinator’s play calling, but after the quarterback’s injury, the Eagles seemed to lose direction. For much of the 2nd and 3rd quarters, Tranquil seemed resigned to running two types of plays; a running back draw out of the shotgun formation, and a play action pass to a deep receiver. Neither of these plays worked, yet Tranquil returned to them consistently. It is also no surprise as to why neither of them worked. In order for a play-action pass to be effective, the opponent needs to respect the run. With the Eagles running attack being as ineffective as it was, Marscovetra would drop back and be throwing to double-covered targets, where one would normally hope for single coverage. In regards to the draw, the Eagles offensive line was so overwhelmed on Saturday that, by the time Harris had the ball, he was often immediately opposed by a Notre Dame defender(s).

The offense on Saturday not only lacked production, but it lacked creativity. Yes, Tranquil was tasked a difficult test against Notre Dame after losing his starting quarterback, but the way he reacted to the injury was uninspiring. When BC lost Rettig, the game was not out of reach; the Eagles were the recipient of several Notre Dame fumbles, and were only down by two touchdowns. By going three-and-out as many times as the offense did, Tranquil put too much pressure on the defense to consistently stop an effective Notre Dame offense.

Defensively the Eagles are an anomaly. Notre Dame got off to a blazing start, but after the Eagles D settled in, they played like the defense that people have come to expect, only giving up 10 points over the next 3 quarters. Nonetheless, question marks were certainly raised during the course of the game.

The pass rush, which has been a topic of discussion all season, continues to disappoint. Rarely was Crist pressured, and on many occasions, there was not a defender within 3 yards of him as he released the ball. While the play of the defensive backs was not spectacular, their play is amplified by the lack of a pass rush. For the defense to be successful, Spaziani will have to find a way for the Eagles to generate a pass-rush without bringing 6-7 men – even that was often ineffective against the Fighting Irish.

After the game, Albright accredited the poor play to the defense coming out “flat”. Against Kent State, or Weber State, being “flat” is potentially acceptable, but against Notre Dame it is inexcusable, and somewhat astounding. With the senior leadership on defense, this is an issue that is unwarranted and unexpected. Being a defensive-minded coach, Spaziani will undoubtedly be focused heavily on the defense this week.

The entire Boston College team needs to take a long, hard look at the game tape of Saturday’s game. The season is still young, and BC has the majority of its ACC games ahead of it, but hopes and expectations are quickly fading in Chestnut Hill, and if the team is to findsuccess anytime soon, Spaziani will have to make (plenty of) adjustments very quickly.

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