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Notre Dame: Winning Holy Wars Since 2009…

Posted By Jordan Lauterbach On Oct 3 2010 @ 1:26 am In Notre Dame | No Comments

For once, Notre Dame lived up to expectations. For once, they executed a game plan for 60 consecutive minutes. Well, maybe not 60, but at least enough to beat a Boston College team that really really stinks. But that’s not a criticism; this is what these types of games are for.

These are games where you can make a couple mistakes and still win comfortably. They are good for the players. They are good for the coaches. They are good for the program. A ton of stories can be told about this one, but none more compelling then a story about a defense that finally got it done.

 Notre Dame’s defense has been battered and bruised in the last three weeks. They have been the victim of overwhelming time of possession disadvantages and an annoying habit of giving up big plays at the most inconvenient of times. Look at the stats and you assume that this is just another awful Notre Dame defense. Look at individual highlights and you’ll come to much of the same conclusion.  But that’s a bit misleading.

Are they slow? Yes. Are they comparatively (to other teams) talented? No. But they do have an indelible quality of resolve and toughness. That hasn’t yielded any rewards in the last three weeks, but Saturday it did.

For a team that’s been getting thrashed on the ground, Notre Dame did a fantastic job stopping the run. It is hard to remember a game where a team looked as inept running the football as Boston College did. 10 yards were gained on the ground by the Eagles in the first quarter. By the final whistle, they only had four. Name the last opponent who had less then five yards on the ground against Notre Dame?…..Still waiting….

The secondary was opportunistic, picking off Boston College twice. After a blown coverage in the second quarter that led to a 58 – yard touchdown, the Irish were careful not to get burned again…and, unlike the last few weeks, they didn’t.

Offensively, the running game is what stood out most. Armando Allen made the comparisons to C.J Spiller earlier in the week look a little less ridiculous. Allen had his most consistent game in a long time, maybe his entire career.

 This is what the Notre Dame offense should do more of. They have been abandoning the run far too early and have barely used anyone other then Allen. This is not surprising, considering Brian Kelly’s offensive philosophy, but shouldn’t an “offensive genius” like him recognize the benefit of establishing a dangerous running threat. 

Kelly spent all summer talking up Cierre Wood and has barely used him. This makes little sense because the one time he got significant carries (week one against Purdue), he looked, well, like the coach said he would. Armando Allen carried the ball 18 times against Boston College. This is a perfect number for him.

A more consistently fed running attack would help the passing game, as well. Even in the mostly – lopsided win on Saturday, it’s evident that Crist is still in the learning phase of his development. While Crist was leaps and bounds better then he was in the Stanford game, he’s still having trouble adapting to defensive adjustments.

Much like the Stanford loss, Dayne came out firing and had a brilliant first quarter. Boston College’s second quarter defensive adjustments confused Crist and he suddenly couldn’t move the offense. Matt Millin (who I like a lot, despite his obvious lack of NFL front office prowess) spent most of the quarter praising Boston College and failed to mention this continuing trend with Crist.

However, and here’s where the growth comes in, Crist played better in the second half. He didn’t throw a touchdown and was picked off once, but showed a much greater command of the offense and was once again able to move to ball down the field.

The turning point of the game was a 76 – yard, 5:27 drive early in the third quarter that ended in a touchdown. It put a Boston College team that had clawed its way back into the game to bed. This was an aspect of Notre Dame that has yet to be seen in the Kelly era – the killer instinct. 

The ability to put teams away when they’re on the ropes is significantly under rated. In the Irish’s lone win before Boston College (Purdue, if you forgot), Notre Dame let the Boilermakers climb back into the game in the second half.  This made a dominant performance look significantly less so. That wasn’t the case against the Eagles. The Irish went into halftime with the game still in doubt. Half way through the third quarter the game was no longer in doubt.

Teams like Boston College can’t be allowed to stick around. After all, anything can happen in football. If any team knows this, it’s Notre Dame.

Two Last Random Thoughts:

1. Good to see Kyle Rudolph get involved with the offense. I thought he was supposed to be a bigger part of the Kelly scheme.

2. Is it just me or does Michael Floyd look very ordinary this season?

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