Notre Dame capped off another season undefeated at home on Saturday with a 40-7 beating of Boston College that could have actually been a lot worse. Notre Dame was sloppy at times and still beat the Eagles by 33 points for their third straight 30 point win. They are now just one win away from a third consecutive 10-win season.
The offense left points on the board and still scored 40
If Notre Dame were more efficient in the redzone yesterday, the Irish would have put up 50 or more points. Notre Dame scored touchdowns on just three of their six trips into the redzone. They added field goals on two others and failed to score all together on one trip late in the 4th quarter with the backup offense in the game.
It was a sluggish start for the offense overall with just 16 points in the first half. They moved the ball well at times throughout the first half but settled for field goals on three of their five drives before half-time.
It wasn’t a crisp effort from the Notre Dame offense, and they still scored 40 points. That’s a good thing. That is the type of offense that we expected to see all season long – an offense that can have an off day and still score 40 points on bad teams.
Notre Dame’s run defense was lights out
After letting Michigan gash them for over 300 yards on the ground in Ann Arbor, the Notre Dame run defense has found its way again. Boston College was averaging 282 yards running the ball entering yesterday’s game. Notre Dame held them to 128 yards on 43 carries. They held star running back AJ Dillon to his season-low in yards with 56 yards on 14 carries. Dillon ran for more yards against Clemson.
What made yesterday’s performance even more impressive was the fact that they were banged up a bit on the interior of the defensive line. Notre Dame played without sophomore reserve Jayson Ademilola and then lost Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa during the game to injury. Even with their depth stretched, they still shut down one of the nation’s best rushing attacks.
Ian Book leading the Irish in rushing again is far from ideal
While the Notre Dame rushing defense was lights out, their own running game wasn’t firing on all cylinders. For the fourth week in a row, Ian Book was Notre Dame’s leading rusher. While Book rediscovering his legs has been a big reason for the offense coming on strong at the end of the year, it’s not ideal that Book has been the team’s leading rusher four weeks in a row.
Against Boston College, Notre Dame’s rushing stats look pretty good, actually. They ran for 252 yards on 44 attempts, but those stats were inflated by some quarterback scrambles and Braden Lenzy‘s 61-yard jet sweep touchdown. Notre Dame running backs, on the other hand, struggled again. Tony Jones Jr, Jahmir Smith, and C’bo Flemister combined for 23 carries for 73 yards. That is not the kind of production you’d like to see from the ground game.
Notre Dame has struggled to run the ball as the offensive line has gotten banged up this year. They probably won’t fix that by next weekend’s trip to Palo Alto either, so look for Book to be an integral part of the rushing attack again next week.
Despite injuries, the pass rush got home
Notre Dame sacked Boston College quarterback Dennis Grosel four times yesterday. Boston College had given up six sacks during the first ten games of the season combined. Ade Ogundeji led the way with two sacks while Khalid Kareem and Alohi Gilman each added one. Gilman’s came on a perfectly executed safety blitz while Kareem continued his second half of the season surge.
Ogundeji’s two sacks were his first two of the season and gave Irish fans a glimpse of what he can provide to the Irish defense next year (assuming he returns for a 5th year).
Jacob Lacey is going to be a bad, bad man for this defense
Freshman defensive lineman Jacob Lacey is going to be a big-time player for Notre Dame in the future. He is already flashing as a true freshman and was a force again on Saturday. He was called upon more than normal against Boston College with the injuries they suffered on the interior defensive line. Lacey’s impact wasn’t seen in the stat sheet with just one tackle, but he was a constant force whenever he was on the field. He is going to be really fun to watch over the next few years.
What is up with Jafar Armstrong?
One of the reasons the Notre Dame rushing attack has not been sharp is the absence of Jafar Armstrong. He’s been back from his injury for over a month now, but he clearly isn’t 100% since he isn’t getting on the field. Armstrong did not record a carry or catch a single pass against Boston College.
After rushing 19 times against Virginia Tech and totaling just 37 yards, Armstrong has ten carries over the last three weeks. On the season, Armstrong has a total of 70 yards – a number that most felt he would eclipse in the season opener alone.
Jonathan Doerer’s development was on full display
Is there a more surprising development this year than the kicking of Jonathan Doerer? He looked so shaky in the spring and did not instill much confidence this summer. Against Boston College, he was a weapon for Notre Dame. Doerer connected on all four of his field-goal attempts, including two over 40 yards – a 45-yarder and a 47-yarder.
With Doerer’s perfect day on Saturday, he is 12 of 14 on the season, including 5 of 6 from beyond 40 yards. He is also a perfect 48 for 48 on extra points. I don’t think anyone can say they saw that coming before the season. At this point, though, Doerer is a legit weapon for Notre Dame and should allow Chip Long and Brian Kelly to be more aggressive once they reach the opponents’ side of the field, knowing they have a reliable kicker.
NBC absolutely nailed the Fan Experience on NBCSN
Greg already wrote a full feature on this, but NBC really nailed the Fan Experience channel. The bar is pretty low for NBC these days – especially when they turn the main broadcast into a Flutie-fest like they did yesterday, but there wasn’t a whole lot that NBC could have done better with the NBCSN feed. Yeah, they used the sky cam too much, but they had to get their money out of that failed experiment when they can. They could have given us a little more of the Notre Dame radio broadcast, too, but I was legitimately shocked at how good of a job they did with it.
I’ll go on record now stating that I would 100% pay to have access to that feed for every single Notre Dame football home game.