The final home game on the 2019 Notre Dame football schedule has the Irish battling the Boston College Eagles, hoping that Steve Addazio’s squad follows last season’s stumbling late in the campaign. Three straight losses to close out the regular season turned the Eagles from a ranked team into one that watched its appearance in a minor bowl game ended in the first quarter by bad weather.
[Read up on the full history of the Notre Dame – Boston College Rivalry aka The Holy War]
The genesis of that losing streak came in a home loss to eventual national champion Clemson. Boston College has some key losses to overcome and needs to get over the hump of winning more than seven games in a season.
Boston College Offense: Some Familiar Faces
The Eagles will need to break in a new offensive coordinator, but they do have third-year quarterback Anthony Brown back behind center. He took a step forward in 2018 by improving his accuracy and largely managing to avoid making mistakes that coughed up the ball.
The good news for Brown is that he still has A.J Dillon in the backfield with him. While the most ambitious Eagles supporters are touting Dillon as a potential Heisman candidate, that may be a bit much. However, he gained over 1,100 yards and reached the end zone 10 times. Those numbers, which were compiled despite missing a pair of games and the fact that he brings back his ability to roar through the line could at least get him into the conversation.
While Dillon isn’t much of a receiving threat, Brown will have Kobay White back as his top returning receiver. Kobay snagged 33 passes last year, but only crossed the goal line three times. If he’s not available, the hope is that Elijah Robinson can use his enviable size to finally deliver after minimal contributions and make a comeback after missing last year because of injury. Boston College’s two-tight end lineup should see Hunter Long and Korab Idrizi handling those duties.
Up front, the Eagle line has Ben Petrula handling one of the tackles spots, but need some reserves to smoothly transition their way into the starting lineup. Alec Lindstrom is expected to take over at center, while John Phillips closed out 2018 strong by taking over one of the guard slots. Another guard slot will likely be handled by Elijah Johnson, provided he can stay healthy. Finally, Finn Dirstine could take over the other tackle spot, while transfer Eddy Fish might be a candidate for either guard or tackle.
Boston College Defense: Change is Hopefully Good
Much like the offensive side of the ball, Boston College’s defense is undergoing some changes on the coaching side of the equation. The former defensive coordinator was demoted to defensive line coach while the new DC is the school’s former linebackers coach. Whether or not that shakes things up in a positive manner is a question still to be answered.
One of the challenges will be to put together an aggressive defensive line, with the duo of Tanner Karafa and T.J. Rayam expected to handle the inside at the tackle spots. The ends are more of a question mark, though it’s likely that Marcus Valdez and Brandon Barlow will get the starting nod.
Among the linebacking corps, strong side starter Isaiah McDuffie is the team’s leading returning tackler with 85 in that category. Meanwhile, John Lamot hopes to boost his 35 stops from last year in the middle, but might be pushed by Vinny DePalma. On the weak side, Max Richardson ended 2018 with 76 tackles , nine of them behind the line.
The secondary of the Eagles is undergoing an overhaul, though one corner is expected to see Brandon Sebastian, while the other is a grab-bag of talent led by Tate Haynes. At safety, Mehdi El Attrach and Mike Palmer are veterans that currently have the upper hand, but some of the younger candidates may offer some challenges.
Boston College Special Teams: Certainty and Questions
Danny Longman wasn’t the Eagles’ regular kicker, but he’s back, as is Grant Carlson at punter. In the latter case, Carlson averaged 40.2 yards per boot. As far the respective return units, a guessing game is the current status. Replacing the nation’s top return man in Michael Walker on both fronts is a huge challenge, but look for Ben Glines to handle kicks and punt returns to be the stronghold of Jason Maitre.
The Last Time That Notre Dame Played Boston College
The 2017 Notre Dame football schedule saw these two teams play at Chestnut Hill, with a tight first half giving way to Irish domination after the break. Notre Dame literally ran wild in their 49-20 victory, gaining more than 500 yards on the ground, with a pair of Irish players breaking the 200-yard threshold in the game.