Boston College Preview

The Irish don “throwback” uniforms and you ditch the regular NBC broadcast, because no one wants to hear Doug Flutie talk about Boston College for four hours.

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(just kidding)

What’s Their Deal?

When’s the last time a Boston College team had one of the better offenses in the country but was done in by an absolutely abysmal defense (and special teams)? Their respective SP+ unit rankings are 21, 107, and 113. Former ND assistant Steve Addazio‘s Eagles are funny in that they’ve won exactly 7 games in 5 of the last 6 years, with the lone exception being a 3-win campaign in 2015. As the Eagles sit at 5-5 with just one more game at Pitt that will close out the schedule, that streak is looking a little precarious, but the dream of 6 out of 7 is still alive for the time being.

They’re rolling on offense even without their starting quarterback Anthony Brown, who was playing some pretty decent football for six games before suffering a lower leg injury that would end his season. Brown’s replacement, Dennis Grosel (a redshirt sophomore and former preferred walk-on) looked rough in his first few games but has progressed from serviceable to maybe actually decent as of late. The running game— led by AJ Dillon, a 250-pound bowling ball who is sure to have a professional future in this line of work— is far more reliable and productive. After a slight productivity dip in 2018, Dillon is back to the form displayed as a freshman, and will likely break the 1,500 yard mark in game eleven.

That defense, though, leaves a lot to be desired. They’ve given up 30 points per game at home and 36 on the road. The only teams that didn’t put up at least 27 on the Eagles were Rutgers and FCS Richmond. Offseason attrition included almost the entire starting secondary (including All-Name first-teamer Hamp Cheevers), their two best pass rushers, and their leading tackler. Who could have possibly foreseen! Preseason All-ACC linebacker Isaiah McDuffie made his first season appearance last week, but will presumably still be limited in snap count and impact as he works his way back from a knee injury.

One Scary Man: RB AJ Dillon

I was going to try and steer this one in a more avant-garde direction, but who am I kidding, the defense is too porous to inspire fear and the offense is too one-dimensional for that to be in good faith. The scary man is AJ Dillon. His next carry will be his 800th in a BC uniform, and he’s taken 37 of those to the house, eating up over 4,100 yards of offense along the way. His grandfather is Irish great Thom Gatewood, which makes his presence on the opposing sideline even more of a bummer. To be fair, Dillon was initially a Michigan commit, so at least he had the good sense to nip that in the bud.

A Few Things I Hate About You

  • Shut up, Flutie. It actually isn’t cool that you were an otherwise good quarterback who’s now known for a single play where the gameplan was “throw ball far, pray.”
  • Your whole thing is just ruining other teams’ good things. Wack.
  • Obviously gotta nod to the backup college angle. Do the admission stats still bear that out? Probably! Who cares!
  • Boston sports fans? No thank you please.106f7df5cb5ed14d3b5809b60aae50ec.png
  • Remember when we played a home game, against you, in Fenway Park, in green monster jerseys aaaaaaahaaa damn that’s embarrassing for you.

What to Expect

The Notre Dame defense will be treated to yet another mediocre passing offense, and should be able to fully sell out against the run — keep Dillon and complementary piece David Bailey (questionable to play Saturday) in check, and that’s that. The Eagles do have several decently explosive pass catchers available at Grosel’s disposal (heh), but that’s not the main event. Dillon has carried the ball more than anyone else in FBS year to date, so it’s not like the gameplan will be built to surprise anyone. Just a matter of if your guys can block our guys, and if our guys can tackle your guys. Three yards and a cloud of dust/turf rubber, baby.

BC’s defense matches up abysmally against the Irish offense, especially considering ND’s recent home prowess and the Eagles’ road struggles. Per the folks at BC Interruption, they are “piss-poor at tackling,” liable to give up huge gains, and have struggled to generate a pass rush. Save for NC State, every opponent has been able to hit above a 60% completion rate and pass all over this secondary. Meeting Ian Book on the upswing shouldn’t be a whole lot of fun for the Iggles, and this is another prime opportunity for the offense to keep rolling.

Prediction

Maybe Grosel’s recent growth at the quarterback position is for real and their offense provides a genuine challenge to the Irish defense, but BC’s defense simply should not be able to offer up enough resistance to keep this all that close. Clark Lea’s group should be locked in, as Notre Dame’s inconsistent run defense has the chance to make a statement against one of the best backs in the country. Crazier things than “Boston College plays spoiler on Notre Dame senior day” have happened, and that’s certainly the juju that Addazio and co. will try to channel, but the Irish are firing on all cylinders. Why stop at two dominating wins over lesser teams when you can have three? Irish 41-20.

Play ’em Out

Discovered this band via one of my favorite title credit sequences from one of my favorite shows (You’re The Worst) and haven’t stopped listening since. They rock!