Notre Dame 21, Boston College 6: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Jared Wickerham

Recapping Saturday's 21-6 loss to Notre Dame ...

With apologies for the delay in posting.

The Good

Rettig-to-Amidon -- The Boston College QB and WR combo were one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal performance from the Eagles on Saturday night. Rettig played pretty well against the nation's 25th best passing defense. Chase finished the night 27-of-43, 247 yards and an INT, though several drops contributed to his completion percentage. He had a bunch of success with the screen passes and quick outs and hung in there even when he was getting pressured.

Rettig's favorite target, Alex Amidon, caught six passes for 84 yards and set the school's single-season receiving yards mark with two games to go. Rettig-to-Amidon connected on a 22 yard pitch and catch on 3rd and 11 to extend the Eagles' second offensive possession resulting in BC's first FG. The WR also rattled off a 14-yard run midway through the second quarter on a reverse. As DCash said, dude is putting up video game numbers.

The Return of Deuce Finch -- Statistically, Finch had a subpar day -- 7 carries, 40 yards, 20 yard long -- but he provided a spark to the backfield that the Eagles haven't had in a few weeks. He runs with purpose and it's clear that he was recruited to actually play the position. Finch's run midway through the second half was arguably BC's best offensive play of the night.

Even though the Eagles managed to gain just 53 yards as a team (including a number of Rettig sacks), it was an improved performance over the last few weeks -- 32 rushing yards @ Georgia Tech, 8 vs. Maryland and 12 @ Wake Forest. The Eagles run game has averaged 72.5 yards a game this season which ranks 122 nationally (ahead of only Tulane and Washington State). O-Line U!

Nate Freese -- I guess? Struggling to come up with a third "good" performance here, but Freese did his job, even if you disagree with Spaz's decision to kick the FG down 21-3. The junior is 14-16 on field goal attempts this season and a perfect 21-21 on extra points.

Honorable mention: Spenser Rositano has emerged as the team's takeaway artist, forced fumbles, covering the spread

The Bad

The Offensive Line -- It was the first time all season where the Eagles' didn't play with the same starting five they have during the rest of the season. And the line played like it. Other than Finch and Amidon's long runs, the Eagles couldn't get anything going on the ground. Rettig was hurried and sacked repeatedly, with greater frequency as the game wore on (at least four sacks in the fourth quarter alone). When you can't establish the ground game and can't buy your QB time to go through his progressions, you're left with an extremely one-dimensional offense that relies on screen passes, quick outs, reverses and gimmicks like the hook-n-ladder to move the ball down the field. The end result is highly predictable.

Giving Up Points Before The Half (Again) -- The game was seemingly lost midway through the second quarter, where the Irish offense engineered a 16 play, 87 yard TD drive that ate up over 8 and a half minutes of clock. It's actually quite difficult to eat up 8:30 of clock and only go 87 yards, but that's what happens when you convert on each of your four third down conversions (see below). It was almost as if Notre Dame was daring the BC D to force a punt with the Irish committing two 5-yard penalties on this particular drive.

On this drive, the Eagles' front four got no pressure on Golson and he was allowed to dink-and-dunk his way down the field, hitting Troy Niklas in the back of the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown strike. The backbreaker was giving up a nine yard QB scamper to Golson on a 3rd and 8 (though the spot was very generous and I probably would have challenged the spot). The combination of lack of pressure and Spaz cushion on this drive was so bad that Herbstreit called out the BC D on a 3rd and 6 when Golson hooked up with senior TE Tyler Eifert for a 10 yard gain and a first down.

For what feels like the 100th time this season, BC allowed an opponent to march down the field and put points on the board right before half, all but sealing the Irish victory.

Honorable mention: The defensive line, Shea Field being open for ~an hour before getting shut down at 6:45 PM

The Ugly

Third Down Defense -- This has been a problem all year. Not going to win a lot of games when your defense concedes 10 straight third down conversions and 11-of-14 in all. The Irish's third down conversion percentage (78.57%) was the highest given up all season by the Eagles. Nationally, Boston College ranks 122nd (out of 124) in opponent third down conversions, giving up a conversion in over 1/2 of all chances (52.33%). The 3rd and 8 at the BC 16 late in the second quarter was particularly brutal. Golson rushed for 9 yards to the BC 7 to pick up the first down, leading to the Irish's second touchdown.

First And Second Down Defense, Too -- There are no easy fixes, but when your defense can't get off the field, you aren't going to win many games. It wasn't just the third down defense or giving up points before the half. It was the D being more or less non-competitive against the Irish's offensive line. I can't remember Golson getting sacked once let alone hurried. The only TFL I remember was Duggan blowing up George Atkinson III's rush on 2nd and 1 in the second quarter. Otherwise the run D was awful as usual. Runs that used to get blown up by the BC front four only a few years ago are going for 9 and 10 yards. BC really misses backers like Kuechly and Herzlich to cover up mistakes and the Discount Double Check to clog the middle.

Golson played pitch and catch with his receivers all night. Golson and Rees threw a combined 8 incompletions, averaging 8.4 yards a pass. The Irish O probably would have doubled up their scoring if they didn't repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot with all the drive-killing fumbles.

Honorable mention: Clancy injury, WR drops, offensive play-calling (seriously, what was that?)

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