Jeff Smith: I was probably as confused all of you when Steve Addazio pulled John Fadule for Smith in the second half. But honestly it made sense. Up until that point Fadule limited mistakes but only accounted for five first downs. Jeff Smith was electric when he entered, and looked like a completely different quarterback than the one the hesitant QB that took the field against Louisville. On his 80 yard touchdown drive, it was like a flashback to Tyler Murphy. His passes were more accurate, and he seemed much more composed. It'll be interesting to see what the coaching staff does with him moving forward.
Colton Lichtenberg: Nailed a 40+ yard field goal for BC, at a time when BC couldn't get points. Clearly with BC scoring few TD's and FG's it's hard to assess whether this freshman can be consistent, but he definitely seems like the best kicker amongst the group.
Tommy Sweeney: He is not the typical run blocking tight end that Addazio has gone with in the past, but he has to be in the gameplan moving forward. With blocking schemes failing all over the place, having a safety valve like Sweeney can be huge for a QB that needs to get rid of the ball quickly. In limited snaps and targets last night he showed that he is valuable and Addazio/Fitch need to get him into the gameplan more often.
Matt Milano: The junior linebacker is just an absolute ball hawk out there. He had five tackles, two tackles for loss, a pass break up, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Even with Steven Daniels leaving next year, Milano is going to be an absolute force. Just a masterful game from the linebacker.
Justin Simmons: With Isaac Yiadom and Kamrin Moore both out with injuries, the secondary could have been exposed. And for parts of the game they were. DeShone Kiser hit chunk plays on his way to over 300 yards passing, but Simmons and company played a fantastic game of bend but don't break. He had two big interceptions, along with eight tackles.
Red Zone Defense: Absolutely outstanding. The defense did what they had to do. They let up two touchdowns, one after a brutal 15 yard roughing the kicker, the other after an amazing job by Chris Brown who took a potential interception away from John Johnson. The defense was backed against the wall numerous times and played valiantly.
Michael Walker: Again makes the big plays on kick returns. Got BC in position for what should have been an easy touchdown, but of course the offense did nothing and the Eagles were forced to kick a field goal.
Steve Addazio's Tantrum: Look football coaches scream at referees, and players. It's part of the game. But when Addazio was warned to cut the crap, he should have checked his emotions and stepped back. But he didn't and helped ND continue a drive with a boneheaded penalty.
John Johnson's Personal Foul: Blame has to be dished out for a variety of things, and I have a really hard time not dishing most of it to the coaching staff and offense, but this play has to be included. Remember, if he didn't clobber Justin Yoon, ND would have missed that FG and not scored what ended up being the deciding touchdown. What is more concerning about this play is that this is the second or third personal foul for roughing the kicker penalty this season.
Gabe McClary Was Exposed: Again, don't want to blame him, he had a decent game and has transitioned well to cornerback but the CB injuries put him into a tough situation. Brian Kelly clearly knew that he was the weakest link as Kiser threw it to Chris Brown for 6 receptions and 104 yards and a touchdown. McClary will improve, and he had a fumble recovery which was a positive, but this wasn't his best game.
The Fake Punt: BC's offense wasn't doing anything, so why not take a chance? Well, it was poorly executed and like everything else BC has done this year it took forever to develop.
The Onside Kick: Not the easiest play to do, but that attempt was weak. Plus BC was offsides.
Thadd Smith's Drop: A perfectly thrown ball by John Fadule, and it went right through his hands. Oof.
The First Three Quarters Of Play Calling (#RRPP) Run run pass punt. Run run pass punt. Run run pass punt. Run run pass punt. Run run pass punt. Run run pass punt. Run run pass punt. Run run pass punt. Run run pass punt. Run run pass punt. Run run pass punt. Run run pass punt
Frustrating and insanely ineffective, Addazio and Fitch have got to see by now that when they open up the playbook just a little bit they open things up for the run and move the ball with more momentum. If they start off the Syracuse game with two straight dives up the middle, I may lose my mind.
Sherm Alston: After weeks of watching him muff punts, watch punts fly by him, get clobbered for not calling fair catch, and various other mess ups, the big one we all anticipated happened yesterday. Alston muffed a punt at the three yard line, which thankfully was remedied on a fumble recovery a few plays later. There is no excuse for Alston to ever return a punt again. Thadd Smith looked much more comfortable fielding them when Addazio used him.
Blocking: My beef with the blocking now has more to do with the coaching staff's insistence on running a power unbalanced run game, and less to do with the lines play. Were there plays where linemen completely blew assignments? Sure. But that is par for the course. What BC needs to do to help the line be more successful is to use the spread more often and get rid of the ball quickly. Quick hits, whether it's on a designed run, a slant pass, or a QB keeper shortens the time the linemen can be exposed and increases their opportunity for success. We saw this last night. When BC went more for tempo and less on ball control, there were less mistakes up front. True some of this was due to ND laying back more and rushing fewer defenders, but keeping a defense off balance should work more in BC's favor moving forward.
Notre Dame's Uniforms: Woof