Notre Dame Football: Boston College Preview

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Notre Dame Football: Boston College Preview
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Darius Fleming and his fellow outside linebackers have been quiet this season

Boston College Run Offense vs. Notre Dame Run Defense

2 Montel Harris is Boston College's feature back this year. He's averaging 22 carries and 102 yards per game.

Outside of Harris, there hasn't been much to BC's run game; second string running back 21 Sterlin Phifer is averaging just four carries 23 yards per game.

Notre Dame's run defense is giving up 190 yards per game, and its leading tacklers tell the story of those numbers.

Linebacker Manti Te'o is averaging 14 tackles per game and safety Harrison Smith nine, largely because they're the ones cleaning up other people's missed tackles. Te'o leads the team with 3.5 tackles for a loss, and Darius Fleming is right behind with 3.0. 

But Fleming and the rest of the outside linebackers continue to be disappointing.

As good as their outside contain was in the Purdue game, it's been nearly nonexistent in the games since.

Notre Dame Run Offense vs. Boston College Run Defense

Armando Allen leads an Irish rushing attack, gaining 111 yards per game. Allen is averaging 15 carries and 76 yards per game, and has one of only two team rushing touchdowns on the year.

Robert Hughes has been moved up to the No. 2 running back spot, largely because of his pass blocking abilities; that, in and of itself, may indicate how much the Irish plan to run this week. Hughes himself has not had a single carry in very limited action this season.

Cierre Wood has struggled since Purdue, but still maintains a 4.4 yards per carry average. 

Jonas Gray is doubtful for this game witha groin and knee injuries.

Dayne Crist has not had a designed run since the Michigan game, and the debate remains as to when the coaching staff will trust themselves to let him run again.

Boston College's run defense has been stifling this year, giving up just two yards per carry and 71 yards per game. The linebackers are leading the way in tackles, with starters 40 Luke Kuechly, 32 Kevin Pierre-Louis, and 94 Mark Herzlich combining for 76 stops through three games. Kuechly's 4.5 tackles for a loss is just 0.5 behind defensive end 98 Alex Albright for the team lead.

Boston College Pass Offense vs. Notre Dame Pass Defense

After a disappointing start by incumbent 15 Dave Shinskie, freshman 7 Chase Rettig will be making his collegiate debut as the Eagles new starter; Rettig did however enroll early to participate in spring practices.

16 Mark Marscovetra, who has had mild success as Shinskie's backup to this point, gets the "OR" designation next to Rettig on the depth chart.

Boston College runs a base pro set (running back, fullback, tight end, two receivers).  Receivers 17 Clyde Lee and 80 Johnathan Coleman and back Montel Harris are leading the way, each averaging about three catches per game. Coleman is the yardage leader, averaging 58 per contest.

Four other BC players are averaging at least one catch per game—receivers 3 Ifeanyi Momah and 86 Bobby Swigert and tight ends Chris Pantale and Lars Anderson

At 6'6", 240, Momah is a matchup problem for any defensive back, and in fact outsizes tight end Anderson.

Notre Dame's defense is giving up 244 passing yards per game and allowing opponents to complete 66 percent of their passes; that first number isn't very good, but the second is much worse. Part of that comes from an inability to generate a pass rush—the Irish are averaging just two sacks per game. 

Darius Fleming and Ethan Johnson lead the team with two sacks apiece on the season, with Carlo Calabrese right behind at 1.5.

The secondary is still showing signs of bad habits from last year, but their pass defense is improving. The team is averaging six passes defended and five pass breakups per game.  Darrin Walls has two of the team's five interceptions on the season.

Notre Dame Pass Offense vs. Boston College Pass Defense

Dayne Crist is up to 289 passing yards per game. On an average day, he'll complete 22 of 35 passes, for a rate of 59 percent. He's also averaging two touchdowns and one interception per game.

Michael Floyd is Notre Dame's leading receiver, an impressive feat considering the coverages he's faced. Floyd is averaging six catches and 85 yards per game.

Kyle Rudolph and Theo Riddick are right behind at five catches per game. Rudolph's hamstring limited him to one catch against Stanford, but he should be back to full strength this week.

Armando Allen and TJ Jones are averaging two catches per game, and John Goodman one. Jones, Floyd, Riddick, and Rudolph each have two touchdown catches apiece, to account for all of Notre Dame's receiving TDs.

Boston College's 4-3 defense has struggled to get pressure on the quarterback, registering only four sacks in three games; still, their defense ends can do some damage. 

In addition to Alex Albright's five tackles for a loss, 47 Brad Newman leads the team with two sacks.

That lack of pressure has allowed opponents to average 238 yards per game in the air, yet the Eagles have given up only two passing touchdowns while collecting five interceptions. 

Still, it looks like once again the Irish offense will need to lean heavily on the passing game in this one.

Special Teams

85 Nate Freese is Boston College's field goal kicker. He's five-for-six with a long of just 33.  Freese's lone miss came on a 47-yarder last week.

David Ruffer has remained perfect on the season, now converting all seven of his attempts. His long is 46 yards.

46 Ryan Quigley is back once again as BC's punter. Quigley has been booming the ball this year, averaging 45 yards per punt with a long of 71. Four of his 14 punts have gone over 50 yards. 

The Eagles punt coverage has been equally impressive, giving up four returns for a combined -17 yards. Ben Turk has been struggling as of late for the Irish, averaging just 36 yards per punt. To his credit, most of his punts have been unreturnable—Irish opponents have returned just two of Turk's 21 punts for four total yards.

Cornerbacks 9 DeLeon Gause and 25 Chris Fox return kicks for the Eagles. Both are averaging around 20 yards per return with a long around 30. Gause does have a 66-yard interception return to his credit, though. 

David Ruffer kicks off for Notre Dame. He's averaging 66 yards per kick with three touchbacks on 20 tries. Notre Dame's kick team is giving up 20 yards per return, leaving opponents with an average start on the 24 yard line.

Cierre Wood is averaging 20 yards per kick return for the Irish, but has struggled as of late. 

With those struggles and Jonas Gray's injuries, Bennett Jackson should see some time returning kicks. After channeling Mike Anello on kick coverage, let's see if the speedy, undersized freshman can now channel a 2009 version of Theo Riddick on returns. 

Nate Freese also kicks off for the Eagles. He's averaging 63 yards per kick with one touchback on 14 tries; he has also kicked the ball out of bounds twice. Boston College is giving up a respectable 18 yards per return, giving opponents an average start on the 30.

DeLeon Gause also returns punts for Boston College. He's averaging just four yards per return on six tries. 

John Goodman has been officially promoted to starting punt returner after taking over those duties in the Stanford game. Goodman is averaging nine yards per return with a long of 13.

Notre Dame Players to Watch

Robert Hughes, Kyle Rudolph, Darius Flemming, Carlo Calabrese, Bennett Jackson, and John Goodman.

Prediction

Notre Dame 22, Boston College 19

 

This article originally appeared on Kanka's Sports Page

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