Chris Hine | Monday, November 10, 2008
BOSTON – During his Wednesday press conference, Irish defensive coordinator Corwin Brown said he wanted to go to Boston College and “kick their teeth in.”
But after Saturday’s 17-0 loss to Boston College, the Irish may want to make an appointment with their dentist.
The loss marked Notre Dame’s first shutout since USC blanked the Irish 38-0 at Notre Dame Stadium on Oct. 20, 2007. It also marked a step backward for a Notre Dame offense that had all but erased memories of such ugly losses from last season.
Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Jimmy Clausen threw for 226 yards and four interceptions, including one that was returned 76 yards for a touchdown by Eagles defensive back Paul Anderson, as Notre Dame’s mistake-prone offense failed to mount a significant threat against Boston College’s defense. Never once did Notre Dame snap the ball inside the red zone. Notre Dame had just 66 yards rushing, with sophomore running back Armando Allen leading the way with just 24 yards on six carries.
Weis attributed the offense’s ineffectiveness to trying to do much once Notre Dame fell behind.
“I think everyone was trying to make plays that weren’t there to be made and we started forcing the issue and that led to an inconsistent night across the board,” Weis said.
Notre Dame did not make Clausen available for comment after the game.
The Irish committed five turnovers in all. The fifth came when Golden Tate muffed a punt early in the third quarter. The fumble was recovered by Boston College lineman Brad Newman to set up a Boston College touchdown – a nine-yard pass from Eagles quarterback Chris Crane to wide receiver Brandon Robinson – a turn of events from which Notre Dame couldn’t recover.
“There was a deflating point in the game and that was early in the thirs quarter where we fumbled a punt after going three-and-out and you could feel the air being punched out of a balloon, let out of a their sails at that time,” Weis said.
Notre Dame actually outgained Boston College 292 yards to 246 and held Eagles quarterback Chris Crane to just 79 yards through the air on 9-for-22 passing. But Boston College running back Montel Harris had 120 yards and 23 carries, 74 of those coming in the second half when Boston College seemed content to run the ball and not risk a turnover through the air. Crane finished with nine carries for 43 yards.
“The defense put out a winning performance,” Weis said. “Unfortunately that’s only one-third of the composition of the team.”
Crane added: “If we needed to step on the accelerator we would have, but that point never really presented itself because we always had good field position and we didn’t want to put the defense in a bad hole.”
Notre Dame’s opening drive was an omen of things to come for the Irish in the first half. The Irish were penalized twice, one for a 15-yard chop block, and had to punt.
“Early in the first quarter, we put ourselves into some very bad down and distance situations with some penalties in the first quarter,” Weis said. “When they called a chop block, we got into no ebb and flow in the first quarter.”
The rest of the half didn’t go much better for Notre Dame. Clausen threw two interceptions, and the unit had just 121 total yards. The offensive line had a chop block, false start, and two holding penalties called against it. Notre Dame’s best chance to score was on its final drive of the half.
With time winding down, Clausen drove the Irish to Boston College’s 25-yard line. A holding penalty on Dan Wenger drove the Irish back 10 yards and the Clausen, trying to get the ball to receiver Golden Tate down the sidelines, threw his second interception.
But for as bad as Notre Dame played offensively in the first half, the Irish were still only down 10-0 going into the locker room. Three times during the half, Boston College began drives inside Notre Dame territory and on each of those drives, the Eagles did not score. One drive ended with a missed 34-yard field goal from kicker Steve Aponavicius that hit the left upright. The others ended in punts.
Notre Dame’s defense allowed just three points in the half, a 27-yard field goal from Aponavicius late in the first quarter.
“Fortunately, while we’re in no ebb and flow on offense, the defense is gutting it out, which they really did throughout the entire night,” Weis said.
But Notre Dame cold never mount a sustained drive in the second half. Notre Dame failed to convert on fourth down inside Boston College territory late in the third quarter. On fourth-and-six from the 41-yard line, Clausen found Allen on a swing pass, but Allen was tackled before he could reach the first down marker.
Clausen’s third interception came early in the fourth quarter with Notre Dame driving again. On first-and-10 from the Boston College 27-yard line, Clausen overthrew tight end Kyle Rudolph in the end zone and was intercepted by Eagles safety Paul Anderson.
After that interception, the game was in little doubt.
“I’m not taking anything away from BC’s defense and [Boston College defensive coordinator] Frank Spaziani is a good coach and they played well and I commend them for that,” Weis said. “But still at the end of the day, to pitch a goose egg is unacceptable.”