Kelly discusses BC matchup, injury updates, Fenway setting
Alex Carson | Tuesday, November 17, 2015
For the fifth time in as many games — and sixth in seven — No. 4 Notre Dame will take the field Saturday against a team that had more than seven days of rest prior to playing the Irish when they take on Boston College at Fenway Park in Boston.
Wake Forest, last Saturday’s opponent in a 28-7 Irish (9-1) win, had a bye week before coming to South Bend — and Irish head coach Brian Kelly said the Demon Deacons (3-7, 1-5 ACC) made adjustments to their defense in the 13 days they had between games.
“They played their front totally different than they had all year,” Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference. “So clearly they game planned a lot of the stuff for us, specifically with that week off.”
In addition to Wake Forest’s new scheme, the Demon Deacons also kept the Irish off the field — Notre Dame ran just 23 plays in the first half and 49 in the game, more than 10 plays below its previous season low.
“I think what the real issue was that Wake Forest controlled the football,” Kelly said of the offense’s low yardage output Saturday.
Outside of freshman running back Josh Adams’ record-breaking 98-yard touchdown run, the Irish offense struggled against the Demon Deacons, and Kelly said he thinks teams coming off a bye have an edge when facing Notre Dame.
“It’s an advantage, clearly,” he said. “I’ll be honest; when you get a week off this late in the season, just like [Boston College] will, we have to do a really good job of looking at our own self-scouting and analyzing what we do because they really were totally different in the way they defended our run game and things in the back end of their defense.”
As Kelly noted, the Eagles (3-7, 0-6 ACC) had the weekend off prior to their showdown with the Irish in Boston, but he said he doesn’t expect to have to face wholesale changes two weeks in a row.
“They’re a different animal in terms of how they play in the back end,” Kelly said. “I would expect them to be a little bit more like who they are.”
The Eagles are the top-ranked unit in total defense this year, allowing just 236.5 yards per game, as well as the third-best scoring defense, ceding 14.4 points per game.
A trio of Irish players — sophomore defensive lineman Daniel Cage, senior running back C.J. Prosise and sophomore tight end Nic Weishar — missed Saturday’s game with concussions. However, Kelly expects the three to be available for this week’s Shamrock Series clash with Boston College.
“I’d say probable on all of the concussion guys,” Kelly said.
James Onwualu suffered an MCL injury against Wake Forest, and Kelly said the junior linebacker won’t be healthy for Saturday’s game.
“Onwualu will be out. He’s got a second-degree MCL,” Kelly said, later noting Onwualu’s injury would not require surgery.
Kelly also updated freshman receiver Equanimeous St. Brown’s status, who will undergo surgery for a shoulder injury suffered in last Wednesday’s practice. Kelly estimated he would be out for six weeks.
The Irish head coach also noted a minor ankle injury to graduate student receiver Amir Carlisle.
Saturday’s contest will be the seventh installment of the now-annual neutral-site game, and Boston’s Fenway Park will take its name alongside New York’s Yankee Stadium and Chicago’s Soldier Field as historic venues to host a Shamrock Series game.
“We love these Shamrock Series games,” Kelly said. “We play great venues throughout the country, and this will be another great one in an iconic venue in Fenway Park, and the guys were really excited about playing in a stadium that has such great tradition.”
Notre Dame, who is 6-0 in Shamrock Series games, will wear special uniforms Saturday, taking the field in an all-green uniform matched with a special gold helmet. Boston College will throwback to a set worn in 1984 when Doug Flutie, now the color commentator on NBC’s Notre Dame broadcast, quarterbacked the Eagles.