The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Football: Mental errors again plague Irish

Fran Tolan | Monday, October 15, 2007

Down 27-14 to Boston College midway through the fourth quarter, Notre Dame quarterback Evan Sharpley connected with wide receiver Robby Parris on a fourth-and-one, play-action pass to pull within one score of the Eagles.

But the play was called back because of a holding penalty by Irish junior offensive lineman Mike Turkovich.

“That was a heartbreaking play,” senior tight end John Carlson said. “To have a play like that called back when you have a little momentum going is heartbreaking.”

The infraction was just another in a long line of costly miscues by both teams.

The game featured 22 total penalties, four turnovers, a missed Irish field goal, and an unsuccessful Boston College extra point.

Turkovich’s holding penalty was the last in a slew of momentum-changing penalties.

After Notre Dame freshman linebacker Brian Smith returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown to cut the Boston College lead to 20-14 with 8:52 remaining in the third quarter, the Irish were flagged for an excessive celebration penalty. The Irish were moved back 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff and the Eagles returned the ball to the Notre Dame 44-yard line. Boston College marched down the short field and scored to regain control of the game.

“I’ll blame me for that [penalty] because the bottom line is I’m responsible for the discipline of our football team,” Irish coach Charlie Weis said. “We could sit there and [excuse] these guys going out there and being fired up. But the bottom line is it’s my team and we got that penalty and [then] we kick off and they get the ball in plus territory, and that’s their other [second-half] score.”

But the Irish had a chance to get close only because of Boston College’s unforced errors. On the drive that was halted on Turkovich’s penalty, the Eagles had a late hit personal foul after Irish receiver Robby Parris caught a pass on fourth down. The penalty moved the Irish to the Boston College 22-yard line and into position to move within one touchdown of the Eagles.

The Eagles were also repeatedly called for false starts on offense. Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski said senior offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus committed the most infractions.

“A lot of them were motion penalties,” Jagodzinski said. “The crowd noise and everything [had an affect], and then [we] got out there he got anxious and jumped a few times.”

But the game’s numerous mental errors were not confined to penalties.

Midway through the second quarter, the Irish turned the ball over on downs when punter Geoff Price caught a poor snap and inadvertently touched his knee to the ground in doing so.

“That was a huge play because a lot of times people want to blame the punter, but the ball [was] down and [he was] going to pick it up,” Weis said.” What are you going to do, just bend over and make sure you don’t touch your knee on the ground? I think it’s almost a natural instinct what Geoff did.”

In addition, after the Irish stopped Boston College’s offense on the first possession of the second half, Irish freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen threw an interception on the first play of the ensuing drive. The Eagles ended up with the ball deep in Notre Dame’s territory and needed just three plays to score.

“I’d say [one of the] most disappointing things for me [was] us turning the ball over quickly in the third quarter and giving them the ball on the 11-yard line for a quick score,” Weis said.

Weis said his squad was hampered by such mistakes but also noted that his team did less to make up for them than Boston College did.

“The bottom line is they won 27-14, and if I sit there and say, ‘God, if we just would have been better on that snap or if we would have hit this one pass or we didn’t get a penalty,” Weis said. “But the thing is, we did.”