Brown, Carlisle record career performances
Greg Hadley | Monday, November 23, 2015
BOSTON — For the first time this season, Will Fuller wasn’t just held in check. He was positively neutralized.
The junior receiver has had worse statistical outings. His three catches and 72 yards were not season lows, and it was the third game this year in which he did not score a touchdown.
But for once, Fuller did not have to deal with just opposing cornerbacks, but his own struggles on the field. He did not have a reception until late in the third quarter, and he dropped a likely touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. All told, he let three passes slip through his fingers on the night.
In his place, Notre Dame relied on its only receivers with more experience: graduate student Amir Carlisle and senior Chris Brown.
Brown and Carlisle both recorded career games against the Eagles and were relative bright spots in an otherwise lackluster day for the Irish offense. Carlisle had a game-high seven receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown, while Brown had six catches to go with a game-high 104 yards and Notre Dame’s final touchdown of the night.
“[Boston College] played a lot of cover-two tonight. That’s not something they do,” Kelly said. “They played double zone outside on Will. It frees up your inside players, and then Chris got a couple one-on-one opportunities on the outside, and DeShone was able to find him.”
Brown and Carlisle rank second and third on the team in receptions and yards, but combined, their yardage still falls short of Fuller’s. Saturday night, however, they were the only ones who seemed capable of getting open on a consistent basis. No other receiver caught more than three passes, and Carlisle caught the first three passes of the game.
“My mentality is always just be prepared and ready for my opportunity,” Carlisle said. “The coaches entrust me to make catches, and you just got to really focus and try to watch the ball all the way in. That was my focus throughout the game.”
With four seconds remaining in the first quarter, Carlisle snagged a screen pass from sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer and scampered 10 yards for the score to put Notre Dame up 10-0. It was his fourth reception of the quarter.
“DeShone made a great call. We had run the same play the play before, and we just came back and ran the exact same play again,” Carlisle said of his touchdown. “The defenders were kinda out of position because we came to the line quickly, and there were some great blocks on the perimeter.”
Brown then came alive in the third quarter, when he had three catches for 63 yards, including a touchdown on a fade pass to the corner of the end zone. From behind junior safety John Johnson, Brown leapt and snagged the ball right as it was about to land in Johnson’s hands for another red zone interception.
“The offense needed it, and I’m just thankful for the opportunity to come through for my team,” Brown said. “When you have a [Biletnikoff Award-type] receiver like [Fuller], teams are going to try and do some things. That creates opportunities for other guys, and we’re a close unit; Will wants us to have success, and we want him to have that, too.”
And on a night when the Irish coughed the ball up four times, neither Carlisle or Brown fumbled. In fact, they were calming influences on younger players who were rattled by the turnovers, Kelly said.
In particular, Kelly said he advised Kizer to rely on the older receivers after he tossed two interceptions in the first half.
“Early in the game, we ran a corner route to [freshman tight end] Alizé Jones, and Alizé kind of flattened the route off a little bit, and we missed him,” Kelly said. “And I said [to Kizer], ‘Look, look for your matchups, but when it really gets to that time, you’ve got to go to your veterans if they’ve got the same kind of matchup, so he started to look towards his veterans when he needed those one-on-one matchups.”