The Irish are coming off of their first four game win streak of the season, and they will look to extend their late season surge with a win against Boston College on senior day. Here are the keys to an Irish victory this Saturday against the Eagles.
1. Play four quarters of football
At times this season, the Irish have looked like one of the best teams in the country. At other times, however, the Irish have looked incompetent on both sides of the ball. This was apparent in last week’s win over Navy, where the Irish jumped out to a 35-13 lead at halftime, but then had to hold on for a 35-32 win.
The first half of that game saw junior quarterback Drew Pyne and the Irish offense firing on all cylinders, as Pyne threw for four touchdown passes and had his way with the Midshipmen defense. In the second half, however, the Irish offense ceased to exist, totaling just two net yards the entire half. Pyne also looked like a completely different quarterback, as he took five sacks and threw an interception.
This inconsistent play has been common for the Irish this season. For example, the Irish hadn’t scored a touchdown in the first quarter until the seventh game of the season. This inconsistent play also led to a loss against Stanford this season because the Irish had failed to score in the first half of the game.
This Saturday, the Irish need to play sixty minutes of football if they want to avoid an upset against the upset-hungry Eagles, who are coming off of a stunning ranked win against North Carolina State. If the Irish have a lapse in play again, then they might very well find themselves on the losing end of yet another upset.
2. Run the football
This has been a theme in keys to victory for the Irish, but it is still essential as ever that the Irish establish the run game and stick to it throughout the entire course of the game. In the second half of the Navy game, the Irish were too one dimensional in the passing game, which led to a completely ineffective half on the offensive side of the football.
Boston College ranks 82nd in the FBS in rushing defense, and they are allowing a healthy 4.12 yards per carry. In the Irish win two weeks ago against Clemson, the Irish showed that they could run the football against a high quality rushing defense team. The Irish need to commit to running the football again on Saturday against an inferior Eagles’ defense that has struggled to stop the run all season. The Irish have established a dangerous trio of running backs in sophomore Logan Diggs, sophomore Audric Estime and junior Chris Tyree, and they should rely heavily on all three of them to lead the way for the Irish on offense come Saturday.
Another reason the Irish may have to rely on the run game is the weather forecast for Saturday’s game. With the expected high hovering around 28 F with winds expected, it will make it even more difficult for the Irish to find success in the passing game.
3. Continue to find success on special teams
One of the strong suits of this Notre Dame team has been the special team units, specifically the punt block team. Through ten games this season, the Irish have recorded seven blocked punts, which is first in the FBS. In the win against Clemson two weeks ago, the blocked punt generated a special teams touchdown, and last week, the Irish scored just one play after the blocked punt. It seems like every time the Irish block a punt, the offense pounces on their opportunity to put points on the board. In a game where the score might be lower because of the weather, the Irish could use yet another blocked punt to spark the offense.
Aside from blocking punts, the Irish have excelled in the punting game this season. Graduate student punter Jon Sot has been more than reliable for the Irish this season, and he is averaging 40.86 net yards per punt this season. Although the Irish will try to avoid punting the ball this weekend, in situations where they have to, they will lean on Sot again to set the Eagles’ offense up with poor field position.