Monday, October 15, 2007

Odds & Sods - Same Old Thing Edition | by Mike

With the BC game largely going according to the 2007 script, it seems like I'm just rehashing previous comments here.

All Falls Down. Special teams miscues, turnovers and penalties have put the Notre Dame defense in difficult positions all year long, and the BC game was no different. Three of BC's four scoring drives began in Notre Dame territory, with a special teams error, a turnover, and a penalty each leading to one such drive.

1. Trailing 6-0 in the second quarter, Notre Dame drove to the BC 41. Yet, as has often been the case this year, the drive stalled when a penalty put in the Irish in a long-yardage situation and the Irish were forced to punt from the BC 46. Over the course of the game, Geoff Price and the punt coverage unit would combine to produce a net punting average of 42.2 yards. This time, however, Price dropped to one knee to field a low snap, the ball was down, and the Eagles took over at the Notre Dame 42. This had the same effect as a costly turnover. To roughly approximate the effect of this play, we can add the twelve yards lost on the fourth down play with Notre Dame's 42.2 yard net punting average, and arrive at a 54.2 yard swing that set up BC's second touchdown.

2. On the first possession of the second half, the Irish defense contained the BC offense, forcing the Eagles to punt from their 28. Following the BC punt, the Irish offense had good field position, starting at the ND 36. However, on the first offensive play of the half, Clausen threw an interception that was returned to the ND 11, setting up BC's third touchdown.

3. Notre Dame would score two touchdowns to draw within six points, only to be flagged for excessive celebration on the second touchdown. This costly penalty forced the Irish to kickoff from the 15, and BC would start their next possession at the ND 44.

Whenever the Irish appeared to be building some momentum and confidence, there seemed to be a costly miscue that put the game back in the Eagles' hands.

Minnesoter. I incorporate by reference all my previous comments about Trevor Laws. What more can I say about Trevor at this point? I can't help but wonder if Jagodzinski's decision to go for it on 4th and 9 in the first quarter was due to BC's scouting report on Laws. I would have loved to have seen what a Laws-Landri-Abiamiri defensive line could have done in Corwin Brown's defense.

Youthful Expression. On defense, several freshmen and sophomores seem to be making the transition from providing the occasional spark to being consistent contributors. Darrin Walls appears to be the underclassman that is furthest along. Although BC was able to complete a few passes to his man, Walls had tight coverage throughout the game and showed why he leads the CBs in playing time. The Irish were unable to sack Ryan, though freshman Kerry Neal did draw a holding penalty after beating BC's fifth-year senior Gosder Cherilus. Freshman Brian Smith had the biggest play on defense, taking a Matt Ryan interception in for the Irish's second score. Morrice Richardson also made the case for a bigger role.

Parris 2007. Robby Parris has quietly emerged as Notre Dame's most productive receiver. He leads the team in receiving yards, and is second only to Golden Tate in yards per catch (14.3 to 26.0). When Sharpley has been at quarterback, he has also provided a rare target over the middle for the Irish.

Wearing and Tearing. Aside from the Whitworth run, BC did not have many big plays. However, the Eagles did produce an effective ball control offense. BC nearly doubled the Irish in time of possession (39:03 to 20:57). Despite all this time on the field, the Notre Dame defense managed to keep BC from scoring in the fourth quarter. Part of this is due to BC being more concerned with running clock than putting points on the board at that time. Still, given Notre Dame's lack of size and inexperience in the defensive front seven, it wouldn't have been surprising if a gassed defense had been unable to stop BC in the fourth quarter. The defense is clearly still a work in progress, but Corwin Brown seems to be gradually building something on his side of the ball.