BC Recap: Irish Pick Up Ugly Senior Day Victory

It sure wasn't pretty, and it sure was frustrating to watch.

But at the end of the day there is an 8 in the win column and the November streak continues.

There was some good things, a lot of bad things and I'm here to sort through it all.

Unit grades after the jump.

Offensive Line: B+

This grade was going to be lower but after careful consideration I believe the line played pretty well. Once again, they did not give up any sacks and that was with Boston College bringing some serious heat at times throughout the game.

Yes, the run blocking could have been better, but this had less to do with the Notre Dame line and more to do with the Eagles playing well and an offensive gameplan that could not counter the opponents gameplan.

I was impressed with Boston College's ability to drop 8 or 9 in coverage, but also flow to the ball and make tackles to limit the Irish running game. Sure 4.1 yards per carry isn't great, but it's not too bad either.

Tight End: B

It always seems like Eifert is involved in the game a lot more than he actually is---finishing the day with only 2 catches for 45 yards. Alex Welch picked up a penalty, but this unit is going to continue to receive good grades as long has Eifert is healthy.

Wide Receiver: A-

Too high of a grade you say?

As far as the starting receivers go, I thought this was one of the most complete games we've seen from this group.

Floyd and Jones both had crucial drops on long passes, but you have to like the production from all three guys. Floyd did his thing and put up his usual numbers, we actually saw Jones make a couple really tough catches, and then Toma continues to assert himself with tremendous effort and production.

You could easily make the case that Toma is the team's second best wideout.

Running Back: B-

Jonas Gray---I'll save my thoughts for you until the end.

Cierre Wood's stats don't look great in the least bit (94 yards at 3.6 per) but I thought this was a real workman-like performance from the Mist.

In fact, Wood has quietly been a very dependable tough runner this year and has rounded out his game to the point where he can be depended on to carry the ball and run out the clock.

Small part of the game perhaps, but remember everyone was worried about his toughness and ability to be an every down back---not to mention his fumble issues---and those problems have certainly dissipated haven't they?

Quarterback: D++

After re-watching the game I thought Rees played a tiny bit better than I did watching the game live, so I went ahead and added an extra "+" to his grade.

I'll keep my comments here short and sweet because I will be rolling out an in-depth look at Rees' passing performance against BC over the next day or two.

Some how, some way, Tommy Rees needs to become more of a playmaker. We know the physical limitations but the time is running out when experience and lack of playing time can remain legitimate excuses.

Whether it's Rees putting more on his own shoulders, or the coaching staff telling him to open it up a little bit more, he needs to play better and show some improvement---because it's difficult to see any right now.

If Rees is physically incapable of doing A, B, and C on the football field, he damn well better be able to do D, E, and F at a high level. Without A, B, or C at all---we are seeing shaky play for too many snaps from D, E, and F.

Defensive Line: B-

The line had its moments when it was playing well, but they were not getting much pressure without blitzing help, and Boston College had pretty decent rushing numbers (73 yards on 19 carries from the running backs) that seem somewhat skewed because the Eagles started relying on the passing game too much.

Without Tuitt in the lineup and Johnson still not in game shape coming off his injury, a slightly below average game from this unit can be somewhat excused. They still are the rock of the defense.

Linebacker: B+

Despite the inability to defend the pass from this position (probably the team's single biggest issue outside of the punt return team), this group really put together one of its better games in recent weeks.

Manti Te'o finally looked like himself again with a handful of big tackles and 12 total on the day. Fox had a couple nice tackles, Fleming keeps being a strong presence off the edge, Calabrese had a PBU (and nearly a pick), and even Troy Niklas put in some good work with 4 tackles and half a tackle for loss.

If they could only breakup just three or four passes in their zone coverage every game these players would be slowly making some real progress this season.

Secondary: B

The coverage was mostly solid all day, although Boston College had a few opportunities to make the secondary pay but couldn't connect when provided with such a case.

Before the game I thought BC had pretty good receivers and my mind didn't change afterwards. There were some drops, but the Eagles cannot get their passing game going when players are in Rettig's face---he is incapable of throwing the ball correctly and it kills their offense.

In other words, the Irish secondary wasn't challenged very much. The defense played risky at times bringing a lot of blitzes and they were able to get away with it.

Special Teams: B

Remember, we don't count punt returns anymore because they don't exist for Notre Dame.

Ruffer seems to have found his mojo again, which is nice.

Turk has also gone quite a long time without shanking a punt---praise the Lord!

The kickoff return game seems to have plateaued, but that is the nature of the beast. The kick and punt coverage remains very solid.

Final Thoughts

No, Notre Dame did not play very well offensively in this game but the team was really hurt by poor field position, a couple bad drops and a handful of bad penalties.

The 5.3 yards per play was the lowest mark of the season for the Irish---and a full yard below the season average---but at the end of the day the team still gained 417 yards and was a rather dominant +167 in total yards.

Start a couple of those series at the 30 yard-line instead of inside the 10 yard line and the Irish likely put another 6 to 10 points on the board and win in much more comfortable---if still somewhat disappointing---fashion.

A lot of credit goes to Boston College for implementing a great defensive gameplan and for having a punter with a leg that makes some NFLers blush.

We all know there are defenses out there with the capability of slowing down the Notre Dame offense, but we certainly didn't think Boston College (or Pitt for that matter) were one of those teams. Credit BC once again, because they flowed to the ball about as well as I've seen a team do against Notre Dame this year and they deserve as much recognition for playing well as the Irish do for playing poorly.

Shout out to Luke Kuechly---I have no problem calling him the best linebacker in the country. That kid is the real deal and one heck of a football player.

Did this win make you reevaluate how the Irish are progressing?

Perhaps on offense there are questions---in fact I know there are. Yet, the defense continues to play really well. Any time you limit your opponent to 250 yards and only two scores, you're doing a lot of things right on the field.

When you win (which is what really matters) it makes it a lot easier to point towards being pinned deep in your territory as a legitimate excuse for a less-than-appealing performance on Saturday.

Notre Dame will need to play much better next weekend in the season finale against #4 Stanford to even come close to winning. Beat the Cardinal and it allows us to be content that the team was able to pull out a gritty win against Boston College this past weekend.

And now to Jonas Gray...

We all know how disappointing this injury is for you and with the news that you will miss the rest of the season and then some, well it breaks all of our hearts.

But don't hang your head because you will be successful in whatever you choose to do once you graduate---and that includes possibly still playing in the NFL---just don't give up hope.

114 carries.

791 yards

6.9 per rush

12 touchdowns

Even your most ardent supporters couldn't have imagined a senior season like that, and you should be proud. You should be damn proud.

Averaging almost 7 yards a carry puts you among the best for a season in school history. Even as your knee hurts as you rehab keep that success in your heart and remember that this is one hell of an accomplishment.

Unfortunately injuries are part of the game of football, but your story of perseverance, determination, and hard work is a story worth telling for years and years to come.

Keep that in mind and also remember that you've got a whole nation of supporters who have faith in you---on the football field or off of it.

We love you, kid.

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