This past Saturday, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish had relatively no issues in their 52-20 beatdown of Navy to clinch the seventh eight-win season for Brian Kelly during his tenure with two games still to play this season.
The Irish move from one thorn in their side in recent memory in the Midshipmen to another that’s haunted them throughout the last 30 years.
1993. 2002. Six straight losses to them from 2001-2009.
The name “David Gordon” sends shivers down a lot of Notre Dame football fans still to this day.
Notre Dame’s undefeated home slate and their shot at a New Year’s Six bowl this season ride on Saturday afternoon when the Boston College Eagles come to town for the Irish’s “Senior Day” game.
Despite the ghosts of the past still haunting many to the present-day, Notre Dame has won the last six meetings against the Eagles by a combined score of 156-85, including a 49-20 rout back in September 2017 on the road.
To open BC Week for the Irish, head coach (and Boston area native) Brian Kelly held his weekly pre-game press conference with reporters and discussed the Eagles, specifically their star feature back, injury updates, thoughts on “Senior Day”, Ian Book and more on Monday.
It’s not a Monday Brian Kelly Press Conference until he mentions the team the Irish are playing is coming off a bye week
"Boston College will be the seventh team that had the week off before they play us," Brian Kelly said to open his Monday presser, which ... of course he did. pic.twitter.com/L5L6jRiSE6— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) November 18, 2019
To be fair to Kelly, seven straight weeks (!) of a team having a week off before playing the Irish is some insane bad luck on the schedule.
AJ Dillon gets another shot at the Irish
In that 49-20 rout from the Irish against BC two years ago, Eagles running back AJ Dillon was only a freshman by Jon Hilliman and didn’t have a day that he’s become accustomed to having during his (almost) three seasons.
Dillon had 16 carries for just 58 yards in the 29-point loss, but since that defeat, he’s become one of college football’s most consistent players at the running back position.
This season, only Oklahoma State’s Chubba Hubbard (1,726 yards) and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor (1,463 yards) have more yards on the ground than Dillon’s total of 1,451 on 272 total carries. That’s a 5.3 yard-per-carry clip, which is partly why Kelly recruited Dillon to Notre Dame before he committed to BC.
BK on Boston College stud RB AJ Dillon: "He's a really good player. (He's) somebody we offered and would've liked to have come to Notre Dame."— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) November 18, 2019
While it was rather good news for Irish defensive tackle Jayson Ademiola and his sprained ankle, the same couldn’t be said for linebacker Shayne Simon, who is officially done for the year after suffering what appears to be a torn patella tendon. Kelly didn’t note the tendon specifically on Monday, but said “it’s a fair significant injury.”
BK on Shayne Simon: "He's going to have surgery tomorrow. It's what we feared. It's a fairly significant injury."— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) November 18, 2019
Says it involves the patella tendon in the knee, but certainly capable to recover fully from.
Asked about no contact for SS in the spring: "Most likely."
Also, any potential worries about Kyle Hamilton evaporated on Monday, too.
BK on Kyle Hamilton: "He was cleared. He was evaluated (for a stinger) and came back."— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) November 18, 2019
The same can be said for Braden Lenzy.
BK on Braden Lenzy: "We just wanted to protect him a little bit and it worked out pretty good. He looked pretty fast to me."— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) November 18, 2019
Javon McKinley on the other hand, we’ll probably have to wait until later this week to find out if he’ll be suiting up again for the Irish.
BK on Javon McKinley's foot situation: "We'll have a better sense of him today. He's out of the boot."— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) November 18, 2019
Kelly noted that Tuesday/Wednesday will probably when the coaching staff gets the best sense of how healthy he is.
He’s not hurt again, which is awesome, but Kelly was asked about Shaun Crawford, who has basically become Robocop during his time in South Bend due to some unfortunate injury luck.
BK on Shaun Crawford: "Perseverance. He's gritty, tough. He was right in the middle of the action on Saturday. He came back from an elbow injury. This might have been his healthiest year (laughs)."— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) November 18, 2019
It’s basically another day at the office this weekend
Don’t expect Brian Kelly to shed too many tears about this upcoming Senior Day matchup for the Irish with their 18-game home winning streak on the line against BC.
BK on Senior Day festivities: "I get emotional just leading them. I don't know if it comes down to one day. You get emotional watching these guys succeed, struggle ..."— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) November 18, 2019
"If it comes down to just one day, I don't what you're doing the rest of the days of the year."
Ian Book is ... back?
Ian Book, as many Notre Dame quarterbacks have been before him, has been criticized throughout the season (and rightfully so in some cases), but the signal-caller has seemed to find a groove in the last few weeks.
Since the Michigan debacle, Book has completed 61-of-105 (58.1%) passes for 806 yards and 11 touchdowns. Despite being around his season-long completion percentage of 58.8 percent and the four interceptions in those three wins, Book has contributed in a huge way on the ground, opening up a rather disappointing Irish rushing attack to the tune of 30 carries for 220 yards and a touchdown.
BK (cnt'd): "I think Tommy's done a really good job changing things up and changing pictures. We needed to a better job coaching."— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) November 18, 2019
Says Book is "playing the way he should be playing."
BK on Book again: "I think there's a young player getting better down the stretch. There's more out there for him."— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) November 18, 2019
Speaking of quarterbacks (who has actually seen a decent amount of time in recent weeks) ...
Kelly on the development of backup quarterback Phil Jurkovec:— BlueandGold.com (@BGInews) November 18, 2019
"I think he shows some real signs."
"It's hard to be the backup quarterback and stay locked in all the time."
"Once he gets in there and gets a lot of work, we feel really confident he'll be successful."
Brian Kelly is Notre Dame through and through
Kelly, who was born in the Boston area in Everett, Mass., was asked about the signficance of the Boston College matchup and what it meant to him as a Massachusetts native growing up.
To the surprise of virtually no one, his youth days included a lot of Notre Dame football in the Boston area.
BK on BC as a Masschusetts native: "I wasn't following Boston College that much growing up. It was more Notre Dame. I didn't really pick up Boston College until I was about to leave. It was more Holy Cross-Boston College games."— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) November 18, 2019
Noted that it was more ND on TV than anything.
19 in a row?
The Irish haven’t lost at home since September 2017 when Georgia came to town and took over Notre Dame Stadium in the crowd and on the field late in a barnburner finish, meaning they’ve won 18 straight home games. Clemson holds the longest home win streak in the current day at 26 games, but the Irish aren’t too far off from that mark.
BK with a second straight undefeated home slate on the line this weekend: "Our players take great pride in protecting their house. It's been a source of pride during summer workouts. It's certainly been a goal of ours."— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) November 18, 2019
If you want to watch Kelly’s press conference in its entirety from Monday, you can watch the video below: