Your #16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish have to play a football game against those lovely, lovely folks over at the Boston College Eagles football program.
So, I reached out to Niraj Patel of BC Interruption to see what we should all know about the Eagles, including info on Steve Addazio, AJ Dillon, the BC defense, Thanksgiving, and much more.
Let’s check out what Niraj had to say...
1. The Eagles are sitting at 5-5 right now with games against Notre Dame and Pitt remaining. What do you think the finish to the season will be for BC — will they manage to finish the same as the past three seasons and with a bowl win be 7-6 when the dust settles? Also, what were expectations heading into the season — would you say BC has underperformed or overachieved, or has been about as expected?
Niraj Patel: I think I have to stick to 7-6 at this point. It just feels like destiny, but Notre Dame fans can rest easy when I say it happens courtesy of a bowl win.
As for expectations, it really depends on who you ask. Heading into the season, there was a lot of skepticism surrounding the offensive line, defense overall, and kicking game. I think most would say it’s about as expected results-wise, but as the season progressed early on, it felt like this team under-performed for the talent displayed. That being said, if they don’t reach seven wins, it will be a clear under-performance.
2. Steve Addazio is currently exactly at .500 for his BC coaching career (43-43) — he’s had five 7-6 seasons, one 3-9 season, and this current one. Are BC fans happy with him as coach, or do you think it’s about time the Eagles moved on from Addazio and looked to find someone who can get BC truly contending in the ACC?
Niraj Patel: I don’t think anyone is happy at this point. While some would contend that he’s done pretty much what was expected of him (again, results-wise) given the state of, well, Boston College, most, if not all, would say this marriage has run its course for a number of reasons. Right now, the fans are jaded and need a spark. People are bored and don’t want to see the same mistakes over and over again. Whether the grass is greener on the other side is a question, but most are willing to take a chance.
Truly contending in the ACC is a tall ask for anyone coaching BC right now, but the poor performance in the conference doesn’t look good. Addazio is 21-35 in the ACC, and only has one top-25 win to his name. He constantly makes the same mistakes and doesn’t seem to learn from them. He’s had too many instances of game mismanagement, questionable play-calling, and has extremely ill-prepared the team in at least one not-so-difficult game every single season.
3. What did losing QB Anthony Brown for the season do to this team’s potential, and how has Dennis Grosel performed in his stead? What are Grosel’s strengths the Irish need to watch out for, and what are his major weaknesses they can hope to exploit on Saturday?
Niraj Patel: Oddly enough, I don’t think it changed all too much what would have happened in the following few games. Grosel has played admirably and exactly what could be expected from him, and is coming off his most baller performance. He’s definitely improving, but he still has limitations throwing the ball. You can see that just by looking at his few attempts in the box score.
He’s had the occasional play-action shot, the same Anthony Brown would make, but he won’t be the guy bringing the team back from behind, Anthony Brown did have that ability, but Grosel’s played well enough in nearly relief.
Grosel can be a decent runner when he chooses to, and is quite careful with the ball. He’s shown good poise and plays very much in the system, so he’s not exactly a threat to make a big time throw when it’s not set up for him.
4. AJ Dillon is an absolute freak, so please briefly describe how fun it’s been to have him on the BC team these last three years. Additionally, what other skill position guys are dangerous on the BC offense, and who will need to make some big plays to give BC a shot in this one?
Niraj Patel: It’s been an absolute joy. He came in as a huge get and he has not disappointed. He made such an immediate splash and produced highlight reel after highlight reel. He’s going down as one of the greats in BC history for sure. One of the more extraordinary things about him is how he’s able to put up such gaudy numbers in the world’s most predictable offense and with such a high volume. I think he’s had almost 100 more attempts than anyone in college football vs. a loaded box.
Kobay White and Zay Flowers are pretty solid receivers. They don’t get to showcase much on the receiving end, but they’ll try to get them both the ball in other ways to make a play.
Other than them, it’s really the tight ends. Hunter Long, assuming he’s healthy, is the best of the bunch and makes play after play. The group is very deep and each can perform at a solid level.
I know ND’s pass defense is pretty exceptional, but I’ll say that someone like Flowers will need to be big and get behind the defense especially when they get sucked in. He’s a freshman, so he hasn’t been very consistent, but if he can do that just once or twice, it could help the entire offense move.
5. Tell me about the BC defense — what are its strengths, its weaknesses, and who are the X-factors ND needs to watch out for? Do you think the Eagles can slow down Ian Book, Chase Claypool, and the Irish offense?
Niraj Patel: Eek. The defense has been a problem all year long. It’s such a dramatic drop-off and not much has improved as the season has gone by. They have a massive problem giving up explosive plays and are piss-poor at tackling. They don’t exactly generate a good pass rush either.
They aren’t bad at stopping the run? Kind of. I don’t really know if there are any strengths if I’m going to be honest. Max Richardson at linebacker is probably the best player out there. He’s really smart and can blow up a play anywhere on the field.
Pre-season All-ACC linebacker Isaiah McDuffie saw his first action of the season in BC’s last game and should be on the field for longer this time around. The Eagles have a hard time slowing down any offense, let alone the Irish offense.
6. Notre Dame has a sophomore RB named C’Borius Flemister. What are the best/funniest/most ridiculous names on the Boston College roster, and do any of them measure up to my guy C’Bo?
Niraj Patel: Oh man, that’s pretty good. I don’t think anyone can compare to that. Freshman defensive end Shitta Sillah is a pretty good name and he can back it up. The two running backs Dillon and David Bailey are colloquially referred to as ‘the Buffalo Boys.’
7. Dance-off between Brian Kelly and Steve Addazio: what song(s) does each coach dance to, who has the better stage presence and charisma, and who ultimately wins?
Niraj Patel: I can’t really see him dancing, but if I must, I’ll go with the Baha Men’s hit song “Who Let The Dogs Out.”
Brian Kelly feels more like a “Baby Got Back” kinda guy. Kelly busts out some nice moves and keeps the crowd engaged, but Addazio caps his performance off with a little salt-bae impression and the crowd goes crazy.
8. You get to ask 5 current BC football players to help you with the Thanksgiving Day prep/cooking. Whom do you pick and what main role does each guy play/what special skills does each player bring to the table?
Niraj Patel: Just give me the entire offensive line. Those guys are incredible, and each one definitely knows how to get their fill. Ben Petrula, Zion Johnson, Tyler Vrabel, John Phillips, and Alec Lindstrom. That’s four of the heaviest guys on the team and the center, Lindstrom, to instruct them all. Anyone who can eat that much surely knows what it takes to feed a family of... well a lot. They cover each other’s weaknesses, keep their head chef upright, and have proven to make some great pancakes.
9. Do BC fans love Doug Flutie the player as much as ND fans hate Doug Flutie the NBC broadcaster?
Niraj Patel: Yes.
10. Prediction time: give me the final score for BC at ND, who wins, and your reasoning why.
Niraj Patel: 42-14 Notre Dame feels right. Again, BC’s going to have a tough time slowing anyone down. They’re coming off a bye week to get healthier and be more prepared, but there’s still the injury question with Dillon’s running mate David Bailey, that will be too much to overcome. In a better scenario, Dillon will have too much to deal with alone, and if BC’s playing from behind, they aren’t built to make a comeback.
I want to give a huge shout-out to Niraj for answering all the questions I asked him, ridiculous or not, and encourage you all to go to the BC Interruption site to see all of their coverage heading into the game — including my responses to some of their questions.
Furthermore, be sure to follow Niraj and also follow BC Interruption on Twitter for any late-breaking Eagles updates as we get closer to Saturday’s game.
That’s all I’ve got for this week, folks — see you in my Friday preview!