A week after being held to their lowest yardage total of the season, Notre Dame travels to Boston to take on the nation’s best statistical defense. Yes, Boston College is a three-win team. But that’s courtesy of an imploded depth chart at quarterback and an offense that makes anemic sound like a compliment.
But the Eagles play defense. Stout, tough, aggressive defense. Giving up just 236 yards per game and under four yards a play, Boston College is giving up a relatively insane 2.1 yards per carry and just five rushing scores on the season, both numbers the best in the country.
The Irish will welcome C.J. Prosise back after missing last weekend. But after freshman Josh Adams was held to gains of less than two yards on 10 of his 17 carries last weekend, Prosise will have a major challenge as he looks to cross the 1,000 yard mark on the season this weekend.
Brian Kelly knows about the challenge the Eagles present. This is Notre Dame’s seventh Top 40 defense they’ll face this season and likely the best of the group. Boston College defensive coordinator Donnie Brown has built another dominant group, doing it behind productive players like Steven Daniels, Harold Landry and Matt Milano—largely anonymous to Irish fans until they’re wreaking havoc in Notre Dame’s backfield.
On Tuesday, Kelly talked about Notre Dame’s struggles against a good Wake Forest defense (a group that managed to beat the Eagles 3-0). And if you think the Irish looked at that game tape and immediately wanted to get into a rugged ground war this weekend, you obviously haven’t been following Brian Kelly for that long.
“I would say that we just have to be probably a little more aggressive. I thought we were a little conservative at times,” Kelly said, when asked about the offensive struggles last weekend. “Probably a little more aggressive in the areas where we’ve been pushing the ball vertically. So we’ll get back to being more aggressive offensively.”
That vertical passing game will have chances against a Boston College secondary that’s a bit beaten up. Cornerback Kamrin Moore is done for the year. True freshman Taj-Amir Torres will likely start, with corner Isaac Yiadom banged up as well.
That leaves the Irish hoping to find ways to get yardage in chunks, even if that’s been hard to do against the Eagles.
“I don’t think you can make a living with this team or win or score enough points just trying to stack three-yard runs against them. It’s going to be a long day,” Kelly said. “They would hope that that’s the way you kind of play the game. We’ve got to try to find explosive plays.”