• The first half of Saturday night’s game in Fenway Park was reminiscent of the 2002 Notre Dame-Boston College game when the Irish fumbled seven times, losing five in a 14-7 loss to the Eagles.
This time, it was a couple of interceptions, two fumbles lost – one each by running backs C.J. Prosise and Josh Adams – plus a fumble by Prosise that center Nick Martin recovered, and a fumble by punt returner C.J. Sanders.
Oh, that was just in the first half.
After halftime Sanders muffed a punt and recovered, and then muffed a kickoff, picked it up and ran. Kizer threw his third interception – the second of which occurred in the red zone – and then, you guessed it, Sanders muffed another punt. Amir Carlisle, who had a brilliant game as a receiver, fumbled but was ruled down early in the fourth quarter.
One might have thought the Irish would be much sharper than that with the prize – a playoff bid – so close at hand. But Notre Dame missed its mark from start to finish. One might also wonder if the love-fest that is the Shamrock Series threw Notre Dame’s focus off. Funny, that’s never been the case in the previous six Shamrock Series games in which the Irish won by an average of three touchdowns.
Perhaps Prosise’s miscues could be attributed to taking no contact over the previous two weeks as he came back from a concussion.
Did the pressure of the playoff run play a role overall for the Irish? Notre Dame didn’t have trouble moving the ball; the Irish just couldn’t punch it in.
Certainly Boston College’s penchant for trying to rip the ball free played a hand in it. And yet the Eagles came into the game with just 14 turnovers forced in 10 games.
Fact: Notre Dame lacked concentration when it came to protecting the football, particularly in the red zone. That, plain and simple, is why it was 19-16 and not 26-3 or 33-9.
• Call it a red-zone reversal. After scoring touchdowns in all four red-zone appearances against Pittsburgh and then adding a two-for-two against Wake Forest, everything the Irish had built the two previous weeks came crashing down against Boston College.
Particularly frustrating are turnovers in the red zone on first down. That happened in the first series on a 1st-and-goal at the seven. Boston College free safety Justin Simmons had a career game with two interceptions, a fumble forced and a fumble recovered. He may have gotten away with an interference on the interception at the goal line early in the third quarter. But he was at the center of all things bad for the Irish offensively.
Brian Kelly said Kizer would benefit from this experience. He said that’s not true of every quarterback, but it would impact Kizer positively because that’s how conscientious of a kid he is.
Kizer also had quite a few passes that were off-target, but it’s not as if Kizer was the only guilty party. When push came to shove, he did throw for 320 yards and should have had more had it not been for a Will Fuller drop inside the 10. At that point, it was a 19-9 game with a chance to make it 26-9 midway through the fourth quarter.
Based upon the stats – Boston College had 130 yards total offense through three quarters and 172 in the fourth quarter – Notre Dame should have won by 17 points or so, although teams that turn it over in the red zone three times in a game don’t deserve to win, let alone by two-plus scores.
• Amir Carlisle certainly is closing his collegiate (and likely football) career in fine fashion. After fading to the background of the Irish passing game by week three, when he had just five catches for 59 yards on the year, Carlisle caught 17 passes over the next seven weeks for 181 yards.
One would have thought Carlisle – not Will Fuller – was Notre Dame’s go-to guy. Carlisle caught four passes for 52 yards in the first quarter alone, including a 10-yard touchdown following a fortuitous roughing the kicker penalty.
Carlisle carried on from there, finishing with seven receptions for 96 yards. Chris Brown pitched in with six catches for 104 yards and Notre Dame’s other touchdown. Fuller had great difficulty getting off man coverage, and when he did, he wasn’t as reliable as he normally has been for the Irish.
Give Kizer credit for finding other receivers on an off night by Fuller.
• A fired up Steve Addazio took responsibility for his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as the third quarter came to a close. The Eagles trailed, 16-3, and already were backed up in their own territory. Considering how ineffective Boston College had been offensively through the first three quarters, another 15 yards didn’t seem like it was going to matter.
But that’s not really the point. Within the world of the ACC, Addazio has earned a reputation for being a vulgar, unreasonable, out-of-control head coach who spares no one – his coaches, his players and particularly the officials – from his tirades.
After the game, Addazio was defiant. He said that he would fight for his players every step of the way, every game, every time.
That makes for a great sound byte, but it’s also childish and outlandish. Addazio doesn’t care whether he has a legitimate argument. He just reacts. Right or wrong – most of the time, he’s wrong – he goes ballistic on officials without any regard for reality.
That’s not fighting for your players; that’s having no control over your emotions and going berserk because you simply don’t like the outcome. Saying you’re doing it for your players veils your lack of control.
A head coach has a responsibility to accept reality. It’s what he asks of his players. Over the course of time, when today’s modern athlete realizes that their head coach is not holding himself to the standard he holds them, it’ll wear thin and create a hole in their trust. Respect fades quickly with today’s athlete, particularly the best of the best.
Right now, the players are willing to accept it because they went to a bowl game each of the last two seasons after winning just six games in the previous two years combined. There will be no bowl this year, and as time wears on, the Boston College players will reach a limit and that limit will spell the end of Addazio’s childish behavior and tenure at Boston College.
For now, the athletic administration has turned a blind eye to it because the Eagles are competitive again. Every program has its limits. The time will come and it will come sooner rather than later considering the path Addazio has established.