Bill Diedrick has a difficult job this week. The Eagles don't give up a lot of big plays on defense. They force teams to extend drives, and grind the ball to get their scores—something the Irish haven't had a lot of luck with this season.
"They force you to drive the length of the field," said Diedrick of the Eagle defense. "They're not going to get beat over the top and expose themselves to big plays. They're going to make you earn everything you get. We have to be very consistent, be patient, and have some of those eight, nine, and 10 play drives."
The Eagles haven't registered a lot of sacks this year (8), and we asked Diedrick if he thought this Irish would have more luck throwing the football. "They play a lot of zone, and they play a lot of deep coverages. They can allow you to have a little bit more time back there. They try to pressure you with their zone pressures to try to get a little pressure on you. It goes back to how you attack them. You've got to be a little patient and take what they give you."
Before the Pittsburgh game, left tackle, Jim Molinaro, said he wanted his coaches to run behind him when the Irish needed a first down. Since that game, the Irish offense has been a much more productive unit. We asked Diedrick if he felt Molinaro's leadership has made the difference for his offense.
"It's probably more of a guy stepping up, and you need more guys like that want to step up. It's like the shooter with two seconds to go in the game, when the guy is on the line, it's the guy who wants the ball. You want guys who say ‘come over me, I'll get the job done.' That's the type of attitude and leadership you need from everybody."
Diedrick said his offense is close to having a breakout game. He's hoping that happens this week. "If you take our first three drives against SC, they were very good drives, we were patient, we had good balance. Now we need to sustain that over four quarters. I think the kids feel very confident about what they did early. It kind of got out of hand in the end, and it kind of put us into one dimension. We've got to show up with all 66 guys ready to play because BC is a good football team and they tough to play at home."
Linebacker Courtney Watson has had to play in the last three games between these two schools, and see the Irish lose two of them. He says this game is important. "I think it's real important for us to beat this team, not for a revenge factor, but also as far as season," said Watson. " Hopefully we can get back on the upswing against Boston College and get the team back in the right direction. They've beaten us the last three out of four times, and that's not supposed to happen, at least from our standpoint."
Watson didn't attempt to hide his contempt for the Eagles. "This is a team we want to beat very badly because this is a team, when they do win the game, they don't know how to act when they win games. We take that pretty personal."
Derek Curry says he has no idea why the Irish have such a difficult time with Boston College. "I honestly don't know what it is," said Curry. "I think I've been here for three years now, I don't know, it's hard to say what exactly they do that makes the difference. I just know we have to go out and play our game—play Notre Dame football. The rest will take care of itself."
Vontez Duff had no explanation either for the Eagles success against the Irish. "I don't know what it is," said Duff. "It's one of those types of games that you really look forward to, but then it seems like everything goes wrong. We've got to make sure everything doesn't go that way this year."
Duff thinks the key to this game is stopping the Eagle rushing attack, and Derrick Knight. "The biggest challenge is their running game—they have the leading rushing in the nation right now—we've got to make sure we stop that first. We got to stop their passing game as well. If we can make them one-dimensional, where they're just passing the ball, I think the odds of winning is a lot better."
Garron Bible will get the start at strong safety in place of the injured Glenn Earl. Bible hasn't had much playing time since the early part of the season. As a strong safety, the Irish will need Bible to have a big game to help stop Knight and the BC rushing attack, and covering tight ends off the line of scrimmage.
Bible says it's all about reading his keys. "You've just got to go out there and read your keys. If you concentrate on that, it will take you to the play, it will take you to the ball. You just got to make sure you're well prepared."
Bible believes that fall break, and not having to attend classes this week, will give the Irish an advantage. "Boston College, they've been a thorn in our side, ever since I've been here. I think we're going to be more prepared, more focused because we didn't have class, we got to spend more time focusing on this game."
Tyrone Willingham knows the secret to this game. The Irish will have to stop Knight, or at least slow him down, to be victorious. Willingham also knows that stopping him running the football isn't the only priority."I have said this week, for those who asked the question, that don't be deceived by what you see from him in his running game," said Willingham of Knight. "This guy is a complete player. He is one of the top three receivers on their team and they involve him in a lot of ways. This guy can make things happen and even though we have to be extremely aware of his abilities on the ground that's where we have to start by stopping him on the ground. This guy can do a lot of things for them and does a lot of things for them. So he becomes a real center, I think, of their offense ".
The Irish will have to play discipline football against the balanced Eagle offense. They will also have to sustain drives, and keep the ball moving. The real question for Irish fans is, can Notre Dame finally get the Boston College monkey off their backs?