Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn is starting to develop as a real passing threat this season. The Dublin, Ohio native has avoided the costly turnovers that plagued him last season, and has completed a higher percentage of his passes this year.
The Irish talked all week last week about getting off to a fast start and the Irish quarterback led the Notre Dame offense to two straight scoring drives to open the game against Navy. Quinn said it all boils down to execution.
"I think looking back at the film and the game, we just went out and executed," Quinn said when asked about the early success last week. "We really didn't have any mistakes. I thought we fought through adversity pretty well and converted on third downs when we needed to."
The Irish were also able to run for a season-high 204 yards on Saturday, and Quinn said he's sees this Irish offense becoming more balanced every week.
"The way it's progressed the past few weeks, you're starting to see it more and more," said Quinn of the running game balancing the offense. "I think we're getting closer and closer to getting that equal."
With the Irish now 5-2 on the season, they now face the always dangerous, Boston College on Saturday. Quinn said he's been very impressed with the Eagle defense on film.
"I think up front they're pretty tough," Quinn said. "I think give a good pass rush. Overall, their defense is flying to the ball, and I think their secondary is pretty tough. They give you some pretty good looks."
The Boston College/Notre Dame series has become quite heated in recent years. The Eagles have torn up turf in Notre Dame Stadium as souvenirs, and they trashed the visitor's locker room on their last visit.
This season will be the last time the Irish play Boston College for a few years as the series takes a break until it resumes in 2007, and Quinn said that just adds more fuel to the fire.
"I think a lot of guys have a lot of bad taste in their mouths from the past couple of years playing them," he said. "With this being the last time playing them, we're looking forward to this game."
Irish offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick agreed with Quinn when asked why his team got off to a fast start last week against Navy.
"We executed," said Diedrick. "I think you'd like to start every game like that. We even overcame a procedure penalty. We executed and guys made plays and that's what it's all about."
Boston College comes into this game allowing just 11.5 points per game on defense, and Diedrick says his offense is going to have to earn every point they score against Boston College on Saturday.
"They are big and strong up front," Diedrick said of the Eagle defense. "In the backend they have a veteran group. They definitely apply the bend-don't-break rule. They're going to play a lot of coverage. They're going to make you go the length of the field and not make a mistake to beat them."
Diedrick was asked why this game has become such a rivalry over the years.
"Anybody that probably plays us looks at it as a big game," he said. "I think our players have to look at that. Regardless of who comes in, you're probably going to get their best effort."
Defensive coordinator Kent Baer also has the difficult job of stopping the Boston College balanced offensive attack. The Eagles are averaging just under 400 yards per game and are led by their quarterback, Paul Peterson.
"He's pretty dangerous," Baer said of the Eagle quarterback. "He's a good scrambler. He makes a lot of things happen when he gets out of the pocket. He's a great thrower going to his right. It's really big that we do contain him, but it at the same time, it can't affect everything we do."
"I think you've got to fill the lanes when you're rushing the passer," said Baer when asked how to stop Peterson. "You know when he's going to try and break contain. He feels the coverage and he's going to pull it down in a hurry. The big key is the receivers do such a great job of getting open once he scrambles, so you've really got to latch on."
Baer has also been impressed with the Eagles' receiving corps on film.
"I think their whole receiving group. They all kind of look a like," Baer said. "They all got good speed, and it seems like they catch everything. It's such a balanced offense. 400 yards a game, 240 a game throwing, 160 rushing so it's going to be a big-time test for us."