Weis Wrap-Up

The few plays proved critical in Notre Dame's 27-14 loss to Boston College on Saturday afternoon. The Irish, whose margin of error is already small, did not make the necessary plays or show good judgment in five key plays highlighted by head coach Charlie Weis during Sunday's press conference.

The first on Boston College's first offensive series. On the Eagles fourth play, L.V. Whitworth bounced a run out to the left and down the sideline for a 52-yard gain. One play later, Andre Callender rumbled in from seven yards out to make it 7-0. The second was a bad snap by J.J. Jansen that forced punter Geoff Price to bend down and touch his knee to the ground, where the fifth-year senior was ruled down. It gave the ball to Boston College at Notre Dame's 41-yard line and eight plays later, Callender scored his second touchdown of the day from one-yard out to make it 13-0 Eagles.

In the second half, the third critical play was Jimmy Clausen's interception on the first offensive snap after intermission. The freshman quarterback threw into coverage and Boston College's Tyronne Pruitt returned it to the Irish's 11. Three plays later, Matt Ryan found Callender on a nine-yard scoring connection to give the Eagles a 20-0 advantage.

The fourth turned a Notre Dame positive into a negative. After Brian Smith's 25-yard interception return for a touchdown, the Irish were called for excessive celebration. It forced Notre Dame to kick off from their own 15-yard line and Boston College returned it to the Irish's 44. Five plays later, Ryan hit Kevin Challenger for a 13-yard touchdown to make it 27-14 and swing the momentum back towards the Eagles.

The fifth big play was the touchdown from Evan Sharpley to Robby Parris late in the fourth quarter that was negated by a holding from offensive lineman Michael Turkovich. The score would have made it 27-21 and given Notre Dame new life. When trying to pull off the upset against the third-ranked team in the BCS standings, the underdog Irish must have these plays go the other way in their direction.

"It might have a 28-point swing," Weis said. "That is how big a swing those plays are. Usually there's a handful of plays in every game, that when you win or lose a game by 7 or less, there are usually four or five plays that you contribute to losing a game by 7 or less. But the dynamics of this game with those handful of plays, once again, I don't isolate any one play. But if you take and group those plays together, just think of the magnitude you have right there. The whole game changes."

Weis will show these plays to the team in film review and will try to get across a simple message.

"The message you try to say is look it, we've lost six games this year," Weis said. "Of the five games we've lost, they've all been different than this one. Georgia Tech we hung in there for a while, then it fell apart. Penn State, we hung in there for a while, then it fell apart. Michigan it was wire-to-wire from the start of the game to the end of the game. Michigan State, it was through a half, we were right there, and then it started to fall apart and fall apart in the second half. Purdue was the flip side. First half we don't do anything, we rally in the second half.

"This is the first time this year they've been in a game till the 5:00 minute mark at the end of the game, where the game is still in question. We threw that play-action pass on 4th-and-1 and it's a touchdown, it's 27-21. You'd like to find out what would happen. I don't know if the game would change or not. We might have just lost 27-21. But I would certainly like to find out."

***Sophomore Matt Carufel was not on the sidelines on Saturday. The offensive lineman went back to Minnesota earlier in the week to decide whether or not he was going to stay with the Notre Dame football program. Carufel did see quality time at right guard after Dan Wenger went down in the Michigan game. But classmate Eric Olsen replaced him in the starting lineup for the Boston College game. Weis said him and Carufel will talk on Sunday night to determine the sophomore's next move.

"He wanted to go home, go to church and spend time with his coaches and his family," Weis said. "And I told him I was in no rush. When I got done later this evening, we'd talk at that time. And we're either going to talk here or talk by phone. I don't know which way it's going to be. But we are going to get together this evening."

***James Aldridge did not get many chances to run the football. That's because the sophomore running back was injured during a carry in the second quarter. Aldridge was holding his right ankle and limped off the field after the play. The sophomore did try to come back into the contest but quickly went back to the sidelines. Aldridge finished with five carries for 17 yards.

"The one good thing is I saw him walking out of the locker room from afar," Weis said. "When I was just after the press conference, and I was walking through he was walking out. He wasn't in a boot, he wasn't on crutches. I didn't get a chance to talk to him because I'm not fast enough to run down there. But I did see him and it looked like he was walking okay."

***Senior Maurice Crum tried to play in the loss to Boston College on Saturday but couldn't make it past the first quarter. The senior captain injured his shin in the victory over UCLA, a contest where Crum intercepted two passes and recovered two fumbles, one returned for a touchdown. A week later, Crum was not healthy enough to be effective.

"That's something that it's a very weird injury," Weis said. "Because in the (UCLA) game, he played great. He played great with it. But now all of a sudden, the game's over, and it gets sore.

"He practiced very limited this week, and he tried to go and just felt that he couldn't push off on it. He could be full go this week, or he could be a little banged up this week. We'll just have to wait to see how it goes."

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