Steve Addazio has said that the strategy is simple. While Boston College football heats up with its rhythm, a fast-paced pro-style offense that aims to run between 80 and 90 yards per game, its best player--future NFL Draft pick and preseason consensus All-American Harold Landry--needs to be slowed down. The head coach has repeatedly said that he wants to keep Landry completely rested for the fourth quarter.
To do that, Landry doesn't play a ton of snaps in the first three quarters. For nearly every other drive, Addazio holds Landry out of the lineup. When he does that, the Eagles pay.
On three drives--two in the first half, one in the second--Landry sat on the sideline. On each of those drives, Josh Adams, the stellar running back for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, broke away for a 40+ yard run. Twice, those runs were over 60 yards. And all three times, it led to easy touchdown scampers on the ground, two of which were by quarterback Brandon Wimbush. In total, both Adams and Wimbush broke the 200-yard mark. For Wimbush, it was a Notre Dame single-game rushing record for a quarterback.
And ultimately, Addazio's strategy didn't matter. Because when Landry came back on the field in the fourth quarter, Wimbush did this to him:
First, he managed to dodge Harold Landry, who is supposed to be limited during the game to keep him warm for moments precisely like this... pic.twitter.com/OmGQlUUPNf
— Annabel Steele (@Steele_Heights) September 16, 2017
Landry oversold on Wimbush, who then pushed him away with a stiff arm. Landry got behind him and never recovered, leading to a desperation dive. With plenty of blockers and only one man to beat, he took it into the end zone for the dagger. Ultimately, the strategy with Landry isn't a good one. But the run defense for the Eagles, especially on simple read-option plays like this one, reveal larger issues--even without the Eagles' player on the field.
OLD MEN ON OFFENSE: Without question, senior wide receiver Charlie Callinan played his best game in maroon and gold. He had two touchdowns, both on stellar catches from stellar throws from quarterback Anthony Brown, who had a solid bounceback game. Callinan finished with seven catches for 82 yards. On the ground, Jonathan Hilliman had his first 100-yard game since Northern Illinois in 2015, the game in which he broke his foot. The redshirt senior had 122 yards on 22 carries.
NO FLY ZONE: Well, the Irish ran all over the Eagles on the ground. But hey, the passing defense was good--at times, very good, especially in the first half when Brian Kelly's Notre Dame offense was still balanced between the run and pass. Wimbush was held to just 11 of 24 on only 96 yards, with one interception. Kamrin Moore made some big hits in the secondary, and Lukas Denis came up strong with an interception.
LEAVING TO BOOS: Throughout the first half, the Eagles had a strong gameplan on both offense and defense, outside of leaving Landry on the sideline. They contained Wimbush well enough when Landry wasn't on the sideline. They methodically marched down the field. Overall, there was little to complain about in terms of strategy.
And then, the end of the half happened.
With 18 seconds left, Addazio chose to run out the clock instead of taking a shot at the end zone following Denis's interception. And boos rained down throughout Alumni Stadium.
We'll have more after the game and throughout the week, looking in-depth at the offense and defense, exclusively on Eagle Action.