Saturday, October 13, 2007

Examining the Eagles | by Pat

A few other coach and player notes heading into the matchup with the BC Eagles.

Notre Dame defensive backs coach Bill Lewis and Boston College offensive coordinator Steve Logan both shared time at East Carolina, where Lewis was the head coach back in the early 90's and Logan was the offensive coordinator. But most don't know how they came to work together. Irish Insights has the low-down.

Logan and Lewis go back further than ECU. They were opposing coordinators in the SEC when Lewis was at Georgia and Logan was at Mississippi State. Lewis said when Logan was there, the Bulldogs couldn't stop them.

So when Lewis went to ECU, he brought Logan with him and also brought along (Mark) Richt, then an assistant at Florida State, who stayed at ECU for a year before heading back to FSU. When Richt left, Lewis promoted the quarterback guru.

"He's a quarterback coach, that's what he is," Lewis said. "He loves to coach quarterbacks and to be involved in that part of the game. He's as good as anybody. He doesn't take a backseat to anyone when it comes to coaching quarterbacks and coaching offense."
Lewis also talked about the difference in focus in the BC OC and their head coach.
"I swear, if you'd let him throw the ball every snap, he'd throw it every snap," Lewis said. "He'd spread you from sideline to sideline and you'll see it this week. He'll use every inch of the field and he's got a quarterback that can throw the ball to every inch of the field that's there so he's in his element. Jags is an offensive line coach. I'm sure he's got to pin him down and say let's run the ball a few times.
Boston College players have been exceedingly diplomatic when talking about Notre Dame. Linebacker Mark Herzlich even in all seriousness called the Irish the "best 1-5 team in the country." (next up, Herlizch praises the funniest episode of ABC's Cavemen) Coach Jags has had good words as well, but he was also honest about his true feelings about Notre Dame.
Asked if he was rooting for Notre Dame to get its first win of the season last week against UCLA, BC head coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who grew up in the heart of Big Ten country in Wisconsin, said with a smile, “I didn’t root for them at all and I don’t think I ever will.”
Following up, another article got to the heart of the matter.
But the real enmity did not arise until Jagodzinski was the offensive coordinator at BC. In the 1998 game between the two Catholic rivals, the Eagles were stopped four times within the 5-yard line, and Mike Cloud was thwarted on fourth down from inside the 1 with six seconds left. Final score: Notre Dame 31, BC 26.

“I always had a bad taste in my mouth from that fourth-and-inches game,” Jagodzinski said. “That one’s always stuck in my craw.”
For those who don't remember, here's that fourth and one play.

Getting back to Herzlich, he's the player tasked with replacing the injured star Brian Toal. The 6'4" 238 pound sophomore has made an immediate impact in his first year as a starter and has the making of a future star. Number 94 is one to watch today.

Other Eagle players to keep an eye on include:

Ron Brace (#60): The 6'3" 325 pound defensive tackle is a run-stopping load in the middle of the Eagle line. If he is able to give Sullivan fits, the lackluster Irish running game could be even worse. His importance to the Eagle defense is magnified by the fact that his fellow starting defensive tackle Brady Smith went down with an ankle injury that knocked him out of the game last weekend. Smith is expected to play, but likely won't be fully healthy.

Taji Morris (#29): DeJuan Tribble is an excellent cornerback, which is why most offenses steer clear of him and target the 5'9" Morris. He frequently has help over the top from free safety Jamie Silva (5 interceptions so far this year), but expect to see ND still try and isolate Morris and test him.

Anthony Castonzo (#74): As mentioned in the Q&A with Bill from Eagle in Atlanta, the true freshman right tackle has played well so far this year. But he'll be facing a tough assignment as both Trevor Laws and Kerry Neal will be lining up against him. (That is unless Trevor Laws flips to the other side of the line like he did against Michigan) If Castonzo struggles early, BC will have to keep a running back in more to help pass block and that will give Matt Ryan one less target.

Andre Callender (#32): BC's leading rusher, Callender isn't as good as some of the other backs that ND has already faced, but if the Irish defense don't tackle well, Callender will put up the same kind of yardage as everyone. Matt Ryan is likely to do his damage. But if ND isn't able to consistently tackle the shifty Callender, the game could get ugly in a hurry.

Jeff Smith (#6): Sidelined for the first five games of the season with injury, BC's best gamebreaker came back to the field against Bowling Green and had 117 kickoff return yards on only 3 returns. As a freshman, Smith was 7th in the nation in kickoff return average. Still easing his way into the running back rotation, the sophomore is the Eagle special teams ace and could make a tough task for the Irish even tougher. The ND kick return defense has looked sloppy most of the year and letting a big Smith return set up BC with short field will only make a tall task even taller.