Irish improve to 10-0 with win over Boston College


Irish improve to 10-0 with win over Boston College

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Notre Dame's national title hopes gained steam Saturday, and it had far more to do with the proceedings in Tuscaloosa, Ala., than what happened just outside Boston's city limits.

Texas A&M's stunning 29-24 win over No. 1 Alabama dropped the Tide from the ranks of college football's unbeatens, meaning Notre Dame will move up to at least No. 3 in tomorrow's BCS standings, pending the outcome of Oregon's contest against Cal. No. 2 K-State beat TCU 23-10 and will likely be No. 1 on Sunday.

Oh, and Notre Dame beat Boston College 21-6 to improve to 10-0.

"We heard it before the game," cornerback Bennett Jackson said of Alabama's loss. "There were a few guys that had it on their phone. But we had our minds focused on what we had to get done, and we weren't really too concerned about it."

Among the things Notre Dame could control, Everett Golson completed 16 of 24 passes for 200 yards, rushed 11 times for 39 more yards and accounted for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) while Theo Riddick rushed for 104 yards as Notre Dame once again managed an easy win away from South Bend.

Notre Dame set the tone early, with Golson engineering a 95-yard drive -- the longest of the season for Notre Dame -- that ended when he rushed two yards for a touchdown. That was key, given how Notre Dame's first drive against Pittsburgh petered out into a field goal, setting the stage for poor offensive play until the fourth quarter.

"Everett Golson played the way he needs to play, especially in the red zone," coach Brian Kelly said. "I think we said once he starts playing at the level that we need him in the red zone, we'll start scoring touchdowns and not just field goals."

The Irish tacked on a second touchdown at the end of the first half, with Golson leading the Irish on an eight and a half-minute drive to increase Notre Dame's lead to 11 after 30 minutes. The third quarter saw Notre Dame again march downfield with ease, and Golson found a wide-open John Goodman to put the Irish up by 18. All Boston College could muster was another field goal the rest of the way.

The game was another step in the right direction for Golson, who was efficient but not flashy running the Irish offense. Notre Dame's three scoring drives totaled 18:25, with the Irish wearing down a BC defense that couldn't get itself off the field. Those long drives -- Notre Dame converted its first 10 third down tries -- wound up helping the team's defense, which put together a fantastic effort after allowing a season-high 26 points last weekend.

"It definitely helps us physically and helps us get the corrections we need from (defensive coordinator Bob Diaco) and the rest of the defensive coaches," linebacker Manti Te'o, who recorded his sixth interception of the season in the fourth quarter, said. "A lot of instruction. None of the defensive players are watching the game going on. We're all getting instruction, getting the corrections needed for the next drive."

That instruction paid off, as Chase Rettig and the Boston College offense threw the kitchen sink at the Irish.

"You thought you were at Disney World," Te'o said. "There's Mickey Mouse plays everywhere, just reverses, screens -- that was the most screens I've ever defended in one game. But our guys came out, they flew to the ball and when something happened, somebody was there. I'm just proud of our guys."

The only blemishes on Notre Dame's stat line were a pair of fumbles, one by George Atkinson and the other by Riddick. A week after being pushed to the brink by Pittsburgh, the Irish were able to cruise to a much less heart-pounding victory.

"I thought or kids understood that we have to play really hard, and we did," Kelly said. "We played physical, we ran hard. Like I said, the only thing I'm not happy with is the turnovers. We have to take better care of the football, but they played hard and they played physical for four quarters."

Still, Notre Dame's win wasn't stylish, and those two fumbles curbed the Irish's margin of victory. But at this point, all Notre Dame needs to do is win and hope for attrition.

Both those things happened Saturday, and because of it Notre Dame is one step closer to playing for a championship -- even if they aren't paying attention to that goal as a team.

"You can't really look forward to anything like that, or you'll kind of drop the ball and not stay to the course," Golson said. "My head is down, just sticking on just trying to get prepared and trying to get the next win."

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Former first-round pick Kevin White hasn't caught a break -- or a touchdown -- through the first three years of his career. He has more season-ending injuries than 100-yard games and after an offseason focused on upgrades at wide receiver, White's future in Chicago beyond 2018 is very much in doubt.

Ryan Pace declined the fifth-year option in White's rookie contract, making this a prove-it year for the pass-catcher who once resembled a blend of Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant during his time at West Virginia.

He's getting a fresh start by new coach Matt Nagy.

"He is healthy and he's really doing well," Nagy told Danny Kanell and Steve Torre Friday on SiriusXM's Dog Days Sports. "We're trying to keep him at one position right now so he can focus in on that."

White can't take all the blame for his 21 catches, 193 yards and zero scores through 48 possible games. He's only suited up for five. Whether it's bad luck or bad bone density, White hasn't had a legitimate chance to prove, on the field, that he belongs.

Nagy's looking forward, not backward, when it comes to 2015's seventh pick overall.

"That's gone, that's in the past," Nagy said of White's first three years. "This kid has a new future with us."

White won't be handed a job, however.

"He's gotta work for it, he's gotta put in the time and effort to do it," Nagy said. "But he will do that, he's been doing it. He's a great weapon, he's worked really hard. He has great size, good speed. We just want him to play football and not worry about anything else."

Nagy on Trubisky: 'He wants to be the best'

Nagy on Trubisky: 'He wants to be the best'

The Bears concluded their second round of OTAs on Thursday with the third and final set of voluntary sessions scheduled for May 29-June 1. Coach Matt Nagy is bringing a new and complicated system to Chicago, so the time spent on the practice field with the offense and quarterback Mitch Trubisky has been invaluable.

"We’ve thrown a lot at Mitch in the last 2 ½ months,” Nagy told Dog Days Sports’ Danny Kanell and Steve Torre on Friday. “He’s digested it really well.”

Nagy’s implementing the same system he operated with the Chiefs, an offense that brought the best out of Redskins quarterback Alex Smith. The former first-overall pick went from potential draft bust to MVP candidate under Andy Reid and Nagy’s watch.

Nagy admitted he and his staff may have been a little too aggressive with the amount of information thrust upon Trubisky so far.  It took five years to master the offense in Kansas City, he said, but the first-year head coach sees a lot of similarities between his current and past quarterbacks.

"These guys are just wired differently,” Nagy said when comparing Trubisky to Smith. “With Mitch, the one thing that you notice each and every day is this kid is so hungry. He wants to be the best. And he’s going to do whatever he needs to do. He’s so focused.”

Smith had the best year of his career in 2017 and much of the credit belongs to Nagy, who served as Smith’s position coach in each season of his tenure in Kansas City. He threw for eight touchdowns and only two interceptions during the five regular season games that Nagy took over play-calling duties last year.

Nagy said Trubisky has a similar attention to detail that Smith brought to the Chiefs’ quarterback room.

"Each and every detail that we give him means something. It’s not just something he writes down in a book. He wants to know the why,” Nagy said of Trubisky. “He’s a good person that is in this for the right reason. His teammates absolutely love him. It was the same thing with Alex [Smith] in Kansas City.”

A locker room that believes in its quarterback is a critically important variable for success, one that Nagy already sees exists in Chicago.

"When you have that as a coach and when you have that as being a quarterback, not everybody has that, and when you have that you’re in a good spot.”