Boston College-Notre Dame Preview
(AP) - Just because it looks like the easy part of the schedule doesn't mean No. 5 Notre Dame is about to let up.
Coach Brian Kelly wants his Fighting Irish to be more aggressive Saturday night at Fenway Park as they take on stingy Boston College, which has a top-ranked defense but only three wins in 10 games to show for it.
''We just have to be probably a little more aggressive. I thought we were a little conservative at times,'' Kelly said Tuesday after a less than stellar 28-7 win over Wake Forest last week. ''Probably a little more aggressive in the areas where we've been pushing the ball vertically.''
The Irish (9-1) completed two passes of 15 yards or more against Wake Forest, and failed to top 400 yards of offense for the first time this season. The Irish came up with one play longer than 25 yards - a 98-yard touchdown run by Josh Adams.
Boston College is second in the country in preventing big plays, allowing 15 plays of 40 or more yards this season. Kelly says they like to ''get up in your face.''
''It's really a defensive unit philosophy that you're working at more than anything else,'' he added. ''So it's not one particular guy. So you're really looking at how they're coached and how they're defending down and distance and formationally.''
Notre Dame will counter with C.J. Prosise, who missed last week's game after sustaining a concussion two weeks ago. Prosise leads the team with 975 yards rushing and has five 100-yard games. With Prosise out, Adams has piled up 288 yards.
''We're a better football team with both of them, without question. C.J.'s an elite player,'' Kelly said.
Prosise has broken off 18 runs of 15 yards or more, including a 91-yard touchdown against Georgia Tech. Big plays, not 3-yard gains, are what Kelly is looking for.
''They would hope that that's the way you kind of play the game,'' Kelly said. ''We've got to try to find explosive plays, so that's why C.J. Prosise needs to be in this game.''
It's also why they need to get the ball to Will Fuller, who was held to three catches for 37 yards. The receiver is averaging 93.7 yards a game and has 12 touchdowns.
However, receivers rarely have good days against a BC defense which has surrendered six TD passes all season. The Eagles (3-7) lead the FBS in total defense, allowing 236.5 yards per game, and give up an average of 14.4 points to rank third.
Still, coach Steve Addazio knows this is likely the biggest challenge that unit has faced this year.
"This is one of the most talented teams that Notre Dame has had in a long time on both sides of the ball and special teams," he said. "On offense, DeShone Kizer, the quarterback, is an exceptional player, but he has a great offensive line in front of him. ... I believe C.J. Prosise is a heck of a back behind a good offensive line. And of course, William Fuller, who I knew when I was at Temple - (he was) right down the street at Roman Catholic (High School). I think he is exceptional. He is a high-round draft pick; very fluid and very fast."
Even with the stout defense, BC has dropped six in a row as the offense has totaled 56 points. The program hasn't had a longer losing streak since dropping eight straight bridging the 1990 and '91 seasons.
However, Addazio has had extra time to get the offense on track and prepare for the Irish with his team coming off a bye week following a 24-8 loss to North Carolina State on Nov. 7.
Notre Dame has taken the past four meetings, most recently winning 21-6 in 2012, and BC has lost 15 of 16 against Top 25 foes.
"They are number four or five in the country, that is where they should be," Addazio said. "They are ranked very appropriately, so this will be a great challenge for us."