Commentary

Mistakes sink Shinskie, Eagles

Five turnovers (three INTs) tough to overcome

Updated: October 25, 2009, 12:23 AM ET
By Nick Friedell | ESPNChicago.com

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The frustration was etched all over Dave Shinskie's face as he walked out of the Boston College locker room Saturday evening.

[+] EnlargeDave Shinskie
AP Photo/Michael ConroyDespite passing for 279 yards, Dave Shinskie has a few throws he'd like to have back.
The Eagles' 25-year-old freshman quarterback couldn't believe what had just happened. His team had outplayed Notre Dame and seemed just a few plays away from winning its seventh consecutive game against the Fighting Irish. In fact, the Eagles were a play or two away from putting more points on the board all day, but they continued to shoot themselves in the foot.

Sadly, for Shinskie & Co., the final drive was no different.

Shinskie threw his third interception (one of five BC turnovers) at the Notre Dame 22-yard line with just 1:38 to play, as Notre Dame managed to sneak away with a 20-16 victory.

"It's a case of basically just wanting another throw back," Shinskie said after the game. "It sucks after a game when you're saying that to yourself, 'I wish I had two or three throws back,' and that's what I'm doing right now. I should have just thrown it out of bounds and instead I tried to force it in there and make a play to Richie [Gunnell] because he was making them all night and I ended up throwing it right in the guy's chest."

"The guy," is this case, was Notre Dame's Brian Smith.

To be sure, Shinskie wasn't the only BC player to make big mistakes. The Eagles' Montel Harris fumbled the ball twice, including once near the Notre Dame goal line. But Shinskie's poor decision-making at the end of the game overshadowed the fact that his team played very well most of the day.

"Dave is a microcosm of the whole team," BC coach Frank Spaziani said. "We're trying to get better; we've got a long way to go. Dave's a true freshman, he's done some nice things. Obviously, he had a little problem today and made some mistakes. As we all did.

"We're a high-wire act. There's no margin for error for us and there's no safety net. When we fall off the wire, it's not good. Five turnovers is hard to overcome."

Still, Spaziani had to like some of what he saw. Despite the three interceptions, Shinskie threw for 279 yards and a touchdown. The defense played well again, frustrating the Irish at times, and Gunnell had the game of his life.

The BC senior wide receiver caught 10 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown.

"Rich is a heck of a player for us and a captain," Spaziani said. "In these kind of games, we need some players, obviously, to step up and make some plays and Richie did. He made some fine catches and I'm sure he would've liked to make a couple more. We need Richie to play well for us to do well."

Despite his unbelievable day, though, Gunnell had a hard time swallowing the fact that it came in a loss. He knew that he and his teammates let a winnable game slip through their fingertips.

"It definitely did," Gunnell said. "[I'm a] senior, my last time playing these guys, to go out that way, it's rough. We all played our hearts out. Offense played our hearts out, defense played their hearts out. Notre Dame played their hearts out. It was a good game."

A good game that could have been even better for BC.

"Once again, we have a true freshman [at QB]," Spaziani said. "And I don't care how old Uncle Dave is, he's a true freshman. You've got 80,000 people [in the crowd] and national TV, and the game on the line -- it's a tough task. We've got to get to the point where we can make those plays, but we just didn't do it today."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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