Zombie Spaz Likes Turtles

On turtling (via Wikipedia):

"Turtling is a gameplay strategy that emphasizes heavy defense. Ostensibly, turtling minimizes risk to the turtling player while baiting opponents to take risks in trying to overcome the defenses."

One of the more maddening aspects of Spaz's offensive strategy is the tendency to employ ultra-conservative turtling strategies while enjoying a lead -- however small -- in college football games. More often than not, this strategy helps opponents crawl back into games and make things interesting, shortening the life expectancy of the few Boston College football fans still on the bandwagon.

In last Friday's 24-17 win over Miami, we saw a perfect example of this strategy in action.

While BC was playing with a 3 point lead ...

3 plays, 7 yards, 1:39, punt
7 plays, 52 yards, 4:11, fumble

With a 10 point lead ... 

3 plays, 9 yards, 1:32, punt
3 plays, 9 yards, 2:01, punt
5 plays, 15 yards, 2:40, punt
3 plays, 0 yards, 2:27, punt

The Eagles finished the game by running out the clock with a victory formation. But wait, there's more! Here are the second half drives in the N.C. State game.

With a 4 point lead ...

3 plays, -1 yards, 0:00, punt
3 plays, 2 yards, 1:34, punt
6 plays, -3 yards, 3:49, punt
3 plays, 8 yards, 2:16, punt

The only redeeming quality of turtling in the N.C. State game is that the entire game only took 2 hours, 29 minutes to complete, 44 minutes below the national average. Boston College also ran just 49 plays in the win, tying an ACC record for fewest offensive snaps in a game. This allowed us all to get back to tailgating and Mary Ann's after being subjected to arguably the quickest, yet most boring half of college football ever played.

And the Virginia Tech game (yes, we were actually winning at one point against the Hokies):

With a 7 point lead ...

3 plays, 1 yard, 0:50, punt

With a 4 point lead ...

4 plays, 11 yards, 2:04, punt
8 plays, 41 yards, 2:49, punt
9 plays, 38 yards, 4:47, punt
6 plays, 23 yards, 3:34, punt

With a 1 point lead ...

3 plays, 0 yards, 0:21, punt

For those keeping track at home, that's six straight offensive possessions resulting in punts. And BC's second half possessions against Duke, with a 5-point lead:

4 plays, 19 yards, 1:35, punt
5 plays, 17 yards, 2:36, punt
4 plays, 10 yards, 1:17, punt

The only game we enjoyed any success with a lead against a FBS opponent was against Maryland. In that game, the Eagles had offensive drives that resulted in three touchdowns, three turnovers (1 INT, 2 fumbles), two field goal misses, four punts and one drive to run out the clock in the fourth quarter.

Over the course of the entire season, against I-A opponents BC had 44 offensive drives with a lead. The Eagles never led in the UCF, Wake Forest, Clemson, Florida State or Notre Dame games. 

Here's the breakdown: 24 punts, 5 touchdowns (three coming in the Maryland win), 5 field goal attempts (2 made, 3 misses), 5 turnovers (2 interceptions, 3 fumbles) and 5 times where the Eagles ran out the clock (2 at half, 3 at the end of the game). 

As Wikipedia suggests, "While turtling strategies are usually simple enough for novices to learn and are effective as such, they are easily defeated by experienced players who understand the game's methods to counter turtling."

If Spaz doesn't gain confidence in his offense to move the ball successfully with a lead next season, teams will continue to capitalize on BC's ultra-conservative offensive play-calling and will end up stealing a game that they otherwise shouldn't win. That is, if BC ever enjoys leads for long periods of time that would cause Spaz to turtle.

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