Yesterday in Evanston, the Boston College Eagles fell to the Northwestern Wildcats 22-13. By the numbers on the scoreboard it would appear that the game was very close. And for most part it was. BC was within one score of the Wildcats for a majority of the game, and even at one brief time took the lead in this one. The Eagles held NU to five field goals before a back breaking touchdown by Mike Trumpy sealed the game.
How could BC drop such a winnable game? In the end it was usual suspects that did in the Eagles: poor rushing execution, turnovers, drops and atrocious defense. Northwestern moved the ball effectively down the field all game, utilizing the two quarterbacks Cain Kolter and Trevor Siemian while Venric Marc and Mike Trumpy kept the chains moving. Couple that with the offensive woes, and voila, you have another BC loss.
If you missed the game, you might look at the scoreboard and think to yourself "Wow, BC kept the Wildcats to 22 points, the defense must have improved." True the Eagles did make a few nice plays, including a pair of sacks, and a great fourth down stop by C.J. Jones. But otherwise you would be so very wrong. Just look at some of these other mind numbing statistics:
... 293 yards allowed on the ground
... 267 in the air
... 560 total yards
... 34 first downs allowed
... 12-19 on third down conversions
... 100 total plays run
Combine all those numbers with what actually happened on the field: missed tackles all over the place, boneheaded penalties and NU almost doubling the time of possession and it's clear that the defense that frustrated fans against Miami hasn't improved.
The offense was equally frustrating yesterday. Chase Rettig continued to play great ball, even with his receivers dropping multiple passes. Stats on drops aren't online but I counted at least three drops by Amidon, two by Spiffy Evans and at least one from Johnathan Coleman. But all in all the passing game did what it needed to do. When Chase wasn't backed up on 2nd or 3rd and long, he made his reads and made some nice throws, the most beautiful was obviously his touchdown pass to Coleman. It is always frustrating to watch a team squander such a solid individual performance.
The problem on offense was the rushing game. First off, it was completely ineffective and completely destroyed any offensive momentum BC started to accumulate. As Rettig moved the ball through the air, the play calling continued to call running plays that went no where, which would back BC up and force Rettig to make tougher passes to keep the chains moving. The struggles was an entire unit issue just look at the yards per carry for each player: Rolandan Finch 2.4, Tahj Kimble 2.2, Andre Williams 1.8. This unit is capable of much more, and should have been able to run the ball, but the run blocking was horrendous, and the run plays called seemed very slow to develop. Couple that with yet another Finch fumble in the red zone, and this entire aspect of the game was a complete disaster.
A completely frustrating loss all around, and obviously this leaves the Eagles with a lot of work to do before their matchup on September 29th against Clemson. If the Eagles continue to make these types of mistakes, this is going to be a long 9 remaining games. But even with all this, it's clear these kids are trying, playing hard at every snap, and want to win. They just need coaching to help them with the errors. Tackling should be practiced non stop for the next two weeks, and Jim Bollman needs to go back to the drawing board and figure out ways to create more power running plays which would play more to the strengths of the three talented running backs he has. The pieces are there, but this team and the coaching staff is going to need to adjust.
What were Coach Frank Spaziani's thoughts on the error prone loss to Northwestern?
"Woulda, coulda, shoulda, We need to stop making these mistakes. We can’t win like that. It’s my job to make them play better."
Yes Spaz. Yes it is.