As much as it pains me to review Tuesday's Advocare100 Independence Bowl game against Arizona, it's my duty to completely cover the football team in good and in bad. And let me just say that the game against the Wildcats was filled with a lot of bad. But after some deep soul searching, contemplation and some time to clear my head, I think I found some good in the game. So let's take a look at what the Eagles did right, and where BC will need to improve in 2014.
Nate Freese - As we have mentioned time and time again, the Groza committee really dropped the ball on leaving him off the finalists list. Nate went 2/2, and finished the season a perfect 20/20 on field goal attempts. In a game where BC really didn't have any highlights, Freese had to be one of the MVP's of the game. Freese was awesome this year, and his contributions on field goals, place kicks and to a lesser extent punts will be missed next season. Mr. Automatic should be heading to the NFL, but you never know with place kickers, finding a job is always a crap shoot at the next level.
Alex Amidon - As much as we have and should sing the praise of Andre Williams, we should also make sure we do not forget the contributions of our senior wide receiver. Easily the best offensive weapon today, and arguably over the past two years (156 catches, 2234 yards, 12 touchdowns) Amidon closed out his Boston College career just like he should have, with 10 catches for 129 yards.
Fumble Caused By Manny Asprilla - Just as it looked like Arizona was going to gash BC after an interception by Chase Rettig, Asprilla made a heads up play by yanking loose a fumble on Ka'deem Carey on a huge run. Justin Simmons recovered the ball, and BC had great field position. BC proceeded to do nothing with the field position, and Arizona later would score at will, but it was an exciting play at the time.
The Time of Possesion Battle - Steve Addazio came out before the game and said that he wanted the Eagles to control the clock and that is exactly what they did to start the game. BC had the ball for 35 minutes compared to the Wildcats who controlled it for 24. At one point after the first quarter I believe BC had the ball for 12 minutes to Zona's 3. But in the end T.O.P was a hollow stat as BC's offense couldn't move the ball enough to score, and Zona just basically scored at a lightning pace.
Tyler Rouse - A nice showing in garbage time by the true freshman who finished the game with 6 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown. I still can't get a read on him, he seems undersized, but quick. He needs to put a little more meat on his bones for next season but I enjoyed watching him in the two blow out games against the Pac-12.
The Injuries - Rettig was clearly not himself and Andre Williams was hesitant as it was clear that his shoulder was still bothering him. With two of BC's top offensive weapons crippled, it was clear that the Eagles weren't going to get much going on offense, and they didn't.
The Lack of Sacks - We have seen this story before, Don Brown's defense loves to pressure, but can not handle a hurry up offense. The Eagles could not get any pressure on B.J. Denker who enjoyed all the time in the world when he dropped back to pass. BC needs to get more depth on the defensive line to combat these game plans because it is clear that when opponents go to the hurry up, the few starters that BC has get gassed and lose their effectiveness. They need more dudes to cycle in to combat that fatigue.
Andre Williams' Final Game - This was a tough, tough way for him to finish his season with the Eagles. Clearly not a 100% and with Arizona stacking the box on every play, both Williams' and the offensive line were dominated the entire game.#Andre44Heisman finished the game with 26 carries for 75 yards. I'm glad to see he got another touchdown, but it was kind of a bummer that he finished 8 yards shy of Mike Davis for fourth on the single season rushing yards list.
A lack of any sort of vertical passing game - I know BC has never made their bones with stretching the field, but it was just so clear in this game that they have no weapons to throw the ball down field. It felt like almost every pass was a short dump off, screen or play action pass. Once the Eagles fell behind, and Arizona neutralized Williams, BC had no answer. Looking ahead to 2014, I'm not sure the Eagles have an answer to this problem.
The Secondary - Oh my goodness was that a terrible game for the entire secondary. Between the pass interference calls, the blown coverages, missed tackles and getting out jumped by Wildcat receivers, BC was putrid. This off season they have to work on turning their heads to make a play, because I was going to scream if I saw one more defensive back with his back to the ball when it was up in the air. Currently BC has a good crop of defensive backs coming in (Richard Wilson, Isaac Yiadom, Ty Schwab), which is good because they are going to need them to play, and soon.
The Dropped Passes - We may have the people, but they certainly can't catch passes. Bobby Wolford had a dropped pass that majestically flew high into the air into the hands of Jared Tevis, and David Dudeck had another drop that almost had the same fate.
Chase Rettig's Pick Six - It was almost fitting that Rettig ended his BC career with an interception like that. The kid showed tough, grit, and a never quit attitude, but was always plagued by these types of plays (see Clemson, FSU games this year for other examples). I had ragging on the guy, but this play was easily the turning point of the game. BC was hanging around, and kept it close, and then BOOM, Arizona takes it to the house and never looked back.
All in all this was a brutal game to watch and a tough loss for the Eagles. But coming from a 2-10 season this game was gravy and a great experience for the team. As someone who has covered the team for the past three years, I want to thank Chase Rettig, Andre Williams, Kasim Edebali and all the other seniors for never quitting on BC and giving us something our program has lacked for a long time. Hope. Thank you guys, seriously, you are and will always be dudes. It wasn't the result we wanted, but BC has put together building blocks for the future, and hopefully there is a good recruiting class coming up that will help to fill some of the gaps.