It was a tough loss yesterday, and Boston College certainly did some things right, but they also made some mistakes too. BC looked like a team that belonged on the field with Clemson, just like they did two weekends ago against FSU. They fought, and left it all on the field. The program clearly is heading in the right direction. Again someone said it best yesterday, we have gone from being happy for moral victories, to feeling real pain after BC comes dangerously close to beating Top 10 teams. That's progress. But there is still ways to go.
Let's look at the where they could improve, and what went well in yesterday's shockingly close loss to Clemson down in Death Valley.
The Defense: There aren't many games where a defense would give up 496 yards and end up on the good list. But when you give up 3 points to Clemson in a half and hold Tajh Boyd to one score you get a hat tip. Were they perfect? No. They made hits, they broke up passes, and they held their own against one of the best offenses in the country.
Third Down Defense: One of the biggest gripes about BC's defense going into this game was that they struggled mightily getting off the field on 3rd down. Clemson went 4-17 yesterday on third down, and BC seemed to be there to make big hits whenever they needed to.
Clemson trying their best to pull a Clemson: Man did that team look sloppy in the first half. They were taking what BC was giving them, but almost every drive ended with Clemson derping all over themselves. There were four fumbles, whatever the hell that fake field goal/botched snap was, two failed fourth down conversions. The Tigers were lucky that BC couldn't capitalize on these or the score would be much different.
Myles Willis And His Touchdown Run: This kid is showing us week in and week out that he's going to be something special for years to come at Boston College.
BC Students And BC's Traveling Fans: Bravo to the students and fans that traveled down to Death Valley for this game, as Brian said Clemson fans were complimenting him on their boisterousness during the game, and they were making a lot of noise on TV. Just goes to show that if you sell an experience to a fan base, they will travel.
The Mentality: I got chills reading Steve Addazio's quote after the game: "We took the No. 3 team in the country toe to toe, but we just did not finish. Clemson has a very good football team and they showed it today. I will never be happy with a loss, and I will not be happy today. I like our team a lot."
Making It Out Of This Part Of The Schedule In One Piece: BC made it through a schedule of USC, Clemson and FSU keeping it close against 2 out of 3 of the games, and without injury. Now they get a week off to regroup and look ahead to a schedule full of teams that they could beat. Bowling anyone?
The offense: I am not going to go and blame this all on Ryan Day, I'll save that for the humble genius who will surely respond about it in the comments. Was his play calling questionable? Yes. But there are other factors at play here that clearly made BC's offense struggle yesterday.
As I have mentioned before here, BC does not have any wide receivers other than Alex Amidon. Yes there are guys out there with numbers in the 80's that appear to run hitch routes and go routes etc, but they appear to only be WR's by name at this point. Watching the game it's clear that they can't get open, Rettig doesn't bother even looking for them, which is more due to the talent of the player than the scheme that they are running. Ryan Day could call a brilliant spread scheme and these guys would still be blanketed. Look some of them might get better, there are some young underclassmen out there, but right now they are not weapons.
BC had to run the ball, and it failed. Andre Williams was gobbled up on most of the plays, and other than his TD run Myles Willis was a non factor. The offensive line was worn out and Clemson was doing whatever they wanted to do on defense. But BC's lack of weapons on offense really shrinks the playbook for Rettig, and by the end of the game he was a mess mentally, so their options were even further limited.
The Fourth Quarter Punts I don't like saying that Addazio pulled a Spaz, in fact I don't ever want to mention the two in the same breath, but it seemed clear at that point that BC was trying just to keep the game close, and giving up on 4th and 1 seemed eerily like a move the last regime would make.
Andre Williams Injury Scare: Anyone else make a giant gasping sound when he didn't get up? We are lucky right now because injuries haven't shown how dangerously thin we are at depth in most positions. Can you imagine what our year would look like without #44?
Chase Rettig's Fumble/Interception: I almost put this down just as Chase Rettig but a lot of his issues had to do with wide receivers who couldn't get open and collapsing pockets. But these two turnovers were brutal. I have no idea what he was thinking when he ran what looked like a broken option play that turned into a shovel pass to Clemson. That was bad, but thankfully Clemson did nothing with the ball. The fumble on the other hand was a back breaker, again I have no idea what he was thinking when he lost the ball like that, but Rettig needs to figure out ways to get rid of the ball faster or this will happen more often.
David Dudeck's Fake Punt: For a little guy that is supposed to run fast he certainly moved really slow on that one. Now to be fair that wasn't on him for it being slow, that play itself developed at the speed of a dying elephant. Would have rather seen Rettig and Andre Williams just try and pound the ball in for a first down.