After sleeping in after yesterday's game I have now gotten the opportunity to reflect on Boston College's 10 point win over Villanova yesterday in Chestnut Hill. Steve Addazio coached in his first game with the Eagles, and showed us much of what frustrated past fan bases, but also glimpses of why he can be effective as a coach. Was this win perfect? Absolutely not. Was this a satisfying win? I have to say given what BC has dealt with for the past four years, and that a handful of FBS teams lost to lesser FCS teams this week, I have to say yes. Let's look at the game.
Manny Asprilla: He was all over the place yesterday, making big plays and sealing the win with a big interception where he actually went backwards to catch the ball. Boston College's corner play was a big concern going into 2013, and we all assumed that if someone was going to step up it would be Al Louis-Jean, but maybe it will be Asprilla. I know it was only Villanova, and it will be more telling to see how he does against better wide outs, but could Asprilla be the best corner on this team?
Second Half Adjustments: This has already been talked about numerous times in the comments, but this game was literally a game of two halves. Boston College was a mess going into half time, and after Don Brown and Steve Addazio ripped into the defense, they looked completely poised and rather dominant in the second half. In the first half the defense was struggling with their blitzes, mistiming many of them, and not recovering if they did, but in the 2nd half they were much more crisp, forcing sacks and turnovers.
Chase Rettig: I couldn't believe I was reading people actually get on Rettig after yesterday's game. Someone in the comments of yesterday's game thread said it best. He missed on seven passes (a handful of those were drops), he threw for two touchdowns, and would have had 300+ yards and three touchdowns if it wasn't for the Bobby Vardaro penalty. Chase did everything he was supposed to do in Ryan Day's offense: he managed the game, made good short passes, and kept BC's offense on the field.
Bobby Wolford: When I saw his name as a full back on the two deep this week, I thought to myself "that's neat, but he won't be seeing the field". But what I saw yesterday was a kid who is clearly not only ready to play the position, but play the position well. He had good hands, decent speed for a fullback, and the Rettig play action flip to him reminds me of what makes a good running game successful. He's the kind of player that BC needs on offense, and reminds me of some of the backs you see on a team like Stanford.
Coaching Energy: Maybe it's just being jaded from watching a coach disengaged from his team the past four years, but it's refreshing to see an entire coaching staff jacked up and in player's faces the entire game.
Alex Amidon: Villanova had no answer to him, he looked quick, his hands were fantastic, and he finished the day with 13 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown (again should have been two but for the dumb Vardaro penalty). Not to wax poetic, but Amidon is really a special player, and will be a lot of fun to watch this season.
Kevin Pierre Louis: Remember all the talk that Kevin Pierre Louis was going to follow in the footsteps of the great linebackers at Boston College? But then a series of injuries and Spaz happened, and expectations were lowered? Well yesterday was a glimpse of the talent that we all knew he had. He was all over the field for BC making plays, he showed great instinct and made good tackles. Many of us predicted he would be successful in Don Brown's offense and we may be right.
Josh Keyes Devours John Robertson's Soul:
Gameday Improvements: Kudos to Brad Bates for all the upgrades he made to the Gameday Experience. From walking past St. John's Seminary and hearing they were letting people park before 9am, to the live band in front of the plex, to the BAMF Eagle, to the Hospitality tents, to the new Eagle Walk (those suits were sharp) I thought the game experience was great. Big round of applause to the BC Athletic Department for listening and continuing to build upon some of our great traditions at Boston College.
The Student Section: 2-10 record last year be damned, the students were out in full force yesterday and the entire student section was packed in a sea of gold. They were loud, and energetic, and it was refreshing to see the kids caring about their football team again.
Any running back not named Andre Williams: One thing was abundantly clear yesterday. If BC wants to be successful as a ground and pound team, Andre Williams is going to need to stay healthy. David Dudeck continued to show what he showed last year, that he can't break tackles and goes down quickly and Tyler Rouse is undersized as well. Between Dudeck and Rouse they rushed the ball 12 times for 19 yards. If Addazio took Williams out to save him, I completely understand, his health is going be a major factor this season.
The Offensive line: To be fair they looked solid on pass blocking, and even if it was against Villanova it was refreshing not to see Chase Rettig on his ass the entire game. But now for the bad news, the run blocking was really weak. This was Villanova, BC should have been able to open more holes than they did, but much of the rushing yards was due to Andre Williams churning his feet or pushing a pile.
The Defensive Line: Boston College had two sacks yesterday, which is reason to celebrate, but for the most part the defensive line was invisible during the game. Mehdi Abdesmad had an opportunity to make a sack at one point and slipped like he was on a banana peal, and Kasim Edebali made a few big plays. But just like the rest of the team, they looked awful that first half
The Other Wide Receivers: I saw them out there, I know they played, but want to know the final stats for the wide outs not named Alex Amidon? One catch for 15 yards. They were about as invisible as it gets.
The Fake Punt: Hat Tip to Villanova's Special Teams because I don't think anyone in the stadium had any clue what the hell was going on. According to VUHoops.com the play actually has a name "Talley Ho, Away We Go"
Over The Top Negative BC fans: Let me review what I heard when I got back to my tailgate "AJ, I thought you were going to be enraged, this team is awful. They won't win another game!" and "AJ, they are going to lose to Wake Forest 34-7." Same thing was happening on Twitter. And then I go in the comment boards here and I read basically the same thing from a few commenters. Look, let me level with you. I get it, and I don't blame you for the way you are reacting. We just went through four years of terrible coaching and football with arguably one of the worst coaches of our generation, and that kind of legacy can leave you jaded and scarred. I really do understand. And you are totally right, the first half was a trainwreck. But here is where you lose me. You watched the second half right? Boston College DOMINATED Villanova in every aspect of the game. The BC coaching staff saw the mistakes and fixed the issues, and the players made plays. Now will this team beat an FSU or Clemson, most likely not. But if BC plays like they did in the second half yesterday they will be in all those toss up games we talked about all summer (Syracuse, N.C. State, Wake Forest etc). Try to stay positive, I know it feels weird, but just try it, you might just like it.
Steven Daniels: One of the biggest critique of the first half was that the defense was out of position on a lot of plays. They looked confused, mistiming blitzes, not retreating when blitzes failed. And one of the biggest offenders in the first half was Steven Daniels. On Jamal Abdur-Rahman second touchdown Daniels was completely out of place, and that left a huge chunk of field open for the TD. To be fair to the LB, Daniels recovered in the second half, but that first half was brutal.
The Entire First Half: I don't know if it was first game jitters, or just silly mistakes, but BC was a complete disaster in the first half. On offense, BC had the first drive (which was scripted up great and was precise), but then proceeded to punt the ball three times and fumble it another. On defense, John Robertson carved them up on run plays numerous times, and their third down defense went 3-6 in the first half. It was just an unmitigated nightmare watching everything progress. But as we have said earlier, they fixed most of this in the locker room and came out much stronger in the second half.
Bobby Vardaro's Penalty: To put this game in a different perspective, just think of it this way. Vardaro's penalty was dumb, and watching a replay it was clear it wasn't effecting the play or a penalty in general. It was Ron Cherry giving "the business", which effectively knocked BC out of field goal range, and negating a great play that would have put BC up by 17. In effect BC would have won by 17, put up 31 points (24 in the second half), and would people be talking about down about this game? Probably not.