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Headlines: An OT Victory in Chestnut Hill

9/26/2009 – Boston College 27, Wake Forest 24 (OT) – 3-1 (1-1 ACC)

Brian: Leave it to Boston College and Wake Forest to keep it exciting all the way through to the end. Despite watching a 14 point fourth quarter lead evaporate, the Eagles were able to hang on and defeat Wake Forest 27-24 in overtime on Saturday. During Wake’s first offensive possession in overtime, Wake was able to drive the ball to the BC 4 on four running plays. Then Isaac Johnson forced a Riley Skinner fumble and Wes Davis recovered to give the Eagles the victory. Let’s start with the offense. QB David Shinskie went 18-for-29 with 228 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. It wasn’t all great for Shinskie, but he was able to get the job done. First question. It’s gotta be Shinskie the rest of the way out, right?

Jeff: First, props to us with our predictions of the final score. I predicted 27-13 which was the correct total of BC points but more impressively the predicted margin of victory was really close to coming true until those final four minutes of the game. Meanwhile, you had BC winning 23-21 which was close to both the final score and final margin. But, YES. Shinskie won the starting QB job on Saturday. There will be no more Shinskie OR Tuggle listed on the depth chart as we have seen the first four weeks of the season. We will see Tuggle in a few plays, not series, but individual plays just as they tried on Saturday. In a game where Shinskie is struggling, we might see Tuggle thrown in there, but for the more part Shinskie is the quarterback for Boston College. Now that someone stepped up and won the quarterback job rather than be handed it by default, it is a great boost for our offense. Now our defense who won't have to pitch shutouts to win. Perhaps most of all, our fanbase who can get excited about the game against Florida State Saturday, the rest of the season, and the future of BC football which might be led by Shinskie for a few years.

Brian: What is clear is that there needs to be improvement on the offensive side of the ball when playing with a lead. I know that you need to keep the ball on the ground and keep the clock running, but one drive in particular stood out to me. Up by 14 points with 7:32 to go, the Eagles took over at the 28 yard line and ran the following three plays:

1st and 10 at BC 28 - BOSTON COLLEGE penalty 14 yard Personal Foul accepted.
1st and 10 at BC 14 - Montel Harris rush for 3 yards to the BC 17.
2nd and 7 at BC 17 - Montel Harris rush for 2 yards to the BC 19.
3rd and 5 at BC 21 - Montel Harris rush for 2 yards to the BC 21.
4th and 3 at BC 21 - Ryan Quigley punt for 46 yards, fair catch by Devon Brown at the Wake 33.

The Eagles were only able to take 2:25 off the clock and put a tired defense quickly back on the field. Part of the problem is certainly experience. The Eagles haven’t had the opportunity or the reps to run an offensive set with a lead. The Northeastern and Kent State game outcomes were never in doubt and we never had a lead at Clemson. Do you agree with me that the Eagles can’t be too conservative with the lead and need to open it up a bit more?

Jeff: The Eagles were terrible in the fourth quarter yesterday aside from their touchdown drive, but the one possession you highlighted is not cause for concern by itself. In the first half we had a balanced offense of 18 running plays and 15 passing. In the second half though we ran 24 rushing plays and only 11 passing plays. In the first half we scored 17 points on 33 plays while in the second half we scored only 7 points on 35 plays. We had opportunities to put the game away in the second half and in the past, we have seen games where our offensive line was dominant enough over their defensive line to just rush the ball with a lead and still get first downs. Against Wake Forest, and in the other games that will matter the rest of the season, our offensive line and running backs are not that much better than the defense to be able to do this. We are not in the TOB days of the Big East anymore. Saturday we would've put Rutgers away in the fourth quarter but not this Wake Forest team that wins 8+ games every year and recently we to the Orange Bowl.

Brian: The run game was outstanding on Saturday with both Haden and Harris rushing for significant yards. Haden, in particular, was very impressive, rushing for 93 yards on 17 carries.

Jeff: The rushing game was very good up until the point that Wake knew we wanted to just run and keep the clock moving. I think now that Shinskie has a W under his belt, Spaziani and Tranquil will be a little more comfortable with him putting the ball in the air later in the game with a lead.

Brian: Agreed. On to the defense. While it was a bit disappointing that the Eagles defense coughed up the 14 point lead in the fourth quarter and gave up big chunks of yardage in the fourth quarter, for the most part, the Eagles defense bent-but-didn’t break. Were you encouraged by the play of the defense?

Jeff: Not really encouraged, but not discouraged despite the fact that the defense gave up nearly 500 yards of offense. The two final scoring drives make up almost 150 yards of that, then the other Wake Forest touchdown was a 76 yard run that broke out on an up the middle run where the D got caught too close to the line of scrimmage. It was the type of play we always seem to give up to Wake (and other schools do too) because their offense throws so many different looks and plays at you. My other two excuses for the defense are that they should not have been playing prevent on Wake Forest's final possessions and they must have been at least a little tired from the previous week in Clemson where they spent nearly the entire game on the field. Were you discouraged after your over/under prediction went completely sour?

Brian: My over/under prediction for the defense? No. The BC defense played out of their mind against Clemson and even though they gave up 496 yards on Saturday, they are still ranked #18 in total defense. A win is a win and you have to be encouraged overall by the play of the defense through 4 games. Can you believe that NC State is ranked the #1 team in total defense? I guess that's what happens when you play your first four games at home and two against the ranks of the FCS.