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Florida State 24, Boston College 19: The Thin Line Between Winning And Losing

Brian: Following Notre Dame's overtime loss to Michigan State, CW over at Rakes Of Mallow had an excellent analogy to describe the thin line between winning and losing:

"A couple weeks ago on Mad Men, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce creative director Don Draper was talking about a campaign for Samsonite with one of his employees, Peggy Olson. They were struggling to come up with an idea for a new luggage campaign when Peggy confessed to her boss that she can no longer tell the difference between something good and something awful. Draper's reply? "Well, they're very close."

I feel the same thing about winning and losing, because the line between the two is so incredibly thin sometimes."

This pretty much sums up how I feel about BC's 24-19 loss to Florida State. A few things break in BC's favor, and that 24-19 victory could have easily been a 23-17 Eagles victory.

  • If Montel Harris reaches paydirt on either of his long runs ... 
  • If Jim Noel comes down with one more interception -- he had two, but easily could have pulled down two more ...
  • If Florida State's Rodney Smith doesn't miraculously come down with that catch on 3rd and 5 on the Seminoles first TD drive ...
  • If Jimbo Fisher didn't dial up the perfect offensive playcall as he did on FSU's first and game-winning TD drives ...
  • If the refs don't extend an FSU drive with a questionable pass interference call (or BC gets a call on some of the bang-bang plays) ...

I think things could have been different. As it stands though, a loss is a loss, the Eagles fourth straight and third straight in the ACC. Let's start with the likes. What did you like from the Eagles performance on Saturday?

Jeff: The defense was great. Four takeaways and holding the Seminoles to a very reasonable 24 points. But when we needed a stop for a chance to win the game, they couldn't get it. Twice they had opportunities but when the opposing offense has 3rd and 1 with two chances to get that yard, it's tough to stop them. It would've been nice to see what Rettig could have done with four minutes left and a chance to win on the road.

The defense has clearly been much better than the offense this season but they obviously have not won us any games. Most of our toughest, if not all of our toughest opponents are now behind us. Even though our D has to spend a lot of time on the field, I think I expected more from them this season. Since the Virginia Tech game, they haven't held the opposition to a score that we really would've expected to win. FSU's defense is too good to expect our offense to go there and score more than 24 and we knew we couldn't get in shoot-outs with N.C. State and Notre Dame.

Brian: I agree the defense played very well. Jim Noel had two interceptions and a touchdown, and could have pulled down 1-2 other passes. Probably should have. Not bad for a guy who wasn't even supposed to start.

Fletcher also had some good sticks. Kuechly again went over the 10 tackle mark, depending on how you count tackles (5 solo, 6 assisted).

Though there were a few things I didn't like on Saturday. The offensive play calling wasn't great by any stretch of the imagination, but I think this is becoming a convenient scapegoat. Sure, when you call run plays on first down on 12 of the Eagles 14 possessions, it only takes a reasonably competent DC to eventually catch on. And catch on Mark Stoops did. BC ran 18 plays in FSU territory for total yardage of -2.

When your offense takes over at your own 20, down 8 with 1:03 left to go in the first half, two run plays to run the clock and go into halftime is a good strategy -- a good strategy if you are going to get the ball back to start the second half. Clearly I would have liked Spaz/Tranq to keep the foot on the gas and try something. A deep throw, something.

However, while the play calling wasn't great, it also has to come down to offensive execution. It looked like BC had a decent trick play dialed up on 3rd and short in the first quarter, with Rettig split out wide and Montel in the Bazooka, but BC had to burn their second timeout as they were confused about the play call. After the timeout, Montel got stuffed and BC had to punt. That was a backbreaking stalled drive considering BC was up 6-0 and FSU marched down the field to take the lead on their next possession.

Rettig completed just 9-of-24 passes and was sacked 4-5 times. He showed flashes of what he can do but also looked like a true freshman at times. The offensive line sprung Montel for two HR runs, but wasn't really able to sustain anything on the ground and gave up plenty of sacks and TFLs. The WRs continue to look and play like underclassmen. The play calling hasn't been great, and I believe coaching has been the cause of a lot of BC's offensive woes, but the offense also has to execute on the field. As comical as it might be to picture 70-year old Gary Tranquill under center, he's not the one that has to execute on the field.