In 2013, Boston College head coach Steve Addazio and offensive coordinator Ryan Day instituted an offense unlike what was run in previous years in Chestnut Hill. Removing the complex option routes run by wide receivers and removing the quarterback's vision (or lack thereof), the duo instead went to a simple offense based on two incontrovertible facts: 1) we can run if we dominate the trenches and 2) we will dominate the trenches.
They instituted this because Boston College had been through more than their share of different football languages. Because of the mindset changes each and every year under Frank Spaziani, the quarterback and offensive line positions were shot to hell. They learned too many different schemes, too many different playbooks, and the end result was an inability to move the ball effectively or efficiently. So Addazio and Day went back to basics, stripped away everything they could from the offense, and lined up a team that would run directly at the teeth of the defense.
The next year, with new personnel all over the place, Addazio and Day went about placing their schemes and their languages in the offense. The implemented an option offense predicated on the quarterback's decision-making process. With the ball in his hands, Tyler Murphy became one of the best running signal callers in the nation, but his deficiencies in the passing forced a delay in how deep that spread option offense could run. On top of it all, implementing the offense could only run so deep with an offensive line and quarterback bound for graduation after the season.
With Ryan Day's departure for the NFL, the Boston College Eagles are now in an interesting and precarious position. The Eagles need to hire a new offensive coordinator, one who can customize the offense around the personnel that's still in Chestnut Hill. But it'll need to be built as a continuation of what they've been doing over the past two years and not a drastic change caused by the hiring of a new offensive mindset.
So to understand exactly what BC will be looking for in an offensive coordinator, we need to understand the Steve Addazio offense. While at Florida, Addazio the offensive coordinator utilized a spread option offense. At Temple, he instituted that same playbook. At BC, as the team moves out of two years of holdovers and place keepers, the development of the program absolutely needs to have that same style playbook. Any drastic change to a spread passing offense or a pro style will cause the offense to take a step back as opposed to a step forward.
The spread option offense runs primarily out of a pistol or shotgun set up. It utilizes either one or two running backs, a single tight end behind the guard or slightly off to the side of the line. If the offense uses one running back, a third wide receiver or second tight end becomes a part of the offense. Prior to the snap, the quarterback needs to survey the defense and make the decision on either to hand off in a read option, keep the ball for a run, or potentially throw the football.
This type of offense creates isolation of the defensive players because the defense has to be ready for any type of play. They can't go into a zone defense to defend the pass because the quarterback's read will allow him to keep it or hand off in a running situation. But since they have to defend the pass, they have to be able to go man-to-man to create one-on-one coverage.
For Addazio, this is his bread and butter. He implemented this offense at Florida, brought it with him to Temple, and, for the beginning of the year, started bringing it into Boston College. With new offensive linemen, a new quarterback, and new receivers, the Eagles are likely to start developing this from the ground up. Because of the amount of seniors, they had to play simply to their strengths in '14 in an attempt to gloss over their weaknesses.
They implemented an option style offense sans the pass to overlay the fact that Murphy in the passing game wasn't particularly strong. When Murphy started to physically break down at the end of the season, BC lined up a more traditional running offense, similar to the one in 2013. They did this because they couldn't risk drastically changing the playbook without greatly exposing their weaknesses. As they develop Addazio's offense, the new offensive coordinator has to be able to run and develop those mindsets.
That means we won't see Addazio go after coordinators and coaches who subscribe to other types of schemes. We won't see a traditional spread, West Coast offensive coach touch down at BC unless he's willing to change his thinking. It wouldn't make sense to bring in someone like the Bob Toledos of the world because the West Coast, hucka-chucka football scheme, quite simply, can't play here. It can't play without drastically changing the mindset of the offensive players, drastically altering the course of recruiting and long-term vision. It simply can't be done without setting the program back to the 2012 offseason all over again.
As the search begins for the next Boston College offensive coordinator, it's important to keep that in mind. We're here to continue the phase of development, not reinvent the wheel. We're here to help build the next chapter, not throw away the previous ones. We're here to watch the Eagles take the next step as a continuation of the ones already taken by the job started by Ryan Day.