A week ago, Boston College put 76 points up in the blow out win over Howard. A week later the Eagles were shut out for the first time since 2010 (Virginia Tech 19-0). The shut out loss was just the fourth time in the last 426 games that BC failed to put up a single point (Virginia Tech, 17-0, 1998, Navy, 21-0, 1980). It even had people scratching their heads to determine if a team had ever scored more points one week and put up a goose egg the next, we are currently checking that one with the Elias Sports Bureau.
But seriously folks, what did you really expect?
The Boston College defense pretty much played lights out. True, they gave up a relatively easy first drive TD and there was some thought that perhaps Maine and Howard were, well...Maine and Howard, but as he has shown the ability to do, Don Brown finds a way to solve problems and essentially shut down the 'Noles the rest of the way.
Unfortunately, to win, the Eagle D needed to do more. They forced no turnovers and in key situations, like the Everett Golston scramble out of the end zone, simply either needed to tackle better or maintain contain in the pocket to get the offense advantageous field position.
But who can complain? They played like a top 10-20 defense in the country. Even the secondary, although not great, showed flashes that not only could they help ferociously in run support but cover. There were no big plays given up in the passing game at all. The pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter, which was not turned into points, was a bad call. They were as good or better than we could have hoped.
The kicking game, it had its goods..and its bads. Sherman Alston made mistakes on virtually every punt return he had. Consistently lining up too shallow (that's a coaching issue), fair catching balls he should have returned and woefully not fielding one he should have, starting the Eagles back at their 1.
BC punter Alex Howell may have been the Eagle MVP last night, averaging 47.9 yards per kick on seven attempts, but he failed once to pin Florida State deep when he kicked it away instead of using the Aussie football rules point down style and took a tongue lashing for it. He was also victimized when the Eagle punt cover team couldn't down a punt inside at the 1 early on.
FSU All-America kicker, Roberto Aguayo, may have missed that FG, but it was punter Carson Beatty who saved the Nole bacon, putting four inside the 20 and consistently flipping the field with his kicks. Beatty also kicked seven times averaging 52.3 yards and kept BC in poor initial field position all night.
Which brings us to the offense. So I ask again, seriously...what did you expect?
Steve Addazio is a conservative offensive coach. I realize that Todd Fitch is the OC, but Addazio is the one with the vision of what this should look like. Hey, I like Addazio, I think he's done a fantastic job instilling pride and a competitive nature with this program, but there is a history..if you don't think so, check out this video and see how many comments you agree with.
Knowing who he is stylistically then..what did you expect?
BC currently has an entire roster of inexperienced quarterbacks, linemen and receivers. The future is definitely bright, but the future is next year..not this, not against a team or a program like Florida State.
Should BC have been more aggressive offensively, at least divergent offensively..sure. A first down pass every once in while would have been welcome, but as long as the defense was going to keep the game close, the Eagles were going to keep the playbook close to the vest.
The concerns are obvious. Jon Hilliman 2015 is not Jon Hilliman 2014. 8 carries for 7 yards last night and it was Hilliman, not Wade, who made "the big mistake" with the fumble returned for the game clincher. He is not running with any sort of conviction, continually trying to bounce runs to the outside, which he did last year and got away away with, but right now he is not getting the blocking he was a year ago. Myles Willis has stepped into that spot at this point and it looks like Hilliman needs to get his head clear before he gets his game clear.
The offensive line, like the rest of the non-running backs, is a work in progress. They needed to dominate the line of scrimmage last night and that didn't happen, but it didn't happen against Maine either and it may not happen next week..or the week after that, but BC will be fine in the O-Line, this is just a matter of natural maturation.
The QB situation is beyond unsettled. Wade was bound to have a night like he did last night. He's really only played 1 game and then got to face FSU, thank you very much. He didn't look comfortable, didn't get through his progressions, made some poor decisions, but only threw the one pick, which was a bad throw but worked as well as a punt. He was never going to win them the game, he just needed to make sure they didn't lose it and I think he was fine as far as that was concerned.
With Wade down now for the season we have Jeff Smith vs Troy Flutie. The system seems far more Smith friendly, but that assumes that BC gets to play from in front, not from behind. The Eagles are not built and haven't been built since Addazio came here to play from behind. I think that Smith is the long term answer, but once again it's just not a clear cut answer.
I thought going into last night that the game would resemble what we saw on Thursday night between Clemson and Louisville Two good defenses, a potentially powerful offense (FSU/Clemson) and an offense looking for identity (Louisville/BC). That's pretty much the way the game played out, with the BC defense being better than expected and sadly, the offense being worse.
I thought before the season that at some point we would have a quarterback controversy (check), people challenging the play calling/overall direction of the program (check), that BC would struggle for bowl eligibility this year (to be seen, but heading that way) and that there would probably be a lot of ugly games to watch (seems pretty accurate to me). But that doesn't mean this isn't going in the right direction. The strides made by the defense alone should prove that..this is a process, a long one and one that should start to bear real fruit next season.
Do you have the patience to ride out 2015 in the meantime?