Steve Addazio’s postgame press conference is getting a lot of attention on social media this weekend after a 52-7 loss to Louisville. The Heights reporter Michael Sullivan asked Addazio a fair and really good question about why the defense has allowed 15 explosive play touchdowns this year compared to just five all of last year. After initially being annoyed by the question Addazio went on to explain that the reason the BC defense is giving up huge scoring plays is because the rest of the ACC has gotten better.
"I told our defense in preseason camp, I said, everybody likes to talk about stats, but the biggest challenge for you is going to be that the young offenses and quarterbacks and skill players that are going to be coming into play this season are going to -- we're not going to have those same stats now, and we're going to face elite guys right now, and we are. And that's really the difference in a nutshell.
We played the same coverages, same different combinations. We rotated through man free, man, zone, combo, double in this game. We rolled through every coverage we have. We got beat in man, we got beat in zone, we got beat in a double coverage in the end zone. I mean, we actually tried to play some more zone than we have in the past, but the biggest difference between now and one year ago are the quarterbacks -- Lamar Jackson is a different guy this year than he was a year ago. That's as good of an example as I can show to you," said Addazio.
I agree with Addazio that Lamar Jackson is a much better quarterback than last year and the Cardinals have went from a very good offense to maybe the best in the country. I also agree that Virginia Tech is much better offensively than last year thanks to a new quarterback and a coaching change. Hell I’ll even give him the benefit of the doubt that the Clemson offense is better in 2016 even though they are averaging 38.6 points per game this year compared to 38.5 points per game last year. For the sake of the argument I’m even going to ignore that three other opponents this year ---Georgia Tech, Syracuse and North Carolina State ---are averaging less points per game this year than last year.
The question that Addazio needs to answer though is why have all of these other teams made great strides on offense while the BC defense hasn’t? It isn’t just explosive scoring plays either where the numbers have gone up substantially from last season. This year’s defensive unit is allowing more yards per game (67.6), more points per game (10.9), more passing yards per game (44.8), and more rushing yards per game (22.8). What is the reason for the falloff? After all, just a few months ago Addazio was actually saying that the defense would be better.
First, Addazio on replacing linebacker Steven Daniels and why the linebackers will be better:
Can we be a real good defense based on who we lost? Yes. Why? I believe Connor Strachan replaces Steven Daniels. I think Connor Strachan is a phenomenal football player. Here is a guy that runs unbelievable. Steven was a thumper and he did a great job for us. Well Connor is a thumper but he can play man coverage. He is not going to get matched up in man, he's not going to be a match-up problem because he runs a 4.5
Then Addazio went on to explain the only thing that would hold the defense back is injuries:
If I had to answer you squarely and say Steve, I feel great about our defensive personnel; the only thing I would tell you is we have little depth. That's where we need a little good fortune. Last year, we had more depth because these guys I'm speaking about all played but yet we had those other guys, as well. We are not giving away talent this year but we are giving away a little bit of depth
Aside from Harold Landry not being 100% to start the year and Connor Strahan missing a game the defense has been remarkably healthy this year.
Finally, the quotes that Addazio probably really wishes he had back were when he was asked about Don Brown leaving. While Addazio complemented Brown he clearly went all in on saying that he owns the defense:
Yeah, but it is the Boston College defense. We formulated that all together here. That's not changing. How much pressure you have and how much you don't change is on your personnel. Is it 98%, is it 64%? Each year we have gotten better in the back end. We are getting to the point now that we will be able to play some zone coverage and take some heat off of the corners. I said that wrong. We will be able create a pass rush with a four man rush so that we will be able to take some pressure of the corners in man coverage, so we can play so zone, which we had talked about doing a year ago.
And later on within that same answer on Brown leaving for Michigan:
Our philosophy is not going to change. If I wanted to run less pressure last year I would have done it. I have that ability to do that. Don and I were wired at the hip together real good. It was really good alignment. With Jim Reid it's really good alignment. I think that we had an outstanding football coach in Don Brown and I love him and we had a bunch of great coaches and I loved those guys. Why wouldn't I love them? I hired them. It's a compliment to your program when you have really good coaches and people hire them away. That means you hired the right guys. And now I have gone out and hired these guys and I loved these guys and my next biggest job is to hang onto all of them. That's the struggle you get into. And when people aren't poaching your staff you get nervous. No one wants them. That's just the way it is. I hope I am answering that for you. We are going to be in the same system of defense, the same calls.
Listen, nobody expects Addazio to stand up there and say that he is a horrible coach and Don Brown was the reason that the defense was so good last year. A little insight would good a long way here though. Has the secondary not progressed from last year after getting better on the back end "each year"? Is the front four not generating pressure on its own enough? Addazio’s answer of saying that the rest of the league has gotten better and not explaining why his own defense hasn’t is not acceptable and belittles the intelligence of BC fans.