Here are three things we learned in BC’s loss to Georgia Tech in Ireland.
A Leopard doesn’t change its spots
There was certainly a large group of BC fans hoping that Steve Addazio would embrace a more aggressive coaching style heading into this season, but it was clear from the events in Saturday’s game that Addazio will continue to coach a 1970’s style of football at the Heights.
Addazio is taking a lot of heat from the decision to play a zone defense and bring only four on the dreaded 4th-and-19 conversion by GT late in the 4th quarter. The BC coach is also taking criticism for deciding to kick a field goal on a 4th-and-1 from the GT 18-yard line in the third quarter during a tie game after kicker Colton Lichtenberg already had a kick blocked and looked shaky kicking on the sloppy track in Ireland. Addazio doubled down on calling both coaching moved the "right thing to do" during his Monday press conference.
While both those decisions can certainly be questioned I thought the biggest mistake was the play calling on BC’s next-to-last drive of the game. To set the scene, the BC defense had just held GT to a field goal after a long 11 play, 46 yard drive that took 5:49 off the clock. The Eagles received the ball back with a four point lead and just under 6:00 left on the clock. Before that drive the BC offense had been exceptional in the 2nd half. The offense had just come off of a 9 play 63 yard drive that resulted in a touchdown, a 10 play 53 yard drive that resulted in the missed field goal talked about above, and Hilliman’s electrifying 73-yard touchdown on the first drive of the 2nd half. In other words, the BC offense had run 20 plays for 189 yards in the half to that point, and even if you take out Hilliman’s explosive run the team was averaging an impressive 6.1 yards per play in the half.
Instead of stepping on the throat of GT and ending the game on the offense’s terms, BC ran up the middle on two straight plays and fumbled a snap on third down. By the way if you go back and watch the third down play the line was firing off of the line at the snap so there’s a good chance that was a running play. Addazio further set his team back when he wasted a timeout by letting the play clock bleed down to 1 second before taking a timeout and punting it. It turned out the team could’ve used that timeout later. The Yellow Jackets got the ball back with 3:33 left on the clock---which is an eternity even for an option offense in college football---and the rest is history.
After the game Addazio explained his decision to Julian Benbow of the Globe:
"Our goal at that point was to take as much time off the clock as we could, punt the ball, and let our defense win the game. We thought that was the right strategy at this point. We wanted our defense to have the game in their hand at the end. Period. And that’s what we did."
That was literally the first time I’ve ever heard a college or pro football coach say that he wanted the defense on the field at the end of the game when his team had the lead. Does Addazio understand how absurd that is to say? Even if it’s true that Addazio wanted the D on the field he is publically embarrassing his offense with that kind of remark. I get that the BC defense is very good, but the BC offense had GT on its heels in that half. Can you imagine Addazio’s old boss Urban Meyer doing that after his offense was shredding the opposing defense in a half?
Towles is a Big Upgrade
When I took BC in my "Picks" column last week I cited one of my reasons as being the team got an upgrade at quarterback. Towles may miss on throws from time-to-time and will throw some very untimely interceptions, but he is certainly a better than average quarterback in the ACC. I’d much rather live with mistakes from a guy like him than have some ultra conservative quarterback that can’t make any big throws.
The stat that sums things up for me---Towles had five explosive passing plays in that game and BC only had 19 all of last season.
Front Seven is Elite
Not exactly a hot take, but the BC front seven was as good as we thought---and maybe even better---entering the season. Truman Gutapfel, Matt Milano and Connor Strahan all look like they are legitimate 1st or 2nd Team All-ACC players. That performance was all without star defensive end Harold Landry who is coming off of an injury and being worked back into the lineup.
The jury is still out on the BC secondary after a mediocre performance on Saturday.
You can follow Eric on Twitter at @EAHoffses