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BC 28, CMU 8: The Key Play

What put the Eagles on the right track on Saturday?

Central Michigan v Boston College Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

I thought BC’s win over Central Michigan was pretty unremarkable. Despite the eyebrow-raising start on offense that saw us go down 2-0, the Chippewas were clearly a worse team (no disrespect) and while people are rightly scratching their heads at Anthony Brown putting up only 85 yards against a team that essentially doesn’t bother defending the pass, the Eagles seemed to be content to bully line of scrimmage and put up 224 yards on the ground in a dreary day.

Still, the opening few series were a little concerning. BC went three four & out to open the game, which probably made Daz pop a blood vessel, and the resulting field position and successful punt after the Eagles held off CMU put the Eagles on their own one.

BC’s next play was a horribly embarrassing safety which was the result of losing yardage on a vanilla run rather than a sack or holding in the end zone, and on top of the points, CMU got the ball back.

But another good stop from the BC defense set up the Chips to punt again, and this time Michael Walker helped the Eagles find their mojo.

10:54 remaining in the 1st period
4th & 17 from the CMU 34

Jack Sheldon punt for 33 yds, Michael Walker return for 61 yds to the CMU 6

Michael Walker has been pretty excellent on special teams all year, so it was great to see him break a couple. And while Central Michigan’s coverage was really not great, I felt that the returns were more a result of him making plays happen than CMU giving it to him.

There’s really one main thing to notice on this play: both of Walker’s big returns came partially as a result of his confidence of catching the ball coming toward it at full speed. That is some impressive stuff. Every time he does it I feel like I’m having a mini heart attack expecting the ball to bounce right off his chest and into the feet of the kicking team... but he’s been so sure-handed on every one. And it’s clearly been effective.

There is no middle ground with this return. If Walker is stationary while catching the ball he’s tackled at the 35. Instead he screams through the hole in the middle of the field at full gallop.

Now playing with the lead, BC stuck to the game plan and took care of business against a bad team. Walker’s return was a great spark, and the game never really feel in doubt the rest of the way.

Side note: How many times in the past have we seen BC just take a fair catch on these? Now, you can’t make this play without a playmaker to do it, but the aggressiveness is great and it’s the sort of thing that would pay dividends against a better team. Walker hasn’t scored on a return yet this year, but he’s definitely got at least one in him. In a close game against one of the tough teams left on the schedule, it could be a play that helps us pull an upset.