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What Are We?

With yet another ACC loss, BC football feels broken

Buffalo v Boston College Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

At some point early in BC’s once-again frustrating game against Virginia Tech, I noted in the BC Interruption writer gchat that I felt like the game was competitive. And I wasn't the only one. BC was only down 10-3 at the time, and even though we were (again) struggling to move the ball, it was one score from a tie game.

But then the Eagles went three & out, as they are wont to do, and the Hokies marched down the field for another touchdown. That made it 17-3, pretty much putting a lid on the game, and I realized that this feeling of competitiveness we’ve felt in every game so far this year has just been an illusion.

We’re within one score in every game we play. We’re fortunate that the football gods allow us to start the game tied against Clemson, or Virginia Tech, or in the shitshow that looms this weekend Louisville. We’ve built this good defense — very good, even, at times — which serves one purpose and one purpose only: To extend the number of game minutes that BC stays within one score so that we feel like we’re competitive with good teams.

It feels like we’re being played for fools.

How is it possible that BC’s offense can be so broken for so long? You look at an atrocious team like UConn, and they manage to put up 31 points while getting their faces slammed into the concrete in a 70-31 loss this week. My initial reaction to that wasn’t glee at the Huskies getting embarrassed again (though make no mistake, that was my second reaction), but rather it was to wonder how in the world a team can even find enough minutes to put up 70 points in the first place — and this from a fan of a team that claims to want an up-tempo identity.

There’s a difference between being competitive and having an illusion of competitiveness. Being within seven points of teams that are better than us for a while isn’t competitive. When you don’t have the ability to erase that seven point deficit, you’re not competitive. When the central feeling every week against a good team is realizing not just that being down by a second score is death sentence but also knowing that sure as the sun will rise, that second score is coming — you are not competitive. You are being fooled.

The thing is, I think Steve Addazio is also fooling himself. I don’t believe for a minute that he is not trying to win football games. I’m as angry about the direction of the program as anyone, but from a rational standpoint he is clearly passionate about the program, he clearly loves his players, and by all accounts his players love him back. That’s great and it’s a step up from where we were before Addazio got here, but it’s just not working.

It’s not so much that it seems like Addazio is playing “scared” by playing to keep games close, punting from inside the 40 instead of trying to take advantage of high-leverage game situations — it almost seems like he thinks we can win these games on talent alone. Well, to borrow a line from Coach Brooks: Gentlemen, we don’t have enough talent to win on talent alone.

Keeping a game close into the fourth quarter only works if we have the ability to take advantage of that close game. All we’re doing is putting the defense back on the field again so they get tired quicker and the game falls apart before we can even put ourselves in position to win. It’s counterproductive.

I think it’s time for us to move on from Steve Addazio. We’ve maintained this bare minimum level of competency that allows us to control games against less talented teams: We beat UConn 30-0 last year. We had the most ho-hum twenty point win in existence against Central Michigan. We’ve never lost to an FCS program, which is something a rapidly shrinking number of programs can say. But BC must have the smallest floor-to-ceiling gap in the country. And so after Frank Spaziani dragged the program to the point that we didn’t have that minimum level of competence, I suppose we should feel lucky that we’re even winning games against teams from lesser conferences.

But while that level of success might have been passable back in the MAC, it’s just not good enough where we are. You can win all the games you play against the MAC or the AAC or the FCS, but BC has not placed itself in the MAC or the AAC or the FCS — the level that Boston College has decided to play in is the ACC, and if you aren’t able to win a single game in the ACC, you are very clearly not playing at the level required to be there. And I get that we’re in the middle of a tough stretch of games. But that’s just it — you can’t write off half the season just because it’s the middle of our conference schedule. These are the teams we play every year!

We have no offensive identity. I’m too lazy to go back and look at how many offensive coordinators we’ve had in the last 10 years, but every year we’re taking a stab at what might work and it just doesn’t. Even worse, our offensive line, the one thing that did define our success for decades — decades — is in shambles. And injuries are no excuse. They just aren’t. Injuries can explain why a team might be below average, but when two out of three years features zero wins at the level you’re supposed to be playing at, that isn’t a problem that is solved by a lack of injuries.

There are ways we can win, if we had a coaching staff that showed a greater aptitude and creativity for using the talent that’s there. Chris Crane, of all people, used the read option to take us to an ACC championship game. Tyler Murphy went from being misused at Florida to a star at Boston College — also using the read option. Now we recruit an actual dual-threat quarterback that can throw and so with this one we refuse to let him use his feet. Seriously? We’re throwing down the field with an offensive line that’s not capable of holding the pass rush long enough to do it. Why? Why are we doing things that are so counterintuitive to what the talent on the field dictates we should be doing?

Throwing a little of this and a little of that at the wall and seeing what sticks isn’t any way to find a path to a winning season when you only have 12 games to figure things out.

We’re six games in (!) and Addazio is out there saying that things are going to come together. "You can write that one down, okay? I don't have the time clock on it right here, but it'll come together, and it'll be beautiful, all right. And the investment is worth it." What is it, exactly, that we’re waiting for to come together? Coach, it doesn’t just happen on its own.

Maybe that’s a little unfair. But we have a genuinely talented young quarterback and a good defense and yet we still have a complete inability to win a game against our peers. While I’m thankful that Steve Addazio has recruited enough talent to control games against lesser teams, it just feels like every plan is the wrong one against teams of ACC caliber.

Five years has been plenty of time — plenty of time to see what kind of roster Addazio can build, and plenty of time to see how Addazio plays when the talent he recruited can’t outclass an opponent. But five years is also plenty of time to show a new football coach that BC will give you every opportunity to make it work. Of the 130 teams in FBS, only 36 have a coach that has been at their school longer than Addazio has. It’s time for someone else to give it a shot.