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It’s more than a football team searching for answers

Wake Forest v Boston College
The lone highlight, Brown to Hilliman for six
Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

A stream of consciousness after Wake Forest takes advantage of four Eagle turnovers en route to a 34-10 win over BC yesterday afternoon at Alumni, dropping the Maroon and Gold to 1-1 on the season.

BC is now the 88th ranked team in the weekly Sagarin poll, with only Oregon St (89), Rutgers (105) and Kansas (111) behind them in terms of Power Five schools.

  • Since I arrived on campus yesterday, I have been trying to figure out the vibe. We all are responsible for and have control over our own feelings and emotions, so perhaps this just hit me differently than others, but after thinking about it all day and all this morning while edging the yard, I believe the word is “apathy”.

Now as I said, maybe it’s just me, but the mood on campus, the emptiness of the parking garage, the very, very late arriving crowd, the massive number of empty seats all around the stadium, including the upper decks, the student section and the season ticket areas and the way people reacted (or didn’t react) to on the field events, was just apathetic.

Even in the second quarter, people were mostly chit chatting away with each other, leaning back into a vast wasteland of space to spread out and take a snooze.

For many of you, unfortunately, this is what BC football is. Outside of the USC game in 2014 and I suppose the NC State game of 2013 which clinched a bowl bid and a very uncomfortable field storming, yesterday was more norm than not.

At this moment, the culture of what exists at Boston College, particularly (but not exclusively) as it relates to football is damaged and pretty significantly at that.

I would venture to say that the majority of us who either frequent this site or write for this site are extremely passionate about BC athletics. You may be more into one sport than others, but still, you want it to matter and you want a level of success.

At this moment, we are two games into the 2017 football season and it feels like it over, or worse yet, never started.

Should it be like this after 4+ years under Steve Addazio and how as of this moment can Martin Jarmond start addressing building a culture that starts to make Boston College athletics relevant in this market again? Is it possible that the issue lies further up the food chain than Jarmond?

  • I did get an ever so brief chance to meet Jarmond and shake his hand. I wish him nothing but the best and want this to work at the level he is accustomed to coming out of Ohio State and Michigan State, but really wonder if he slept at all last night and if he did, what he went to bed thinking about.
  • No way that there were 38,082 (the posted attendance) in the building yesterday. The vast amount of seats in both upper end zone sections and close to 50% of the upper deck in the sideline opposite the press box, were empty. Maybe it’s reflective of tickets sold, not sure, but that number was way off.
  • Notre Dame tickets are available for next Saturday. During one of the TV timeouts, they previewed next week’s game and mentioned some tickets would be available. That right there is an incredible development to process.

BC has played Notre Dame 9 times at home over the years, including the 1975 Schaefer Stadium game which set the all time attendance record for a game played in the original Foxboro venue and has banged out Alumni the other 8 times at 44,500. The first visit of the Irish to campus in 1994, was (along with the success of the program under Tom Coughlin) the impetus to expand the stadium from 32,000 to its current capacity.

Tickets were going for $500 or more for that 1994 game between #8 Notre Dame and the 1-2 Eagles, yet in talking directly with multiple ticket vendors in the Boston area and with the announcement yesterday, there are tickets available through the box office and the agencies have no interest in taking them at any price.

  • The administration had 9 months to prepare for game one, but still there were things within the stadium that were not fully functional.

The loudspeaker system was LOUD. Really loud. Too loud to talk to the person next to you, too loud to enjoy or even take in what was coming out of it.

The out of town scoreboard start times were all off by an hour, with games showing Atlantic Time zone. Who knows, maybe St Francis Xavier in Nova Scotia is fielding a team this year.

In game presentation is still something that would make most schools in the college football world cringe at. All the cheap stunts around hot dog and tshirt tosses and on field contests, maybe I am just getting too old, but tell me where else in the ACC or in other conferences with successful programs that you need to go down that path.

That said, the logos in the end zone were re-done with “Boston College” in both and looked good.

  • Beer sales looked like they did well. Lines were long, probably too long, although there were many stations set up. Prices were high ($8.50, I believe) for your selection of Bud and Bud Light. One would have thought at least one craft beer would have worked its way into the mix.
  • The band (I realize I pissed them off a year ago), but although they sounded good, looked to be the smallest I have seen in decades. The number is generally listed at 180, but counting rows and people in each row, was more like 125 or so. During the pregame, there weren’t enough people to spell out Eagles...they missed the middle line in the second E.
  • Not sure if this was planned or not, but all the students sat in the end zone to the left of the band first and packed that area. The seats from Section E (40 yard line or so) toward the end zone, were the last with people there.
  • Oh, to the game itself:

On good notes: BC committed no penalties and in general special teams (punts, returns and kickoffs) were very solid. Michael Walker doesn’t mess around and although he hasn’t popped a big return yet, will if he keeps this up.

Max Schulze-Geisthovel has put 5 of his 9 kickoffs through the end zone for touchbacks and both punting with Mike Knoll and place kicker Colton Lichtenberg have been very good.

Enough will be made about the bad during the next few days, but suffice it to say when running the ball and protecting Anthony Brown looked to be a key to the success of the season, that just hasn’t happened.

The Eagles ran for 142 yards yesterday, with 39 of those coming in two carries on the final garbage time drive of the day. The leading rusher after two weeks is Thadd Smith with 101 yards on jet sweeps while Jon Hilliman and AJ Dillon have combined for just a 2.7 ypc average, which one would have to think actually will regress with Notre Dame and Clemson up next on the schedule.

While Anthony Brown was pulled after the third INT, it was hard to put all of this on him. While he was not sacked, Brown faced constant pressure in his face and didn’t get a lot of help from his receivers either. Tom Brady struggled the other night with guys in his grill and so tough to not have some level of empathy for a red shirt freshman.

Brown has outstanding physical tools and there is no comparison between him and Darius Wade regarding arm strength. Patience is needed and the coaching staff of course, needs to work with the offensive line and with Brown and his receivers to improve.

Unfortunately, with the struggles of the offense, the defense is going to have to turn it up to another level and provide not just field position but points. The Wake pick six and essentially second pick six, were ultimately the difference in the game and the BC defense needs to follow suit. Through two games the Eagles are -4 in TO margin, gaining just the one last week at Northern Illinois. That puts BC at #123 in the country.

Lastly, in both games this year, the opposing team’s QB has been the leading rusher. Against NIU, it was really one big run, yesterday though, it was by design. John Wolford ran the ball 20 times, mostly looking like Tiny Tim, tiptoeing his way through the tulips, for 96 yards. The Eagles have had a very difficult time accounting for the QB to date and Saturday brings ND’s Brandon Wimbush, who is also a run by design QB, to deal with.