We all saw it on Saturday. It was the second quarter and the Boston College Eagles were set to tie the game against Temple, when freshman place kicker John Tessitore lined up for an XP and shanked it. A collective groan was released from BC fans everywhere as we saw another example of something that has become almost expected from Boston College kickers, missed XPs. Now it would be easy to blame Tessitore for the miss, but he is not the first and probably not the last to struggle with this, just go back the past five years and you will find numerous players who have struggled: Mike Knoll, Colton Lichtenberg, Alex Howell all have misses.
Now I have been quick to jump to the defense that this could be chalked up to “college kickers”, but how does BC stack up to the rest of the nation? This year, BC is ranked 128th in XP success percentage (only beating South Alabama and Georgia State), 111th last year, 121st in 2016, 1st in 2015 (didn’t miss an XP), and 128th in 2014. Of course there was 2013 when Nate Freese was perfect on field goals and only missed one extra point the entire season, which may be an outlier as he was a Frank Spaziani guy and not a Steve Addazio one.
This begs the question, is this a question of talent, injuries or is this a question of coaching? If you go back and look at Mike Knoll, he was a pretty highly sought after recruit, with offers from Purdue and Maryland. Colton Lichtenberg was ranked the nation’s tenth best kicker in his recruiting class by Kohl’s Kicking Camp. Tessitore, a true freshman, was not as sought after as the other two kickers, and to be fair was thrust into the starting role as a true freshman after Lichtenberg was lost due to an injury. Clearly the two main starters over this time had the offers and pedigree to perform at a higher level than they did.
There has to be something systemically wrong with the special teams for this to be Year 5 and the same problems seem to happen week in and week out. Watch any extra point and you hold your breath, as they hang dangerously close to the uprights. It could be a snapper issue, it could be a place holder issue. It’s hard to tell, but what is clear is that something needs to be done to fix this. Danny Longman, or a returning Colton Lichtenberg may be the answer (reminder Lichtenberg only missed last year on the sloppy Fenway turf), but if they struggle again, should Boston College go for 2 points on every point after try?
Running BC’s offense on the two yard line would I believe have a higher success rate than XPs. Currently BC’s XP is hitting at an 83% success rate, meaning BC’s offense would only have to be successful on half of their attempts to duplicate that rate, anything on top of that is house money. Given that Boston College has AJ Dillon, Tommy Sweeney and what should be a physical offensive line isn’t it worth a shot? And of course you run this situationally, if you are down by 7 late in the 4th, and score a touchdown you have to roll the dice with the kicker. But early in the game? Why not go for 2? If you are successful you are not putting additional pressure on the opposition, who now not only need a touchdown but a 2 point conversion to tie the game.
We saw Boston College successfully convert a needed 2 point conversion against Temple on a beautiful pass to Tommy Sweeney. Is that the answer moving forward, or will it be Danny Longman or Colton Lichtenberg? Whatever the case, point after attempts have been an adventure under Steve Addazio, and in order for the Eagles to continue to build and rise in the ACC they need to fix this part of their game and soon.