Each season, the bye week usually represents a chance to relax and reboot. It gives us all a chance to kick our feet up and watch other teams battle, usually while laughing or making light of the lack of Boston College football. It's supposed to be a time of reflection, for everyone to charge batteries spent by the grind of battle.
This year, the bye week represents something different. Even though there are two games left in the season, the year feels like it's already over. Attention is already moved to hockey and basketball, and football is falling on the back burner. After next week's game against Notre Dame, the Syracuse game will represent something of a mercy killing of the 2015 season where two fan bases look to put their season out of its misery.
I can't remember a season as trying as this one. The 2015 season has, from its inception, been a tough go. It started with unanswered questions. It developed into full-blown panic, doing so rather quickly. Eventually, panic turned to anger, anger into acceptance, acceptance into apathy. That's where things are.
The Eagles' next step is to get ready for a top five nationally ranked team with national championship aspirations. They have two weeks to get ready for them. As much as they don't want to talk about it as their bowl game, the Notre Dame has to represent that. But that's next week. For now, we take a step back and spend this week analyzing and reflecting, so we can look at what BC can salvage in the final two weeks of the regular season.
Weekly Storylines (Good Will Hunting Edition)
Every day I come by your house and I pick you up. And we go out. We have a few drinks and a few laughs, and it's great. But you know what the best part of my day is? For about 10 seconds, from when I pull up to the curb and when I get to your front door, cuz I think, maybe I'll get up there and I'll knock on the door and you won't be there. No goodbye. No see you later. No nothing. You just left. I don't know much, but I know that. -Chuckie
Each week this season, people wanted something different out of Boston College. They wanted to see BC open up their offense, run this type of play or run that type of play. They want to see the Eagles break off those long runs like it used to be, and they want to see the offense carve up someone for 350 yards. They want to see them get the ball in the end zone with regularity, and they want to see the Eagles put points on the board.
The truth for this season is that this isn't the case at all. The Eagles show up each week, and it is what it is - BC is going to do some things well, other things not so well, and the game will end. There will be residual frustration from some, angry comments from others, a call for change from some more. All of that comes from the 15 minute walk from the car to the stadium where hope for a new day actually exists.
But it's always the same. If the offense takes a couple of steps forward, they take a major step backward. John Fadule threw for 250-plus yards, the most yards against an FBS team during the Steve Addazio era, but he threw three interceptions and fumbled once. The running game ripped off a 22-yard play, but it did virtually nothing else.
There's always the hope that people will tune in and see a different BC team, and that's what keeps them coming back each week. In the end, though, it's always more of the same, the same stuff week after week, and that's what's most frustrating to watch in 2015.
You'll have bad times, but it'll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren't paying attention to. -Sean Maguire
Steve Addazio talks a lot about the future. So do I. When this season started getting away from Boston College, I immediately hung onto the fact that this was a multi-year process, that youth and injuries robbed the Eagles of this season. I expected BC to take a step back, but I readily admit I didn't understand the depth of the rebuild, how far this team had to regress in order to begin moving forward. At some point, talking about it became white noise lost in the cloud of this year.
I look at the roster moving into the future, and I really believe there are seeds planted. Elijah Robinson took his first snaps as a wide receiver for BC in the preseason, yet he was the team's second leading receiver against NC State. Thadd Smith needs to be used as a possession receiver, the type of third or fourth guy who can step in and create plays against a nickel corner or linebacker, but I see some definite talent there. Tommy Sweeney will be a pass-catching tight end. After volatility at the quarterback position, John Fadule is making a legitimate case for QB2 next season.
There are still holes, namely on the offensive line and in play calling. Unless something changes, even mild improvement won't be enough. There needs to be more consistency on both fronts. There needs to be better adjustments. These are the things that, again, we'll analyze and come full circle on.
Do I believe BC can make the necessary changes? Yes I do. I think BC can remain a run-first team, but they need to simply be better about what runs and in what situations they call for plays. I think the offensive line will get the overhaul it needs, whether it's blocking scheme or players or whatever it takes. That doesn't excuse what's happened this year.
People call those imperfections, but no, that's the good stuff. -Sean Maguire
Let's shelve the talk about the offense and shift things to the defense. After dominating the first half of the season, the defense is taking its lumps later in the year. They've given up more yards in three of the last four games than they did during the entire first six. Both Kamrin Moore and Isaac Yiadom sustained injuries, with Moore's being season-ending.
The defense is breaking down late in the year because of the lack of drives sustained by the offense. There's only so many plays they can make. They're still ranked #2 nationally, but there's been a definite regression. In the first half, BC gave up 140 yards and 7.2 points per game. Without Maine and Howard, the averages don't shift too much, but they do go up to 148 yards and 10 points per game.
In the last four game, BC's given up an average of 380 yards and over 25 points per game. Subtracting Clemson's 420 yards and 34 points as an outlier does help yardage, but it doesn't change the points allowed that much. Without Clemson, BC's allowed 212 yards per game but are still giving up over 22 points per game.
The defense is still elite overall, and it will ultimately go down in history as maybe the greatest defense Boston College ever had. But as the season's wore on, they've definitely come back to earth, most likely due to the lack of support from the offense in consistently sustaining long drives.