Once upon a time, Darius Wade looked poised to be a long-term starter at Boston College - someone who the offense could have been built around over the course of several seasons.
Those plans seemed to buckle in September of 2015 when Wade went down with a season-ending injury in the ACC opener against Florida State. We all know what happened after that: a carousel of QBs the remainder of the season, and a historically poor offense.
We don’t know for sure at this point whether Wade being passed over for fifth year transfer Patrick Towles was due to a lack of faith that Wade could be an effective starter, or due to Steve Addazio’s seemingly reactionary decision to shift to a “pro style” offense in 2016 (though that transition hasn’t worked particularly well).
What we do know is that things haven’t really been working out on offense this season. And while it would be unfair to point the finger solely at the quarterback - who has been victimized by a higher percentage of drops than any other QB, and also suffers from inconsistent o-line play - it’s pretty clear that the fifth year transfer is not really the solution to BC’s offensive woes.
It’s unfortunate that Towles is battling injuries at this point, and we certainly hope he’s able to overcome them. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t personally rooting for Darius Wade to get his shot to start - and rooting for him to succeed.
First off, I think he deserves his opportunity. He was considered good enough to get the nod last fall, but after injury and the offensive failures without him, a change was made, and he was buried behind yet another fifth year transfer.
This is his third year in the program now, but he’s still only seen limited minutes. Through it all, nobody’s ever heard a single complaint from Wade. It would be easy and reasonable for him to be frustrated by seeing two fifth year QBs come in during his three years in the program, but he has kept his head down and done his job when called upon.
Secondly, a change in QB and perhaps a change in the way plays are called could provide a little spark to an offense that desperately needs it. The offense did take a slight tick up last year when John Fadule took the reigns at QB. It still wasn’t good, but the spark he provided made them a little more competitive for a period of time.
Patrick Towles and Darius Wade seem pretty similar in terms of top-end speed, but Towles has not really been utilized as a runner except when plays break down - and the decision on when to run vs. when to pass has been one of his struggles this season.
Addazio describes Wade as someone who is better at running with a “quicker change of direction,” someone who might be a little more elusive and perhaps be more inclined to be used on option plays, designed runs or misdirection. If BC can get those plays in to their repertoire, then mix in successful play action passing, then they could have something.
There was plenty of shouting over BC’s offense the first two years of Addazio when Ryan Day was here, but I and most of the others here at BCI defended it for one simple reason: compared to what preceded it and what came after it, it was effective. Across all sports, teams that may generally have less talent than the big names are able to have a measure of success by finding something unorthodox that works for them and sticking with it, getting really good at it.
The hope for me going in to 2015 was that Wade could build off of the offensive style based around misdirection, option plays, and a variety of different kinds of run plays that could keep the defense back on their heels - and hopefully mix in the play action pass in a way Tyler Murphy never could, because Wade seems to have a much better arm, and BC’s receiver corps was being overhauled.
Obviously, dropping Wade in midseason makes it unlikely that you’re going to see a dramatic change for the better, given the lack of reps. But if it means tweaking the playbook and trying something a little more coherent, it could be a great turning point for the offense.
Above all else, though, I’m rooting for Wade to succeed, because he’s worked hard and plugged away at it - and he deserves his chance to sink or swim.