There’s not a lot you can really learn from a game against a low-level FCS team like Wagner, but one of the things I was really hoping to see was BC come out hot with a strong start.
In three previous games this season, BC had a grand total of zero first quarter points. They were able to get away with it against UMass, but obviously we saw how early holes led to problems in ACC play. Their opening stanza problems stem back to last season as well, when BC put up first frame goose-eggs against Notre Dame, NC State, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Wake Forest, Duke, Northern Illinois, Florida State and Maine (yes, Maine) - 9 out of their 12 games.
Unfortunately, the Eagles didn’t start fast this week either. BC went 3-and-out on their opening drive against Wagner, and lost six yards to boot. Then they allowed Wagner’s long rushing touchdown on a broken play to fall behind 7-0. It was the 8th time in the last 9 games that Boston College allowed the opponent to score first.
BC did recover to take a 14-10 lead after one, but not before yet another slow start.
Needless to say, a big part of BC’s first quarter struggles have had to do with the fact that the offense in general has been pretty inept. But slow starts are especially problematic when you’re relying on ball control and time of possession to win games; you can’t really play that style when coming from behind.
Against Maine last year, and against UMass and Wagner this year, it seems like BC dealt with a combination of coming out flat and simply not having a plan in place to exploit their opponents’ weaknesses early on in the game. That goes back to gameplanning - and is something BC will need to address against better teams.
Good teams with good game plans generally go in to games with an idea in mind about how they want to run their first few drives. But the idea usually doesn’t go something like this:
WAGNER: 3 plays, -6 yards (punt)
VT: 4 plays, 27 yards (fumble)
UMASS: 3 plays, 3 yards (punt)
It’s reasonable that going in to a game against Clemson or Florida State, Addazio and company will probably be looking to go conservative early, hope to move the chains on the ground, and keep the game competitive against a team with more talent than BC all over the field.
But this weekend, BC is playing Buffalo, a team they should beat. Whether it be on the ground, through the air, or whatever combination of the two schemed up, BC should have designs on drives that can score early and prevent having to come from behind yet again.