Make no mistake about it, Boston College was the better team yesterday in Ireland. Statistically the Eagles controlled it, they appeared to have more talent essentially across the board and although they certainly didn't dominate the game, were in a position and should have closed it out.
That's when Paul Johnson's personality, faith in his team and outright balls, took over against Steve Addazio who was simply looking to have the clock run out and suddenly BC is getting on a plane for the 2986 mile trip home from Dublin, 0-1 on the season, after dropping their ninth straight game overall and ninth straight conference game, 17-14 to Georgia Tech.
As most of you know, I have a background in coaching and for that reason am always leery of putting too much of the burden on the coaching staff when it comes to assessing blame. The Jimmies and the Joes are the ones who block and tackle (too bad they couldn't kick) and there is a reason that the teams that recruit the best generally have the best teams, but for this one, the truth of the matter is that this game was won and lost on the sideline, where Paul Johnson and his staff owned Steve Addazio and his.
We know that neither Johnson or Addazio are what one would call creative, dynamic or innovative coaches. The triple option offense of Georgia Tech is methodical, more diverse than one would imagine, based on execution and occasional trickeration, while BC is old school pound the rock, never to be confused with the high tempo, no huddle, fling it all around the yard offenses so en vogue in today's college football.
But the offensive system you play is not directly correlated to your courage and although what Addazio preaches goes in one direction, what you see in practice is something else. On the other hand, Johnson is more than a tad surly and coaches with an aggressiveness, a confidence, a chip on his shoulder that speaks to the lifetime criticism of his offense and today, that difference cost the Eagles the game.
Don't be confused that Tech played the way they did because they trailed, this is the norm for the Jackets, it is Johnson's personality.
We are not privy to the game plan or the in game interaction between members of the staff. So we have no idea what Addazio communicated to Scot Loeffler on the offensive series which began with 5:57 left in the game and the Eagles leading 14-10. All we know is the result..three plays, two yards, all runs (albeit the Towles carry on third down came off a fumbled snap) and a punt.
In the same manner, we have no idea what Addazio communicated to Jim Reid prior to 4th and 19 which would have been game/set/match had the Eagles defended it. All we know is the result. A Justin Thomas to Qua Searcy pass for 22 yards which set up the game winning score with just 35 seconds left.
What we all know though, is that in neither case, were these signs of an aggressive posture, of showing confidence in your team to execute when it mattered, to quite honestly, understand your team's strengths and play to those.
Watching the Houston-Oklahoma game after the BC game, ESPN sideline reporter Tom Luginbill made the comment, "more games are lost than are won". No truer statement could have been made and was there a stronger case to be made of who was more the aggressor, who believed more in their team than Tom Herman and the Cougars in that contest, unless of course you watched BC-GT this morning.
While references can be made to Don Brown and his decision not to blitz in the home loss a few years back to Colorado State, whoever made the decision not to do so today, has to be called out on the carpet.
As well as the defense played in general today, what was abundantly evident is that the defensive line is a far better run stopping unit than a pass rushing unit. Harold Landry was a no show today and although they were much more concerned with the run than the pass today, the front four was unable to get pressure on Thomas when needed without sending blitzers. The Eagle secondary, which played so well a year ago, was a weak spot today, particularly John Johnson in pass coverage and speeding up Thomas' internal clock and throwing off the timing of that 4th down pass was absolutely the right call..if they had made it. Instead, they played not to lose.
The decisions offensively, particularly on that second to last drive as well as the one to kick the field goal when the O-Line had started to exert itself, are just symptomatic of the same lack of "being a dude" that the defense showed.
What we should be talking about right now is a narrow Eagles win. About breaking the losing streak, about the play of Matt Milano, Truman Gutapfel and Connor Strachan, about what Patrick Towles may be capable of, about the modest improvement of the offensive line, about the struggles of the kicking game and the return of Jon Hilliman. Yes, there would have been things to pick apart, this team is far, far from a polished product, but it would have been about growth potential. Instead, our concerns should be far graver, because what ails this team now is more from the neck up, than the neck down.
Watching the defense on the sideline after giving up the final touchdown, they looked like a beaten unit. So often in 2015, knowing they were getting no support from the offense, they continually battled and did what they could for the cause. But it is only human nature that you can go to the well like that so many times.
It is only game one, but today this team is now faced with a crisis of confidence, one that their own Head Coach should start by looking in the mirror to evaluate himself.