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Colorado State 24, Boston College 21: Film Study

Lack of tackling + Poor defensive pass coverage = Bad loss

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The following are the basic rules of tackling:

1) Get low.
2) Stay on your toes and do not get flat footed.
3) Accelerate to the ball.
4) Watch the other players' hips to anticipate movement.
5) Wrap up the guy with the ball and do not let go.

You know where I found that? Google.

I let myself watch the highlights of Boston College against Colorado State this week, and you know what jumped off the film to me? A lack of tackling.

Go to the 1:30 mark of this film and watch the run up the middle by the CSU offense.  Watch the running back break four tackles, and watch how the tackles are made. At least twice, he should be wrapped up. On the last blown tackle, Justin Simmons leads with his head and tries to tackle the running back up in the chest area. There is no move to the hips, no move to the waist. It's a launch, one the athletically inclined Treyous Jarrells is more than happy to take advantage of. Jarrells blows through, spins off, keeps churning, and scores.

That's just the beginning.

A lot of analysis has been done in the wake of the Eagles' 24-21 loss to Colorado State last weekend. The most glaring issue resides on the defensive end. If we're looking for a smoking gun to BC's loss, consider the following:

Colorado State had only four drives in the second half but held the ball for almost 17 minutes.

That means the Rams held the ball in the second half for more than a quarter's worth of football while averaging only two drives per quarter. The shortest drive in the second half lasted 3:51, ending in a field goal. The two touchdown drives went for 82 and 90 yards, lasting 5:31 and 4:00 exactly.

Colorado State rushed for almost 100 yards on two touchdown drives*.

This means BC couldn't stop the run. Ironically, they couldn't stop the pass either, which is why I put an asterisk on there. BC stopped the run enough to get into third down situations, but the Rams went 3/3 on third downs in the third quarter with only one rushing play (that came on a 3rd and 1 situation). In the fourth quarter, CSU went 2/4 but completed a touchdown pass on fourth down to give them the lead on that last drive. Of those third down (and fourth down) plays (and play), CSU ran the ball zero times.

What's that tell us about the BC defense? It means they cost themselves the game. Consider that a shot clock for a single play is 40 seconds. On a first down, the clock stops to reset the chains and doesn't start until the referee gives the signal. If a team gets to third down, that means they've played for two full minutes if they've used the entire shot clock (plus time it takes to run the play). It can cost the defense upwards of 2:30 - 3:00 of game time being stuck on the field. Do that a couple of times per drive and all of a sudden, you're left on the field for way longer than you should be. Get off the field on third down and it's a different story.

Why did BC give up all those rushing yards? Because they couldn't stop the pass on third down.

Let's look beyond that:

BC's coverage scheme failed...again.

Against Maine, Dan Collins threw a touchdown pass when someone forgot to go with the receiver. The Black Bears scored a pass to a wide open look because Manny Asprilla didn't go with the right guy. Against USC, the pass defense got eaten alive. Against UMass, BC gave up a deep ball because Bryce Jones shifted off Tajae Sharpe, and Sean Sylvia didn't go with him and then fell down. Tyler Boyd pretty much dominated everyone in the BC secondary.

Watch the touchdown pass at about the 1:45 mark.  Tell me is anyone is within five yards of the wide the end zone. That receiver is in the end zone, and I can't see a maroon jersey anywhere in the same frame shot. That means the coverage let him go. The announcer says it best - it's not Don Brown defense.

But I ask this question - if you're only rushing three guys, how does someone get that open? It doesn't have to do with fatigue. Couple it with the lack of tackling, and we've got ourselves a surefire bad defensive execution, among other problems.

Thank God this one's over. Let's put it to bed and move on. NC State next week, and it can't come a moment sooner.