Before we get started, it was clear that last night Louisville was a better team than Boston College in all facets of the game. They had stars all over the field on both sides of the ball, and it showed as they were able to impose their will on a undermatched BC squad. Now this isn't to say that BC isn't faultless in this game, because clearly they made multiple errors that put BC in tough spots, but give credit when credit is due: Louisville is a good team and they smoked us. Now let's take a look at yesterday's tough loss.
All joking aside, there were a few positives that you could take away. I liked Tyler Murphy using Bobby Wolford and Jarrett Darmstatter as a safety valve, something Chase Rettig did so effectively last season. Honestly, the offense was able to put up nearly 400 yards against a defense that was averaging only 280 yards allowed all season. That's not bad. Also big ups to the defensive stand on the goal line to start the game, thought that was going to set the tone, clearly it didn't.
4th Q Red Zone Play Calling: Let's just dissect the big third quarter drive into the red zone where BC turned it over and basically sealed the loss. I have no issue with running the ball there, and believe me I get that Louisville had some big guys inside, but that 4th down play call was bizarre. You have all of these weapons and only needed to move the ball three feet, and instead of running it (either a power run by Hilliman or even Murphy), you had Murphy run a bootleg. Talking percentages and strengths of this offense, that had to be one of the lowest percentages in terms of a success rate. And the results were even worse than expected. I really hope the BC coaching staff isn't reading the comments here because that play call looked an awful lot like what the "WE NEED TO PASS MORE" crowd has been crowing about since August.
Game Atmosphere: If you followed me on Twitter last night, you would have noticed that around the middle of the third quarter I started to lose my cool with the fans at Alumni Stadium. Down by two possessions and driving the ball, the stadium just emptied. Yes I know it was cold, and yes Louisville's offense was probably going to score immediately after BC did, but this sort of just highlighted the entire night. Alumni seemed sapped of energy the entire night. I don't know what it was about this game, but it just seemed the fan base was completely subdued. Not going to blame anyone here, just BC fans didn't seem like themselves last night. Though that picture of the dudes leaving church was pretty cool.
Offensive Line: Going into this game the biggest matchup to watch had to be the Eagles' offensive line against the Cardinals' defense. And boy did BC's offensive line lose that battle. The guards (Bobby Vardaro and Aaron Kramer) and Andy Gallik, the center, in particular really struggled to contain what ended up being some of the most talented defensive linemen they have faced all year. Tyler Murphy had no time to react almost every time he threw the ball, the defense was in his face constantly and popping him. Just a tough night all around for the guys in the trenches.
Adjusting To Reggie Bonnafon: This has to go on the coaching staff, as it was clear that BC had no clue what to do about this kid when he came after Will Gardner's injury. As I'll talk about more below, BC just threw blitz after blitz at him, which just allowed him to simply tuck it and run right at the pressure. In a game that featured the nation's best rushing quarterback, it was Bonnafon who finished the game with a more productive running game.
End of First Half Nightmare: My biggest issue with the play calling at the end of the first half was the bizarre time out called by Steve Addazio. BC clearly was not moving the ball, and had a chance to just let the clock wind down and take a tenuous three point lead into halftime. But for some reason, and I would love to know why, Addazio stopped the clock. Even if the punt hadn't been blocked technically Louisville would have had a few timeouts and about forty seconds to try and manufacture some points.
Tyler Murphy: Before the game I almost tweeted out that it had been over a month since Tyler Murphy last threw an interception (against Colorado State), thank god I didn't or you all would have murdered me. What's there to say, he had a terrible game, much of it was on him, but much could also be put on the offensive line that had him running for his life on almost every play. He opened the game with an interception to Gerold Holliman, and his night ended with an interception by Gerod Holliman. He threw eleven completions last night: seven went to the Eagles, while four went to the Cardinals. That's not good.
The Defense: This scheme that Don Brown has put onto the field basically follows a feast or famine model. On one hand, if the defensive line and backers can put pressure on the QB and get sacks, the defense looks like world beaters; but on the other, if the opposing offense can seal off the pressure, the BC defense will look awful. We saw the latter last night. Where to start on why this was such a mess. First, when Reggie Bonnafon came in the Eagles were flying past him and forcing him out of the pocket which could have been the worst idea against a QB who can move. Secondly, I will have to review the tapes, but it seemed like Devante Parker was covered 1-1 by either Justin Simmons or Manuel Asprilla. That clearly was a disaster as he was probably the best wide receiver BC has faced all season and he made them pay repeatedly for their scheme. Finally, BC was BRUTAL on third down, which was highlighted on the opening drive of the second half when Louisville was able to convert 3rd and a Marathon not once but TWICE. Frustrating to say the least.
The Special Teams (Permanent Home): What would this post series be without our usual inclusion of the special teams. This was yet another game where the kicking cost BC dearly. First off, the end of the first half, when Alex Howell had his punt blocked and led to a touchdown on the next play by Parker. Howell looked like he was moving in slow motion when he received his kick, it took so long that I actually had enough time to think "Man this is taking forever, he's going to get blocked". That led to seven points for Louisville. Then add in the trip into the red zone where BC stalled out, that left points on the board, and of course the missed extra point because HOW THE HECK ARE WE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOVEMBER AND STILL DON'T HAVE A PLACE KICKER WHO CAN ACCURATELY KICK A FREAKING EXTRA POINT...but I digress.