For the better part of nine months Boston College fans have watched Steve Addazio kill it on the recruiting trail, but remained skeptical about how the new head coach would do on the field. Florida and Temple fans have warned BC fans that Addazio's on field coaching was his biggest question mark. On Saturday, we all got to see the first glimpse of the style of football Boston College will be featuring for the foreseeable future. For the purpose of this article, all moves and calls by Don Brown and Ryan Day will be lumped together under the head coach since he oversees the entire operation.
Steve Addazio and his coaches certainly brought the energy this weekend. He was in the middle of every huddle, and was greeting and screaming at his players on both good and bad plays. That is a huge change and shift from Frank Spaziani who spent most of last season 20-30 yards away from the huddle. Just in terms of personality, that engaging style should be helpful for a team that could need a kick in the butt this season.
In terms of the offense, Addazio and Ryan Day explained before the season that balance was going to be the key to this season. On Saturday, Boston College ran 70 plays on offense, and 40 of them were runs (57.1%), 30 were passes (42.9%). If you want to compare that to last year's opener against Miami, Boston College ran 87 plays, 60% were passes and 40% were rushes. The Eagles and Wildcats were roughly equal in terms of time of possession, and finished the game with 19 first downs.
One of the critcism's I had about the game was that BC should have opened up the play action a little more. Villanova was stacking 9-10 players in the box on almost every play, and there should have been plays downfield, like the play when Alex Amidon scored in the 3rd quarter. Instead BC continued to run the ball, and struggled, especially once Andre Williams was out of the game. The Eagles ended the game averaging a measly 3.2 yards per attempt. Ground and pound indeed.
In terms of the passing game, BC could have and should have thrown it a few more times, but Addazio put Chase Rettig in position to be successful. When Rettig is asked to throw the ball 40+ times, and deep like he did last year, he is prone to make mistakes, and get hit, but yesterday Addazio had Rettig making manageable passes with Bobby Wolford playing the safety valve if his wide outs weren't open. Addazio understands his quarterback well, Rettig is a game manager, who can go deep if needed. In Addazio's system Rettig wasn't sacked, didn't throw an interception, and only missed seven targets, and two touchdown passes. It will be very interesting to see if this success will translate against FBS teams.
As mentioned here before, the offensive line did a solid job on both rushing and passing plays. Rettig finished the game mostly untouched, and held off 10 plus defenders on rushing plays. it is going to be up to the coaching staff to figure out plays that keeps the defense honest, so that we can see how the offensive line does against a defense that will need to respect the pass. Addazio has said all summer that he wants the offensive play call to be close to a 50/50 split, if BC can get to that I strongly believe the offense will continue to improve and be successful.
In terms of defense, I firmly believe that the defense we saw in the second half is going to be rough approximation of the defense we will see the rest of the season. The first half was a mess, but for now I want to say that much of that had to do with players being overexcited and forgetting their assignments. There were multiple plays where Steven Daniels and Steele Divitto seemed to forget what they were doing, and this opened up the field to John Robertson and the Villanova defense. BC needs to tip their hat to the Villanova fake punt, but in the end they only let up one touchdown on defense.
In the second half Boston College was much more locked in on the aggressive defense we were hoping to see. Linebackers were crowding the line of scrimmage, blitzes were coming from all directions and did a much better job disrupting the Villanova gameplan, highlighted by Josh Keyes's strip sack.
Steve Addazio's use of personnel was a mix bag as well. Don't think it needs to be said again, but it was a great call moving Bobby Wolford to fullback. However, what concerned me was that he stuck with Steven Daniels while he struggled, should he have put in Sean Duggan when it was clear that Daniels wasn't effective? Tyler Rouse and David Dudeck weren't effective in the backfield, but there wasn't much Addazio could do about that.
All in all, Steve Addazio was pretty much what we expected. The offense did what it had to do to win, but not a lot more. The defense was a mess the first half, but adjusted and cut Villanova down in the second half. Villanova is a good FCS team, but again they are only an FCS team. We got a taste of what Addazio and Company will be like, but how the continue to build and perform against Wake Forest on Friday will be a much better indicator of what we can expect this season.