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Boston College 21, NC State 14: The Key Play

Going with an unconventional choice

NCAA Football: Boston College at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s gotten pretty depressing breaking down where things went wrong (or more accurately, picking one of the things that went wrong) in our losses the last few weeks. So it’s nice to be able to take my pick of good things, for once!

The two obvious choices this week were the trick play for the touchdown and the game-sealing interception. But as everyone’s watched these over and over again (I assume, anyway... that’s what I’ve been doing all weekend), I wanted to bring to light one of my favorite play calls of the game from Scott Loeffler and Steve Addazio.

2:26 remaning in the 2nd quarter
BC ball, 3rd and 18 from the BC 4 yard line
Patrick Towles pass incomplete deep left (Michael Walker)

“At 3rd and 18, this is going to be a safety scenario for Scott Loeffler,” said the ESPN crew. “Would not be surprised to see a draw.” Well, neither would the rest of us, given that that’s what we saw on first and second down. And in all fairness, that probably wasn’t the worst decision they could have made.

But everyone gives Daz & Loeffler crap for constantly going conservative, so it was nice to see them go for an aggressive play call — one that was relatively low risk and high reward.

On third and long in the shadow of your own goalpost, there is exactly zero benefit to running the ball into the line. You’re more likely to fumble the football than you are to break through a 20 man box for any meaningful gain.

But the deep route has an unappreciated benefit — the potential for an automatic first down on pass interference.

NC State isn’t even caught completely off guard on the play call. They aren’t stacking the box, because they know they don’t have to. The two safeties are plenty of backup to stop any threatening run. But Michael Walker’s got single coverage, and the corner can’t defend him without a foul.

That gives BC the first down with a good amount of clock to work with on the rest of the drive. They didn’t get any points out of it, but they gave themselves a chance. With a play like this, it doesn’t even have to be successful to work out.