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Boston College 36, Maryland 30: Thoughts and Observations

BC Won a Bowl Game!!!

Quick Lane Bowl - Boston College v Maryland Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Where was this all season?

That first half was like something out of a dream that a young, hopeful BC fan had when Boston College brought in the offensive-minded Steve Addazio four long years ago. The defense was doing what it had done many games the season: dominating the line of scrimmage and forcing key turnovers to set the offense up for points. The offense, however, did what we hadn’t seen at all this year: dominate an opposing defense. Scot Loeffler’s crew, which had struggled mightily during the regular season, moved the ball with ease during the first half on the ground and, more surprisingly, in the air. Patrick Towles was throwing downfield darts to Michael Walker, cross-body touchdowns to Tommy Sweeney, and, to culminate a fantastic first half of offensive play, even caught a touchdown pass on a trick play. That first half was exactly what BC fans were waiting for all season long and begs the question: why didn’t they just start doing this earlier? In the second half they resorted right back to that run, run, pass offense and almost allowed Maryland to win the game, which would have been a real shame considering how well that offense played in the first half. Why’d they have to wait for just one half of the bowl game for this?

Boston College gives up 358 total yards and 4 touchdowns…and they win??

In watching the game, you could see that BC’s front seven was absolutely dominating the line of scrimmage. They combined for 8 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and were forcing key turnovers to get BC in scoring position. The problem that BC ran into, though, was the big play element of Maryland’s offense, giving up long touchdown runs to Ty Johnson as well as two long touchdown throws by quarterback Perry Hills. So when you add it all up, the defense gave up 358 yards and 30 points to Maryland…and they won?? Nobody would have expected BC to win if they knew that was going to be Maryland’s offensive stat line, yet Boston College used a high-powered offensive attack in the first half to hold onto the 36-30 win. If only BC’s offense had been able to do that all year to pair with a good defense, then maybe they could have beaten the likes of Georgia Tech and Syracuse (and at least competed against the top-end ACC teams).

Towles does just enough to go out on a high note

Patrick Towles stats from the game weren’t great and were actually very similar to what they’ve been all year. He finished with 151 yards on 10/22 passing with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. He also added 14 yards on 12 carries and, of course, the 20 yard touchdown catch from Jeff Smith. The stats don’t really tell you how well he played, however, as they are skewed by the offense completely turtling in the second half. But in the first half Patrick Towles flashed the throwing ability that many hopeful Eagles fans were expecting out of him this season. Even his bad throws in that first half weren’t all that bad, and his good ones were exemplified by that dime to Michael Walker down the right sideline. For someone who hasn’t gotten into any problems off the field and never got too down on himself or the team, it was kind of nice to see him go out on a high note with 3 total touchdowns and a bowl victory.

Seniors go out with a bang

The vaunted senior class that has been doing great things for the past four years at Boston College had themselves a great final game. John Johnson led the team in tackles with 12, Matt Milano had 1.5 sacks, Kevin Kavalec had a sack and forced fumble, Truman Gutapfel had 1.5 tackles for loss, and Isaac Yiadom played pretty well at corner, coming up with a huge fourth down stop late in the game on a Maryland run. On offense, Myles Willis had a couple big runs to help set up BC for scores to close out an up-and-down career at Boston College for the talented running back. All these guys have been through a lot at BC, losing both previous bowl games (one in excruciating fashion) and going winless in the ACC last year. It didn’t come easy, but they were able to power Boston College to the win over Maryland and get the first bowl win of their 4-year college careers.

Harold Landry is going to be next best NFL player out of BC

It took a while, but by the end of the season Harold Landry was getting national attention for his elite play at the defensive end position, even though he really had been dominating opposing offenses all year long (even against Clemson, Louisville, and Florida State). The announcers in the bowl game couldn’t stop talking about him, which is probably because he’s one of the few nationally known names on the team but also because he has serious NFL talent. In this one, he was constantly double teamed. And when he wasn’t, Landry was getting to the quarterback quickly, setting up his fellow defensive lineman for sacks and QB hurries. He also flashed his pure athleticism and football IQ on one play, reading Perry Hills’ eyes on a screen pass and making a fantastic one-handed interception on Maryland’s side of the field. Some mock drafts have him going as high as late first-round in the coming NFL draft. He has a choice to stay at BC, but he will most likely declare for the draft after a dominant junior year and has the opportunity to become the next best NFL player out of BC. It’s not like he’s going to be a surefire startee once he enters the league, but if he bulks up a bit and works on his strength, he does have the talent and football acumen to be a starter somewhere in the league.

Ton of talent has been developed on that defensive line, culminating in a collective MVP performance

Paul Pasquolani deserves an award for what he’s done with the defensive line. There was obviously talent there before the year, as a lot of the starters are upperclassmen, but his coaching led to career years out of Harold Landry, Zach Allen, Kevin Kavalec, and Truman Gutapfel. That pure dominance by the defensive line was on display in the Quick Lane Bowl, constantly getting to the quarterback and either sacking Hills, forcing fumbles/turnovers, or forcing mis-throws by getting him out of the pocket. Their prowess was on full-display on that brilliant (aided by Maryland’s bad play) 10-play goal line stand late in the fourth quarter. For their efforts on Monday, the entire defensive line was given the MVP award for the game, which is fitting after the year they’ve had. The elite linebacking unit can’t be forgotten either, as Matt Milano, Ty Schwab, and Connor Strachan all played lights-out this year as well. A lot of seniors (and in some cases juniors) will be leaving the program after this bowl game, but as long as Pasquolani is there BC can have confidence that they can continue to dominate the line of scrimmage for years to come.

Loeffler-Addazio dynamic confusing

Ok, so at times this year BC’s offense has looked like it has someone with one arm tied behind his back quarterbacking the team, as Loeffler and Addazio have played a ultra-conservative style that just didn’t work for this team. But then you have plays like the Davon Jones to Tommy Sweeney pass that beat NC State or the Jeff Smith to Patrick Towles trick play that scored a touchdown in the bowl game. It’s very confusing to see that Loeffler has these kinds of plays in his arsenal and isn’t afraid to go for it all at times, yet most of the year we had to endure a slow-moving and ineffective brand of offense. Did Loeffler want to air it out all year and Daz wouldn’t let him? Or was Loeffler right there with Addazio in thinking that the run-game was the key to victories? As both should be back next year, they’ll need to collectively figure out a much more effective gameplan if they want to move the program forward and get some more ACC wins. And on that note…

Addazio must learn from this win

In the first half, Boston College looked like a football team that could have at least kept it close with the likes of Florida State and Louisville (I wouldn’t go as far as Clemson yet…). Yes, they were playing a Maryland defense that gave up points at will to B1G opponents this year, but that BC offense could have put up points on a lot power-5 teams playing the way they were in the first half. It’s great to see that and to get the bowl win, but it’s also frustrating that Addazio hasn’t been trying to do this all year. That’s why Addazio must learn from this win and use those lessons to prepare for next season. They will need a quarterback to do that, however…

Quarterback situation for next season very much up in the air

Is it going to be Darius Wade, who lost the job to injury last year and to Patrick Towles this year? He’ll be a junior next year and could be in line for the starting job. Or will it be Anthony Brown, the dual-threat QB out of New Jersey who sat out his freshman year? What about one of the two freshman recruits coming in? EJ Perry, the hometown kid out of Andover, MA is a pro-style QB who could be the polished passer that BC needs. CJ Lewis is a dual-threat QB, ranked 9th in Connecticut at the QB position coming out this year, and is a 6-4, 205 pound run-and-gun guy who could bring back the Tyler Murphy offense of two years ago. Figuring out the QB situation will be task number 1 for Steve Addazio this offseason, and the decision he makes will be monumental in determining how next season goes, because, as we’ve so painfully seen the past two years, you need a really good QB to compete in the ACC.

The win generates some much-needed hype and attention around BC football

Despite the immense struggles that this team and this coaching staff have had these last couple years, it’s definitely a welcome sight to see them win an entertaining bowl game over a former ACC foe. This win on ESPN (even if it was on a Monday at 2:30 in the afternoon) gave BC some much-need positive national attention and despite what we saw against Clemson, Louisville, Florida State, and Virginia Tech, does look good for possible recruits. The 3 game winning streak to end the season has already inspired 4-star running back AJ Dillon to flip his commitment from Michigan to BC. The best we can say for now is that this bowl win could be the start of something good for Boston College Football. Or at least we can hope for now…