What a difference a week makes.
Last week at this time, we were talking about if Boston College could upset the Florida State Seminoles. I talked about the fact that there was no fear for the opponent, even though there was no false bravado. I talked about how we didn't really know what BC was as a team, but we knew that "the first seeds would be sown." Then came the game and the general tone surrounding the fan pulse changed considerably, almost immediately.
We've well discussed those topics and will discuss them as the week goes on. What makes this week tougher to gauge, though, is the team coming in on Saturday. Although a MAC squad, Northern Illinois is a sneaky good football program. Their history speaks for itself, but when they land in Boston this week, the Huskies will be coming off a game they could have won against the top-ranked team in the nation.
They've put together 10-win seasons for each of the past five years. Last year, the defeated Northwestern. The year prior, they knocked off both Iowa and Purdue. They're a team that isn't coming to a power conference school to collect a paycheck. They're a team coming to pick up quality wins in an attempt to pick up a New Year's Six bowl game berth.
Over the past decade, they've turned into a cradle of coaches. Jerry Kill came to DeKalb after the 2007 season and led the Huskies to three straight bowl appearances and a conference championship game. After 2010, he resigned to become the head coach of Minnesota.
That led the Huskies to Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren. He continued the construction, leading the team to back-to-back MAC Championships behind Jordan Lynch. Leaving for NC State, the reigns went to Rod Carey, the team's incumbent offensive coordinator. In the years since, he's yet to lose 10 games.
While the BC defense excelled on Friday, they'll face a Huskies team capable of moving the football. In three games, Drew Hare's already thrown for 798 yards with six touchdowns. A pass-first team, they're going to pressure the Eagles secondary. They're going to move fast, and they're going to take it to the Eagles, a good test for a unit touted as one of the best in the nation.
All of this happens with the impending shadow of the injury to Darius Wade. While there are questions about how they would regroup after losing to FSU, the offense is now left to find a new starter. Whoever is the starter will need to develop rapport with the offensive line, the running backs, and the gameplan. Again, we'll discuss this more as the week progresses.
Is it anticipation or is it anxiety? Northern Illinois is coming to town on Saturday.
This Week's Storylines (Point Break Edition)
"Life sure has a sick sense of humor, doesn't it?" -Bodhi
In the third quarter of the Florida State game, I opined to nobody in particular about my worries about Darius Wade. I worried that he was staring down his first option. I also thought that the receivers couldn't get open and the offensive line wasn't giving him enough time to let the play develop naturally. His throws got way too much air under them and weren't as crisp as I liked.
I saw most of the problems as a combination of issues. The offensive line's ineffectiveness caused the running game to falter, and the receivers struggled to get open. The play calling and route running failed to catch FSU off guard, and it became tough to watch.
Then in an instant, Wade broke his ankle and everything became secondary to who plays quarterback.
We can knock Wade as much as we want about his ineffectiveness early on against the Seminoles, but we all have to remember that the most popular player on the roster is always the backup quarterback. I've heard a lot about Brendan Nosovitch or Elijah Robinson over Troy Flutie or Jeff Smith; they're not quarterbacks anymore.
The key is to block out the noise, blot it out, and focus on what happens moving forward. I'm not trying to determine who is the best person to throw a football. I'm trying to figure out what BC will do moving forward to put the team in the best position to win. This week, it could be passing. Next week, it could be running.
If Wade's injury did anything, it reminded me not to look at the games ahead. Only look at the one that's in front of you. What didn't work last week may work this week and vice-versa. Let's worry about what will work, one game at a time.
"Let me tell you what you've produced... Over the last two weeks, you two have produced exactly squat! SQUAT! During which time the ex-presidents have robbed two more banks. Now, for Christ's sake, does either one of you have anything remotely interesting to tell me?" -Ben Harp
"I caught my first tube today, sir." -Johnny Utah
Heading into FSU, we talked a lot about if the defense was worthy of its #1 national ranking. We watched the team do very well against the Seminoles, save for the first drive of the game. They held Dalvin Cook to virtually nothing, and Everett Golson really didn't carve them up after the first drive.
The louder people shout about the defense being good or bad, the more I'm tuning it out. Keeping in line with what I said above, the defense did well last week. Last week no longer matters. I'm not focused on what they did against Florida State; I'm thinking about what they'll have to do against Northern Illinois.
The point of the quote is this - you can yell loudly that they've done something or not done something, but at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. There's still a job to do.
"They only live to get radical." -Bodhi
If I'm Boston College, there's a clear message this week. People think the offense is in disarray. The play calling is under fire. The defense, although solid, couldn't win the game for BC. What people believed in last Monday is no longer there.
So you have to make them believe. You have to live each play like it was your very last, win snap to snap instead of drive to drive.
I remember a quote from Coach Addazio last year about playing on the edge of the coin. He gave a pregame speech and mentioned how you can't play in the middle, that you have to be on the edge. For the first three weeks, Boston College played it safe. They played conservative. They played afraid to lose.
This week, I'm looking for the Eagles to play hard. There are a lot of doubters, especially when looking at the offense. Someone will need to step up, and someone will need to become the emotional leader. They're going to have to live so they can get radical.
SPECIAL BONUS QUOTE:
"We're onto Cincinnati." -Bill Belichick
This week isn't anything about Howard or Florida State. We're onto Northern Illinois. It doesn't matter what you think we should have or what we don't have. This week is about the players in uniform preparing to play Northern Illinois.
Matchup Fun Facts
School Name: Northern Illinois University
All-Time Record: 549-466-51
Claimed National Championships: 1 (1963)
Conference Championships: 12
Bowl Games: 15
Postseason Record: 5-10
Head Coach: Rod Carey
Years at School: Third
Head-to-Head with BC
All-Time Series: Boston College leads, 1-0
Streak: BC, 1
Last BC Win: 1971 (20-10 at BC)
Last NIU Win: N/A
First Meeting: 1971 (20-10 at BC)