Column: A Statement Game Comes Up Short Again
Published: Sunday, September 16, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Well, there it was. The possibility for a Boston College win at Northwestern was right there. You could point to a million different things that could have swayed the game in the Eagles’ favor, but at the end of the day, BC was flying back to Chestnut Hill with yet another loss.
It wasn’t the ideal scenario, but when the Eagles got the ball at their own one-yard line with under five minutes to go in the game, I must have been drinking the Kool-Aid because I saw that situation with comeback written all over it. It was no doubt a challenging situation for the offense to handle, especially on the road, but that’s what makes good teams great. Instead, a quick three-and-out made a good BC team look bad. And frustrated. And overall, just straight up defeated.
Chase Rettig can’t be Greg Jennings and put the team on his back. He tried, and nearly did it all, but he came up short. It really seems like Rettig is on his way to becoming a big-time quarterback, but you have to wonder if anyone outside of Chestnut Hill will notice if the current woes of the program continue.
It’s certainly been a trying time for the players and coaches alike. Everybody just wants to win. And every time you think they’re ready to seal the deal and make a statement win, the Eagles come up just short. Nothing could be more frustrating.
So who’s to blame?
You could point to the defense. Or can you? On the outset, if you only looked at the stat sheet and saw the 560 yards the Eagles D let up, you’d likely think BC got crushed. Somehow, it wasn’t that way, thanks to a stout red zone defense from the Eagles. Nick Clancy’s 24 tackles are Luke Kuechly numbers, though maybe it was just because—with the Wildcats running 100 plays—someone had to make the tackles. You could blame the defense for this loss, but a defense that lets up just five field goals (that touchdown was in garbage time) is a defense I want out on the field every Saturday.
You could point to the running backs. Deuce Finch, Andre Williams, and Tahj Kimble combined for 25 yards on the ground on 17 carries. That’s pretty ugly. When you factor in Finch’s fumble on Northwestern’s four-yard line just as BC was ready to punch the ball in for the touchdown, you could put even more blame on the running backs. The fumbling has become a theme all too familiar with the Eagles’ halfbacks. But does the loss get put on the shoulders of Finch, Williams, and Kimble? No. Finch’s fumble was momentum-killing, but it didn’t single-handedly lose the game for BC. It may be a while until we see Finch taking carries again given his untimely fumbles in the last two games, but it’s impossible to pinpoint the loss on Finch’s shoulders.
You could point to the coaching staff. The team has not come ready to play a full 60-minute game of what they like to call “BC football,” and that ultimately starts with the coaches. Head coach Frank Spaziani even took blame for the loss after the game. “It’s my job to make them play better,” Spaz said. Whether that’s just what he’s supposed to say or he actually meant it, that’s up to you to decide. I don’t know what Spaz and the coaching staff can do about the fumbles, other than glue the ball to the running backs’ hands. But the readiness to come out and win a big game does lie in part on the shoulders of the coaches.
It may seem desperate, but I think it’s realistic to say that time is running out for the Eagles to save their season, their coach, and the outlook of the program. It seems like at the end of most losses over the past two years, we’ve been able to analyze the game closely and point to a few key plays that could have turned a loss into a win.
That’s starting to matter less and less. When you focus in on Saturday’s loss, one more catch, one less fumble, or one more tackle could have brought BC home with a win. But when you zoom out and look at the big picture, none of that really matters. The reality is that BC has just not been good enough. You can’t blame that all on one person. The blame falls on the entire team and program. And if they’re really going to turn the program around like the Kool-Aid makes you believe, they’re going to have start winning the statement games. Fast.