Column: ACC Now An Offense Heavy Attack
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Remember the good old days when football was a defensive sport, and that old adage, “Defense wins championships?” I certainly do. I remember when teams like the 2001 New England Patriots won the Superbowl by means of a hardnosed defensive unit. The AFC playoffs that year saw my hometown Pats face off against the stalwarts in Oakland and Pittsburgh. All three teams were known more for their defense than an explosive offense.
In today’s view of the sport, no one can even contemplate being a playoff team without an all-star quarterback, freak-of-nature receiving options, and maybe a decent running game to keep defenses honest. The sport has transformed and apparently that has now reached the collegiate ranks of the ACC.
This past weekend alone saw seven ACC teams scoring 30 or more points. Let me repeat that. Seven teams scored more than 30 points. Among that group were North Carolina’s 66, Clemson’s 45, Miami’s 44, Virginia’s 38, NC State’s 37, Duke’s 34, our own Boston College’s 31, and Florida State’s 30. That’s a lot of scoring for one weekend.
Not only were the scores extraordinarily high for one weekend, but the passing game also had some unusually large statistics. Miami’s Stephen Morris set the ACC record with 566 yards through the air. NC State’s Mike Glennon got the short end of the stick in that contest, throwing 440 yards for what usually would be the performance of the game. Chase Rettig, who threw for an extremely solid 341 yards, would not even be in the conference’s conversation for top passing performance of the week. The ACC, alongside most other football conferences, is apparently developing into an offensive juggernaut, a pass-first league.
Looking at the season averages of the conference shows that this weekend was no fluke. Florida State, the ACC’s top team, averages 51 points and over 544 yards per game. Overall, there are nine teams in the conference that average over 400 total offensive yards per game, while seven teams average over 30 points per game.
What do these changes in football and the league mean for us, you might ask? Not much, really. The sport has become more electrifying to some extent. Fans would probably rather see the high-flying acrobatics of a wide receiver making a one hand, toe-dragging catch in the back corner of the end zone than a defensive end bull rush through the double team, rip through the left tackle’s block and hit the quarterback for a sack. I personally, however, think it’s more exciting to see those low scoring games when the offensive coordinators are dueling to find some sort of crack in an otherwise unbreakable defensive front.
Even from an offensive standpoint, it seems that this development is occurring at all levels of football. During my early years of high school football, our coach would push the isolation run, and tell us to use sheer force against the defense. As my career continued, I saw the implementation of the spread offense, and the weaning out of power football.
Why do I bring up this transformation of the nation’s most watched sport? I think it is timely because of how well BC’s offense has been performing this year, as well as this season’s divergence from head coach Frank Spaziani’s usual focus on the defense. BC has recently sent a number of defensive players into the professional ranks. Guys like Luke Kuechly, Mark Herzlich, Alex Albright, BJ Raji, and a whole host of former Eagles have earned their way onto NFL rosters. Now, however, for the first time in a long time, the defense is the weakness of the team. Rettig, wide receiver Alex Amidon, and the rest of the offense have performed admirably, while the defense has seemed out of sorts. One has to wonder whether or not this can be attributed to the coaching staff’s realization that the sport now starts with a good offense, rather than the traditional view that defense trumps all. No matter what, BC is staying on par with the sport’s metamorphosis, and will hopefully reap the rewards in the near future.