Column: Despite Changes In Offense, Football Continues To Fall Short Of Expectations
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Boston College did nothing to change the season’s status quo on Saturday.
The Eagles’ 45-31 loss to No. 17 Clemson was neither the epic blowout to signal the end for the coaching staff nor a victory that would have re-energized the fan base. Instead, it was another game that featured great offensive play, a porous defense, and a number of missed opportunities.
After being subjected to a stale offense that could barely score points in my first two years on the Heights, it’s quite fun to have a great offense this season. BC has scored 30 points in three of its first four games this year. It hit the number only once in each of the past two seasons.
Fans were tired of those 2010-2011 Eagles. We were tired of constantly seeing third-and-long draws from the shotgun when the team was down 10 points early in the fourth quarter. We were tired of falling behind 24-10 and knowing the game was over because there was no way the offense could score that many points. We were tired of a predictable offense where everyone in the stadium knew what play was coming next.
This season, those days are over.
New offensive coordinator Doug Martin has breathed life into this offense while using essentially the same personnel as last year. His close work with Chase Rettig has paid off tremendously, as the junior from California has evolved from a mediocre quarterback to the ACC’s leading passer. Rettig threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns yesterday—those numbers were unheard of over the past two years.
That predictable offense? Gone. The trick play where Bobby Swigert took the ball on a reverse and threw to Jonathan Coleman downfield for 28 yards was a thing of beauty. Same for Rettig’s punt from shotgun on fourth down that pinned Clemson at its four-yard line.
So that’s why fans really can’t be upset at the team’s 1-3 start to the year. The level of excitement from watching this team is greater than in the past two years combined. When it was 45-31 with seven minutes left on Saturday, we still felt like our team could come back because the offense had delivered all day. When the rollercoaster of a game finally came to an end on Rettig’s late fourth-down pick, fans were disappointed the ride was over, but didn’t forget the great experience they just had.
If the offense has been playing well, then obviously, the defense must not be up to par. While we’ve been able to compete against ACC schools on offense with a top quarterback and a great scheme, our defense just does not match up. Our secondary was repeatedly burned this past Saturday. There were numerous plays when a Clemson receiver was wide open.
Simply put, the Eagles were overmatched. And to be fair to our coaching staff and players, there’s really not much the team could have done differently. We just don’t have the players to compete with these schools, and with our current recruiting, it’ll likely stay that way.
That’s why the situation the team is in right now can’t continue in the long term. This season and next are certainly going to be fun to watch as BC fans, even if we don’t have much success. Next year, the team will bring back all of its major offensive personnel, including Rettig, running back Andre Williams, and leading receivers Alex Amidon, Coleman, and Swigert. There’s no reason why the offense can’t be even better next season.
There’s no improvement in sight, however, on the defensive side. Allowing 40 points against Clemson and Miami is justifiable in fans’ eyes when each game is a close shootout that our team happens to lose. But if our offense weren’t keeping pace, it’d be a much different story.
Unfortunately, that’s what may happen once Rettig graduates. BC has recently been blessed to have major quarterbacks like Matt Ryan and now Rettig, but they don’t come along very often. Our offense cannot stay at this level without an elite signal caller.
We don’t know if anyone on the current roster will be ready to take over once Rettig’s gone. And BC’s already a tough sell to recruits, with elevated academic standards and the cold-weather element. Now add in a subpar defense and a coaching situation that’s in flux, and it’s not yet clear where the next quarterback will come from.
To freshmen and sophomores, I urge you to enjoy this explosion of offense while it lasts. Because if BC is losing during your junior and senior years—but scoring 20 or fewer points per game—you’ll think back to those great memories like Saturday, when we put up 31 points against a nationally-ranked Clemson team.