FOOTBALL: Bye Week A Break For Run Game
After Struggling At Northwestern, The BC Offense, Including The Run Game, Gets A Week To Reset
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
After starting the season by scoring 62 points in its first two games, the Boston College football team could only manage 13 against Northwestern last week. Though the passing offense continued to deliver—Chase Rettig threw for 294 yards—the rushing attack was non-existent. The Eagles gained 25 yards on 17 carries, and suffered a critical fumble by running back Deuce Finch on a first and goal.
For BC to be competitive in the ACC this year, it’ll need to improve its run game. Senior left tackle Emmett Cleary knows that begins with the offensive line.
“The responsibility for running the football lays on the five guys up front,” Cleary said. “We’re not getting overpowered or are technically deficient—it’s just that we have to have all five guys on their jobs.”
Offensive leaders such as Cleary, Rettig, and wideout Alex Amidon all believe that the run game will improve, despite what’s happened over the past few games.
“I think it’s a couple of problems,” Amidon said. “One thing we need to do is simplify the running game. I’m sure Coach Martin is going to be able to fix it. He’s definitely the right guy for that.”
Cleary was more specific.
“It’s really two things,” he said. “[Northwestern] disguised their blitzes fairly well, but we [the offensive line] took too long to catch on to what they were doing. It’s something we usually pride ourselves on.”
“The second thing is consistency. A lot of the misses we had were either a missed target—we were working on the wrong guy—or we had had four guys mauling people and one guy missed his block in the hole.”
When asked if the poor performance from the line was frustrating, given that the five starters have been together throughout the season, Cleary said it was.
“So frustrating,” Cleary said. “All through spring, all through summer camp, we were able to run the ball on our defense, which is very stout. We’re disappointed, and take it as a personal challenge that we weren’t able to do that.”
Though the run game isn’t producing up to expectations, the passing offense has powered through and found ways to produce. Amidon’s 366 receiving yards are second among Division 1-A players, and his 25 catches rank fifth. On Tuesday, Amidon was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list, which is an annual award given out to the nation’s top college football wide receiver.
“I was pretty surprised,” Amidon said. “It’s a little bittersweet. It’d be a lot nicer with more success from the team. It’s hard to enjoy personal achievements when the team’s struggling a little bit. But I am honored to be on the list, definitely.”
The junior from Greenfield, Mass. entered the season having caught 36 balls for 558 yards his first two years at BC. He noted a couple reasons those numbers have spiked these first few games.
“My route running has improved a lot,” Amidon said. “The top of my routes, I’m putting a lot more definition on them. Also, the way the offense is set up, it’s a lot of concepts that are hard to pick up for the defense. A lot of that has to do with getting open because of the plays we have.”
When facing Clemson’s defense next week, the passing offense will get a different look than they’ve seen their first three games of the season.
“We haven’t faced a lot of man pressure or man coverage like we will [next] week,” Rettig said. “Now we’ll test the receivers a lot because Clemson’s going to play a lot of man coverage against us.”
Rettig explained the difference between the two schemes.
“Number one, I’m not back there deciphering what coverage they’re playing,” Rettig said of man coverage. “When you’re in the zone scheme, you can be playing one type of zone on one side and one on the other side. You could be blitzing and still playing zone.
“Man coverage, there’s going to be a guy in your face, there’s going to be bump and run coverage. The benefit is knowing the coverage you get, and you have to find your matchups. It’s not easier, but if you know your routes, then you know which ones are best against man coverage. If you have a mismatch, that helps too.”
With the bye week this week, the Eagles know it will help them both recuperate and prepare more extensively. Yet it’s still tough for them not to have a game this week to atone for the loss.
“I don’t personally like having this taste in my mouth for two weeks,” Cleary said. “That said, though, we need the work.”
“I think guys have the right mentality right now,” Rettig added. “We just have to move forward—that’s all you can really do.”