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FOOTBALL: Notebook - BC Preparing For A Different Kind Of Offense

For The Heights

Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

The United States Army will test the durability of the Boston College defense on Saturday by possessing the ball for the majority of the game. On average, Army holds the ball for a little more than 32 minutes per game, one of the longer averages in the country.

“The [Army] offense is always on the field, so I expect Coach [Bill] McGovern to change us in and out to give us enough break,” said linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis.

Despite playing many teams with a fast-paced offense recently, the Eagles’ defense will still be challenged with a different form of offense. Not only does Army play quickly, but it also plays with many options—the Black Knights’ offense often lines up to the ball in a T shape, having three different options for where the ball could go. Nevertheless, the BC defense has found ways to prepare for this tactical maneuver.

“Everyone has an assignment,” Pierre-Louis said. “We’ve been practicing some reps without a ball to make sure guys have been going to their assignment and not just following the ball. And making sure our mind is toned into what we have to do every snap because Coach [McGovern] said, ‘it takes 11 guys to beat a team like Army.’ We are going against the U.S. Army. If one guy messes up, that could be six [points] easily.”
Going into this game, the BC coaching staff has some knowledge from personal experiences on how Army operates.

“Coach [Frank Spaziani] has been in the Naval Academies, and he knows how it operates over there, so I think we have a good game plan going in,” said cornerback Sean Sylvia.

Given the recent performances of their defense, the Eagles hope to turn everything around this weekend against Army at West Point.

Pulling Its Weight
After the recent displays of BC’s offense, the defense feels as if it is not pulling its weight.

“I think we need to start pulling our weight and taking more ownership over stopping people, being more precise, practicing better, and taking a more serious approach,” Sylvia said. “A lot of guys still don’t know what it’s like to win a lot of games.”
 The Eagles’ offense has averaged 415 yards per game, whereas the defense has allowed an average of 28 points per game.

“We have to put more work in,” Sylvia said. “Guys are starting to get that bad taste of losing in their mouths, so we’re preparing hard, we’re practicing hard, but the offense has been scoring points, and we have to start taking ownership and being more responsible for getting off the field on third downs—which is what we struggle doing—and doing our jobs. The offense is doing their job, and we have to pull our weight.”
So far this season, the wheels have fallen off of the defense multiple times. For example, this past weekend against Clemson, the BC defense allowed 21 points in the second half. In the game against Miami, it allowed 20 points in the second half. In order to turn the team around, the Eagles defense will need to start helping out the offense by pulling its own weight.

A Unique Opponent
Going into this game, BC does not view Army as just any other opponent—they respectfully view them as the U.S. Army, those who are willing to give their lives for our country.

“I have the utmost respect for these guys,” Sylvia said. “I have friends in the military. I can’t imagine what it’s like. What we think we do is tough, but what they do is 10 times [tougher], and that is why a lot of our guys respect them.”
The quote circulating the locker room this week, uttered by Nick Clancy, is, “We have to outwork the United States Army this week.” These players have been programmed to do what they are told, to respond with “yes sir, no sir, no excuse sir,” and to take out anyone who stands in the way of their goal.

“They are not going to mess up,” Sylvia said. “They are going to be a very good operation. They’re not going to be sloppy. If their coach tells them to line up two yards outside the hash, they will be there.”

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