Published: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 15, 2013 22:09
Los Angeles—The game started off with Boston College safety Spenser Rositano watching a Biletnikoff award winner sprint right across his body up the field with no help behind. USC quarterback Cody Kessler overthrew Marqise Lee, but the bad omen had been set for BC. Roars filled the Coliseum, even with the incompletion. USC was coming out of the gate firing.
One quarter later, the Trojans took over leading the Eagles 7-0 after Kessler had flipped a touchdown pass to running back Tre Madden a few possessions earlier following a methodical seven-minute drive. Manny Asprilla backed about as far away as he could from Lee, trying to prevent a big play, and Kessler easily found his award-winning target 15 yards down the field. Asprilla tried to recover and close in on Lee, but he lunged at the wrong angle and Lee was off, 80 yards for another score.
“We had some alignment issues today and some assignment issues today on defense,” said BC head coach Steve Addazio.
USC’s other touchdowns on the way to a 35-7 victory were much of the same. Madden simultaneously juked and powered his way to 103 yards, including a 30-yard burst up the side of the field for six.
Freshman back Justin Davis tallied 96 yards of his own and broke two helpless BC tackles before trotting into the end zone in the third quarter, extending the Trojan lead to 28.
“I know we played a really good football team today,” Addazio said. “I know that they played better than we did today. I know that we had some opportunities that we let get away from us today. And I know that we’re going to improve from this.”
The Eagles were outmatched, and it was evident on nearly every drive as the Trojans put up 581 yards to BC’s 184. Addazio has consistently tried to use power running to set up the pass this season, but Andre Williams hardly saw any daylight throughout the game and couldn’t make anything out of the darkness between the tackles. USC’s dominant front-seven shut down any attempts from BC to make a downhill push and the Eagle offense unraveled from there.
“Really the problem is—is that they’re loading the box,” Addazio said. “It’s really difficult to run on. You’ve got to be able to try to open it up with some play action.”
Despite the Trojans crowding the line, BC’s star receiver and record holder for receptions in a single season Alex Amidon, went more than two full quarters between his only two catches in the game.
The USC defense, unlike Villanova or Wake Forest, was stocked with enough talent to shut down the run without sending extra defenders. The Trojans contained Amidon without sacrificing big plays elsewhere. It was a nightmare for BC, and it wouldn’t stop.
“We tried,” Addazio said about getting Amidon open. “We talked about it at halftime, ‘How do we get him the ball?’ They’re playing tight man coverage on us. They’ve got really good tight man coverage players. It’s not easy.”
With Amidon and Williams essentially taken out of the offense, BC quarterback Chase Rettig had to try to make the most out of second and third downs from a significant distance.
“We want to run the football, but ideally you can’t go run the football on second and 10 trying to get yourself back in third and short,” Rettig said.
Trailing 28-0 with less than four minutes left in the third quarter, Rettig took advantage of an opportunity to do it on his own.
He faked what would’ve been a standard shotgun handoff to Williams and then, for one of the few times this season, darted to the left sideline. Was he thinking end zone?
“No,” Rettig said. “Not fast enough to do that.”
Even facing a major deficit, he still had a rally in mind. Trojan defenders converged on the BC QB quickly as he made it 24 yards down the field. Rather than step out of bounds, Rettig lowered his head and threw his body into whatever red jerseys were around.
The ball flew out of bounds, but Rettig still had his first down. He quickly popped up and began hurrying his team to the line.
On his way back to the grass, he brushed past a USC tackler, causing the refs to slow the drive down trying to decide if Rettig had earned a late hit.
He hadn’t, but the momentum was still killed.
“I was just trying to make a play and then at the end there I was just trying to get us going a little bit,” he said.
Rettig returned home Saturday, playing in front of his family in California, but that didn’t mean he ever looked comfortable. He didn’t make all of his throws, and when he did the ball was usually dropped or broken up by NFL prospects in USC jerseys.
“You’ve got to be able to get open and you’ve got to be able to beat man,” Addazio said of a USC defense that stacked the box and stopped the run well. “A couple times we did, but we couldn’t do it with any consistency.”
After the big gain on the ground, Rettig threw two incomplete passes. Then on third down, Rettig was flushed out of the pocket up the field.
He crossed the line of scrimmage without realizing it, pulling his arm back to throw while the USC defense surrounded him. The Trojans knocked the ball loose and nearly knocked Rettig out.
The Eagles recovered the fumble, but that only meant Nate Freese was about to trot out and send possession, and the game, right back to USC for the Trojans to finish off. n