Sometimes, the game itself isn’t the biggest obstacle. Sometimes, the biggest obstacle comes after the game.
Fresh off an improbable, cathartic, euphoric home victory over the then-No. 9 University of Southern California Trojans, most Boston College fans are still reveling in the memories of Sherman Alston jettisoning past Trojan defenders on a reverse, of Jon Hilliman’s first two college touchdowns, of Tyler Murphy’s game-clinching, 66-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, those three players and all their victorious teammates were back out on the practice field on Monday morning, and by Tuesday they were back to knocking the crap out of each other in full pads.
When the Maine Black Bears come to town, the Eagles will take on the role of Goliath that was recently occupied by a bunch of Trojans. BC proved that David can in fact win, and now the Eagles are focused on not letting history repeat itself. BC head coach Steve Addazio addressed that in his press conference on Monday. “You have to wire your guys so they enjoy the wins, not too much, but enough,” Addazio said. “Then you have to get back to work. It really comes from great leadership within the program, as coaches we try, but at the end of the day it’s generated inside.”
Freshman back Hilliman agreed with his coach, saying the team is taking Maine just as seriously as it took USC. “We’re gonna have to come out and have a great week of practice like we did before USC,” Hilliman said. “The seniors are gonna have to lead, and freshmen are gonna have to grow up. We know we have a great, capable team in Maine, and we’re gonna have to get a win.”
As alluded to over the past few weeks, the tale of the Hydra states that when you cut off one head, two more take its place. Last year, Andre Williams led the rushing attack, complemented by Myles Willis. Williams graduated, but instead of two more heads growing in his place, four more sprouted up. Willis is nominally the starting back, but when the offense rushes the ball 54 times, there are carries to go around. Murphy, Hilliman, Alston, and Willis’ classmate Tyler Rouse have split those extra carries among themselves. Saturday night, the Eagles offense constantly perplexed USC’s defense, using misdirection and the read option executed to perfection.
“We hope to do that every week, we hope to grow,” Hilliman said. “We’re a young group, the youngest group on the whole team, so we’re just looking to grow every week and get better and better, and I think we’re taking strides in the right direction.” Maine is the next test for this group, and it’ll look to build on the strides it took on Saturday.
Defensively, the Eagles allowed 6.6 percent of the rushing yards that Pitt gained against them the previous week—20 instead of 303. In two quarters (the first and the third), the Trojans totaled negative rushing yards. USC quarterback Cody Kessler was sacked five times. By any statistical measure, as well as by the eye test, BC’s defense was miles improved from the previous week, even without injured linebacker and captain Sean Duggan. Maine’s offense is not as talented or explosive as USC’s, but that just means BC defensive coordinator Don Brown will expect an even more dominant performance. At Tuesday’s practice, Brown was as animated and loud as ever, demanding nothing less than his players’ very best.
Hilliman got his first real opportunity of the season against USC. “It was just great to go out there and make plays for the team. It’s a big win,” Hilliman said. “Coach coming into that game told me I couldn’t play like a freshman, so I knew I had to grow up fast and it was a great night.”
Hilliman and the rest of the team look to continue the good feelings that resulted from BC’s first win over a top-10 team in years, and they know they can’t just rest on their laurels.
It took hard work to beat USC, and though Maine is a FCS team, BC is not looking past it. Addazio has his five keys to victory posted in the media room, and he won’t be deviating from them. Addazio also knows how he’s going to get his team ready to face Maine. “Simple answer: we’re going to go like hell on Tuesday,” Addazio said. Those fond memories of Saturday may still be in the forefront of the minds of BC students and fans, but for the players and coaches, they’re already slipping into the past.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor