“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
That’s what people say when they’re telling you to relax, to take it easy. It makes sense—worry about the larger issues, then the small things generally have a way of working themselves out. There are two places where this advice might not be quite as helpful, though: when interviewing for a full-time job as a college senior, and between the sidelines of a football field.
It was the small stuff that left Boston College four points short of the Clemson Tigers last weekend, and it’s the small stuff that the Eagles hope to correct this week leading up to their game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Groves Stadium on Saturday. For four quarters, BC held its own against the then 24th-ranked Tigers, but couldn’t quite overcome a few small but crucial mistakes.
“We just really need to stay together and compete,” wide receiver Josh Bordner said on bouncing back. “It’s always tough going down on an ACC road game.”
While Wake Forest’s defense isn’t as talented as Clemson’s, that doesn’t mean the Eagles can rest on their laurels this week in practice. Clemson’s defense, 13th in the country and 19th in rushing defense, limited BC to 263 yards of offense, almost 25 yards fewer than BC averages in rushing yards per game. Wake Forest, meanwhile, is ranked 45th in total defense and 79th in rushing defense, giving up an average of 175 yards per game. Last week, BC had to deal with the ominous, constantly lurking presence of Vic Beasley across the line. BC effectively shut down Beasley, limiting him to just half a tackle, but the rest of Clemson’s defensive line was able to put pressure on Tyler Murphy and the BC running game.
BC head coach Steve Addazio saw a good performance from his line against Clemson, but he’s not satisfied yet. “I thought we had a pretty good plan,” Addazio said. “But I think we could have played better up front.” Against Wake Forest, BC will have to get a better performance from its offensive line in terms of run blocking and pass protection.
In terms of the passing game, facing Clemson led to some positive signs for the Eagles. Murphy found five different receivers for eight completions, even hitting some longer throws that the Eagles didn’t make earlier in the year.
“He’s just competing and working every day to get better,” Bordner said. Murphy showed a better ability to throw on the run, and Bordner, the former quarterback, even got back in on the action, completing a 35-yard pass to Charlie Callinan and catching a toe-tapping six-yard touchdown. However, there are still hiccups—Bordner’s pass was slightly underthrown, perhaps robbing Callinan of a touchdown. Bordner also dropped a wide-open ball that would have been a significant gain, and, most frustrating for BC fans, Tyler Rouse muffed the potential go-ahead touchdown on a ball that hit his hands inside Clemson’s five-yard line. Against Wake Forest, the Eagles will need to show continued improvement through the air.
Defensively, BC’s bend-but-don’t-break strategy held up well, though admittedly, it was playing a Clemson offense without freshman phenom Deshaun Watson. BC did allow Cole Stoudt to throw for 285 yards, but what really hurt the team was its inability to contain Clemson’s backs in BC territory, as Wayne Gallman ran for a 17-yard touchdown and C.J. Davidson ran for a 32-yard touchdown that turned out to be the winning score. BC shouldn’t have that same problem against Wake Forest this week—the Demon Deacons have a total of 257 rushing yards on the year, averaging just 36.7 yards per game while gaining 1.2 yards per carry. Wake’s aerial attack hasn’t been much more efficient, having lost their leading wide receiver from 2013, Michael Campanaro, who gained over 800 yards last year and caught six touchdowns. Without his presence this year, Wake is averaging 170 yards per game through the air, and has just seven passing touchdowns in total.
BC just hung tough with the 24th-ranked team in the nation. The Eagles are 4-3 and need two more wins to become bowl eligible for the second straight year. They are taking just their second out-of-state road trip of the season to face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, who enter the game at 2-5 after getting hammered at home by Syracuse. One would think that BC could take its foot off the gas pedal just a bit, to try to not wear down too early. “Relax,” people might say, “take a break.” But this week, the BC Eagles are more focused than ever on sweating the small stuff.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor