Update: Sept. 19, 2015 10:45a.m.: Quarterback Darius Wade will miss the remainder of the season with a broken left ankle, per Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel. The sophomore will undergo surgery sometime this week and will be out for at least three months.
“If they don’t score, you don’t lose. That’s for sure.”
-Jimbo Fisher, Florida State head coach
Boston College had just gotten a huge break.
Miscommunication on the Florida State University sidelines led to two wasted timeouts by Jimbo Fisher late in the third quarter. While Fisher turned as red as the bandannas BC handed out to the 39,000-plus at Alumni Stadium, Don Brown chalked up another all-out blitz for Everett Golson to try and evade.
Harold Landry and Mehdi Abdesmad swarmed Golson, forcing him down in an instant—two FSU timeouts, fornaught. The Eagles’ defense, which allowed a game-opening, 83-yard touchdown drive, had stymied the No. 9-ranked Seminoles since, bending slightly at times but never breaking.
Cason Beatty lined up to punt the ball. Sherman Alston waited at the 10-yard line, before deciding to let it bounce in hopes of a favorable return or a touchback.
The ball landed at BC’s own 1-yard line. BC head coach Steve Addazio looked at the sky, his hands up in agony, before coming down in a folded fashion across his chest.
“Good lord,” Addazio recalled saying.
For some teams, being at the one-yard line is unfortunate, unlucky, but not unsolvable. For this team, and this offense, it’s impossible.
Take out everything you thought you knew about the offense of BC (2-1, 0-1 ACC) from last week’s execution of Howard and set it aflame on the USS Constitution, Viking-funeral style, out in the Massachusetts Bay along with the lost dreams of Florida State upsets in years gone by.
Addazio’s offense couldn’t muster anything against an FSU (3-0, 1-0 ACC) defense that has improved from last season but is still far from elite. The Eagles gained 195 yards on 58 plays, en route to a 14-0 shutout.
It starts with the running game, and the same stockpile of plays that Addazio always uses. BC’s stalwart, Jonathan Hilliman, amassed a mere seven yards on eight carries. Normally, Hilliman can pound his way through the middle. But if a hole doesn’t open up, the New Jersey-native isn’t the type of back to make a second effort around the line and toward the sidelines. The Eagles revealed early in the game that trying to go up the middle would be their primary gameplan.
Yet Addazio wouldn’t take no for an answer.
FSU’s defense quickly picked up on this, plugging the middle and forcing Hilliman to the ground immediately on seven out of eight of his carries, including a fumble that led to a game-clinching 36-yard return by All-American-caliber defensive end Jalen Ramsey.
Neither Marcus Outlow and Tyler Rouse, two backs who have similar styles to Hilliman, found anything up the middle either. So Addazio turned to the jet sweep. You know, the one that Sherman Alston used to beat No. 9 Southern California on Red Bandanna Night last season. It worked once the first time, with Thadd Smith—every subsequent time, usually with Alston, the play failed.
Myles Willis, the only running back who has a different style—a speed-heavy, edge game—saw some success, running for 40 yards. Addazio only let him have eight carries.
A big failure in the run game may have come from injuries to the offensive line. Starting lineman Frank Taylor sat out most of the game with an ACL sprain, forcing Chris Lindstrom into the starting rotation.
And in fairness to Addazio, the aerial game wasn’t an option.
Starting quarterback Darius Wade threw 4-12 for 47 yards and an interception. At times, he looked stunned at the speed of the Seminoles’ defensive line. Although Wade ran well, his inability to get the passing game going limited Addazio’s play-calling options.
Wade’s poor night turned to a disaster when a devastating tackle by FSU’s Nile Lawrence-Stemple knocked him out of the game with a broken left ankle.
Addazio looked ill-prepared for a situation in which Troy Flutie or Jeff Smith would have to come in behind center. On 4th-and-2 in FSU territory, Addazio elected to go for it. He chose the read option—not a terrible choice, but one that would’ve been better suited with Smith running the play instead of Flutie. The miss on that play sealed the defeat.
Immense amount of credit needs to go to the Eagles’ defense. Landry, who had 4.5 tackles-for-loss, touted his teammates for the job they did handling FSU’s Dalvin Cook and Golson. “I think we have the best front-seven in the country,” Landry said—with good reason, too. After giving up 83 yards on that first drive, BC allowed only 134 yards for the remainder of the game. Those are the kind of numbers that will keep any team in every game in a given season.
But a defense that strong will only help an offense that can put up, at least, average numbers—not the Howard-esque numbers the Eagles put up today.
When reviewing his offense after the game, Addazio repeated one word: “inconsistent.”
If he looks at tapes from today’s game, he’ll probably find that his offense—and his offensive game plan—was quite consistent.
Just consistently bad.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor