It’s back, baby!
Football has officially returned to Chestnut Hill after three weeks of off-campus games, and boy, did it come back with a bang. Boston College welcomed Wagner College to Alumni Stadium for a 42-10 blowout, giving the Eagles a much-needed confidence boost. The Eagles (2-2, 0-2 Atlantic Coast) pulled away from the Seahawks (2-1) in the second quarter, scoring two touchdowns and allowing only a field goal to take a 28-10 lead into halftime. Although BC would go on to dominate the second half, finishing completely in control of the entire game, head coach Steve Addazio saw room for improvement heading into future, tougher matchups.
- Offensive Line
How would Addazio describe his offensive line today?
“I would say that it was consistently inconsistent.”
That sounds about right. The unit has experience playing together, but it is very clear that this offensive line needs more experience playing well together. There is no excuse for some of the mistakes made today. Wagner should never have come close to stopping running backs like Jonathan Hilliman in the backfield, but on several occasions the run was stifled at or before the line of scrimmage.
“There were times today … we were literally blowing guys off the ball, six yards, but losing sight on a gap scheme,” Addazio said. “All of a sudden you say, ‘Oh my God—they’re hitting us at the line of scrimmage.’”
He suggested that the offensive line may have been thrown off by all the movement, even on slower pressure. As they play together more and more, Addazio believes that the o-line will adjust and handle the pressure better. He continued to turn to the run game today as a way to give the offensive line more practice to carry into later games.
Offensive line improvements can be a great help to this team. BC has historically been a strong running team. Developing a stellar o-line will only help the running game emerge as a serious threat this season. Hilliman has proven that he has the speed and explosiveness to make big plays. Giving him extra support will turn him into a huge asset for the Eagles this year.
The offensive line should certainly be a point of emphasis for the team at practice. Allowing Wagner to stuff the run at the line of scrimmage is a bad sign. If the offensive line can take the experience and improve together, BC can turn to the run game more against tougher opponents. If it continues to struggle, it will mean bad news down the road.
“[The offensive line] is very much a work in progress,” Addazio said. “Being consistently inconsistent there stalls many drives.”
BC shot itself in the foot with penalties today. From the beginning of the game, the Eagles struggled to play cleanly—Michael Walker was whistled for a hold on the opening drive. After that, BC tallied seven penalties, losing 85 yards in the process. After the game, Addazio emphasized the need to fix the mistakes.
“[Penalties] don’t occur at practice,” he said. “I’ll bring officials in and purposely say, ‘We really want you to call the pass interferences play close.’”
However he accomplishes it, Addazio must limit his team’s penalties. The Eagles bailed Wagner out on a number of occasions by nullifying plays thanks to penalties. One notable example was a Tyler Rouse punt return early in the second quarter. Rouse dodged Seahawks and put his speed on display, giving BC excellent field position at the Wagner 17-yard line. His punt return was called back thanks to a block in the back.
There were more frustrating penalties to be committed for the Eagles. With less than two minutes to go in the first half, BC lost even more punt return yardage on a sideline interference call that had steam coming out of Addazio’s ears. And later in the game the Eagles were penalized for offensive pass interference.
In a game against Wagner, these penalties won’t impact the final score. But BC still needs to get in the practice of playing cleanly—committing unnecessary penalties against tougher opponents like Clemson or Florida State is going to hurt.
“Sometimes the penalties can be extremely disruptive to your flow,” Addazio said.
- Slow Start
In every single game this season, the Eagles have failed to score first. In more competitive contests, it’s obviously a guessing game as to who will reach the end zone first. Nobody should be worried that BC allowed Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech to score first.
But Massachusetts and Wagner? Who expected the Eagles to find themselves facing early deficits to the Minutemen and Seahawks?
The Eagles recovered nicely in those two games, but this issue can and should still be addressed. When BC hits a tougher stretch of its schedule, it will need all the momentum it can get. Allowing opponents to take early leads means playing catch-up. BC will need to focus on coming out of the gates strong and seizing an early lead.
This defense is still elite. UMass and Wagner scored touchdowns off of momentary lapses, broken plays. The concern isn’t with the defense. BC completely stifled Wagner today, allowing the Seahawks to accumulate only 45 rushing yards and 62 passing yards for 107 yards of total offense.
The offense needs to come out of the gates and score. On its first possession today, BC had four plays but lost six total yards (thanks to that holding call). Mike Knoll was called on to punt, giving the ball back to Wagner (who would score on the ensuing possession). Coming out of halftime, BC received the kickoff but could do nothing with the ball, resulting in a three-and-out and another punt. The Eagles need to show offensive signs of life on crucial possessions like these to build up leads and momentum.
Featured Image by Savanna Kiefer / Heights Editor
Improvement? You mean like not going 0 for ACC?