Bye Week Catches Eagles in Full Stride

Throughout the first half of Boston College football’s 2017 campaign, all three units had their moments. During the season opener against Northern Illinois, head coach Steve Addazio’s up-tempo offense ran 92 plays and racked up 17 points in less than 10 minutes of game time. The defense held its own for the majority of play against both Notre Dame and Clemson—two potential College Football Playoff teams. And the special teams unit single-handedly carried BC to victory over Central Michigan. But whenever the Eagles excelled in one phase of the game, they struggled in another.

That was before BC traveled to Charlottesville, Va. The Eagles blew out Virginia, 41-10, and for the first time all season, and perhaps three years, looked like a complete team. BC outgained the Cavaliers by 265 yards, won the turnover battle, and didn’t miss a field goal for the first time in four weeks.

It was more of the same when Florida State came to town on Saturday. The Eagles opened up the game with three touchdowns drives in the first half, and continued to control the clock for the rest of the night, en route to a 35-3 win. Led by linebacker Ty Schwab, the defense terrorized Seminoles quarterback James Blackman and shut down Cam Akers and the FSU run game. To top it all off, Mike Knoll pinned the Seminoles inside their own 20-yard line three times.

BC has outscored its opponents 76-13 over the past two weeks. Addazio isn’t taking credit for the recent success, nor is he throwing out names of those who deserve it. In his eyes, no one player is responsible for the Eagles’ turnaround.

“We’re playing good team football right now,” Addazio told reporters in Monday’s weekly press conference. “That was evident after watching the tape. It’s the Boston College football program. It’s not broken down into three segments. I mean, we’re one team, we play like one team, and we feed off each other like one team.”

That being said, Addazio noted that development one player in particular has paid dividends for the entire team.

“When the quarterback plays well, all the boats come up with the tide,” he said. “And the quarterback is playing well right now. So all of a sudden, we’re seeing better receiver play, better running back play, better offensive line play, tight end play, and I think it all goes hand-in-hand.”

After starting off the season with seven interceptions in his first four games, Anthony Brown has only been picked off once in the last five weeks. At the beginning of the year, the redshirt freshman had a hard time adjusting to a new center, following Jon Baker’s season-ending knee injury. But with time, Brown became more and more comfortable taking snaps from true freshman Ben Petrula. Now, the two have established a rapport, and Brown—one week removed from earning ACC Rookie of the Week honors—is playing his best football.

At the moment, BC is in a rhythm like no other team in the ACC, but Addazio maintains that this bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for his team. The Eagles have suited up nine-consecutive weeks, and two of their most valuable players are dinged up.

Defensive end Harold Landry is nursing an ankle injury that he first sustained in the loss to Virginia Tech, close to a month ago. The NFL prospect played at Louisville, but tweaked his ankle again at UVA, eventually sidelining him for last week’s game against FSU. Addazio said that Landry won’t take any snaps this week. Brown, who reinjured his throwing shoulder for the second time this season on Saturday, will also use the week to get back to full strength. But unlike Landry, the redshirt freshman will take limited reps.

Addazio clarified that practice will be cut, in terms of duration, and that he plans to give the younger players plenty of work throughout the week. The fifth-year coach’s mindset regarding the purpose of the bye week is simple.

“The guys that are dinged up—this is your one opportunity to get them healthy,” Addazio said. “Don’t blow it now.”

For the first time under Addazio, BC has entered the bye week on a winning streak. It’ll be up to him to make sure his team preserves its momentum throughout the two-week hiatus.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

October 31, 2017