All throughout training camp, the focus for Steve Addazio and Boston College football was on Virginia Tech. It was a much more significant opener than last year’s meeting with Massachusetts, and the Eagles had a chance to come out and make a statement. They did just that, knocking off the Hokies 35-28, and now enter a much more favorable stretch of opponents.
You won’t catch Addazio looking past a trio of teams that went a combined 8-27 in 2018, though. In his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon, the Eagles’ head coach had nothing but praise for Richmond, an FCS program that will visit Alumni Stadium on Saturday.
“It’s a wonderful school,” he said. “It’s a very prideful place, with the ability to attract and recruit really good student-athletes and they’ve had great success over the years as a whole.”
He pointed to the Spiders’ season opener against the ACC’s Virginia as evidence of their toughness. Richmond lost, 42-13, but only trailed, 14-10, after the first quarter and flashed explosiveness at times. The Spiders also found some success in the air against a Cavaliers’ defense that finished 14th in the country in passing yards allowed per game.
“I’m a big ‘let me watch the tape’ guy and then I’ll tell you what I think,” Addazio said. “I’ve been watching the tape nonstop.”
“The eye in the sky does not lie. It is what it is. You watch it on the video. I watched the video. And that was one heck of a football game now. And Virginia had a good year last year.”
Addazio was already plenty familiar with the program, too. The Spiders have a particular significance for BC, as defensive ends coach Jim Reid was the head coach there for nine years and tight ends coach Frank Leonard spent 10 years in several roles with the program. Reid had an enjoyable tenure, winning a pair of Atlantic 10 Championships, as well as two Coach of the Year awards.
Richmond is in the Colonial Athletic Association now and has claimed four conference championships since making the move. The Spiders limped through last season, however, finishing with just four wins and below .500 for the first time since 2011. Third-year head coach Russ Huesman has gone just 10-12 since arriving after eight years at the helm of Chattanooga.
But this year seems different already, as Richmond stormed out of the gate against Jacksonville State. The Spiders piled up 31 first half points—more than the total amount they scored in all but two games last season—en route to a 38-19 win. Redshirt junior Joe Mancuso was impressive under center, throwing for 131 yards and running for another 77.
Still, they’ll be quite overmatched against the Eagles in the first meeting between the teams since 1971. ESPN’s Football Power Index gives BC a 97 percent chance to win, and it’s easy to point to last year’s results against the Minuteman and Holy Cross, both surefire blowouts. Addazio was much more cautious, though, and for good reason: FCS opponents have upset a FBS foe 16 times in the last two years.
“We’re playing a football team that’s got a lot of talent, is well-coached—both sides of the ball on special teams, with a lot of tradition and pride,” Addazio said. “They had an outstanding win last week, so they’re coming in 1-0 as well. So this will be a great challenge this week.”
A lot of that is just football coach speak, though. The Eagles roll into this week’s matchup looking very impressive. Quarterback Anthony Brown was sharp against the Hokies, throwing for two touchdown passes and running for another, while the new-look defense played excellent.
“It’s great to walk in here 1-0,” Addazio said. “I felt last week’s game was a heck of a football game. We played a really, really outstanding opponent in Virginia Tech.”
Defensively, plenty of players found their way on the field. Joe Sparacio had six tackles in relief of Isaiah McDuffie, who is week-to-week with a lower body injury. Tate Haynes and Mike Palmer each racked up nine tackles, with the former also forcing a fumble on a blitz. All in all, four forced turnovers provided plenty of evidence that the defense has the talent to absorb the losses from 2018.
“We had a chance in that game to play a lot of players,” Addazio added. “We played a lot of players on defense. As many as eight different guys up front, [and] this week as we move forward we want to continue to increase the depth of our football team for the season.”
That depth will again be on display against the Spiders, and even more so than last week if the game goes the way the last few FCS matchups have gone for Addazio and BC.
Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor