Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Present State of BC Football

For my first real post I wanted to discuss the current state of football at Boston College as a way to frame my posts for the rest of the season.  The season is only three weeks old and yet Boston College football, even to an unbiased observer, is having severe difficulty winning games early on in a schedule that is only going to get harder with trips to Virginia Tech, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Miami.  The only saving grace is that BC gets to play Florida State at home, but that may not be saying much since BC is still 0-2 at home this season against Northwestern and Duke.

The simple fact is BC is having difficulty scoring touchdowns.  In three games this season BC has scored four touchdowns which puts them on track to score 16 total touchdowns this season, half of last season's production (33 touchdowns) and just one third of offensive touchdowns in 2007 (48, Matt Ryan's senior year).  There are a few excuses that can be made for the lack of offensive production.  First, is youth.  There are just three total seniors on the offensive two deep for BC. Chase Rettig is a sophomore and making sophomore mistakes: taking sacks instead of throwing the ball away, not tucking and running when no receivers are open, etc.  In the backfield senior Montel Harris, the ACC's leading rusher in 2010, has been out with a lingering knee injury leaving tailback duties to sophomore Andre Williams, who saw limited action at the end of last year, as well as sophomore Rolandan Finch and Redshirt Freshman Tahj Kimble.  Couple this with a young offensive line and youth and lack of depth at the skill positions and scoring touchdowns has been difficult for the Eagles.  Second, is injuries.  Ifeanyi Momah is out for the season after tearing his ACL against Northwestern.  Montel's knee injury coupled with pre-season injuries on the offensive line make it difficult for BC to gain consistent positive production on offense.

However, youth and injuries do not tell the whole story.  Since Frank Spaziani became the Head Coach in 2008, BC has lost one more game each season going, 8-5 in 2009 and 7-6 in 2010 and in 2011 could potentially be a 2 or 3 win team.  The in game coaching since this staff took over has been less than inspiring.  The signature Frank Spaziani play seems to be taking a knee to end the half, something that has become almost a joke in the blogosphere.  Additionally, poor clock management has kept BC opponents in the game.  This past weekend against Duke with the ball in the red zone, BC coaches called an unnecessary time out, leaving Duke enough time to receive the ball back and march down the field to score on their ensuing possession.  The current staff's lack of effective strategy and play calling has, statistically, cost BC one win each season since it has been in place.  While youth and injuries do not help, it seems the offense's hands are tied by an incapable coaching staff.

The lone bright spot of the current BC team remains the defense.  Strong defenses have been a BC hallmark for nearly a decade, with much credit going to Frank Spaziani for producing consistently strong defenses that, year in and year out, send players to the NFL (two BC defensemen, BJ Raji and Robert LeFrancois, were members of the Super Bowl winning Green Bay Packers).  Yet the defense is not immune to the same problems as the rest of the team.  Eleven freshmen are listed on the defensive two deep and three sophomores are listed as starters.  Injuries have also plagued the defense.  Sophomore defensive back CJ Jones is out for the season after a knee injury against UCF and senior defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey hasn't played since Northwestern with a foot injury.  Despite this the defense has remained stout in games. Led by junior linebacker Luke Kuechly, who after three games has recorded 58 tackles, the defense has kept BC in many of its games.  However, the inability of the coaching staff to adjust the defense to counter the offensive production of opponents has cost BC some of it's early games.

Three games into the season BC is still winless.  A win against UMass this weekend could put things back on track but, even then, it is still an FCS team and a win could feel, well, empty.  Furthermore, a win against UMass would still not be able to tell us much about the direction the team is headed.  Kevin Rogers' leave of absence certainly hurt the offense, however there were flashes of brilliance, offensively, amidst the mediocrity in the last few games.  Certainly, BC has so far this season always seemed one or two plays away from winning their games (except for, maybe, UCF).  However, if Boston College remains on the track it is presently on, and things do not begin to change for the better, then the discussion of change at the top may have to being in earnest.

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