The Boston College Eagles have a record of 3-4, as they come off a loss to fifth-ranked Clemson last Saturday 34-17. As the Eagles soar into Louisville for Saturday’s ACC matchup, BC is still looking for their first W, but the young team is learning from last week’s game.
In his weekly press conference, head coach Steve Addazio said that his team played the best all-around game so far this season. Defensively, the Eagles allowed a season-high 34 points, about five times more than they had in any game all season. “But in terms of special teams, offense and everything put together,” Addazio said, “I thought—in a very tough environment against a very good football team—I saw more spurts of good things.”
The former Florida offensive coordinator has mentioned on multiple occasions that 65 of his 85 scholarship players are underclassmen. On Saturday, the Eagles had young guys step up almost the entire game.
“At times, there were five to six true freshmen on the field at the same time, Addazio said. “But they played well. We watched tape and I think they responded well in a tough environment.”
Defensively, the Eagles let up multiple big plays because of their man coverage, run-stopping scheme. The Tigers gained 3.1 yards per carry on the ground, as leading rusher Wayne Gallman rushed the ball 17 times, tallying only 48 yards. But with the Eagles busy stopping the run, Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns. The Eagles’ secondary struggled while keeping their opponents from getting down the field, as Clemson averaged over nine yards per catch, which included a 67-yard bomb to Deion Cain and a 51-yard touchdown pass to Artavis Scott, who totaled 151 receiving yards on 10 catches.
But when asked about the secondary issues against Clemson, Addazio pinned it on the defense’s scheme:
“I think our philosophy is that we're a heavy run-stopping team. We're really good against the run. One of the reasons we're really good against the run is because we play man coverage in the back end. We load the box. We play man to try and force the ball out of their hands quicker than they want to be. A couple times we got caught in some max protections where there were truly some one-on-one routes.”
Offensively, the Eagles scored 17 points -- something they had yet to do in a conference game. For the first time since Darius Wade went down with a season-ending ankle injury, the offense had a true starting quarterback in Jeff Smith. He completed seven of 22 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown, posting a 15.9 QBR. The dual-threat gunslinger also ran for a touchdown, but tallied only 13 yards on seven attempts. In his first career start, Smith “did a lot of good things and took a step forward,” reported Addazio.But Addazio added that communication with his quarterback was an issue, as “there were times when there was some confusion.”
Addazio is hoping his 6’1”, 180-pound quarterback can operate the offense confidently and take another step forward against a strong defensive in Louisville this week. He also mentioned that this matchup should be easier than playing in Clemson. Smith just played in a tough environment, and he will play in another tough environment Saturday at Cardinal Stadium.
Despite the bumps that the Eagles have and will have to overcome, especially injuries and inexperience, the Eagles head coach is still optimistic about the remainder of the season and beyond:
“We are very young, but we are very talented. I knew this was going to happen. I didn't account for the injuries that we received early, and that is what has really kicked us in the ribs really hard. We will still be a young team next year, obviously, but we will have so many more guys who will have had meaningful snaps... The kids have a great attitude. This is a great group of guys. I think they see the big picture. They like football a lot. Our job is to continue to develop this team to get as many wins as we can each week for this season and also, you have to understand that we are building something really good here. I have all the confidence in the world in that."
Saturday the Eagles face off against a talented Louisville team in a tough environment. Boston College has their work cut out for them in their quest to notch their first ACC win.