Pitt Exposed The Team’s Major Flaws
Landon Komishane | For The Heights
After starting the season 1-1, the Boston College football team has done what’s been expected so far—it’s recorded mixed results. There is a real possibility that the team can win at least five games and even become bowl-eligible for the second year in a row, though. There are winnable games against teams like Maine, Colorado State, NC State, Wake Forest, and Syracuse. The five-win mark is attainable, but the early struggles that were exposed in the Pitt game could lead to major struggles and a losing record that sees BC failing to reach five wins.
The first major struggle is tackling. On Friday, Pitt running back James Conner did whatever he wanted against the BC defense, erupting for 214 yards and one touchdown. Pitt’s blocking was only part of Conner’s success—the defense just could not bring him down. The Panthers were routinely getting first downs in that win because they were giving the ball to Conner, and he was plowing through the defense. The majority of opponents facing BC are ACC foes, so the quarterbacks and running backs will be on or above Pitt’s level. If the defense cannot tackle, it will be a long season.
The tackling problem is only one concern—the offense shared some struggles, too. At first glance, a combined 50 points in the first two games would seem decent, but that is deceiving. The first game was against UMass, one of the worst FBS teams in the country, so BC should easily have scored 30 points. BC only had six points by halftime before it woke up in the second half. While BC did score 20 points against Pitt, the Eagles struggled for the majority of the game, with one of the touchdowns coming on just one big play and the other coming in garbage time.
There were plenty of opportunities for the offense to score in the Pitt game. One of the turning points in that loss was when junior Steven Daniels intercepted a pass, and the Eagles had great field position at Pitt’s 29-yard line. BC did not capitalize, though, and missed a field goal after going three and out. Three pass plays on that drive were unsuccessful. After the missed field goal, Pitt took control of the game and never looked back.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy is going to have to throw better in order for the Eagles to have success. His speed is not in question, as evidenced by the 51-yard run that set up the first touchdown for the Eagles, but his passing is a concern. So far, Murphy is 27-52 with 307 yards of passing, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. A 51.9 percent completion percentage is not good enough for the Eagles to have much success. Granted, it has only been two games and the wide receiver depth is not great, but Murphy will need to complete more passes in order to move the ball down the field.
The passing game becomes even more important because of the predictability of the offense. Andre Williams is not walking through that door. A Williams-type impact is not there this year, so the Eagles cannot simply depend on the run like they did last year. When BC isn’t running well, it has nowhere to turn to besides its passing game. Murphy will help with his explosiveness and the read option, but the Eagles need to be more balanced in order to have success.
Injuries are always unpredictable. Already, two starters have been lost for the short term: senior guard Harris Williams and senior middle linebacker Sean Duggan. If the offense or defense suffers more injuries, there could be some gaping holes that will lead to poor results.
The 2014 season is being dubbed as a “roller coaster” season for the Eagles. Predictions are all over the place about where the Eagles will finish in the ACC. Coach Steve Addazio surprised critics last year by leading the Eagles to their first bowl game in three years. Now, Addazio is trying to expand on that, building a program that can stay succesful for years to come. The Eagles can be competitive this year and certainly exceed expectations, but to do that, they will need to focus on these areas of concern and improve them. Those improvements can lead to them eclipsing five or more wins, but if they cannot make adjustments, this year will be viewed as a wasted season with a losing record.
Five Victories Are In Reach For BC
John Pugh | For The Heights
The Eagles are facing some familiar opponents this fall in the 2014 football season. The question is: will this be a winning season or a loss-filled blowout?
There are many tough matchups over the next few months, both within the ACC and outside of it. This year’s schedule also sees some less-than-worthy adversaries, however, and as a result, it doesn’t take an optimist to believe that this year will be another winning season for head coach Steve Addazio and the Boston College Eagles.
BC has already secured one win in its game against UMass and suffered one loss at the hands of Pitt, so, what about the rest of the season? With one win and one loss, the likelihood of a winning or losing season does not change much with the pre-recorded results, but the road will tip the scales.
The month of September sees three more games for the Eagles as they battle against the USC Trojans, the Maine Black Bears, and the Colorado State Rams. Despite their off-the-field woes in recent times, the Trojans are a major force to be reckoned with, ranked No. 9 in the country. Based on USC’s monster roster and BC’s beat-down loss last year in the Coliseum, it’s safe to say that a win for the Eagles this week is unlikely.
The next few games sing a different tune, however. With two home games against Maine and Colorado State, BC should have an easy time turning its projected 1-2 record into 3-2 by the end of the month. Of course, there is the possibility that one of those games is lost in some freak turn of events, and if that’s the case, there’s always the schedule’s next opponent: NC State.
The Wolfpack had an awful end to its season last year, finishing 3-9 (0-8 ACC), including a 21-38 loss to the Eagles. Despite BC’s massive changes both to the roster and overall strategy in the off-season, it’s a safe bet to assume another big win in Raleigh.
The second half of the season looks a bit harder, with BC facing heavily favored foes like Clemson, Louisville, and Florida State (don’t count on a two-touchdown game like last year). Intermingled in these overwhelming matchups are games against Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and Syracuse.
BC played all three of these teams last season, beating Wake and Tech and suffering one shocking loss to Syracuse during Thanksgiving Break. Despite that loss last year, Syracuse shouldn’t be too difficult of a matchup this year—the same goes for Wake Forest and Virginia Tech.
It is within reason to assume that BC can beat all three of those teams, but the Eagles only need to win one (assuming a win against Maine, Colorado State, and NC State) in order to secure a five-win season.
It is not out of the question that the Eagles can secure six or even seven wins this year, and with wins against NC State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and Syracuse, the Eagles can achieve another 4-4 season in the ACC and bowl-eligibility for the second year in a row.
There is, of course, the possibility that BC loses some of these games that have been marked up as prospective wins—it happened last year to BC, and it has happened to both better and worse teams than the Eagles. The other side of the same coin, however, shows that it’s just as likely that other teams forfeit games against BC. Last year, the Eagles had the closest point differential to the FSU Seminoles of any team they played, and any one of BC’s big opponents might have an off day, leaving just enough room for Myles Willis to wriggle through for a shocking BC win against one of the nation’s top teams like USC, Clemson, Louisville, or FSU.
The projections are out, but the story is yet to be told. Another winning season is within the grasp of the Eagles if they can make it through some tough opponents and barrel their way through the easier ones.
Featured Image by Breck Wills / Heights Graphic