Trap games, letdown games—these terms are thrown around at nearly the same frequency with which Boston College runs the ball (64 times in Saturday’s game alone). They evoke a sense of trickery in the mind of the favored team, eliciting a psychological conflict for players and coaches once they become aware of the situation. For BC, the danger of losing focus came true quickly, and the hazard of the letdown game held true during the first quarter of the football team’s game against Maine, as the Eagles got off to a sleepy start.
BC’s coaching staff called a timeout two plays into the game, after Tyler Murphy fumbled on the first snap and Myles Willis ran for a yard. On the subsequent play, Tyler Rouse ran for three yards, and BC was punting from its own 25. Trouble was brewing.
The Eagle defense forced Maine into a three-and-out to give the offense a fresh chance, but Murphy was sacked for a seven-yard loss. Two plays later, he was picked off by Randy Samuels. Before the Eagles could decide whether they were caught in a trap game or a letdown game, they were down 7-0, as the Black Bears took advantage of their hosts.
“We were lethargic,” Addazio said. “We made a bunch of mistakes, which is my responsibility, so I’ve gotta go back and take a look at our preparation.”
Despite their first-quarter struggles, the Eagles were able to get their act together in the second half to pummel the Black Bears in a comfortable 40-10 triumph. BC had to establish its ground game and struggled to do so until Murphy found a hole on a read, which he exploited en route to a 71-yard sprint to the house.
Murphy has been a star on the ground and was one of the top rushing quarterbacks in the country heading into the game. The other part of the dual-threat quarterback’s game has yet to kick into full gear. He was able to find Josh Bordner over the top on a 48-yard touchdown pass, but other than that Murphy mainly failed to hook up with his receivers. Outside of the second quarter touchdown pass, Bordner and David Dudeck were the two wideouts who made catches, combining for 32 yards.
Due to kinks with the passing game, the Eagles went back to their trademark style of pounding the ball.
“You’ve got to level yourself back out and do what you do best, and regain your momentum back, and that’s exactly what we did,” Addazio said.
Games against lesser teams are about taking care of business, and once the run-game was established, the Eagles were able to lock down the proceedings. Taking a 19-10 lead into the break, BC needed a statement drive to get things under control.
Murphy & Co. started the half with an eight-minute, 15-play, 74-yard trek to the end zone, which killed the game off and put BC ahead by 16. Jon Hilliman was integral to that drive, finishing it off with a touchdown. The Eagles followed up their possession by extending the advantage to 23 less than three minutes later.
Addazio was disappointed in his team’s start despite the positives.
“We were afraid of this,” Addazio said. “We were afraid of coming into this game after that tremendous emotional high a week ago. You’re set up for that. No matter how much you say, you just are set up for that kind of half. It’s not acceptable and it’s my job, and that’s just the facts.”
Addazio said that he never felt concerned about his team’s ability to win the game, but he did become aggravated by the poor start. Center Andy Gallik said the team needs to cut off the slow starts, perhaps by warming up better, and Murphy echoed those calls.
“We’ve kind of struggled in previous games with starting fast and that’s something we’ve gotta figure out and fix,” Murphy said. “I thought we were focused, but probably need to come out with a little more energy and you try to fight that.”
The standard for success has been established, though. In the middle of the press conference, after talking about the defense, Addazio paused.
“The level we played at a week ago is the level we have to play at all the time,” he said. “That’s it, that’s just it.”
He knows his team can play at a level required for ACC success, but that has to come on every snap and drive, not just the ones after the second quarter begins.
“I learned a long time ago, cherish the wins,” Addazio said. “You start not cherishing the wins and you start nit-picking too much on that, you’re missing the boat there. But having said that–what needs to be fixed, needs to be fixed.”
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor