Steve Addazio walks into the press conference, a large smile across his face. He looks up at the ceiling, somewhat in exasperation, and lets out a huge breath. He plops down behind the microphone and gives his usual spiel about how he thought his players did. The Boston College head coach constantly repeats how he thought that his Eagles did what he expected them to, what everyone expected of them.
Eventually, he tires of the circuitous nature of the press conference. As Dudes generally do following onslaughts of epic proportions, he grows bored. And hungry. By the end, he has but one demand: a slice.
“I’m gonna 86 outta here, get a hot shower, and hopefully get some nice a’pizze,” Addazio said.
It’s hard to blame him for such a curt reaction following BC’s 76-0 dismantling of FCS team Howard University (0-2), the second-largest point output by the Eagles (2-0) in their history. The team broke its record for fewest yards given up in a game, as the Bison gained merely 11 yards—Howard’s yardage remained in the negatives until the tail end of the game. This shattered a 44-year old record of 52 yards allowed that the Eagles set on Nov. 28, 1970 in a 54-0 shutout of College of the Holy Cross.
Even the lopsided score doesn’t give the full picture of how much of a hurting BC put on the Bison.
Howard barely began the game before falling well behind—on the first play, the team moved back five yards to its own 20-yard line on an illegal procedure penalty. That would be the last time Howard saw its 20 until the second quarter. The Eagles forced nine consecutive three-and-outs, keeping the ball in their own territory throughout the entire first quarter. Their first two offensive drives lasted under 40 seconds and took a total of three plays and 17 yards. That’s not to mention linebacker Connor Strachan’s pick-six of Howard quarterback Kalen Johnson.
After the first, the Eagles had already put up 41 points. That’s more than they had scored in any game since Andre Williams ran for 295 yards and two touchdowns in Las Cruces, NM on Nov. 9, 2013 against New Mexico State—yes, the same New Mexico State that broke its contract with BC and forced Brad Bates to reschedule a second FCS game. The slaughtering caused the two sides to agree to shorten the third and fourth quarters to 10 minutes apiece.
The individual awards? Let’s begin on offense, where BC racked up a whopping 483 total yards, most of which came from the second- and third-string squads. As they typically do, the Eagles racked up 347 yards on the ground from 10 different backs. Starter Jonathan Hilliman played sparingly, mostly to prevent risk of injury according to Addazio. In his place, Myles Willis gained 77 yards on seven carries in his speedy recovery from a mononucleosis diagnosis last week. Tyler Rouse upped his case to include his name in the regular starting rotation, locking down another three rushing touchdowns, most of them early in the game.
Perhaps the most impressive ground performance came from third-string quarterback Jeff Smith, who showed Tyler Murphy-esque speed on five carries for 89 yards and three touchdowns.
“That’s something we knew he could be,” Addazio said. “He’s exceptionally quick.”
And while it’s important to remember BC’s opponent in all of this, it poses at least a better sign of positive things to come with the offensive line. Addazio was not happy at all with the amount of negative rushing plays caused by breakdowns in the line last week against Maine, another FCS opponent. This week gave a little boost to his confidence.
All of the running came at the expense of the passing game, which was quite efficient despite the limited attempts. Darius Wade tossed 3-5 for 30 yards and a touchdown, while Troy Flutie and Smith combined to throw 9-10 for 106 and a TD. The lone passing positive came from Harrison Jackson, who made a circus catch down the left sideline that forced a review by the Bison.
Defensively, the Eagles shined again. The unit combined for 11 TFLs for a loss of 47 yards, including four sacks. The highlight-reel sack came from linebacker Steven Daniels, who broke past Howard’s center in under a second to grab Johnson before he came close to handing off the ball to running back Ricquaz Brannon.
And if not most important, the special teams unit launched every extra point across three different kickers—Alex Howell, Mike Knoll, and walk-on Jake Wilhelm.
But still, Florida State looms ahead this week. Though Addazio doesn’t question one bit that his players don’t recognize the change in difficulty between an FCS opponent and the defending ACC champion, he does worry that his boys won’t be warmed up to the game speed.
“What’s going to happen Friday night is going to be so radically different,” Addazio said. “There’s nothing in between.”
Nevertheless, the Eagles have something to celebrate given their performance. They shook off any initial rust from last week’s Maine game, and they put on an interesting performance, to say the least.
So enjoy your Roggie’s, coach. The season begins on Friday.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor
Gallery by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor | Alec Greaney / Heights Editor