FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Connor Strachan only has one gear.
Banged up with a shoulder injury during last week’s loss against Georgia Tech, the senior linebacker fought through the pain and delivered an outstanding defensive performance in BC’s 26-7 win over UMass (0-2).
“I’m not gonna go out there and not play at full speed. That would be disrespectful to all my teammates,” Strachan said. “If I’m cleared to play and I’m going in the game, I’m not going to hold back—regardless of what I got going on.”
The Wellesley, Mass., native tallied a career-high 2.5 sacks for a loss of 19 yards against the Minutemen, including a strip sack of quarterback Ross Comis on a crucial 3rd-and-9 late in the second quarter. With UMass marching into Eagle territory and trailing by just six points, Strachan bulldozed his way through the offensive line and knocked the ball loose for one of BC’s three forced turnovers.
The forced fumble came on the heels of a Patrick Towles interception, proving once again that this defense can pick up its offense when needed.
“They’re absolutely incredible,” Towles said of the defense, which allowed negative-23 rushing yards, the lowest total for BC (1-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) since 1991. “They always make plays on the football. From the back end up to the front, they’re so much fun to play with.”
Earlier in the second quarter, Strachan also made a pair of game-changing plays that kept the Eagles fired up while the offense worked out its kinks.
First, he shot through a gap on third down and delivered a bone-jarring hit to the upper body of Comis, halting the UMass drive and forcing a punt. Although Strachan doesn’t seek out the “truck stick”-type plays on defense, he doesn’t shy away from them either.
“I don’t think about trying to make a big hit as much as just make the plays,” Strachan said. “If you do get a time where you’re coming in clean, you’re coming in fast, and you can light a guy up, definitely. It’s a big momentum swing in the game.”
Later, Strachan showed off his nose for the football when he picked up a loose fumble forced by teammate Isaac Yiadom. On the next play, Towles connected on a deep ball with Jeff Smith to give BC a 13-6 lead—a perfect example of how this defense leads to offense.
No one is safe from this Eagles defense right now. Last week, Strachan recorded eight solo tackles, including a career-high four for a loss of yards. On Saturday, linebacker Matt Milano nearly bested Strachan’s effort with an eight-tackle afternoon of his own, including a sack for an 11-yard loss. Add Harold Landry to the equation, and the linebacker core is as deadly as any. At this point, BC’s front-seven feels that they can match up against the best offenses in the nation—teams like Florida State, Clemson, and Louisville, which come later in the Eagles’ schedule.
“You gain confidence by knowing that the guy next to you knows exactly what he’s supposed to do. So I think that throughout the whole defense it’s like that,” Strachan said.
A strip sack, a fumble recovery, and a hit on the opposing quarterback that registered on the Richter Scale: all in a day’s work for one of the best players on one of the best defenses in the country.
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor