As Boston College football gears up for its game against the University of Louisville, one word to describe the atmosphere around the locker room is optimistic, a feeling that the team had not truly experienced in nearly two years. The team desperately needed a win after falling to Syracuse last week, and facing NC State on the road was no easy task. Nonetheless, thanks to the late-game heroics of running back Davon Jones and tight end Tommy Sweeney, BC came out with a victory, breaking its 12-game ACC losing streak.
“Food tastes a little better,” quarterback Patrick Towles said regarding the win last week. “The attitude has picked up a little, and we’re super excited about a great chance on Saturday.”
Coming off this much-needed win, BC has a lot of momentum going into Saturday’s game against Louisville, showing potential for an upset. But it won’t be easy at all, especially with potential Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson on the team. Jackson is arguably the most versatile quarterback in all of college football, with 2,522 yards passing and 996 yards rushing, as well as a combined 38 total touchdowns. He has led the Cardinals to a 7-1 record, and even the best defenses in college football have struggled containing the college superstar.
“He is unbelievable,” head coach Steve Addazio said about Jackson in his Monday afternoon press conference. “The guy is electric running the football and he has a tremendous arm with unbelievable weapons down the field. I mean, this guy is as good as anybody I’ve seen.”
If BC is to pull off another upset, the team’s primary concern must be to contain Jackson. Last season, the Eagles shut down Jackson, keeping him out of the endzone while picking him off twice. In addition, not only did they lock down Jackson’s passing game, but they also limited his rushing yards to only 15 in 14 attempts for a subpar average of 1.1 yards per carry. BC’s tough defense came up with many big plays, such as a 34-yard return on a fumble recovery by defensive end Harold Landry, but the team came up just short of victory. Landry, who currently leads the nation in sacks with nine, was a key member of the lockdown defense played against Louisville, and he knows that Jackson is a much-improved player this year, and that it will take a collective effort to stop him.
“You’ve got to be disciplined on everything you do out on the field, and you’ve got to make good judgments on every single play,” Landry said. “One play can get you beat, and everybody’s just got to do their job and we’ll be alright.”
Jackson is deadliest in the open field, and if the Eagles are looking to contain him, it starts with limiting his running game. Therefore, to prevent another rushing explosion from Jackson, one of the biggest keys of the game for BC will be to limit the number of missed tackles by focusing on different angles of pursuit. This starts with the leaders of BC’s defense, including defensive tackle Truman Gutapfel, working to keep Jackson in the pocket to prevent potential big yard rushes. Gutapfel, who anchored BC’s defense last season with 26 tackles, understands the importance of working together as a unit to restrict Jackson’s running game.
“We’ve got to get everybody on defense running after him,” Gutapfel said. “You just can’t rely on one guy to make the tackle. Our pursuit is big this game.”
As for the offense, the strategy for the game will be very simple: limit dropped balls and follow offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler’s game plan. Prior to the NC State game, the ability to catch the ball had been a recurring problem for the Eagles receiving corps throughout the year. BC’s offensive efficiency, which is the value generated by a team’s offense, is currently ranked 126 out of all 128 college football teams in America, and this problem can be largely credited due to dropped passes. Even so, BC receivers worked hard to address the issue during practices, and during the NC State game, the amount of dropped balls was noticeably cut down, helping the offense to be more successful. The other key to success for BC is to take advantage of Loeffler’s playcall. As demonstrated in BC’s unique play when running back Davon Jones threw the game-winning touchdown against NC State last week, Loeffler’s play-calling ability is a positive aspect of BC football.
“I think he’s an offensive genius,” Towles said. “I think he called a spectacular game, and he called an awesome game against Syracuse too, we just missed a lot more opportunities.”
To maximize the team’s success, BC’s offense must stick to Loeffler’s game plan and take advantage of every scoring opportunity possible. Offensive efficiency will be an important factor, and mistakes such as turnovers and dropped catches need to be limited.
BC has officially been revitalized after its win against NC State, and by working collectively as a unit on defense and limiting its mistakes on offense, the Eagles will have a great chance to pull out one of the biggest upsets in college football this year.
Featured Image by Savanna Kiefer / Heights Editor