In Saturday’s ACC opener between Boston College football and Wake Forest, the visiting Demon Deacons didn’t always look like the better team—but they did look like the more experienced one.
Led by John Wolford, the most experienced quarterback in the ACC, Wake took care of the ball, capitalized on favorable field position, and converted red zone trips into scores in a 34-10 rout of the Eagles at Alumni Stadium.
For head coach Steve Addazio, the problem is that his Eagles (1-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) aren’t all that young. In Year Five of his master rebuilding plan, the team features a seasoned defensive line, an experienced secondary, and a receiving corps that returned all of its top targets this season, with plenty of talent among the younger ones.
At quarterback, though, the age disparity couldn’t have been more clear. Wolford was cautious with his throws while Anthony Brown, a redshirt freshman, was, for much of the game, erratic. The teenager finished 11-of-29 for 119 yards and a touchdown. His three interceptions were the most by a BC quarterback since November of 2015, when John Fadule tossed a trio in a loss against NC State.
The issues on offense started early, when Jon Hilliman fumbled the ball deep in his own territory. Wolford turned the turnover into points with a beautiful endzone fade to Greg Dortch, breaking a streak of six consecutive punts to begin the game.
Two drives later, the senior signal caller again kept the chains moving for the Demon Deacons (2-0, 1-0). Wolford rushed for an eight-yard gain, then found Chuck Wade down the sideline for 14 yards and another first down. On the next play, he capped off the 64-yard drive with a 29-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.
With six minutes remaining in the half, Brown found somewhat of a rhythm in his second career start under center. The redshirt freshman fired a bullet to Kobay White before a pass interference call brought the ball to Wake’s 23-yard line. There, he picked apart the Demon Deacon defense with short passes in the red zone. Brown started with a dump to Michael Walker, then picked out Jeff Smith with a dart over the middle, and finally found Hilliman in the flat for a six-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit in half.
After the defense forced a punt, Brown and the Eagles took the field again for a two-minute drill, similar to their season-opener at NIU. But this time, a pass intended for White was tipped and ended up in the hands of sophomore defensive back Essang Bassey, who took it to the house for a pick six. Brown’s third interception of the game was also his last throw of the afternoon.
Max Schulze-Geisthovel opened the second half with an out-of-bounds kickoff, and things only got worse from there. After both sides traded field goals, Brown threw into double coverage and was intercepted by Jessie Bates III, who returned it all the way down to BC’s two-yard line. Two plays later, Cade Carney crossed the plane for a three-yard touchdown run to increase Wake’s lead to 31-10.
In the fourth quarter, the Demon Deacons pieced together a six-minute drive that culminated in a field goal, upping the score to 34-10.
The defense actually played deceptively well. Without Wake’s 21 points off of turnovers, it could have been a manageable 14-10 contest late in the game. But the offense, which seemed to find its identity in last week’s 23-20 victory over Northern Illinois, once again faces a serious question going forward. Is this the same old BC team with a new offensive scheme?
Four of BC’s next five games are against opponents that entered the day in the AP Top 25. Two games into the 2017 campaign, and a harsh reality is already beginning to set in. The Eagles may seem like a more talented team than they were last year, but their potential return to a bowl game looks more unlikely by the day, after a game they probably should have won.
This story is being updated.
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor