2012 Boston College Football Notes

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A miserable Boston College football season came to a miserable end yesterday in Raleigh. The 2-10 finish was the worst for a Boston College football team since an 0-11 season in 1978. The Eagles have now lost 18 games in two years. By contrast, they lost only 17 games in five seasons between 2004 and 2008. Needless to say, most of the coaching staff will be out of a job very soon.

The irony of yesterday's game is that the running game was excellent and the defense was solid but the passing game was terrible. For much of the season, BC was putting up great passing numbers but couldn't run the ball or stop anyone on defense. The optimist in me noticed some progress in both the running game and the defense in recent weeks. The passing game has been good this season so hopefully what we've seen down the stretch is not indicative of what we'll see next season. In Chase Rettig's defense, he has taken a ton of hits this season and I wouldn't expect him to be as sharp now as he was earlier in the season.

I know better than to say "things can only get better" and "they can't possibly have as many injuries next year" because you never know what will happen from one season to the next, especially in college football. What we do know is that the Eagles were a young team that will start next season with more experience under their belts. We know that they are likely to be healthier in 2013 (knock on wood) and that Al Louis-Jean could make a huge difference in the secondary. We know that Alex Amidon established himself as a one of the best receivers in the ACC. We know that Rolandan Finch finished the season with two huge games. We know that Spiffy Evans could be a dangerous return man. We know that Nate Freese has become a very accurate kicker. We know that 2013 will be a fresh start with a new head coach. Notre Dame proved that you don't have to be a great team with great talent to win a lot of games. Some improvement, some discipline, some health and some luck could put BC back into the bowl picture in 2013. BC won't play another football game for more than nine months. I'd rather focus on the positives than think about 2-10.

BC certainly wasn't the only team in the ACC who had a disappointing season. Both Clemson and Florida State had very good seasons but were comfortably defeated by SEC rivals yesterday. NC State can't be happy with a 7-5 finish after starting 4-2 with a big upset over Florida State. Wake Forest, Maryland and Virginia will join BC on the bowl non-qualifier list. Georgia Tech will be headed to the ACC Championship Game but they finished 6-6 and were trounced by rival Georgia yesterday (the ACC was 0-4 against the SEC on Saturday and no result was closer than 10 points). North Carolina and Miami had the wins to be bowl-eligible but will not be participating in postseason play because of rules violations. For Virginia Tech, a 6-6 finish is unheard of (worst season since 1992). That leaves the Duke Blue Devils who finished 6-6 and will go to a bowl game for the first time since 1995. They haven't won a bowl game since 1961. CBS Sports is projecting a Duke-Cincinnati matchup in the Belk Bowl. It was quite a humiliating year for ACC football and I'm not just talking about allowing Notre Dame to join the conference in all sports but football.

Speaking of Notre Dame ... the Irish defeated a Barkley-less USC team to finish 12-0 and lock up a spot in the BCS "Championship" game on January 7th in Miami. Notre Dame will face the SEC Champion (Alabama vs Georgia). Notre Dame won all of its games and, given the system we have, deserve a spot in the BCS title game. There is really no controversy this year since the Irish were the only undefeated team and a one-loss SEC Champion is an obvious second choice. But what if Notre Dame had not finished undefeated? Who would the SEC Champion have faced in the BCS title game? Florida, Oregon, Kansas State and maybe even Texas A&M could have all made a case. In two years, we'll have a "final four" type of postseason. That's a good start.

Alabama is projected to be about a 10-point favorite over Notre Dame if the two meet in the BCS Championship (Notre Dame-Georgia would probably have a small spread in Georgia's favor). Betting against Notre Dame seems like easy money. The Irish would probably finish somewhere between 7th and 10th place in the SEC. However, Notre Dame has been on a 2008/2012 New York Giants run of luck all season. When the "playoffs" consists of just one game, anything can happen.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

There were a couple of plays that stand out from yesterday's game. One was a Logan Thomas quarterback sneak on fourth and 1 early in the third quarter. The Eagles appeared to have Thomas stopped but he somehow bounced off the BC defense and barely extended the ball over the goal line before his knees hit the ground. In overtime, BC appeared to have Tech running back Martin Scales stopped on a third and 1 play, but he somehow wiggled free for a first down. The Hokies scored a touchdown two plays later. This took the field goal opportunity away from the Eagles. These kind of plays are typical for a team having a miserable season. Turning one or two plays per game from negative to postive might have dramatically changed this season. I can't help but wonder how this season would have unfolded had Luke Kuechly returned for one more year. Guys like Kuechly make those one or two plays per game (at least) that change seasons.

I am feeling slightly better about the defense. After giving up a jaw-dropping 594 total yards per game over a five-game stretch (Northwestern, Clemson, Army, Florida State, Georgia Tech), the Eagles have surrendered a respectable 385 yards per game during their last four. Obviously, the competition has been weaker, but I do sense improvement. Saturday was also a solid day for a running game that has been non-existent for much of the season. Yesterday's game marked just the third time this season that BC has rushed for 100+ yards - the other two times were against Maine and Army. Almost one-third of BC's offense this season has been Rettig to Amidon. It was nice to see someone else (Finch) have a big day.

By virtue of their win over Clemson earlier this season, Florida State has won the ACC Atlantic. The Coastal Division, however, is muddled. Georgia Tech wrapped up ACC play with a 5-3 conference record. Miami and North Carolina can match that 5-3 with wins next week. North Carolina is ineligible for the ACC Championship Game because of NCAA sanctions but could still figure into a three-team tiebreaker. Miami is under investigation by the NCAA and might self-impose a postseason ban. Miami beat Georgia Tech so a Tech/Miami tiebreaker (if Carolina loses next week) would go to the Canes. A three-way tiebreaker would come down to each team's record against the fourth place team (yet to be determined) in the ACC Coastal since Miami, GA Tech and UNC would be 1-1 against each other (first tiebreaker) and 3-2 in the Coastal Division (second tiebreaker).

There is now a clear path to the BCS "Championship" Game (I love putting quotes around that) for Notre Dame, Alabama and Georgia. If each of those three teams wins next week (ND @ USC, Bama vs Auburn, Georgia vs GA Tech) then Georgia would meet Alabama in the SEC Championship Game with the winner facing Notre Dame in the BCS title game. Auburn is 0-7 in the conference so Alabama is pretty close to a sure thing. If Notre Dame loses to USC and Georgia and Alabama both win next weekend, the SEC Champion would be the obvious #1 team. But who would be #2? Candidates could include Florida, LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Florida State, Clemson and Oregon. A couple of those teams would be eliminated as Florida plays Florida State and Clemson plays South Carolina. Though the SEC is clearly the best conference from top to bottom, I would have a big problem with a two-loss SEC team getting the nod over a one-loss Florida State team that beat Florida. I'd say the same thing about Clemson if they beat South Carolina and FSU loses a second game. Regardless of whether or not Notre Dame beats USC, there could also be some controversy if Georgia loses to Georgia Tech then beats Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. You would think that scenario would still put Georgia in the BCS title game but who knows. Once again, the absurdity of the college football postseason is front and center. There might not be a clear cut #1 OR #2 in two weeks. We might be arguing about which among five or six teams should play Notre Dame in the title game even though all five or six are superior to Notre Dame. If Notre Dame loses to USC and Alabama wins the SEC you can count on some funny business in the voting because some will want to see a Texas A&M-Alabama rematch. This is one of those seasons where an eight-team playoff would be exceptional. The four team playoff that we'll get in 2015 will certainly be an improvement but I still don't think it's good enough.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Eagles certainly had their chances against Notre Dame. The three biggest plays of the game were two Chase Rettig passes that barely missed BC receivers (Dudeck and Amidon) open for would-be touchdowns. The Eagles managed just three points on those two drives. The other play was a third down run by Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson that left him a good half yard short of the first down. The referees gave Golston the first down and Notre Dame scored a touchdown on the very next play. Had the Irish come up short, they may have kicked the field goal instead. So if Rettig connects on those two passes and Golson is not given a 9-yard first down, we may have been looking at 17-17 instead of 21-6. Of course, you could go on forever with the "what if" scenarios but my main point is that BC could have won the game. Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech blew BC off the field. Notre Dame is clearly a better and more talented team than BC, but not by a lot. From a talent standpoint, the gap between BC and Notre Dame is far less than the gap between BC and the top teams in the ACC.

The biggest stat of the game was 11-for-12. Notre Dame converted on 11 of their first 12 third down attempts (11/14 for the game). The Eagle defense was very good on first and second down but just could not get off the field. Notre Dame third down conversions usually involved Golson running for a first down after appearing to be caught in a bad position behind the line of scrimmage. It was incredibly frustrating to watch. Not only did this extend Notre Dame drives but it kept Rettig and the offense off the field. The offense was doing some good things but they just couldn't get enough possessions.

The BC offense was in Notre Dame territory on five of their first six drives of the game (not including the kneel-down to end the first half) but could only put six points on the board. Notre Dame turned the ball over twice on fumbles but BC couldn't convert either miscue into points. Part of the problem was Notre Dame's pass rush which registered five sacks and seemed to get better the closer the Eagles got to the Irish endzone. BC had 20 first downs (21 for Notre Dame) and 300 yards of offense (394 for ND) but Notre Dame capped three of their four long drives with touchdowns. BC had six drives of 30 yards or more with only two Freese field goals to show for it.

Alex Amidon now holds the BC single season record for receiving yards with 1,157. Brian Brennan (1983) was the previous record-holder. Amidon is just three catches shy of Andre Callender's BC record for receptions in a single season. Congratulations, Alex.

Once again, the BCS system is creating problems. Six of the top nine teams are from the SEC but it looks like the BCS Championship game will include two of the three among Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame. All of Kansas State's big wins are against a weak Big 12. They beat Missouri State, Miami and North Texas out of conference (all at home). Oregon's offense is spectacular but they gave up 51 points in their only tough road test at USC. Their non-conference schedule was: Arkansas State, Fresno State, Tennessee Tech. Notre Dame had a very nice win at Oklahoma but they struggled to beat Purdue, BYU and Stanford at home and needed a miracle (and some very dumb Panther coaching) to beat Pittsburgh at home. The SEC teams have been knocking each other around so everyone in that conference has at least one loss. In reality, having one or even two losses in the SEC is more impressive than anything Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame will do but there's a good chance we'll be stuck with two of those three in a "title" game.

The Notre Dame sycophants are out in full force. If either Kansas State or Oregon loses and Notre Dame finishes undefeated, the Irish should play in the BCS Championship. They certainly aren't as good as any of the top six teams in the SEC or Florida State but given the system we have, they would have done what is required to play on January 7th in Miami. However, no one in their right mind could legitimately rank Notre Dame ahead of Kansas State or Oregon. The Pittsburgh victory was a fluke. If college football had a legitimate playoff system, one could argue that "a win is a win" but when the decision comes down to a judgement call, the honest person will consider Notre Dame's win over Pitt as essentially a half-loss. Notre Dame is third in both the AP and USA Polls so most voters are doing the right thing. Some are not. In fact, Notre Dame received one first place vote in each poll. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the one sportwriter who put Notre Dame in the top spot either attended Notre Dame or grew up rooting for them. Some of the voters are undoubtedly putting Notre Dame in the #2 spot. I suspect that they are either Notre Dame fans or just think that having Notre Dame in the title game would be more interesting (they might be right). Whatever the reason, it's pretty disgusting. Then again, everything about the BCS is disgusting.

You can now vote for the 2012 Boston College Football MVP on the home page.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

BC's very remote bowl chances slipped away on Saturday as they lost by two touchdowns to Wake Forest. My hope was that BC would build on last week's come-from-behind victory. Instead, they turned the ball over early and often and squandered yet another huge day for Alex Amidon. Total yardage was about even but BC turned the ball over three more times than Wake (4 to 1). That was the difference in the game.

Saturday's loss probably sealed the fate of Frank Spaziani as well. Had BC made a miraculous run to 6-6 and played in a bowl game, Spaz may have saved his job. Based on your votes at BCEaglesFootball.com, Spaziani's approval rating is 7% (with 88% of you disapproving). That's worse than Congress. It's probably worse than A-Rod's approval rating inside Boston city limits. Coach Spaziani seems like a good guy and he did a great job as the defensive coordinator, but his recruiting has been weak, the majority of the players are not improving as you would want them to and the team is making the kind of mistakes (penalties, fumbles, dropped passes, blown coverages, poor first quarters) that you see when a team is poorly coached. Not all of the blame goes to the coaching staff but when you are not only losing but losing badly, heads must roll.

Boston College won't be going to a bowl this season, so next week's game against Notre Dame is essentially their bowl game. Motivation shouldn't be a problem when the #4 team in the country comes to town, especially when it's Notre Dame. I don't think I'm going out on a limb by saying that Notre Dame is one of the most overrated teams at this point in the season in college football history. They barely survived games against Purdue and BYU and needed Houdini-like escapes to beat Stanford and Pittsburgh. All of those games were in South Bend. The Irish would have lost on Saturday if: (a) a Pitt receiver doesn't drop an easy knockout-punch touchdown pass at the end of the third quarter or (b) if the Pitt coach was smart enough to run the ball to the middle of the field (rather than the hash mark) prior to kicking what would have been the game-winning field goal for the Panthers. Interestingly enough, Notre Dame's best game in recent weeks was on the road against #8 Oklahoma.

Notre Dame has probably been the best team in the country when it comes to taking advantage of opponent mistakes while BC has been very good at making them. This is not a good combination for the Eagles. On the plus side, the enormous "athleticism gap" that we saw when BC played Florida State (and to a lesser extent, Clemson) won't be present when BC plays Notre Dame. BC couldn't hang with Florida State because the Noles were just too fast. If Notre Dame dominates BC it will probably be because they won the battles in the trenches and took advantage of Eagle turnovers.

It's interesting that Notre Dame's primary weakness (the passing game) is BC's relative strength. Everett Golson and Tommy Rees are mediocre at best when it comes to throwing the ball. However, Golson has been very effective running the ball in recent weeks. Notre Dame's running game has been very good and BC hasn't been stopping many running attacks this season. For the most part, Notre Dame has been very stingy against the run (3.3 yards per carry and only 2 TDs) but last week, Pitt's Ray Graham torched them for 172 yards on 24 carries. Notre Dame has also been solid against the pass but Landry Jones passed for 356 yards against the Irish two weeks ago. He completed nearly 70% of his passes despite several drops by his receivers. In other words, Notre Dame is showing some weaknesses. I think there is a chance that BC will move the ball on Saturday, but can they convert in the red zone? The Notre Dame offense seems to sputter more often than not but the BC defense hasn't given me any indication that they have the ability to take advantage of that. I hope they prove me wrong.

It looks like Notre Dame will be about a 20-point favorite in Saturday's game. That gives BC about a 7% chance of winning the game. I'd like to think the odds are a little better than that. I'm not expecting a BC victory but it doesn't stop me from thinking about how great it would be to ruin Notre Dame's perfect season ... again.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Saturday was another ugly day for Boston College football, particularly the defense. In the past two games, the Florida State and Georgia Tech offenses have gained 691 more total yards than the Eagle offense. BC is now ranked 117th in the nation in total defense (out of 120). They also rank in the bottom ten in rushing offense, rushing defense, sacks and tackles for loss. BC actually ranks second best in the country in punt return average but that's mainly due to the fact that BC opponents almost never have to punt. It quite possible that the past three weeks have been the worst three weeks in the history of the program.

On the positive side, Alex Amidon continues to put up big numbers. He ranks 5th in the country in receiving yards with 806 and 18th in catches with 48. That puts Amidon within striking distance of the BC single season records for receptions (Andre Callender, 76 in 2007) and receiving yards (Brian Brennan, 1,149 in 1983). Great job, Alex.

The big news in the ACC this weekend was Duke. With a 33-30 win over North Carolina, the Blue Devils not only became bowl-eligible for the first time in nearly twenty years but they moved into first place in the ACC Coastal Division. Duke's Cinderella story is likely to come crashing down over the next couple of weeks as they visit Florida State and host Clemson, but for now this is a great story. I never thought I'd hear the words "Florida State and Duke ... battle of first place teams" in late October.

Thanks for voting in the Coaching Staff Approval Rating polls. Frank Spaziani's approval rating now stands at 6% (I had no idea that 6% of my readers were part of the Spaziani family). Coach Spaz's approval has dropped from 61% in 2010 to 22% in 2011 to 6% as of now. Bill McGovern was at 90% approval in 2010. He's now at 4%. Offensive Coordinator Doug Martin is +28 (59% approval vs 31% disapproval). If you haven't voted, I'd love to have you weigh in.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Boston College football program has been a little bit like the U.S. economy over the past four decades. There have been recessions, recoveries and a couple of booms. The program had some success between 1970 and 1976 with six winning seasons in seven years. The Eagles went into a "recession" over the next five seasons with a 23-32 record, including 0-11 in 1978. The "Flutie Boom" started in 1982. Over the next three seasons, BC would go 27-8-1 with a Cotton Bowl victory and a Heisman Trophy. After a 4-8 post-Flutie season, the Eagles had a temporary resurgence, winning nine games in 1986. BC would win only 14 games in Jack Bicknell's final four seasons (1987-1990) but the program turned the corner in 1991 when Tom Coughlin took over as head coach. BC nearly defeated #1 Miami in the final game of the 1991 season and went on to win 17 games in Coughlin's final two seasons at Chestnut Hill including the memorable 41-39 victory over #1 Notre Dame in 1993. After a solid 1994 season, BC suffered through another recession with a 17-29 record between 1995 and 1998. This period was "lowlighted" by the 1996 gambling scandal. But again the program recovered and would go to bowl games in twelve consecutive seasons. The peak occurred in 2007 when Matt Ryan led the Eagles to an 11-3 record. BC ended October of that season as the #2 team in the country. Ryan graduated but the Eagles remained competitive. Boston College's win total dropped to 9, 8 and 7 over the next three seasons. Unfortunately, the wheels have come off since then. Dating back to the 2010 Hunger Bowl, BC has lost 14 of its last 19 games. By contrast, BC lost 14 games during a 56 game stretch between November 2003 and the end of the 2007 season.

This season, BC has been competitive against Miami, Northwestern and Clemson - three pretty good teams. There was reason for some optimism but that has disappeared over the past two weeks following embarrassing losses to Army and Florida State. With all due respect to Army, BC shouldn't be losing to a team that lost to Stony Brook by 20 points. There was no shame in losing the Florida State but to lose by 44 points and be outgained by more than 400 total yards was a horrible thing to watch. BC probably has more key injuries on defense than any team in the country but that doesn't account for what has happened the past two weeks. If we're lucky, we'll be able to look back at the past two games as the low point of the latest Boston College football recession.

There are still six games left in the season. I hope the team can find something from which to build for the future. That will be difficult with a head coach who is obviously on the hottest of hot seats. I always hate to speculate on these matters but no one could watch what has transpired the past two weeks and expect Frank Spaziani to be the head coach next season. On the plus side, with a new Athletic Director taking over, the program is in a good position to rebuild. A fresh face may be just what the football program needs.

Bottom line: Stay positive. We've been down this road before.

Monday, October 1, 2012

As was the case against Miami in the season opener, the Eagles got off to a great start against Clemson. The Tigers went three-and-out on their first drive, followed by a nine-play, 84-yard Eagles touchdown drive. The first half was very even with both offenses carving up the opposing defense. Unfortunately, Clemson's offensive production accelerated in the second half while the BC offense sputtered through the third quarter (four total yards of offense in their first four second half drives). The Eagles had their chances to get back in the game. They were inside the Clemson 30-yard-line three times in the fourth quarter but came out of those three drives with just a field goal (the other drives ended with an interception and a turnover on downs).

BC also had plenty of chances to take the lead in the middle of the game but mistakes always got in their way. A holding penalty nullified a late first half surge that probably would have resulted in a game-tying field goal. A promising drive to open the second half was thwarted by a holding penalty that wiped a 20-yard Andre Williams run off the board. Clemson then turned what would have been a long field goal attempt into a touchdown drive when Tigers QB Tahj Boyd ran through about three Eagles to get a first down on a third and ten play. On the very next BC drive, David Dudeck made a freshman mistake by not paying enough attention to the first down marker and prematurely ending a BC drive. It seems like all of BC's mistakes this season - even the small ones - have been very costly.

Let's start with the good news. The passing game, even without a running attack, has been great so far this season. Chase Rettig has already passed for 1,292 yards and 9 TDs (to go with 3 INTs). Alex Amidon is fourth in the country with a 140 receiving yards per game average. Nate Freese is 8/8 in FG attempts and 12/12 on PATs. Nick Clancy already has 53 tackles and Kevin Pierre-Louis isn't far behind with 44.

The rest of the news is pretty ugly. The BC defense has given up 560 and 576 yards in the past two games (more than 600 passing yards and 500 rushing yards). The run defense stats are particularly disheartening since BC had the #1 run defense in the country just two years ago. The 2010 defense coupled with the 2012 offense would probably do some damage in the ACC. The running game continues to be disappointing. BC's first drive was capped by a 30 yard Andre Williams touchdown run. The Eagles would run the ball 23 more times in the game for a grand total of 9 yards.

It was a rough week in general for the ACC. Georgia Tech lost by three touchdowns at home to Middle Tennessee. Virginia lost at home to Louisiana Tech and Virginia Tech was upset by Cincinnati. The ACC has a very legitimate National Championship contender in Florida State but right now it's looking like another down year for the conference. If there is any solace for BC, it lies in the fact that a lot of their remaining opponents look more beatable than they did a month ago.

Overall, it was an exiting week in college football. West Virginia outlasted Baylor 70-63. The Mountaineers had a 300, a 200 and a 100 yard receiver in that game. Geno Smith completed 45 of 51 passes for 656 and 8 touchdowns. The ending made me laugh. After scoring a TD to cut the lead to 70-63 with 3 minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Baylor head coach actually kicked off to West Virginia, rather than opt for an onside kick. The Mountaineers needed just one first down to ice the game and of course they easily gained the first down. That Baylor defense couldn't have stopped a 1st and 40. Georgia beat Tennessee 51-44 (30-30 at the half), Texas beat OSU 41-36 and Miami topped NC State 44-37. Cincinnati went 85 yards in under two minutes to beat Virginia Tech, 27-24. And let's not forget that Duke is 4-1 after a 34-27 win over Wake Forest.

One last thing: Boston College is an early 10 1/2 point favorite to beat Army on Saturday.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A season that started with so much promise (two TDs in the first eight minutes of the opener) is now in danger of slipping away from the BC Eagles. Boston College dropped to 1-2 on Saturday and they still have three top 11 opponents plus Georgia Tech (on the road) and Virginia Tech (at home) remaining on the schedule. They would need to win one of those five games and beat Army, Maryland, Wake Forest and NC State just to become bowl eligible at 6-6. Nobody was expecting BC to battle for an ACC title this season but returning to a bowl game seemed like a reasonable goal before the season. That's going to be a lot more difficult now.

On paper, Northwestern-BC seemed like a good matchup but the Wildcats dominated the Eagles on Saturday. Northwestern outgained BC by nearly 250 total yards. The BC defense couldn't stop the Northwestern passing or rushing attacks. Meanwhile, BC couldn't run the ball (1.2 yards per carry). Chase Rettig threw for 291 yards and didn't throw an interception but the team's 55% completion percentage (I say "the team" because BC receivers drop so many passes) fell well short of the 75% rate for Northwestern's duo of Colter and Siemian. The Eagles had 22 first downs but were only 2 for 11 in third down conversions.

Some good news: Chase Rettig seems to have turned a corner. He's averaging 317 passing yards per game and has six TD passes (and only one interception). Alex Amidon's 122 receiving yards per game is fourth best in the country. Nate Freese is 7/7 in FG attempts and Gerald Levano averaged more than 50 yards per kick against Northwestern.

It's also good news that the Eagles have a week off to regroup before facing Clemson. #10 Clemson faces #4 Florida State on Saturday in Tallahassee. It is definitely helpful to Boston College to be facing a Clemson team that will be coming off a huge game. If the Tigers upset the Seminoles, they could be ripe for a letdown. I realize this is a stretch but I'm looking for reasons to be positive.

I was infuriated last week when I heard that Notre Dame will be joining the ACC in all sports but football. I'd have no problem with Notre Dame joining as a full member but allowing them to join without including football is shameful. I wish the leadership in the ACC would have had the guts and the scruples to tell Notre Dame that they could either join as a full member or not join at all. If all of the major conferences were willing to stand up to Notre Dame, they would have no choice but to join a conference. Instead, Notre Dame will be able to continue their parasitic ways. The ACC will probably make money on the deal and that's about the only thing that still matters to the folks running the college football world.

Monday, September 3, 2012

With a tough schedule, several key injuries and Luke Kuechly's talents in Carolina, wins will not come easy this year for Boston College. That's why Saturday's early Christmas gift the Eagles presented to the Miami Hurricanes is so hard to stomach. If the Eagles fail to make a bowl game, there's a very good chance we'll look back and see September 1st as the reason why.

The difference in Saturday's game wasn't that BC made more mistakes than Miami. The Hurricanes fumbled four times (five if you could a fumble nullified by a penalty), dropped several passes, made a lot of dangerous throws that were nearly intercepted (one was intercepted) and committed nine penalties. The difference was that BC paid a severe price for their mistakes, while Miami was channeling their inner New York Giants by recovering every fumble. There is no preseason in college football so a few extra mistakes in the season opener is expected but Saturday was pretty much a non-stop blooper reel.

The news was not all bad. The Boston College offense produced yards at a pace I haven't seen since Matt Ryan graduated. Chase Rettig looked like the highly-touted recruit that we've been waiting for. It's only one game and total yards don't matter much if you can't hold on to the football but the offensive effort was encouraging and I look forward to seeing if this offense has truly turned the corner. Last season, BC averaged an anemic 299 total yards and 16 first downs per game. On Saturday, they had 541 total yards and 29 first downs. Alex Amidon is already halfway to this 2011 reception total and two-thirds of the way to his 2011 yards total. Chase Rettig failed to eclipse 200 passing yards in his final seven ACC games last season. He threw for 441 on Saturday.

It was a disappointing day for the BC defense. Miami racked up 415 total yards, 110 of those on TD runs of 54 and 56 by Duke Johnson. The loss of Luke Kuechly was painfully obvious on those long runs. The loss of Al Louis-Jean was also quite evident. Miami wasn't making big plays with the passing game (the longest pass play was 21 yards) but they were consistently killing the Eagles on third down (converting 11 for 21). Miami showcased their team speed with a lot of yards gained after the catch on short, seemingly harmless, passes. The BC defense was far from terrible, but a bend-but-don't-break style of defense cannot allow 50-plus yard touchdown plays.

For the most part, BC has gotten a pretty fair shake from the ACC football officials since joining the conference in 2005 (unlike ACC basketball where the referees are absurdly favorable to the traditional ACC power schools). Having said that, BC is probably never going to get a close call at a critical moment. We saw an example of that late in the fourth quarter when BC appeared to score touchdowns on both third and fourth down. These were both extremely close calls and it is tough for an official to determine whether or not the ball was a few inches short or a few inches past the goalline. They marked the ball short in both cases and it's quite possible that they were correct on both. However, calls like that almost always go in favor of the college football elite. In this case, Miami.

One final note. The home page at BCEaglesFootball.com reached 500,000 visits this weekend. Thanks to everyone who has visited the site during the past 15 years.

2011 BC Football Notes
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