For maybe about half of the Virginia Tech game, perhaps a little less, we saw an intensity from the Boston College defense that has been lacking this season. Until the coaches gave up and went to the “we’re up, aren’t we?” prevent defense, the Eagles looked better than they have in recent games. They’re going to need a similar, full-game effort against a Maryland team that, despite having had some troubles offensively, has managed to put points on the board.
The Boston College offense, as I’ll remind you again tomorrow, has a definite ceiling at about 20 points against FBS teams this year, and about 25 to 30 in the last several seasons. Maryland, though they have had some bad offensive performances, does not have that problem. Their issue is inconsistency.
These are the Terps’ point totals through their first seven games of the season, with offensive yardage in parenthesis: 32 (499), 31 (477), 7 (240), 28 (335), 16 (333), 45 (468), 16 (331). Maryland is all over the place, waffling back and forth from big games to bad ones and from efficient to getting shut down. Still, after what Eagles fans have seen, I think we’d take Maryland offensive output (which includes three 30+ games) in a nanosecond.
Their quarterback is…well, we don’t know. It had been Danny O’Brien, the sophomore who had a great freshman season but has been less impressive in 2011, and then there’s CJ Brown, another sophomore who played in favor of the benched O’Brien for a little while, got injured, and sat on the bench again in favor of O’Brien. O’Brien was Friedgen’s guy, while Brown seems to be more of Edsall’s guy in his offense. The situation is confusing and Randy Edsall has done nothing to help us figure it out. In fact, all indications are that this will be a gametime decision. It doesn’t really matter who as far as the BC defense goes, however, because they don’t put together much of a gameplan, anyway. The Eagles did last week, for a change, but it only lasted for a half.
The Edsall offense statistically seems to be balanced between pass plays and run plays (in fact, there is only a difference of one so far this year: 255 rush, 254 pass). The run game appears to have been a little more prolific for them, however, as they’ve rushed for 10 touchdowns but have passed for nine. If Brown is the quarterback, however, then you’ve got the dual threat: Brown has only passed for slightly more yardage than he’s run it for this year, is the #2 rusher on the team, has the longest run of the year for Maryland, and has two rushing touchdowns in addition to his four through the air. What would seem to need work in Brown’s game is the passing, as he’s only 38/78 on the season.
The Boston College defense they’ll face has had its moments, but they haven’t been consistent, either. Without dragging stats into it again, their rush defense and pass defense have both declined from last season, and there are a number of factors contributing to it. The coach and the media propaganda ministry will tell you that it’s all bad luck, youth, and injuries, but that’s only a part of the story. (Virginia Tech’s defense is banged up, too, and you don’t see them making excuses because they’re one of the better defenses in the country, anyway.) BC’s problems extend beyond personnel issues and into scheme; the Eagles routinely get killed by their lack of adjustments and playcalling. Other things like conditioning may be a factor when one takes into account the second-half folds we’ve seen.
Last week at Lane Stadium, the Eagles got burned several times on bubble screens, and it was maddening to watch because BC kept letting it happen. Since BC kept letting it happen, the Hokies kept doing it, and we saw the same results. We were similarly frustrated with lightening up on the blitzing that had worked successfully in the first half, and the return of the cushion. Of course, the real turning point was, after punting on the VT 39, Spaz going into prevent defense and letting the Hokies score points before the half. If the other team is going to give your offense guaranteed yards through the air, you’re going to take them, and they did. Of course, Logan Thomas’s accuracy was an issue at times, but he did what he needed to do and helped his offense gain well over 400 yards, closer to 500.
I know we have some young guys on the defense, but I don’t think talent are youth are the main issues like Coach “We have a small margin of error” would like to have you believe. For one thing, BC has one of the best linebacking corps in the nation, led by Luke Kuechly, who continues to amass tackles at an eye-popping pace. Second, we have players with experience on the line and in the secondary — Edebali, Holloway, Noel, and Fletcher all come to mind. Finally, with regards to the youth, we’re heading into Game 8 of the season. Usually, freshman that are being properly coached will get better as the year goes along, especially towards the end once they’ve gotten plenty of in-game experience. Instead, they get chucked under the bus and are held accountable for their coaching staff’s incompetence, which is another reason why I’d like to see these young men play for someone better right here at BC.
This looks like an interesting matchup. Maryland can score points at times, but have been quite inconsistent and we don’t even know who the quarterback will be. Boston College’s defense is capable of playing well, but the men in charge haven’t often put them in a position to succeed. Still, I expect our guys to play hard all the way to the end, which is kind of like the band playing while the Titanic was sinking. I’m going to call this a push because I’m not really steered in favor of one unit over another.