The weekly preview series continues on with an in-depth look at the unit matchups; this time, it’s the Boston College offense and the Miami defense. Both have seen some amount of turnover coming into 2012, and there is no data from this season to consider yet, so we’re going to have to extrapolate.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, literally or figuratively, for the previous three years, you would know that this Eagles offense has been under intense scrutiny. Last season, BC was 112th in both total offense and scoring offense (in other words, only eight teams in FBS were worse in each category). Boston College had an extraordinary amount of difficulty scoring points, and there are a number of reasons for it. Quarterback play, offense line, extremely predictable schemes, et al. It’s nothing that hasn’t been said on this site or elsewhere a hundred times before, but here’s a chart to refresh your memory on the way things have been:
There’s no apologizing for it or sugar-coating it: this team has stunk offensively in recent years. Can new offensive coordinator Doug Martin fix it? It’s way too early to tell. I was optimistic about Kevin Rogers, but we know how that went, so exercising a little patience might be in order.
Boston College’s season comes down to Chase Rettig and whichever five guys are in front of him. The offensive line is so critical to everything this team tries to accomplish in moving the football, and anyone who has watched football for more than a few games knew that already. If those five step up, then so must Rettig. This is going to be his year to sink or swim and he needs to find a way to have more than just flashes of poise and accuracy (his O-line keeping Miami’s defensive ends out of his face would also help).
Touching on the tight end situation: when Doug Martin came to BC, there was renewed promise that he would use the tight ends as more than just blockers. Unfortunately, the top two the Eagles have, Chris Pantale and Mike Naples, are injured. BC’s depth chart here is CJ Parsons (converted DE), Dave Bowen (OL), and Liam Porter (OL). It’s doubtful that these three have a great deal of prowess catching the football, but they can block, so setting the depth chart like this is basically an admission that the tight end position is not going to be targeted in the passing game, at least not against Miami. If you want to put a positive spin on it, that will mean a sixth blocker up front who can maybe help buy Chase Rettig the time he needs.
The defense this team will face was decent last season, though they are now short a few guys. DE Olivier Vernon was drafted in the third round, as was LB Sean Spence, to name a few who are no longer on the team. Miami’s defense held up alright against the Eagles in the season finale last year, even though you wouldn’t realize it with the way the game went. Jacory Harris made his defense’s job much harder by throwing four picks and helping the Eagles to good starting field position. Then, of course, Luke Kuechly’s pick-six was the difference in the contest. Neglecting that, the Miami defense was only responsible for 17 points.
I spent a sizable chunk of my summer learning all the names on BC’s roster, not Miami’s, so not all of the names on their new depth chart are familiar to me. They are, however, starting seven upperclassmen in their defense, and some are faces we do remember. LB Denzel Perryman, for example, had 14 tackles against the Eagles in that last contest and is starting at Mike linebacker on Saturday.
This game is a toss-up right now, and not just because we can’t figure out what each team is capable of: we’re not even sure what individual units are capable of right now. The matchup between the Eagles offense and Hurricanes defense looks like it should favor Miami slightly on paper, but they’ve had some changes, and so has BC. It’s enigmatic to say the least and we’ll all find out together which is better this weekend.