In recent years, it has been Boston College’s defense that has won the praise of fans, even when the rest of the team didn’t. It might still be that way in 2012, as 11/12ths of the season remains. What can’t be denied, however, is that if the defense intends to be the best unit on the team once again this year, they did not get off to a good start in Week 1.
The performance by this unit as a whole in their first game of the 2012 season was at best a mixed bag and at worst shocking. Sure, Miami managed over 120 fewer yards of offense than the Eagles did, and the BC defense was only on the field for 26 minutes, 21 seconds, but there were problems out there that cannot be quantified or read in a box score. For example, you won’t see “missed tackles” on the stat sheet, but the Eagles had plenty of them. You also won’t see “lack of pressure on the quarterback” (unless you see the sack total of one, but even that doesn’t capture it completely), “players out of position,” or “general ineffectiveness.”
Miami converted 11 third downs on Boston College, and the Eagles got shredded by Hurricane running back Duke Johnson. In total, the run defense, which was #1 in 2010 and fell to #59 last season, allowed 208 yards on the ground. Yes, Duke Johnson has a lot of talent, but he’s not the only good running back BC will face this season, so they definitely need to tighten. Of course, not having Luke Kuechly as a linebacker to help stuff their run game exposed some deficiencies that were otherwise concealed last year. Kuechly was a tackle magnet in basically all regions of the field, and now, BC doesn’t have that. Talents like him only come around once in a long while, and we don’t have one now, so Boston College will have to accept our current roster as the “new normal,” at least for this year.
Will the Maine offense they face this weekend light them up in the same way that Miami did? It’s highly doubtful, but it’s just as unlikely that the Black Bears will stay off the scoreboard. Almost all of their stats are accumulated against FCS competition, but for reference, Maine averaged 29.3 points per game, 373.3 yards per game, and less than one fumble per game (12; 7 lost).
The starting quarterback for the Black Bears will be — well, nobody knows, since Maine doesn’t seem to want to do this whole depth chart thing. Last year, it was Warren Smith, who is no longer on the team. The competition here has been between former backups Marcus Wasilewski and John Ebeling. (Footnote: Wasilewski went to the same high school as Dave Shinskie.) Maine is returning seven starters on this side of the football this year, which apparently is a spread offense or close to it.
Trying to compare these units would be useless because of the disparity in level (and subsequent disparity in talent). All that can be said with some level of confidence is that the Eagles’ defense is better, despite how they performed last week, but if there isn’t at least some improvement, Maine might score a few more points than fans would expect.