At this point last year, Boston College football fans were starting to forget what a first down was. Who could blame them? The Eagles didn’t even manage 20 points per game last season while the offensive philosophy was stale and more bereft of creativity than at least half of this Fall’s new sitcoms. Then, at least for a short burst of the 2012 season thus far, Boston College’s offense came alive and gave the fans hope, but how much hope?
Let’s break the offense down into sub-units and evaluate performance over the first quarter of the season.
Quarterback (Chase Rettig): A-
I went back and forth between a B+ and A-, but settled on an A- as an added bonus for the improvement he has shown this season. Rettig has not been perfect, but he is as good as we have seen him. He was phenomenal in Week 1, good in Week 2, and respectable in Week 3. Rettig is not turning the ball over and is making fewer bad decisions. He has shown poise and confidence and his accuracy is much better than it was. This is the quarterback we thought we were getting. If anything, this should be a lesson to all you folks in football land: bad coaching can suppress talent, and good coaching can help bring it to the surface. Doug Martin has brought Chase’s to the surface, and Jim Bollman helped his offense line figure out how to protect him long enough to show that talent.
Running backs: F
There is no way to put this delicately, so here goes: the Eagles’ run game has been atrocious. The longest run play for the Eagles this year has been only 16 yards, and running backs are responsible for just one touchdown on the ground in the first three games. BC averages only 3.0 yards per carry. The Eagles are tied for 111th in FBS in rushing yards per game and 114 FBS teams have more rushing touchdowns than we do. Oh, and they fumble all the time. If there is a way to sugarcoat this, I’d like to hear it.
The Eagles have rushed 96 times this season, which is only 89th-most in the country, so hardly a lot, but if you see how BC has played there, you’d know why. BC is 106th in FBS in fumbles lost, and four were committed by one of the running backs. For anyone thinking it, I’m not sure how big of a help a healthy Montel Harris would have been this year, considering how little help the run blocking is giving the backs. Perhaps it would have mitigated the fumble issues.
Boston College is hurting without Chris Pantale and Bobby Swigert, but as passes get dropped, so goes this grade. This team has had more than a few of them and it’s not a talent issue. If you play college football, you should be capable of catching.
Alex Amidon is the team’s top receiver now by far and he’s doing the best he can given the circumstances, but Rettig needs other reliable targets. Johnathan Coleman has had his moments and Spiffy Evans has to hold onto the football. RB Tahj Kimble has the second-most reception yardage but has also had his not-so-great moments. Nobody else has moved the needle.
Offensive line: C+
This group has been good in pass blocking but poor in run blocking. Good thing BC passes a lot more than it runs these days or this grade would be lower. Chase Rettig is being protected better than he has been in the past, but the running game is going absolutely nowhere, and these guys deserve some of that fault as well.
Offensive Coaching/Playcalling: B
Again, better, but not perfect. Doug Martin is calling some good games, though the execution has at times been lacking. Typically, when a number of guys are having issues executing or playing fundamentally sound football, it’s a lack of preparedness and that is on the coaching almost one-hundred percent of the time. BC is certainly improved in the coaching aspect overall, having upgraded at offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, but there are still too many issues to give high marks.
Final grade: C+
Considering Boston College’s offense was about a D- last season, this is an improvement for certain. There is lots of room for improvement, however. Without the ground game, the rest of the offense has a B average, but the fact of the matter is that Boston College does not have an effective running attack right now, at all. That hurts quite a bit and one-dimensional offenses don’t typically get good grades.