There comes a point where you don’t know what to say anymore.
That point has been reached when it comes to the Boston College defense, which, in a span of two years, gone from one of the best defenses in the country to one of the worst.
Coaches, players, bloggers, fans, and anyone else can try to remedy solutions, but the unfortunate truth is that the Eagles have played over half of their FBS schedule for this year and still have not been able to fix their problems. If there is anything resembling good news for this embattled unit, it is that they face a depleted Maryland Terrapins offense this weekend.
First, the Terps. It’s no secret that Maryland has risen to 4-3 so far this season on the backs of their very good defense, but their offense is nothing at all special. In a way, Maryland resembles BC of recent years past with the stout defense and the ineffective offense. The Terps are 116th in total offense (295.29 yards per game) and 97th in points scored per game (21.29). They are also poor on creating first downs with just 15.71 per game (T-113th) and are only slightly better than the Eagles on converting third downs at 33.66% (T-101st).
The quarterback position for the Terrapins has been a matter of great angst this year. Last year’s starter, Danny O’Brien, transferred to Wisconsin. Then, during preseason training camp, new starter CJ Brown tore his ACL and has been forced to miss the 2012 season. Those ACLs are not kind to Maryland players this season, as new new starter Perry Hills just tore his in last week’s loss to North Carolina State. Now, the job will fall to either Caleb Rowe, a freshman, or Devin Burns, a converted wide receiver.
If you’re Maryland, you’re probably thinking that given the very poor offensive ranks your team has accumulated so far, it can’t possibly get much worse, no matter who you throw under center. Indeed, one would think the Terps might stick to the running game more (in much the same way as offensively-inept BC did last year), but that well might be bone-dry as UMD is the only team with a worse rushing offense than BC.
The thing is, they get to face one of the worst run defenses in the country. Boston College went from the #1 rush defense in the nation in 2010 to second-worst (#119) in 2012. The Eagles defensive line has gotten manhandled for the better part of the season and cannot create much of any pressure at all. The linebackers are amassing plenty of tackles, but that’s because the other team is running an obscene number of plays, and they come after the damage has already been done.
To highlight this: Boston College has three players in the Top 50 nationally in tackles, including Nick Clancy at #3, but are dead-last in FBS in tackles for a loss. The Eagles are also in a three-way tie for last in sacks.
Essentially, those tackle totals don’t mean a whole lot, because just about all of them are coming after a gain of yardage and the other team stays on the field too long.
Meanwhile, opponents can throw on the Eagles and do. Opposing teams have a 63.2% completion percentage against BC so far this season, and the Eagles allow 7.25 yards per attempt. One can find far more terrible statistics anywhere else they look, whether in third downs, scoring defense, total defense, or red zone defense. Unfortunately, the only thing the Eagles have been good at this year is staying on the field.
This matchup is a wash because both units are about as bad as the other. Do not be surprised if the Eagles have their best day on defense this season outside of the Maine game. I wouldn’t read much into it, but don’t be surprised if it happens. When you should worry is if Maryland, which was bad already but now has to do quarterbacking by committee, shows up the Eagles defense. Rest assured, if Boston College can’t stop the Terps, they can’t stop anybody.