The Boston College Eagles walked off the Alumni Stadium turf at about 3:30pm ET on Saturday afternoon, having a winning record for the first time since the end of the 2010 season. This Eagles team might be better than the year before or it might not be, but whatever the case may be, we will not learn that this week.
There were things we did learn, at least as far as how the team conducts its business.
It was easy to like Boston College’s first drive of the game. BC ran the ball to open up the passing game, and it worked. Andre Williams pounded the rock and Chase Rettig did everything he needed to do. That opening Eagles drive was methodical and smooth. I also liked the guts Addazio showed in going for it on fourth down right away — not only that, but throwing on 4th and 1. That set a meaningful message and don’t think we missed it.
It was equally easy to dislike Villanova’s first two possessions, both of which were 75-yard touchdown drives. The Eagles defense held the first time but gave up a fake punt touchdown that had the crowd stunned into silence. The second time, the defense did not hold and just looked confused.
BC’s offense for the remainder of the first half was also a dislike. Chase Rettig went from solid to shaky, not recognizing the wide-open receivers he had and missing some balls low. He also had some passes dropped on him. The Amidon fumble late in the first half right after the pick was painful, considering how good of a game he had otherwise. The offensive line got breached a few times in ugly fashion.
The second half in general was a big like. Boston College made halftime adjustments for the first time in years and played with a much sharper determination. The defense locked it down and the offense opened up again, outscoring Villanova 17-0 after halftime. Chase Rettig went from solid to shaky in the first and then back to solid in the second half, and his final stat line was good. The Eagles set the tone with an 85-yard touchdown drive to open the half and they didn’t look back. Not every play call was a great one, but this week, it did not make a difference. Bobby Wolford had a good afternoon and Alex Amidon is just as good as he was last year.
The chop-block penalty which negated the Amidon touchdown was a major dislike. That’s just inexcusable. Though there weren’t a lot of penalties in general, BC did have more of them and seemed less disciplined. Villanova only had one delay of game.
Generally speaking, the defense was a like. They turned Villanova over four times, and had one or two more prime opportunities. Villanova scored in their first two possessions of the game and then never again, with the Eagles also holding the Wildcats on 4th and Goal. They gave up some big plays, but they also made just as many. Don Brown’s “organized chaos” started coming through late and it was exciting to see. Josh Keyes is one of the most underrated players on the defense right now.
Boston College definitely has work to do. Yet, had they not made the adjustments in the second half, we’d be having a very different conversation today. Rome was not built in a day and we have only seen one game in this rebuilding process that will take years. Though things could have been better in some areas, they also could have been much worse. Other FBS teams were not nearly as fortunate as the Eagles to have won their FCS game.
Though one must be careful not to read too much into a win over Villanova, the good things we saw can’t be completely dismissed, either. The beneficial halftime adjustments and the creativity on defense are things that we will see again. Further, the Eagles got better as the game went on today, and likewise they may get better over the course of the season, though time will tell.
One must be happy for the players, who have been working hard all summer and are hungry to start winning again. There was some genuine happiness on their faces when they ran back into the tunnel after the alma mater. They’ll get to enjoy this win – as should you all – and then get back to work for their short week against Wake Forest.
It was definitely not pretty in some stretches, but after the last few years we just had, every win is especially good. Take it and run.