I hate microcosms.
Especially in the early part of seasons, fans and analysts alike try to take one play or one game and extrapolate from its success or failure to the rest of the season (best recent example: did you guys know that the Philadelphia Eagles revolutionized the NFL offense and won 3 Super Bowls last Monday Night?). This also happens all the time in politics (my day job). Strategists and voters often take a personal story or example and try to apply it to macro-policy making.
Normally, I hate this practice with the burning passion of one-thousand suns. It’s lazy, feelings-based analysis.
But last Saturday as I watched BC defeat Wake Forest 24-10, one defensive series made me rethink my stance. At the end of the first half, Wake blocked a Nate Freese punt and recovered the ball at the 3 yard line. It seemed inevitable that our feel-good ten point halftime lead would only be three.
Coach Addazio’s defense had other plans.
After a gain of two on 1st down, Wake had three chances to move the ball three feet. A stuff on second down and an incomplete pass to the back of the end zone on third down left one play for Wake to punch it in. BC’s defensive line blew up their blocking scheme and stopped running back Josh Harris just short of the goal-line.
When the referees ran over to mark the ball short, my friend and I turned to each other (we were sitting at the opposite end-zone and couldn’t see the play well) and said simultaneously “there’s no way.”
After staring in disbelief for a few seconds, the first thought that came to my head was “there is no way in hell a Frank Spaziani coached team makes that stop.”
Now that might not be fair. Spaz was in fact a very good defensive coordinator for many years. But when he became head coach, this team lost its identity. They lost their aggressiveness, intensity and swagger.
Throughout the off-season, I grew excited that maybe Coach Addazio could bring a little attitude back to this team. Finally, someone who looked like they were excited to have the opportunity to coach Boston College. I hoped this would permeate through to the players, even if they were all “Spaz guys.”
Saturday night, while it was only one game and one series in particular, proved to me that this team is different. The goal-line stands, the blitzes, the turnovers; that’s a defense and a team with some attitude.
I don’t expect them to beat USC this week (that 16 point spread is right where it should be, folks. BC isn’t there yet). I don’t expect them to win more than 3-4 more games this year. But that one series showed me that at least the “soul” of BC football is back.
Is it a little premature to say this after one goal-line stand and one conference victory? Am I breaking my own rule about using microcosms? Sure. But like I said, Spaz’s team isn’t making that stop.
BC football is back on the right track. Small sample size be damned.