The Boston College Eagles defense is a work in progress for new defensive coordinator Don Brown. Taking over a down unit, his players last week turned in a respectable performance which kept the Eagles in the game until such time as the offense could come alive and stage a comeback. What will they be able to do against the Syracuse Orange?
No chart today, but the basics are as follows:
• Syracuse is 93rd in total offense with 365.7 yards per game
• Boston College is 80th in total defense with 415.3 yards allowed per contest
• Syracuse is 100th in scoring offense, averaging 21.8 per game
• Boston College is tied for 70th in scoring defense, allowing 27.3 per game
• Syracuse allows just 1.36 sacks per game, tied for 33rd in FBS
• Boston College totals three sacks per game, tied for 11th-best
Syracuse is not much of a team offensively and that has been borne out all season. Only mighty Wagner and Tulane have felt their wrath; the Orange have scored a grand total of 240 points this season, and 106 came in those two games specifically. Against the nine major-conference teams they’ve played, Syracuse averages just 14.9 points per game; the most in any one contest was 27 against Northwestern in a loss, and they’ve been in single-digits three times.
The Orange are led under center by Terrel Hunt, who has played in each game since Week 2. Hunt is 119-for-202 (59.2%) with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. There’s also Drew Allen, a transfer from Oklahoma, who started the season as the Orange quarterback but was ultimately benched. He has thrown interceptions in each of his last three games in minimal playing time.
In the backfield, Syracuse has Jerome Smith, who is a fine player but he’s no Andre (then again, who is? You know, except Andre.) On 166 carries he has 794 yards, and the team has 2,115 total — just 42 more than our featured running back has by himself. Terrel Hunt has added 336 yards on the ground and ran in four touchdowns, so expect some mobility and expect that the Eagles will have to try to contain him.
Nobody’s receiving numbers on the Orange stand out, but they are led in terms of yardage by Ashton Broyld, who has the most receptions by far with 42 and 364 yards. Go figure, he has not scored a touchdown. Christopher Clark has three of them to lead Syracuse.
Boston College is probably better defensively than what the numbers say, and they say that the Eagles are overall average to a little below-average. That’s not an unfair evaluation at the end of the day but this product in 2013 is a fair bit better than what they trotted out there last season with mostly the same players. The sacks department is where Boston College has seen its most major improvement, with the Eagles going from dead-last in the nation to more than quintupling their total and being in the top twenty. Boston College went from six sacks in all of 2012 to 33 through eleven games in 2013, better known as a 450-percent increase. Kasim Edebali has led the way there with nine and a half sacks on the season. If he can get four more, he’ll set a BC single-season record.
In particular, Kevin Pierre-Louis and Steven Daniels are leading the way at linebacker. Daniels has roared back from a slow start while KPL has been consistently good all season long. Senior linebacker Steele Divitto leads the team in tackles with 96.
The Eagles have had some chances to turn the ball over, but in recent times the secondary has gotten its hands on some balls that should have been caught. No harm no foul since they’ve won four straight games, but when a quarterback hits you right in the numbers, much like if you were a wide receiver, you have to catch it. The bottom line could be much better for Boston College were some of those plays made, but the Eagles are nevertheless getting representative performances this season out of Manny Asprilla and Sean Sylvia, amongst others.
Boston College is not going to wow anyone on defense, but they are going to work hard and try to disrupt whatever semblance of a passing offense the other team has. The defensive line is holding up its end, the linebackers have been fine, and the secondary is making more plays than it used to make. Syracuse, on the other hand, has struggled to move the ball, scoring just over ten points per game over their last five. That’s the sort of offensive futility with which we used to be acquainted, and I think we all know how that turns out. Boston College slightly favored.