Words used to describe the previous defensive scheme at Boston College included “conservative,” “bland,” and “cushiony” (which technically is not a word but it was used). Therefore, when the Spaziani staff was wiped out late in 2012 and replaced by the Addazio staff, including defensive coordinator Don Brown, the expectation for a complete change in philosophy came with them.
In the first year of Brown’s “organized chaos,” results were decidedly mixed for a variety of reasons.
The one key success seen by the Eagles this year has been the sack; with Brown came the willingness to blitz, previously unseen in recent times at Boston College, and the team did well with it. Previously the worst sacking team in the country in 2012, the Eagles jumped to nearly three per game this season. The performances of players such as Kasim Edebali, who led the team with 9.5 sacks on the season, helped make this dramatic increase a possibility.
Boston College gave up fewer overall yards per game this year, and mainly that’s attributable to the improvement in sacks — all of those rushing yards melted off of the opposition totals. Regardless, it was a solid outcome for the Eagles, as they allowed over 50 fewer rushing yards per game this year.
The problem for them is that they allowed over 25 more passing yards, and they were already giving up plenty. The AdvoCare V100 Bowl was an example of the Eagles getting burnt both ways, even through the air by Arizona’s run-first offense. The extraordinarily high passer ratings the Eagles allowed this year should also serve as notice of how the defense struggled to cope in that phase of the game.
Don Brown has been heralded at every stop he’s made during his coaching career, particularly as a defensive coordinator. Therefore, the expectation with Brown was that he would come to Boston College and instantly transform the defense. We cannot discount the successes he had, and the more aggressive defense is appreciated, but at this stage Boston College still needs to upgrade talent. A blitz-heavy scheme is always going to be high-risk, high-reward, and sometimes the Eagles got the quarterback, but sometimes they didn’t. When the latter happened, the Eagles were exposed to some big passing plays. Even in other situations, this team was still exposed to giving up the big play.
In 2013, there were nothing more than glimpses of what the defense could accomplish under Brown. While Boston College did statistically improve in most areas, others left much to be desired and there is still a great deal to fix. As Addazio’s recruits begin to take over the roster in 2014 and beyond, it is critical that we witness steadier defensive success.