Northwestern 24, BC 17: I set my DVR for this?


Alternate subtitle: We waited eight months for this?

No matter how you slice it, and you can slice it a number of different ways (and I intend to), this was a poor opening to the season for the Boston College Eagles. In very blah fashion, they dropped the 2011 season opener to Northwestern, 24-17. Neither team had their star offensive player, but it was the Eagles who were confounded anyway.

On the whole, I think it was a subpar effort from Boston College (goes without saying, really). I would go so far as to say it was a strange and somewhat enigmatic game from a BC standpoint. Some individuals had good performances, but the overall team did not.  The team fought back at the end, but ultimately fell short.

Some of those good individual performances came from Andre Williams, who did admirably in gaining 114 yards in spite of problems with the offensive line (and most of those yards came in one play — the first play — and on another note, I think the fact that BC didn’t punch that ball in the end zone when Williams got it inside the 5 was a little bit of last year’s offense saying hello). Luke Kuechly, defensive superstar, clearly pulled his weight against the Wildcats, leading the team (what else is new) with 18 tackles and an interception. Kevin Pierre-Louis was next with 16.  Finally, amongst other players, Momah clearly had a good game at receiver.

Then, there were guys who did not have good performances. Sophomore kicker Nate Freese made a chip-shot field goal from 19 yards, but then missed from 31 and 40. The pass defense looked soft — watching this game, it seemed like Northwestern moved the ball at will (I know that isn’t the case, but it did seem like it). Finally, and probably most importantly, the reshuffled offensive line just did not get the job done. Blocking was a big issue and they’re going to have to get a lot better for BC to win.

Boston College controlled the time of possession in yesterday’s game, and that’s at least a small sign of improvement, because the Eagles were 87th in FBS last year in that regard. Another sign of improvement was that BC netted 479 yards of total offense and racked up 20 first downs, in spite of only scoring 17 points (by the way, this is now 17-straight FBS games under 30 points, and 12-straight DI games under 25). From what I saw, the playcalling was definitely improved over last year, and I think Kevin Rogers was able to mix things up adequately. One play that stands out what the first down play action pass to Momah for a big gain. Sure makes run-run-pass-punt seem like a thing of the past.

Another note about coaching. I don’t think there is a single person who has watched Boston College football for the last three years who did not know Coach Spaz was going to kneel out the first half with 32 seconds to go and a timeout in a tie game. I also don’t think he has a clear grasp of when to use timeouts. This is the same stuff we’ve seen for the last couple of years and once again, this act is going to get old quickly. Granted, this was not one of the most major problems I had with the game, but it was frustrating.

It’s not like there weren’t any good things to take from the game, because there certainly were, but there were also things that are, in my case, anyway, causes for concern. It’s important to remember that BC isn’t at full strength and that this is just Week 1, but this was the type of performance that would have gotten them manhandled by a better FBS team. I honestly thought BC would win yesterday, especially given the lack of Dan Persa, but they let a backup quarterback and Northwestern’s offense essentially do what they wanted. When you throw away the total yardage and some of the nicer individual numbers, the bottom line is that the Wildcats (mostly) found the endzone when they had the chance, and BC stalled out one too many times.

Clearly, BC has a lot of work to do, and things don’t get much easier from here on in.  Next week’s game is going to be difficult.