Duke at Boston College: Duke offense vs. BC defense


Examining the head-to-head contest between the two units on the field at the time just makes more sense, now doesn’t it.

Today we will check out the Blue Devil offense and see how it stacks up against the Eagle defense. Neither unit has accomplished much in the early going this season and were key contributors to their 0-2 starts.

Duke’s offense is led by quarterback Sean Renfree, who, in two games, has a high completion percentage, but not the other stats to match it. He is 42/60 for just 380 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. Renfree may not have thrown any touchdowns, but at least for Duke’s sake he hasn’t been picked off yet, either. He isn’t getting every chance to throw them, however, because Duke has a habit of tossing backup QB Brandon Connette into the game when they’re close to the end zone. It’s an interesting way of doing things, I’ll say that. Freshman QB Anthony Boone also has nine pass attempts so far this season, so while Renfree is the starter, he hasn’t had a monopoly on early playing time.

Duke’s predictable offense hasn’t been stellar so far (obviously, since I just said they were predictable). They’re doing alright with an average of 253 passing yards per game, but are 100th in FBS at this stage in rushing yards per game and are slightly worse than that in points scored. Playing Stanford probably won’t help, but in the first game, they played Richmond and only managed 21 points (like I should talk — Boston College is averaging 10 points per game, and Luke Kuechly almost single-handedly put 7 of their 20 on the board, but more on them tomorrow).

Boston College’s defense, on the other hand, has been drastically worse than last year in these first two games. Between Northwestern and UCF, the Eagles have allowed 462 rushing yards. For purposes of comparison, it took the Eagles until their SIXTH game to give up that many yards on the ground in 2010. This points to some major deficiencies in the defensive line, which, in Weeks 1 and 2, has been dominated at the line of scrimmage by the Wildcat and Knight offensive lines. What was last year a strength for the Eagles has become a weakness so far due to injury and ineffectiveness.

Fortunately for the Eagles, though, Duke hasn’t exactly been running the ball down anyone’s throat, this year OR last year. They were 104th in rushing offense in 2010 and look to be equally as bad this season. In case anyone was wondering, in the matchup between these two teams last November, Duke rushed for all of four (4) yards against BC. With the Eagles’ struggles, I’m guessing they’ll have a few more this time around. Not necessarily a lot, mind you, but one thing I do know is that if Duke posts big chunks of rushing yardage on the BC defense, that would be a very, very, very bad sign. Besides, one bad game is a fluke and two in a row is a coincidence, but three in a row is a trend, especially if that third bad game is against a team that can’t run the football.

Passing the football is somewhat of another story. Duke isn’t getting a ton of yards in the air, but they’re getting some, to the tune of over 250 per game when you total up the multiple quarterbacks they’ve used. Boston College’s pass defense, on the other hand, has statistically been subpar. Their yards allowed per game isn’t anywhere near the bottom (though why pass when you can run, apparently). It might not seem like it to Eagles fans while watching opposing offenses come right down the field against BC, but it isn’t. When it comes to pass efficiency defense, however, things aren’t as good. BC has allowed an opposing passer rating of 137.25 to this point.

Based on what we’ve seen in the first two weeks from both of these teams, I’m not sure which of these units has the advantage. I suppose that based upon the fact that Duke’s offense isn’t that good, I think it will make BC’s defense look better this week. On the other hand, BC’s defense so far might make Duke’s offense look good, but I tend to believe it will be more of the former. There’s no doubt, however, that while Duke has done its normal unimpressive job on the offensive side of the ball so far, the Eagles have underachieved defensively, and they need to come up big.