Duke at Boston College: BC offense vs. Duke defense


Boston College’s offense has been just plain offensive since last year, and is now down an offensive coordinator. Duke’s defense was never very good to begin with, either. On Saturday, we have the misfortune of watching both of these units face one another.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for the Eagles on this side of the football, given the losses they’ve sustained through injuries, graduation, and attrition, and the apparent non-improvement of the unit over the first two games of the season, they take another big loss. This one, however, doesn’t involve a player.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers, only two games into his BC stint, has taken an indefinite leave of absence due to an undisclosed health issue. We certainly wish him a speedy return and I will not speculate. The bottom line, however, is that the chaos has deepened. Dave Brock is taking over as offensive coordinator, and there will be more on him tomorrow in “5 big questions” in regards to how the offense will (or will not) change under his interim leadership.

So far, what we’ve seen of the 2011 Boston College offense has been both odd and unremarkable. In the first game against Northwestern, they netted over 400 yards of total offense, but managed to stall out one too many times before reaching the end zone, and Nate Freese’s leg also did not cooperate. In the game against Central Florida, it was bad across the board for the offense, with them gaining well under 200 total yards and only scoring three points. In sum, they have scored 20 points (and you can thank Luke Kuechly for seven of them, as his interception return against Northwestern put the ball essentially at the goal line). That, for the mathematically challenged, works out to an average of only ten points per game.

In fact, I’ve made a chart: this is a graph of points scored by Boston College since last season overlaying total offensive yards per game. (Click to enlarge; the y-axis figures indicate points; multiply by 10 for yardage)

As you can see, the numbers have pretty consistently bad, and unfortunately, since last season, the obvious fluke looks like the Northwestern game as far as yardage, and in terms of points, it was Weber State. An FCS team is the only team BC could hang thirty points on last season, but with the way they’ve looked so far, UMass might escape a similar fate this year. With regard to the yardage: of course, gaining almost 500 yards doesn’t do you much good if you’re not scoring points. Conversely, you probably won’t score many points if you don’t have many yards, either (see: UCF). Boston College’s offensive output has been very stable since last season, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Even when they increase the yardage, like in the Northwestern game or some of the later games against weak opponents last season, they’re still not markedly increasing the point totals.

Duke’s defense isn’t much to write home about, either. Based off of the small sample size of the first two games, which included a loss to FCS team Richmond and Top 5 team Stanford, their defense is ranking in the lower half of all the big NCAA stat categories. Last season, the Blue Devils were 108th in the nation in total defense and 109th in scoring defense (which is almost literally as bad as BC was at offense last season). I’ve made a similar chart for Duke. (Click to enlarge)

This one is much less consistent than Boston College’s offensive chart, but there have been some really, really bad performances on it. Granted, Duke has played some difficult opponents like Alabama and Stanford, but this is a team that gave up over 600 yards to Virginia and over 50 points to last place Wake Forest. Of course, the one that matters most is the last game they played against the Eagles in November of last year, where comparatively, they weren’t that bad. The Boston College game tied with the Maryland game for Duke’s lowest point totals allowed last season, which should tell you more of something about BC’s offense than Duke’s defense, if anything.

What may complicate matters even further for the Duke defense is that they return only six starters from last season’s team, so there is even more inexperience there now. So far, the results understandably haven’t been good (and honestly, I’d expect Andrew Luck to do a few awful things to our defense as well, not that he’ll ever get the chance).

Again, these are two units which have performed poorly on their own. BC’s offense is not really showing much of any signs of improvement, while Duke’s defense is what it is. I’m going to call this a push and/or inconclusive.