Bye Week Progress Report: Boston College Football Defense



Soaring to Glory handed out a C+ to the Boston College offense, but could harsher marks be in store for the Eagles defense?

The short answer is yes. It does me no personal good to say it, but yes.

Defensive line: D-

This one hurts. The run defense has been poor at best and this team rarely generates pressure on the quarterback. BC does have natural pass rushers on this team (for example, Mehdi Abdesmad was highly-regarded in this department before coming to Boston College), but the pressure does not happen for a couple different reasons. Three sacks in three games (T-99th in FBS), and ironically enough, none of them were against the only FCS team they played.

BC allows 186.67 rush yards per game (91st), which is so far from where this team was two years ago (#1 in the nation) that it’s practically offensive. Simply put, they can’t shut anyone down at the line of scrimmage, and that’s part of why they’re tied for 88th in college football in allowing third-down conversions and they give up all that yardage.

Linebackers: B-

Without Luke Kuechly, we knew they would take a step back, but even I was caught off-guard by just how much. I still think there is talent here, but tackling is a major problem.

Sure, these players on the opposing team were eventually tackled by someone, but if “missed tackles” were an official stat, Boston College would be near the bottom of the country. In exercising poor fundamentals, C+ or even B- is about as generous as I can be.

During the Northwestern game, tackle totals were very high for several players, which is a function of Northwestern running a program-record 100 plays from scrimmage. Out of 118 tackles that were handed out on the stat sheet against NU, just three were for a loss (including two sacks), which ought to tell you something. Specifically, both Colter sacks were out of the shotgun and not quarterback option runs, meaning Boston College stopped only one rush play for a loss in the entire game. I know Nick Clancy and Kevin Pierre-Louis had 24 and 17 tackles, respectively, but those were some of the quietest high-tackle days I’ve seen.

It’s not for lack of trying, but BC is feeling the loss.

Secondary: C-

The Eagles have been thin back here since Day 1, and with rumors that Al Louis-Jean might be going the medical redshirt route, it will remain as such. Looking over the raw stats, the rankings are higher than I expected when it comes to pass coverage. Our defensive backs have picked off three passes so far this season and have had their moments, but opposing quarterbacks are completing 61.42% of passes against this team, and we all know why (see next category). In spite of this, the pass efficiency defense numbers look good, but that’s because BC gives up the shorter yardage passes so that teams like Northwestern can nickel-and-dime them to death.

Tackling is an issue here as well. Getting gashed on several plays (remember Duke Johnson) isn’t just a problem for the front seven; it’s these guys, too.

Coaching/scheme: D+

We have a “defensive” head coach and a defensive coordinator who largely plays that guy’s way, and yet, the defense is not very good. The cushion does not work with these personnel, coaching has not built up anywhere near adequate depth on this side of the football, and fundamentals have been poor. Again, when players failing to execute is a team-wide epidemic, the players aren’t ready to play and that is on the coaching. The scheme is lousy, too, but execution is a major problem for this defense and the men on the sidelines bear a sizable portion of the responsibility.

Final grade: C-

The defense has been a big, big disappointment so far. Between Miami and Northwestern, the Eagles allowed 975 yards. Don’t give me the “bend but don’t break” speech, as both of those teams are roughly on BC’s level and yet they managed to drop nearly a thousand yards on these guys over a span of two games. No amount of spin can make that sound good. What’s Florida State going to do to them?