Boston College at Wake Forest: 5 Big Questions

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Sep 13, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston College Eagles defensive back Sean Sylvia (19) reacts during the third quarter against Southern California Trojans at Alumni Stadium. The Boston College Eagles won 37-31. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College at Wake Forest: 5 Big Questions — #2

Is Boston College’s defense as good as the numbers suggest it is?

Looks can often be deceiving in college football, or sports in general, but there is a saying that “you are what your record says you are.” That can in some ways be applied to statistical analysis.

Do most people subjectively consider Boston College to be a top 20 defense nationally? Probably not, but that’s what the numbers say. Perhaps it’s because the names are not flashy enough, the production has at times been inconsistent, and the team in general has been inconsistent, but nevertheless, here we are.

In figuring out if the defense is actually good or not, it might help to (again, subjectively) itemize their performances:

  • UMass: Good. Did what they needed to do against an inferior team and only got gashed once or twice.
  • Pittsburgh: Poor. James Conner and the Panthers had their way with the Eagles all night. Most likely Boston College’s worst defensive performance all season.
  • USC: Mostly good, despite the 31 points allowed. Holding USC to 20 yards rushing and 5-of-16 third downs was about as much as we could have hoped for, and more.
  • Maine: Good. The Eagles gave up one touchdown on a very short field, and got gashed one other time, but Maine was basically not heard from again.
  • Colorado State: Okay. Giving up the score on 4th & long was a huge letdown, but they got many stops in that game against a good offense. Just not enough of them, including on third downs.
  • NC State: Mostly good. After touchdowns in their first two drives, NC State could not move the football.
  • Clemson: Mostly good. A few too many third downs were converted by the Tigers, but they came up with stop after stop.

That should just about answer the original question in the affirmative. The Eagles have had only one legitimately bad game on defense and five that could be considered good to some degree.

Next: Next Page: Question #1