2014 Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College Defense Greatly Improved

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Oct 25, 2014; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Boston College Eagles defensive back Justin Simmons (27) reacts after intercepting a pass late in the fourth quarter against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field. Boston College defeated Wake Forest 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College Defense: Looking at the Numbers

Is it perfect? No. Can the Eagles in this department be considered “elite?” Again, no. But they are better, and very good at a few key elements of the game.

First, no evaluation of the Boston College defense is possible without taking stock of their ability to stop the run. When the Eagles stuffed USC and dominated the Trojans up front, completely taking away their rushing attack, that was our first real sign that they were not to be taken lightly. The full season results have confirmed it, with Boston College being ranked fourth in the nation at just under 95 rushing yards allowed per game.

This is part of the reason why Boston College’s time of possession has been solid, complemented by the fact that the offense does run the ball efficiently. When you can run the ball and you opponent cannot, you will succeed in a Steve Addazio offense.

The next is an obvious one with yardage and scoring. Boston College allows low totals relative to the rest of FBS, which is all one can truly ask of their defense. If the other team cannot score, what’s the problem? As always, there have been a few exceptions, but by and large the defense has limited the opposition in the more meaningful games.

Finally, the Eagles have proven effective at causing plays for losses of yardage, which of course goes back to the low yardage totals. The BC pass rush is not as dangerous as it was last season with Kasim Edebali running it, but they have done well at sacking the quarterback and even better at stopping plays in the backfield.

One criticism of the Eagles has been their lack of opportunism when it comes to creating turnovers. They averaged just one takeaway per game during the regular season, which would hurt if the Eagles did not also lead the conference in lack of giveaways with 13 (tied with Duke for first).

Another criticism is the pass defense still yielding too many chances for offenses to move the ball; some of this is due to the exposures related to constantly blitzing.

Boston College Defense: Top Performers

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Boston College’s leading tackler this season has been defensive back Justin Simmons with 70; he also leads the Eagles with two interceptions.

Linebacker Josh Keyes might well be the MVP of the defense this season, totaling 63 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, and four sacks. He was named the FWAA National Defensive Player of the Week following his stellar performance in the USC win.

Defensive end Kevin Kavalec had a breakout season in 2014, posting 3.5 sacks and 37 tackles in increased playing time.

Boston College Defense: Injury Report

Defensive end Mehdi Abdesmad is out for the season after suffering an injury early in the year. He reinjured the knee that had him miss most of 2013.

Linebacker Tim Joy has been out for the year since the preseason with a knee injury.

Boston College Defense: Pinstripe Bowl Forecast

We have seen how the Penn State offense performs, and it does not look good for the Nittany Lions regardless of opponent. On December 27, they face an Eagles defense that has its share of successes. Penn State is going to have to go to the air early and often; Boston College should be able to get enough pressure on Christian Hackenberg to keep the Lions’ offense off the field and their point totals down.