Assessing Mediocrity: What To Make Of The Boston College Football Team

Boston College's football team is not very good, this much we know. But where does the blame lie for the disaster in Chestnut Hill? Some suggest it's a matter of chance that BC is bad while others blame coaching. The answer lies in between.

If you believe what has been written in one major newspaper, the Boston College Eagles football team is not that far off from being decent. If you believe the content that's been swirling on the web, the Eagles are far from decent, even borderline horrendous.

So where does the truth lie? As usual, it's somewhere in the middle.

Boston College fell to 1-6 (0-4 ACC) after another disappointing yet predictable loss to a talented Virginia Tech team on Saturday. The outcome wasn't surprising in the least, as the Eagles stumbled out of the gate in the second half and couldn't get much of anything going on offense after having a somewhat successful first half in which they took a 7-6 lead into halftime. But once again, the Eagles couldn't get the job done on the field.

Sound familiar? It should, because BC hasn't been able to get the job done in six out of seven games this season, and they one time they did 'get the job done' was against an FCS team - the UMass Minutemen - that just lost to the University of New Hampshire in the second and possibly final Colonial Clash on Saturday.

No, success hasn't found its way to Chestnut Hill this fall, that's for sure. But what should fans make of the mess that inhabits the turf inside Alumni Stadium each weekend? Where does the blame lie for this mess?

Well, for starters, you have to blame the coaching. There have been too many questionable decisions and failures under the current regime, and that's just this year alone. The fact of the matter is that its time for a change on the sidelines. 

On offense, the Eagles are using their third offensive coordinator - ex-tight ends coach Don Brock - in two seasons. After Gary Tranquill retired at the end of last season, the Eagles brought in former Minnesota Vikings quarterback coach Kevin Rogers, who mysteriously left the Eagles after only two games with what the school said was an illness.

But even with Rogers on hand, it's not like the Eagles had much success on the offensive end of the ball, losing 24-17 in Week 1 and being blown out of the water by Central Florida, 30-3. With Brock running the offense, it hasn't been a much better result. In the five games with Brock running the offense, the Eagles have averaged 22.2 points, and that's including the 45-point effort against FCS Massachusetts. Take that out, and BC is averaging 16.5 points per contest.

After their loss to Virginia Tech, in which BC scored 14 points, the Eagles are averaging 18.7 points and are ranked 108th in the nation out of 120 teams. The Eagles ground game has been worse than the passing game, as BC averages only 114.3 yards on the ground (102nd in the nation) while averaging 197 yards through the air (91st in the country).

The Eagles are dead last in scoring offense and total offense in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and are second to last in passing offense and pass efficiency (108.5). It's clear that the offensive playbook just hasn't been working, with Tranquill, Rogers or Brock.

On defense, it's a slightly different story. While the defense has shown its flashes, like in the first half against the Hokies, it has still been a poor unit. Luke Kuechly has been about the only exception, as he continues to dominate the art of tackling and leads the nation in tackles with 118 and now has 443 for his career. But outside of Kuechly, it's not pretty.

The defensive line is very shaky, the secondary is in shambles and has been since the start of the season. BC is 11th out of 12 teams in the ACC in total team defense, allowing 428.3 yards per game in a category that used to be head coach Frank Spaziani's strength. In addition, the Eagles are 10th in passing defense (262.7 yards allowed per game) and eighth in rushing defense (165.6 yards per game), an area where they led the nation one season ago.

The rush defense has been problematic, but it's really the pass defense that has been bothersome. Spaziani's defense uses the mentality that, if they allow the other team to complete the short passes and stop the long passes, they'll be alright. The problem is that they haven't been doing either. Opposing offenses know this about BC, and they'll simply take the short pass more often and work their way down the field. They know that the Eagles can't stop them.

However, you can't completely blame the coaching staff, although they do harbor about 80 percent of the blame. The other 20 percent (or more, if you truly believe that the coaches aren't the main reason BC is losing) lies with the players, because at the end of the day, they are the ones who go out and make the plays.

Chase Rettig, in his second year of college and starting at quarterback, has appeared to regress, partly due to his own mistakes and partly because of a very shoddy offensive line. Rettig has completed 114-of-219 passes for a 52.1 completion percentage, 1,362 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions. He doesn't even rank in the top ten in the ACC in passing efficiency, which is troubling where there are only 12 teams. Not the numbers of an improving QB.

The running game has been riddled with injuries, as has the receiving core, which doesn't help when you have an inconsistent quarterback. The bottom line is, if your players aren't producing, nothing will be accomplished. The Eagles could have Bill Walsh on the sidelines, but still not be able to win with this current group.

Still, in college football, the players on the field are determined by the coaches. If a coaching staff doesn't recruit well, it can't succeed. and thus can't put out a good team on the field. It's not like in the NFL where a coach can only play the hand he is dealt. The coach, in this case Spaziani, is responsible for the play on the field as well.

While it is mostly the coaches faults, some blame does go to the players for the mess in Chestnut Hill. If Boston College wants to compete for the Orange Bowl, as Spaziani said he planned on doing at the start of the season, both will need to be fixed next season, because this one is a lost cause.

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