Eagles offense, defense occupy opposite ranks
Brian Plamondon | Friday, November 20, 2015
It’s always a good sign for a football team when its offense gains more than its defense on average. For most teams this season, those numbers fall somewhere around 400 yards per game.
Boston College is unique, however — its offense is dead last in the country, gaining 277 yards per game, while its defense is first in the country in allowing only 237 yards a contest.
While the Eagles’ offense has been inept, getting shut out twice, their defense has kept them in all of their games and prevented any games from getting out of hand. One of the games Boston College was shut out in turned out to only be a 3-0 loss to Wake Forest.
“Their numbers speak for themselves,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said. “It’s the number one total defense in the country, deservingly so. They are very difficult to run the football on, very aggressive defense. Get up in your face, big, physical, strong, outstanding linebackers.”
The Eagles are particularly stout against the run, where they hold teams to just 2.2 yards per carry. Senior linebacker Steven Daniels paces Boston College in that regard, racking up 70 tackles and 15 tackles for loss on the season.
Daniels and company have also effectively prevented big plays, allowing only one rush more than 40 yards. Kelly said Notre Dame, which leads the country with two rushes of 90 or more yards, cannot just rely on grinding out short runs but rather must fight to gain big chunks.
“I don’t think you can make a living with this team or win or score enough points just trying to stack three-yard runs against them,” Kelly said. “It’s going to be a long day. They would hope that that’s the way you kind of play the game. We’ve got to try to find explosive plays, so that’s why [senior running back] C.J. Prosise needs to be in this game.
“So, yeah, there are going to be some three-yard runs, and he’s got to recognize that that’s it. But we hope to manufacture some other ones as well.”
Although Kelly’s squad might have trouble putting points on the board against the Eagles, Boston College will certainly have the same problem with their anemic offense.
The Eagles have rotated through four quarterbacks this season, who have combined to complete only 45.75 percent of their passes this season.
Some of those problems are due to injuries, a difficulty for the Eagles all season across the board.
“We’re not replacing one little piece, we are replacing all the pieces,” Eagles head coach Steve Addazio said. “It’s not just the quarterback. The offensive line might be struggling. We have some young receivers who are super talented, but who may miss a block in the perimeter. It’s always something along the way right now. We tried to simplify it. It’s hard to get a guy ready to play quarterback three quarters of the way through the season with no training camp and spring ball.”
Addazio attributes much of his offense’s problems to youth, particularly having a freshman at quarterback in John Fadule.
“We had some turnovers because we have a lot of young guys with their hands around that football,” Addazio said. “And it has created a lot of problems. Again, if we were more of a veteran, older front, we could go ahead and have more of a power attack and reduce the risk factor on some of these plays and play to our defense more.”
On Saturday, the Eagles will look to eclipse 300 yards of offense for just the third time this season against an FBS opponent. On the other side of the ball, Boston College will rely on its defense to keep them in the game against a potent Irish offense that expects leading rusher C.J. Prosise back from a concussion.
“A long line of very good defenses that we’ve played this year,” Kelly said. “I think we’re going to play seven top-40 defenses this year. … So great challenge for our football team.”