On BC’s Thanksgiving Win

It was an impressive win.  It wasn’t miraculous, like last week at Wake Forest.  It wasn’t dominating, like the week before at Florida State.  But the victory sure was methodical, the defense dominating, the offense sufficient, converting two turnovers while committing none, and the coach making aggressive calls.  It wasn’t an easy win, but it was a hard fought one in which Boston College always seemed to be in control.

The game says a lot about a team that I had picked at best to go 8-4, likely 7-5 and bracing for 6-6.  The offense, which was managed well by a backup quarterback, has come a long way since its first loss against Georgia Tech when it couldn’t score a 6 if it was given the ball on the opponent’s 10.  I was impressed by three drives on the offense:  the opening drive, in which it marched right down the field and got a touchdown, the one-play touchdown drive after the interception, and the last drive that started at the 5 and ended with a punt at the 45.  The last one burned nearly 5 minutes off the clock by successfully running the ball when everyone in the stadium expected it and converting several third downs.

Everyone contributed to the offensive success against a defense which, I’ve been told, is fairly good.  We’ve become used to Harris turning a 2 yard gain into an 8, but we shouldn’t overlook Harden, who had his share of impressive carries by gaining 49 yards on 8 tries.  Davis did his part, throwing for two touchdowns and no interceptions.  What impressed me, though, was his decision-making.  I saw one bad pass that could have easily been a turnover, but otherwise, he didn’t force any throws and never looked to be in danger of fumbling the ball away.

And Steve Logan?  I’ve said this before and I’ll repeat it again.  The biggest improvement of Coach Jags’ team over O’brien’s is in the playcalling by the offensive coordinator.  Yes, the offense occassionally stalled, but there wasn’t the feeling the offense wasn’t going anywhere.  Logan did a nice job of mixing things up while tailoring the plays to the players he had.  I would’ve liked to have seen more screen passes and play action, but that playaction touchdown pass after the interception?  Exactly as I’d called it in the stands.  (which, come to think of it, may mean that Logan didn’t do a good job).

As for the defense, what really can you say for the group that consistently scores points (six games and counting).  By holding Maryland to -6 yards rushing, the Terps’ offense became strictly one dimensional (although, to their credit, they really never abandoned it).  Sure the defense was torched in the air, troublingly allowing Turner to convert several third-and-longs, but one dimensional offenses have a tendency to stall; eventually, the pass will be dropped if the defense plays it.  Much like against FSU, stopping the run proved to be enough.

I also can’t say enough about the coaching, not just in this game but throughout the season.  Fake field goal said, “we going for the win,” not “we’re not going to lose.”  That Davis successfully managed the offense despite being the starter for only one week said Davis was coached well during the past week and the playbook was appropriately adjusted.  That the team stands at 9-3 instead of 6-6 as pundits predicted says the coaching staff gets the most out of the players who are, let’s be honest, the leftovers of the recruiting efforts by the southern schools.  That Coach Jags stood on the sidelines with the mic and rallied the fans with his seniors says he’s got charisma and passion, something solely lacking with O’Brien.

What impressed me most about this season is that the team finished with four straight victories, three in the conference.  It’s easy enough to say the team is in control of your own destiny.  That’s always true at some point in the season (I recall saying that every year with O’Brien).  The question is whether the team can fulfill the destiny and I would not have thought three straight victories against Florida State, Wake Forest, and Maryland was even in the realm of possibility.  It’s not that I think BC is bad; it’s just that I think all teams in the ACC are good enough to beat BC even on its good day.

I will not be going to Tampa for the ACC championship.  The record six and a half hour round-trip to Boston on Saturday was tough enough.  But I will be watching, with greater confidence than last year that this team is going to go to the Orange Bowl.  And you know what?  I think this team led by Coach Jags has a shot at being good for many years to come.

P.S.  For all the knock on the ACC, no conference has come close to producing 10 bowl eligible teams with another having a shot until the season finale.  It also went 3-1 against the SEC on Saturday.  The conference may not have one dominating team, but everyone (including Duke) has the ability to beat another on any given Saturday.  That should count for something.


8 Responses to “On BC’s Thanksgiving Win”

  1. 1 Chris Schroeck December 1, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    The win over Maryland reminded me of the win over Florida State. I just always felt like we were in control and in charge. Anytime you have a defense like ours and you avoid turnovers you have a pretty good shot.

    And yeah, Maryland became totally one-dimensional. You just can’t have that happen and expect to win a game.

    I expect us to make the Orange Bowl now. Last time we played Virginia Tech we won despite turning it over five times. We ought to be able to do better this time.

    I won’t be able to make the ACC title game, although I did look into it. The airfare is just too expensive. However, if we make the Orange Bowl I may just have to go. I mean, how often is BC going to make a BCS bowl? That just seems too good to pass up. If I can’t afford the airfare, it’s only a 15-hour drive from here to Miami. Joe, do you want to come down to Charlottesville and we can drive down if it happens?

  2. 2 joesas December 1, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Yeah, I agree that FSU and Maryland games were alike, although I think we were much more dominant against FSU. I think that’s what makes the Maryland game a little more impressive. We may not have played the best we can, but we’re still good enough to control the game against a talented opponent.

    I expect BC to win the game as well. V-Tech has no offense. V-tech’s defense may be good, but we should be able to score some points off of them. The usual defense, sticking with Harris and an occasional play action by Davis should be enough for us to win.

    I would LOVE to go to Miami for the Orage Bowl. That’s what we’ve been wanting out of this team for years. Unfortunately, I’m out of the country, in Japan for the New Year’s. It really, really sucks, because I think I would go if I were in the States, with friends being in Miami and all.

    You should go, though. It may be the last time in a while, even assuming BC gets to go.

    P.S. Did you read the following condescending but sadly partially accurate statement in ESPN’s Big East blog?

    “Orange Bowl officials are deathly afraid of a Boston College-Cincinnati matchup. BC has one of the worst reputations among BCS schools for not bringing fans to bowl games, which is why the Eagles usually get shipped off to less-than-desirable locales. Even though Boston College is ranked 17th and the game would pit two big-city teams against one another, I doubt that matchup would create much of a buzz anywhere.”

  3. 3 Chris Schroeck December 1, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    It’s true though. BC vs. Cincinnatti will be a terrible matchup as far as TV ratings and ticket sales goes.

    Virginia Tech v. Cincinnatti won’t do that much better though.

    Hmm, I will have to find someone else to drive down to Miami with me.

  4. 4 joesas December 1, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Man, what I’d do to get a shot at going to the game. I deeply suspect Cincy ain’t as good as they or the rest of the nation thinks, so I think BC has a shot at continuing that bowl victory streak in a good bowl game for a change.

  5. 5 Joseph Lee December 1, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I was around, you should have stopped by. Oh well, I’m glad you enjoyed the game though.

  6. 6 joesas December 2, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Sorry Joseph! I got together with you last time, so, although feeling bad, I contacted another buddy to grab dinner! No offense. Really. Pleeze. Forgive me. We’ll get together next time.

    It was a good game indeed.

  7. 7 Chris Schroeck December 4, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    I thought of one more thing about this game. The aggressive playcalling after the interception and the fake field goal, combined with the onside kick against FSU…those plays are really making me happy. Too much of the Tom O’Brien BC era (and parts of the Jagodzinski one, too), has been defined by “we’re ahead, don’t screw up” or “a tie at the break is ok.” Whenever Jagz/Logan/whoever calls one of these “go for the kill” type plays, it makes me think that we have come a long ways and are on the right track. This year, with a mediocre offense, we simply have to take some shots. Sometimes they’ll work, sometimes they won’t, but at least we’re trying.

  8. 8 joesas December 5, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Absolutely, I agree with you. I love the aggressive style and regardless of whether the offense is efficient, I think it’s always necessary to ‘go for the win.’ That famous O’Brien quote at haltime of that Miami game was so troubling: when asked what adjustements he intended to make, he only said “We’re up, aren’t we?” Good god, everyone watching the game knew BC should’ve been up more. So what if they can’t convert on the fake FG. You went for it and it feels good.

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