(An outsiders look at the goings on at The Heights, aka Boston College)
First the good news from Dublin, Ireland about Boston College's season opening game against Georgia Tech on Saturday.
One can only imagine what the trip back across the Atlantic Ocean was like for Boston College Coach Steve Addazio and the rest of the Eagles.
So close--seconds really.
Yet so far away in so many of the same areas it boggles the mind that the Eagles hit the replay button from last year to open their 2016 college football season.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
That this stumbling start came in Dublin, Ireland against a Georgia Tech team which was nearly as inept as the Eagles were a year ago makes Saturday's 17-14 loss even more amazing.
Now if you are a Boston College fan--and there are some of you out there--you can talk about the stoutness of the defense which held Tech's offense to 240 total yards, including 121 yards rushing.
You can talk about the re=emergence of a healthy Jon Hilliman who began the second half with a dazzling 73 yard touch down run.
You can talk with hope of the mobility of graduate transfer QB Patrick Towles who scampered for a TD run which gave the Eagles a 14-7 fourth quarter lead.
All nice stuff, but they mean absolutely nothing, because at crunch time, when the defense needed to make a stop on a 4th and 19 situation Tech was facing in the final minute it didn't do it. And when it needed to make a play preventing Tech's Dedrik Mills from scoring the game-winner with 35 seconds remaining, the BC defense got crunched.
Although Towles showed that there could be some offense coming from the QB position this year, the guy who lost his starting job at Kentucky last season for throwing two many interceptions and turnovers threw a pick and fumbled the ball away in the first half in which the Eagles didn't produce a point. And while the second half was much better, the offense produced a quick 3 and out series in the fourth quarter when a first down could have won the game, although that sequence was a coach's decision.
It was better in the second half, but some of it was worse.
Kicking, for example, a BC weakness the past two years has not been fixed.
Colin Lichtenberg, who was haunted last season by misses and was so inefficient that Addazio would by pass field goal attempts on anything longer than an extra point,flamed out again.
Lichtenberg had one field goal blocked and missed another from 35. Why Addazio has not made finding a SCHOLARSHIP kicker a priority is mind boggling. Kicker is one position, BC should be able to recruit on equal terms with anyone in the country.
And then there is The Streak, the LOSING STREAK, in Atlantic Coast Conference play in football and basketball.
BC's last ACC win in football was at the end of the 2014 season. It's last ACC win in basketball was at the end of the 2014 season. A year ago, the Eagles went 0-26 in ACC play. The streak is now 0-27 and counting
The Tech game---the Yellow Jackets were the same 3-9 BC was a year ago--was a chance to get rid of that burden, start fresh.
Now it will linger. The Eagles next two ACC games are at Virginia Tech and against Clemson, which means it could very well be another month of having that unwanted elephant in the room.
The problem at BC goes far beyond X's and O's. Addazio revamped his coaching staff, bringing in new offensive and defensive coordinators. He preached more patience and talked about the future with hope.
But what everyone saw on Saturday was the same BC with a new coat of paiint and some new faces, who produced the same results.
Beating Georgia Tech would have started the Eagles on the path to what Addazio hoped was a winning season and another bowl appearance, which were part of the Eagles' resume in Addazio's first two seasons at BC.
What Addazio has not been able to teach is something more basic, a knowledge of how to win, rather than how not to lose.
BC still is afraid of the spotlight. When the Eagles grabbed the lead, they went conservative, they were trying to protect the lead, run down the lock, rather than add to their advantage.
It didn't work Saturday. It didn't work last season. It almost never works anywhere anytime. That is what separates the good teams from the bad teams. That is why the ranked teams have a swagger in which they are always surprised, even stunned when they lose a game.
That is why BC deserves no respect until it does start playing to win, rather than not to lose.
The Eagles resume their season next week at Gillette Stadium against UMass. Normally that should be a game the Eagles would win in routine fashion. They are more talented than UMass They will be facing a UMass team that opened its season on Saturday night at Florida, in which the Minutemen gave the Gators everything the could handle before dropping a 24-7 decision. The Gators had a 10-7 halftime lead..
If BC had to win the Georgia Tech game, it really needs to beat UMass. There can be no excuses, no mistakes. But right now, who knows what the Eagles' state of mind will be.
It would be foolish to underestimate any Mark Whipple coached team. The Minutemen had a Temple team which went to the American Athletic Conference championship game beaten until the final seconds last season.
It would be foolish to overestimate what BC can do.
It will be an interesting week at The Heights.[/membership]