Boston College Eagles: Offense searches for spark in midst of youth movement

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 09: Quarterback Anthony Brown
CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 09: Quarterback Anthony Brown /

In an age of high-scoring, fast-moving offenses, the Boston College Eagles are still looking for their newfound tempo to translate into points.

Back in December 2016–in a 36-30 bowl win over Maryland–the Boston College Eagles football team looked as if they’d turned a corner on offense.

The passing attack was in rhythm, the running game was in force, and precision had come into focus.

Two games into 2017, those things have worked for the Eagles to the effect of a misfiring cylinder of a car. The offense hasn’t completely broken down, but the check engine light is flashing.

It’s not exactly what Boston College fans had in mind for its team as they head into a week three matchup with Notre Dame.

The speed of play has been there–they ran 92 plays in a week 1 victory over Northern Illinois–but the plays have translated to very little in the points department. In two games, the Eagles have found the end zone only three times, backed up by four field goals.

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A redshirt freshman at quarterback was handed the keys to the Eagle kingdom. Flashes of a nice deep ball and command of the offense have not necessarily eluded Anthony Brown. Brown is still searching for consistency while developing a flow within the offense.

A choice to start Brown over graduate senior Darius Wade by head coach Steve Addazio might have been partially made due to the perceived strength of the running game. Two games in, that strength has struggled to gain momentum.

Build the run game, the rest will follow

Heading into the season, I felt a lot of Boston College’s success would live or die by the run game. Right now the Eagles are struggling, but it’s not from a lack of trying.

Game one ended with Boston College running the ball 50 times. The result was 148 yards on the ground, totaling less than three yards per carry.

In the loss to Wake Forest, despite falling behind, the Eagles managed to carry the ball 41 times. Those resulted for 142 yards, perhaps an indicator the ground crew is already improving.

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Junior Jon Hilliman (33 carries, 81 yards) and true freshman A.J. Dillon (20 for 63) both have room to improve. And Thadd Smith has been a revelation, getting involved in the run game to the tune of 11 carries for 101 yards.

Running behind a line that is both young and inexperienced has created a few headaches. Veteran Jon Baker was injured last week, leaving Boston College with only two of its top-six linemen. True freshman Ben Petrula will start at center this weekend.

If the young line stays healthy, they will continue to improve, giving the run game a boost and the passing game time to make things happen.

Adding some flair to the air

Numbers through the air haven’t exactly been overwhelming. When you look at who Anthony Brown has been throwing to you’ll see why. Lining up in the perimeter is a collection of players ranging from freshmen to juniors.

The top of the chart? Freshman Kobay White, who has hauled in ten catches for 118 yards. Juniors Jeff Smith (8 rec., 74 yds.) and Michael Walker (10 rec., 62 yds., 1 td) have also factored heavily as Brown’s top targets.

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Brown will have his struggles, but Addazio made the right choice in sticking with him. Wade saw some late action against Wake Forest but it appears Addazio is looking towards the future.

2017 might not be Boston College’s year the offense puts up stats that rewrite the record books. They will continue to grow, though, and the young talent gives hope of a lightning rod of a future.