Posted: 9:00 a.m. Friday, Oct. 18, 2013
By A.J Black
The first half of the season is behind us, and it would be a disservice if we didn't evaluate how each position played so far. There are definitely positives to be taken away from even the toughest games the Eagles played, but grades must be given out so here are my grades for the first half of the season. Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Chase Rettig has been a mixed bag this season. We have all heard the narrative, "Five offensive coordinators in four years" and believe me I want to give him a pass and say "poor guy", I just can't given what we've seen this season. He has struggled at times, but it hasn't been all negative, on one hand he has been asked to be a game manager, which in certain games he has done with striking efficiency (Army/Wake Forest).
But on the other hand he still looks flustered easily, and his inability to get rid of the ball when rushed is alarming. Also it doesn't help when two games were pretty much decided on errors he made (Florida State and Clemson). If he just settles in and let's the run dictate the pass, and makes smart decisions he should be fine going out.
At this point efficiency needs to be the key for Rettig. BC's margin of error is too thin for bad turnovers and needless sacks. I really want to see him finish his career strong with BC, and I believe that he can managing the clock without having the offense rely on his arm.
Andre Williams is far and away the MVP of this BC Eagles team. Game in and game out he has made big plays and helped establish the offense. And I think I can speak for all of you out there when I say I love watching him run the ball. Averaging almost 140 yards a game, Williams has taken over games (Wake Forest) and taken defenses by surprise (Florida State) all the while staying healthy for the first time in his career. Looking ahead in the schedule there are a series of games which Williams could be a huge factor and dominate, which should be exciting for Eagles fans.
In terms of backups Myles Willis has jumped on the scene as an explosive big play back with huge potential going forward for Boston College. He has two touchdowns in the past three games, and figures to be a key to Ryan Day's offense moving forward. Tajh Kimble (injury) and Tyler Rouse (ineffectiveness) have been non factors this season.
The fullbacks have done a great job as well. Bobby Wolford did an admirable job filling in with a big game against Villanova, while Jake Sinkovec has been reliable in both the passing and running game since a return from injury.
I wanted to give all positions a grade as a unit, but the wide receivers are so varied from 1 to 2-6 that I couldn't accurately assign a grade. First and foremost Alex Amidon is a stud. Even with Chase Rettig staring him down, locking in on him and making sure the entire stadium know the ball is going his way he continues to make big catches. It seems like once a game Amidon is making a long catch or scoring a touchdown. But those chances are dwindling as teams are smartening up and doubling him and making life difficult for Amidon.
The rest of the group has been either completely invisible or inconsistent. Spiffy Evans has probably been the "strongest" receiver in this group, but he is average 1.8 catches a game for 22 yards a game. Three games he has one catch, two with zero and against Army he had four. David Dudeck has now moved over to wide receiver, which has resulted for two catches with a touchdown in two games. Dan Crimmins, Harrison Jackson, Brian Miller and Marcus Grant have played as wide outs but have made little to no impact. Their inability to get open, and catch the ball has been a huge liability to this offense and unless someone becomes a reliable target for Rettig, who at this point doesn't seem to be even looking at them on most plays. Unless someone in this group steps up I don't see the passing game taking any big steps forward during the second half of the season.
Ryan Day has done a lot with not a lot of top end talent here. C.J. Parsons has been the go to receiving tight end, most notably with a two touchdown performance against Florida State. Mike Naples has come in a lot as the Y back in the unbalanced line attacks that BC has put on. Both of these guys have done what's needed to be done in terms of run and pass protection. It would be great if one could step up as a safety valve for Rettig when he gets flustered, but with some of the troubles against some of the better defenses it's understandable that they have to stick back and help with blocking.
Let's start with the positives. The line has improved over last season, which isn't that hard, because last year's O-Line was brutal. In terms of run blocking schemes, BC has been effective overloading with tight ends and full backs that have opened holes for Williams and Willis. In the passing game Rettig has been sacked 13 times this season, but some of that blame has to go to to the receivers that can't get open, and Rettig who struggles to avoid pressure, step up, or get rid of the ball quickly.
Matt Patchan and Ian White have become very good tackles for BC. When they have played some smaller lines (Army/Villanova/Wake) they have been dominant, especially on run blocking blasting opposing lines and getting to the second level consistently. Andy Gallik has improved tremendously as well, improving from a huge liability on the offensive line to an effective center. The guards Harris Williams and Bobby Vardaro have been fine as well. Just like most other positions, health has been a key, and with time I think this group will continue to improve.
In terms of a group that has improved the most under the new coaching staff, I have to say the DL has taken the greatest strides forward. Kasim Edebali has gone from a guy who was always a step away from making a big play to a legit ACC defensive end with 3.5 sacks in six games and 6 tackles for loss. The new aggressive scheme that Don Brown has implemented has really benefited Edebali who has made big play after big play.
Kaleb Ramsey continues to battle injuries but has made it on the field to make a few plays this season. BC's biggest injury of the year has been on the defensive line as Mehdi Abdesmad went down during the Florida State game. The loss was particularly devastating because the tackle position was thin to begin with. Truman Guptafel has filled in since. Along with fellow tackle Jaryd Rudolph, neither has done much for the Eagles.
I have been blown away with the progress of Kevin Pierre Louis. After two disappointing injury laden seasons he has become everything we wanted from him. He is dynamic, quick, and explodes on the ball, leading the team with 6.5 tackles for loss. He is a leader on the defense and someone that opposing offenses have to account for on almost all plays.
Steven Daniels started the season off being a major liability, looking lost on some plays and blowing coverage on others. He's improved dramatically as of late, and has made some plays he wouldn't have made earlier in the season. Josh Keyes is an intriguing linebacker, who while undersized is very quick and has been involved in some big plays this season. . Steele Divitto has been fine.
When Don Brown and Steve Addazio announced that their defense was going to be more aggressive and try to get after the ball more, the biggest concern was that this was going to leave the secondary in more 1-1 coverage, and did we have the right personnel to do that. Clearly this has been something that has been highlighted numerous times this year. From the Army flea flicker, to blown coverage on the Marqise Lee long reception, to Jameis Winston moving the ball at will, this entire crew has struggled this season. I don't want to point any particular corner or safety out, but let's just say that each player has had their own personal lowlight this season.
Have they made a play or two? Sure. But otherwise they have been a major liability this season. Looking forward BC really doesn't have many prolific passing attacks coming (maybe Maryland?) so hopefully this area of weakness will be minimized.
For a kid who spent the last three years as a place kicker, Nate Freese has done an admirable job as the teams punter. He is a middle of the road punter, but we haven't seen him shank many, so I'll take it.
Nate Freese hasn't missed a field goal this season, and is 19/19 on extra points. He is a model of consistency and even got to show off his power when he boomed a 49 yard field goal against Army. In terms of kick offs he leads the ACC in touchbacks with 80% of his kickoffs leading to a start on the 25, which of course prevents returns, injuries and gives BC excellent defensive field position on almost every drive.
The beginning of the year BC started off poorly on kick/punt returns with both David Dudeck and Spiffy Evans doing very little. The first two games especially Evans would let punts fly over his head and allow opposing defenses to pin BC deep. Then Addazio made a wise move, he moved Myles Willis to kickoff returns and all of a sudden on both punt and kick returns both Willis and Evans were dynamic. I hesitate to say that the two of them might be one of the most explosive returners in the game this year. They made huge returns against Army, Florida State and Clemson and there is little to show that that trend will end the second half of the season.
Could the Eagles have won one of the games that they had lost? Sure. Was the first six games perfect? No. However you need to realize where this coaching staff has taken this team in six games. Remember where we were when Spaz was canned. A team lost, with no identity, no real strengths and a whole slew of glaring witnesses. What this coaching staff has been able to do in a matter of months has been pretty incredible. Steve Addazio has instilled a workman like attitude with the team, and the results speak for themselves.
Ryan Day and Steve Addazio have established an offensive identity. We are a run first team that controls the line of scrimmage. Offensively this plan has worked in four of the six games so far (missed in Clemson/USC). All of a sudden a once faceless team is going head to head with top teams in the country (all with Spaz's players mind you) and scoring 35 points against one of the best defenses in the country.
On defense Don Brown is doing the best he can with what he has. The blitzing scheme has been a mixed bag so far, but that will improve with more depth and talent. The defense is still giving up points, but they have also had some pretty successful games as well.