Even though they lost by nine points, Boston College’s football team felt like the Hurricanes stole one from them last Saturday.
The defense UM lined up in was exactly what Eagles quarterback Chase Rettig and receiver Alex Amidon said they were expecting. And they felt dropped passes and missed opportunities were all that held BC back from a win.
“They kind of ran a lot of the things they ran last year, lots of zone,” Amidon said. “You could see the holes in the zone — and [offensive coordinator Doug] Martin did a good job scheming it up. They had a lot of holes early so [we] took advantage of that.”
Did they ever. UM allowed 441 passing yards in that 41-32 win Saturday, third-most in school history — a performance that would be embarrassing enough without the fact that it came against an Eagles passing offense that ranked 100th last season, and was short two of its top pass-catching targets.
So why were receivers so wide open? And why did it feel like Rettig had enough time to order a pizza before throwing to an uncovered receiver? UM defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio offered explanations Tuesday, but didn’t seem overly concerned.
“General impression is we went on the road and came up with a big win,” said D’Onofrio, who pointed out he got 25 players in the game and said the team got 350 snaps of experience for backups.
“We took the ball away well, played good red-zone and short-yardage defense, did a good job stopping the run. If we can cut down on the big plays, continue to emphasize things that we did well in the game we can continue to make improvement. Hopefully Week 1 to Week 2 all the young guys that we played will get better and we’ll keep going from there.”
What did bother D’Onofrio was the lack of UM’s pass rush. Although he tried to pressure Rettig with three or four defenders most of the game (BC usually had 6-7 players blocking), D’Onofrio said he rushed five and six players later in the game. D’Onofrio said he rotated 10 different defensive linemen and used linebackers Gabe Terry, Eddie Johnson and Ramon Buchanon as pass rushers. The Hurricanes produced zero sacks and zero quarterback hurries.
“Every job is open,” D’Onofrio said of his pass rush. “... We’ve just got to come up with the right combination.”
Like UM coach Al Golden said Sunday, D’Onofrio said BC had its biggest success because of “blown assignments” in man-to-man coverage, not zone. D’Onofrio said his team played man “probably 40 percent of the game.”
“Probably the three big plays where the guys were wide-open were man coverage where someone cut their guy loose. Generally, they’re not that wide-open if you are in zone coverage,” D’Onofrio said.
“The first [two] series of the game, the coordinator we played against, he made a decision to go well away from what he’s ever done. We played him five times when we were at Temple. The last two times we played them we won 48-14 and 48-13, something like that. He made a decision to go well away from that, put a whole new package in that he probably hadn’t done before based on the familiarity that we had with him. So that took a couple of series to sort through. We went on a 41-9 run after that.”