Boston College head coach Steve Addazio spoke with reporters this week as the Eagles prepare for Saturday’s matchup against Howard in Chestnut Hill. Check out some of what Addazio had to say below…..
“As I told you, I was looking forward last week to being able to go through that tape last week and it was kind of a real interesting game. There were a lot of good takeaways from the game and a lot of interesting points from the game. Let’s start with defense. We held them to seven yards rushing. They didn’t really try to run the ball but we held them to seven yards rushing. They had .3 yards per carry, which is fairly dominating. We had eight TFL’s, that I thought was pretty remarkable. We had five sacks and 12 quarterback knock downs, which I think is pretty remarkable.
Aside from the opening drive, they had nothing. In the opening drive, they hit us with a y-high and we had a holding penalty in the secondary which led to a field goal. We came out in the game purposely wanting to play defense so that we could put them on the long field, pin them, and create momentum to put the offense the ball on the short field. That strategy just didn’t work out. But after we got through that series, we were stifling on defense.
But when you really go through the tape, what is kind of interesting is that our whole approach – and this is really good football conversation right now – our whole approach is ‘All three phases work together.’ So on offense, we had, on the second drive, an 18-play series. Now I haven’t seen an 18-play drive in a very long time. I really didn’t realize it was as long – 18 plays. We only came away with three points , but it was 18 plays. And there were a lot of good things going on in those 18 plays.
Obviously, we became discombobulated at the end. We had some wrist band issues coming in from the sidelines which created a sack that was completely unnecessary. We have to learn to throw the ball away and play the next down. But that is part of the youth that we have right now. So I thought that was interesting on offense. On offense, we averaged over 4.0 yards per carry, which is our goal. We hit our goal on offense. We had four explosive runs of 12 yards or more. We had 23 runs of four yards or more. Twenty-three runs of four yards or more! We held the clock in the first half for almost 20 minutes on offense. For the whole game, we almost had 40 minutes of time of possession. There was something wrong on the stat sheet. We went down and did it. We were 39 minutes worth of possession. That would put you in the top 12 in America. Our defense only played 51 plays. So that is really a good way to complement your offense and your defense.
Now let me tell you what the problems were. Because you may say, ‘That sounds great, Steve.’ And I’m not a guy trying to manipulate anything. I just like to look at it for what it is.
But here’s the problem. On offense, we had 10 runs that were zero yards or less. That created some problems for us. And those runs, I heard a lot of people say, “The offensive line wasn’t any good.’ Well, that is a bit of an over statement because there were some beautifully blocked plays because we had 23 runs of four yards or more. But the youth of our O-Line didn’t pick up some blitzes and things and that created some zero or minus yards runs. That’s what happened.
That, coupled with the fact that you’re playing great defense. So you hold your opponent on their 20, 24. The drive chart says that at that point, they punt the ball. Our offense is starting on our 22-yard line, on our 8. We didn’t field punts, we gave away globs of yards on our punt return not fielding punts. So here is the defense keeping them on the long field, but because of that, our offense is on the long field. We should have been short field for offense because defense kept them on the long field. It never happened. So the offense, in a vast majority of the game, was on the long field.
The special teams didn’t help us keep the game shifted. The first series was the one series the defense didn’t play well so they’re on the long field. It’s hard to get the short field.
Offensively, I told you what the negative was. The negative was there were 10 plays and zero yards or less. I thought that was negative. And we only had four possessions in the first half, because one of them was an 18-play possession. But in the second half, there was three possessions where we were ineffective. That is where, if you want to know in my opinion, where the bog in the game was, it was right there. And what was going on at the same time as that were these field possession swings that should not be happening because we weren’t fielding the ball on the punts. So when you really break it down, that is what went on. I am not a manipulator shaper. I had to go look at it myself, educationally. And ask myself, “What is going on here?” That is precisely what was going on.
We want time of possession. I know everybody wants points. We would all like points. But we all want to play great defense. We want to have great time of possession. We want to have field position. We never got the field position battle. And that has got to get addressed. The field position battle should have been for us the way we were playing on defense but it was against us. That wasn’t the fault of the offense. We have to do a better job on the special teams.
On offense, we’ve got to become a more consistent offense and squeeze out some of those mistakes. You squeeze out half of those minus yardage plays, you probably ran for 300 or 350, probably threw for 200 or 250. You’re probably looking at a 500-yard offense day. That is probably what you thought you would be. And that is where you are.
That is the facts of what really happened in that game. This is why stats can be very misleading.
If I came out here and gave you the real stats, not sugar coat them but just gave them to you, you would come away ask, “What is the problem?” Because the stats aren’t really going to show it out. There is no stat for it but the zero or less plays we had on offense. But the field position, you won’t find that in a stat category.
Nor, does anyone pay attention to time of possession, which I pay very close attention to. When your defense can pay 51 plays, they can play great defense. When you can possess the game for almost 40 minutes of a game, you should win the game.
The oddity was we didn’t put a lot of points up on the board. That was the oddity. That is what happened and that is why that happened. So that is the sum total, real nuts and bolts, of what happened in that game.
Moving forward to this game, we are playing a Howard team here. What we need to do right now is take care of BC. We’ve got to continue on defense to make sure we are covered against all the man-beater plays that people want to play against us. The y-highs and the q-run games and those things, which we put away on that in the second half. And on offense, I really think what we have to do is stay fundamental and very basic and really let this offensive line gel, come together.
Let me digress for a second. The other positive that came from that game, which was really important, was that we didn’t turn the ball over and we didn’t have a lot of penalties. We played a pretty clean game and that wasn’t the case across America. Okay? We need to continue to play a clean game with no turnovers and no penalties and now we need to sure up those 10 plays and get rid of the minus yardage plays. That has to happen.
And that is the goal this week. Make sure that BC plays BC football on both sides, and of course, we really need to attack our special teams. And I would say to you that this is the best coached special teams I have seen in a long time and it’s a shame we didn’t get to the fruits of our labor here. That needs to happen. We have a big-time punter and he needs to punt the ball like a big-time punter. We have to kick the ball like we are very capable of doing and not to the 10 yard line with no hang time. We have got to be able to field the punts accurately so that we don’t have some 60- or 70-odd yards lost in special teams. I think we tighten the special teams up, we take away at least half of those zero or negative yardage plays on offense, I think we see a completely different result and we continue to play good defense, and then our football team takes the next step. A step toward growing. That is where we are.”
How many of the zero yards or negative yard plays were on first down?
“They were kind of mixed in on first and second down. And in a lot of them, it was amazing. It’s what you would expect it to be. It is a missed block there or a missed assignment here or a bad track run here. And then, my goodness, we had at least five plays that were gone, and we just, we’re like this off of them. Those are going to come. Then they start to become back-breaking. That is our trademark.
Two years ago, here was our identity. We had a tailback that was a big-play hitter. We had a receiver that was a big-play, play-action hitter. Last year, we had big plays out of our tailbacks collectively – not one big hitter. We had a quarterback that was electric with his feet. So he became a big play hitter. So we might have lost the (Alex) Amidon last year but we supplanted it with the (Tyler) Murphy. And this year, what we’ve got to get to is, obviously we expect big plays out of our running backs. And I don’t think we got enough of them. But then, on the flipside of that, while Darius (Wade) is very capable runner, is he a house-call runner like (Tyler) Murph? I don’t know. He is more of that 10, 15, 20-yard guy. We have to go find those hits. We have enough receivers. We have speed. We beat others over the top. Anybody over the top. We need to go find those big-hit plays in play action right now. We didn’t get any of those Saturday.
Did the players who were last year get anxious because they knew what should have gotten done?
“I think that you saw Sherm (Alston) probably trying to do too much. He is an electric player. He’s going to make his plays now. You saw just the sprinkling of Thadd Smith. Not quite, just a little bit more. Elijah (Robinson) that can stack receivers deep. The mere fact that we had an 18-play drive – no touchdown – that tells you we’ve got to get some bigger chunks.
What drives you crazy is you go 18 plays and only get three points. And then we had another drive where he had a dozen plays and we got zero points because we missed a field goal. That is what drives you absolutely out of your mind. That’s what leaves people walking away with this feeling of … we are so conditioned as a fan base. Today, more than ever: 30s and 40s and 50s of points. People equate that with winning all the time. If you’re scoring in the 20s against smaller division teams, it doesn’t matter what happened anywhere else on the field, ‘What’s wrong.’ It’s almost the players start feeling like that, which is really … it’s the way it is.
I can’t control perception. It’s a crazy way to look at it, honestly. I’m more interested in what happens between the white lines, personally. I think that if you are taking care of business, those other things will come. And we are working really hard to develop the identity of this football team. The identity of this football team is you are always going to run the football. That’s going to happen. Where are the big explosives coming from, besides the tailback and how do we get them? We have to get these guys going. Sherm (Alston), Thadd (Smith), Elijah (Robinson), those guys are explosive players. They can go the distances on you. We’ve got to get that, just got to get it. That is a big focus for us right now. Along with becoming a little bit more of fine-tuned machine, so you are not second and 10, second and 9, second and 8 … it just gets you out of whack. You’re taking a minus-2 yard play on a play that had no basis. On the very first play of the game, we ran our bread and butter read zone play concept for us. Nine yards … And then we just do something so ridiculous on the second play. It was a mental mistake, that is all it was. That is where the youth is. Right now, we are not making up for that with a big strike. We had a couple of good throw strikes that we have to go catch those balls. We can’t leave those in the balance.”
On Charlie Callinan
“Charlie Callinan just got back last week. He missed the whole training camp with a hamstring injury. He just got back so no, he wasn’t targeted at all. We just are trying to get him back in and start playing again. He played about 20 snaps. He missed the whole training camp. He’ll be ready to go this week.”
On Elijah Robinson
“He started out early, had some freshman mistakes. So he didn’t play as much. He’ll be fine, but that’s what happens. You play those freshman and they make freshman mistakes. David Dudeck played over 40 snaps as a receiver. Thaddius Smith played over 40 snaps as a receiver. It’s too much. Too much. We’ve got enough guys that we don’t need to do that, so that we can have fresher legs so that we can be more explosive down the field. We don’t need to blow those guys out. You start playing 40 snaps as a receiver – never mind the fact that both those guys probably had another 13-15 snaps on special teams – it’s too much.”
On Thadd Smith and Sherman Alston’s personal knowledge of their skill sets
To me, we’re playing who we’re playing. It’s major college football. They’ve got scholarships, we’ve got scholarships. And we’ve got to get ready to play. We’re no box of chocolates. We’ve got to go out there, take care of the football, play our level of football or this team will come in and beat us in our stadium. That’s the way it is. Move on. Get better. We’ve got to get better. My whole thing is I don’t want to hear conversation about anything. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got a lot to do right now. Let’s get better as a football program, as football players, coaches. Let’s just improve. And that’s why we have to put a lot of time into BC right now.
On contractual breakdown with New Mexico State…
“I don’t remember, but there was a lot of talk. But when it became a reality, I don’t remember what the date was on it. Allegedly, there was a mistake in double scheduling – not on our part. I really don’t know and I probably don’t want to know. I just know the reality was we had a game, we were scheduled to have a game and then all of a sudden we didn’t have a game. And then you’re out there trying to find a game and it’s not easy. It’s not easy to find a game. It’s really difficult. Plus, you’re trying to play a home game. So it becomes very difficult. Just an unfortunate situation.”
On concerns about the team looking ahead to Florida State…
“I think the good news with our guys is that they’re really locked in to understanding that we’ve got to get better. It felt great that we won a game, but I don’t think anybody walked out of the film session on Sunday and felt too great. We made sure they didn’t. So I think our guys get it. One thing about dealing with our guys is they’re pretty smart guys. We’ve got a lot of work to do. You guys know we have a lot of work to do. There’s a lot of promise, but a lot of work. So I think early on, right really we’ve got their attention that way. If we were doing something late in the season, it might be tougher. Just look at a year ago. A year ago, we came off beating USC and played Maine and the first play of the game we fumbled the ball, we threw a pick. We were a very, in my opinion, we were a nonchalant approach to that. I don’t think we have to worry about any of that right now. These guys love football and they know we’ve got to get better. And you have to have a great understanding of is the only way you’re going to have any success is if each week you grow. Sometimes when you have a veteran team, they can get on a bit of cruise control. We don’t have that.
Injury updates …
(Myles Willis) will be an end-of-the-week decision. I’m hopeful. I really am hopeful … I think we get (Chris Garrison) back in six weeks or so … Probably a week (on Tim Joy). Probably about six weeks for (Ben) Glines. Something like that. I don’t know the exact time, but those guys will all be back. The one that’s not coming back is Mike (Giacone). He hasn’t had surgery yet. They always wait and see how things are going rehab-wise.