Miscues Doom Boston College in Opener
By David Wheatley
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Boston college played Miami tough on Saturday, but a slew of miscues led to their ultimate defeat.
The Boston College Eagles suffered a very disappointing and frustrating 41-32 loss at the hands of the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday. The game started out great for the Eagles, as they put together two very impressive drives, the first being capped off by a four yard touchdown run by running back Andre Williams, and the second also resulting in a touchdown when QB Chase Retting hit FB Jake Sinkovec for an 15 yard strike. Those first two drives were arguably the best Rettig has looked in his two plus season at BC.
Miami would respond, however, as they proceeded to put together a 13-play, 83-yard drive, capped off by a one yard TD run by Eduardo Clements. On BC's next drive, Rettig made his biggest mistake of the day. While trying to hit receiver Alex Amidon on a crossing route, Rettig failed to see Hurricane linebacker Denzel Perryman. Perryman grabbed Rettig's pass out of the air and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown.
After a BC field goal, Miami freshman running back Duke Johnson produced an amazing 54-yard touchdown run, in which be broke multiple tackles. BC added a field goal before the half, and the teams headed into the locker room with Miami clinging to a 21-20 lead.
The teams traded field goals to begin the second half. The game then shifted firmly into Miami's favor. BC began a drive with just over just over five minutes to go in the third quarter. On the second play of the drive, Rettig hit tight end CJ Parsons on a screen pass. Despite having 10-15 yards of open space ahead of him, Parsons accidently stepped out of bounds, forcing a 3rd down and short. On the next play, Williams appeared to rush for a first down. However, the officials did not give Williams forward progress, and they marked the ball short of the first down. The Eagles were forced to punt.
When Miami got the ball back, Duke Johnson capped a four play drive with his second 50+ yard touchdown run of the day. After the teams traded punts, Miami was able to pin to Eagles at their own 8 yard line. On the Eagles' first play of the drive, Williams was stripped, and the Hurricanes recovered at the Eagles 6 yard line. Despite Miami only needing 6 yards for a touchdown, the Eagle defense stood strong and forced the Hurricanes to kick a field goal.
Trailing 34-23, Rettig connected on back-to-back attempts to lead the Eagles into Hurricane territory. On the third play of the drive, Retting hit running back Tahj Kimble on a short pass. After making the catch, Kimble ran all the way down to the Miami 25 yard line, but was stripped of the ball. Miami returned the fumble to the Eagle 47. Miami then went on an eight play drive, ending with Miami QB Stephen Morris hitting Malcolm Lewis for a 18-yard touchdown pass. The sequence was potentially a 14 point swing, and gave Miami a 41-23 lead.
The Eagles would respond on their next drive, as Rettig capped a 10 play drive with a 17-yard strike to Kimble. After forcing Miami to punt, Rettig led the Eagles down to the Hurricane 6 inch line. On fourth and goal, Rettig was stop short of the goal line on a QB sneak, and Miami was able to run out the clock.
A couple of things stick out from this loss from a BC perspective. First, the improvement the offense showed from last season was telling. The up-tempo pace that offensive coordinator Doug Martin has brought in appeared to pay off dividends right away. The Eagles looked very comfortable in the new offense, and at times, Miami had difficulty keeping up with it and defending against it. Also of note, in the past couple of years, the Eagles were a run first, pass second team. Today, the opposite was true, as was made evident by Rettig's 51 passing attempts.
Second, if the season opener is any indication, the Eagles are really going to miss Luke Kuechly this season. The Eagles missed several tackles during the game, and took some curious routes to the Miami ball carriers. While the casual football observer would say that one player would not have made a difference, it is fair to say that some college football analysts would disagree; that's how good Kuechly was.
Third, the Eagles were depleted in the secondary due to injury, and it appeared that playing at less than full strngth greatly impacted their defensive strategy. It was clear from the start, that the Eagles' secondary players were playing back so they would not get beaten deep. As a result, Miami's strategy was to nickel and dime the Eagle defense with short pass after short pass.
Finally, the Eagles lost this game because of the little things; because of their own miscues. The Eagles fumbled the ball six times, and were fortunate to only lose two of them. Miami was able to score 17 points off of Eagle turnovers. The Eagles' receivers dropped close to double digits passes from Rettig, including two in the end zone. If a couple of those miscues don't happen, the Eagles could have found themselves victorious. This represents a sharp contrast from last season, when the Eagles' struggles were attributed to way more than a couple of miscues. The miscues that occurred vs. Miami can hopefully be corrected. Going forward, it will be interesting to see if/how the Eagles' defensive approach changes.
Here are the grades for each of BC's position group vs. Miami:
Quarterback: Aside from the pick six to Perryman, which was a major blemish, this was the best Rettig had looked in his time at BC. Rettig threw for a career high 441 yards, along with two TD passes. In reality, he is unlucky not have thrown for at least 500 yards and four TD's, as his receivers dropped quite a few balls. It is also important to note that Rettig was missing two of his favorite targets - WR Bobby Swigert and TE Chris Pantale - due to injury. Rettig also looked like a leader, he seems to have grasped Doug Martin's offense, and was eager to show that he was in control. GRADE: B
Running Backs: Williams and Kimble each showed their upside. Williams used his speed and power to gain some yardage. Kimble also had a couple of nice runs, and proved to be a very capable option in the passing game. Jake Sinkovec, a former linebacker converted to fullback, had a couple of nice receptions off of screen passes, including one for a TD. However, it was Williams' and Kimble's fumbles that turned the game around in Miami's favor. Going forward, the Eagle running backs need to take better care of the pigskin. Grade: C-
Wide Receivers: Alex Amidon was by far Rettig's favorite target in the absence of Swigert and Pantale. Amidon set career highs in receptions and receiving yards. In 2011, Amidon had 20 receptions. Against the Hurricanes, he had ten receptions. Unfortunately, the other receivers did not look as good as Amidon. Brian Miller and Spiffy Evans both dropped multiple balls. On a better day, Miller could have had two TD receptions. Grade: C
Tight Ends: CJ Parsons had the only reception of the game by an Eagle TE, and he accidentally stepped out of bounds, in what proved to be a drive killer. On the other hand, the tight ends for BC were excellent in the blocking game, providing time for Rettig, and holes for the running backs. Grade: C+
Offensive Line: By far the most impressive position for BC on Saturday. BC has been given a reputation as O-Line U., and on Saturday, they didn't disappoint. Rettig's success in the passing game can be attributed to the O-line; Rettig had plenty of time in the pocket, and was not sacked during the game. Grade: A-
Defensive Line: Going forward, it would be nice if the Eagles' defensive line could get a little more pressure on the quarterback than they did vs. Miami. But, to be fair, Stephen Morris was getting rid of the ball so quickly on a lot of short passes, the Eagles' D-Line didn't have much time to get to him. The defensive line did make a couple of plays worth mentioning. Kasim Edebali made a couple of tackles in the Miami backfield, including assisting on a sack. Kaleb Ramsey stripped Stephen Morris, but the Hurricanes were able to pounce on the loose ball. Mehdi Abdesmad batted down a Morris throw on third down and goal. Grade: B-
Linebackers: Not having Luke Kuechly left a major hole at middle linebacker. Kevin Pierre-Louis and Steele Divitto performed admirably at the outside linebacker positions. But, going forward, the Eagle linebackers need to prevent big plays such as the two 50+ yard runs by Duke Johnson. Grade: C
Secondary: As mentioned above, the Eagle dropped their secondary back, to avoid getting beaten deep. To their credit, the strategy worked. Almost all of Miami's passes were short routes. Still, Miami was able to exploit BC's strategy and put together some impressive nickel and dime drives. Grade: C
Special Teams: Nate Freese was the bright spot of the special teams, going 3-3 on field goals and 3-3 on extra points. The Eagles' punt and kick coverage will need to improve, as Miami had a couple of nice returns. The Eagles' return game was nothing to write home to Mom about. Spenser Rositano muffed a punt in the first quarter; luckily, the Eagles were able to recover it. Grade: C+