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Same Mistakes Cost Eagles Aer Lingus Classic

The 2015 football season was an utter disaster for Boston College. BC failed to win a single ACC game, and squandered the nations number one defense via their total ineptitude in other phases of the game. Steve Addazio and Co. might have thought that switching things up and starting the season in Ireland would turn things around for the Eagles. They were wrong. The Eagles dropped yet another conference game, falling to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets by the score of 17-14, in the final minute of play.

BC’s new quarterback, Patrick Towles, was supposed to be the spark that ignited this year’s more experienced Eagle’s offense. Towles looked average at best, throwing for 137 yards on seventeen passes, eleven of which were completed, and one of which was intercepted. He looked sharp at moments, but wildly inaccurate in others. Towles had a confidence in the pocket that’s been foreign to recent BC teams, but did not look like entirely comfortable leading the offense.

The return of Jon Hilliman, who had a break out season in 2014 as a true freshman, was supposed to add a new dynamic to the BC offense as well. His 73-yard touchdown dash in the third quarter, a run that showcased Hilliman’s vision, speed, and power, was a great sign. However, the sophomore averaged less than two yards per carry on other runs throughout the game, which is not a very reassuring sign.NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Boston College

Despite the continued offensive struggles, the Eagles still had every chance to win Saturday morning’s contest. The Eagles, who trailed 7-0 at the half, found themselves leading 14-7 when the fourth quarter started thanks to rushing touchdowns from Hilliman and Towles. But constant lackadaisical mistakes that have become signature of BC football did the Eagles in once again.

In the first half, BC attempted a 43-yard field goal with sophomore kicker Colton Lichtenberg, who won the starting kicking job outright. Georgia Tech blocked that one. Two drives later the Eagles found themselves in the red zone, but Towles was sacked and fumbled the football; another wasted opportunity.

Hilliman’s long run in the third quarter finally got some points on the board for BC, and the offense was beginning to play like something had finally clicked. The next drive was a well-composed series which saw the Eagles march 53 yards down the field. When confronted with a fourth and one from the Georgia Tech 18 yard line, Addazio elected to bring out Lichtenberg again. 35-yard chip shot attempted. 35-yard chip shot missed wide right.

What may have killed the Eagles more than the kicking woes, was the game management of Steve Addazio. Electing to go with the clearly unreliable kicking unit on a fourth and one, when you have a 250-pound, mobile quarterback, is forgivable. Addazio went for what should have been a guaranteed lead in that situation, and Lichtenberg failed to do his job. But what is unforgivable is Addazio’s lack of belief in the offense, and his disastrous clock management.

With six minutes to go, Georgia Tech hit a field goal to pull within four points. The Eagles got the ball back needing to either put another score on the board, or to run out the clock. Both are things that have been challenging for BC. But the last few drives made it seem as if there was something finally working for Towles and the rest of the unit, so there was a feeling of hope for Eagle fans.AR-160909774

It would have made sense to let the offense keep its foot on the gas, to attempt to put the final nail in the Yellow Jacket’s coffin. Addazio disagreed.

Predictably, the Eagles ran the ball three times and punted. Two and a half minutes were gone off the clock, and BC had one timeout remaining. Low and behold, this strategy turned out to be yet another game management disaster for the Eagles.

Georgia Tech was able to turn their next possession into a touchdown. Never mind that it took a miracle fourth and nineteen conversions for Tech to keep their drive moving, the points were detrimental. The Yellow Jackets had put seven points on the board, and left the Eagles with under a minute left to try to work some magic of their own. Unfortunately, the Eagles offense just wasn’t up to it.

The game confirmed many fans worst fears about Addazio and his ability to control the game. There is no killer instinct associated with the offense, a unit controlled by the head coach. Game management continues to be a phase of the game in which Addazio seemingly has no abilities, and it likely cost the Eagles the game.

If some other blame deserves to be handed out, kicker Colton Lichtenberg should take some too. There is simply no excuse for this continued nightmare of a kicking game.  But to me, the coaching blunders are a much scarier sight than constant missed field goals.

On the positive side, the BC defense played admirably yet again. Allowing only 238 total yards, they showed that their number one ranking from last year was no fluke. These guys will keep BC in games all season, but it will be up to Towles and the offense to seal the deal.

Thankfully, the offense looks miles ahead of what we saw last year. Despite Towles early struggles, and the predictable play calling that made the run game ineffective at times, there were still more flashes of positive offensive production in today’s game than in almost all of last season. The Eagle offense did not have a great day by any means, but there is no reason to think they aren’t capable of being a dependable unit.

Sadly, all that matters is the outcome and the Eagles failed to produce when it mattered most. The defense played great, but allowed the game winning score. The offense had flashes, but turned the ball over twice and had a few useless drives. Our kicking game was terrible, and BC scored fewer points than the other guys, and none of that will satisfy any fans here on the Heights. This was a tough loss, in a classic fashion, in a game we should have won.

 

Picture One.  Picture Two.

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