Boston College travelled down to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to face-off against the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest in the final scheduled game of the 2016 regular season. The team was playing to stay bowl eligible while Addazio was coaching to keep his job. Luckily the Eagles squeaked out a close victory to end the regular season 6-6, and will now be awaiting their bowl placement.
After a disastrous 3-0 loss last year, in arguably the worst football game ever played, BC looked to return to .500 and become automatically bowl eligible for this post-season. The Eagles started fast with a 3-0 lead thanks to a field goal following a Wake Forest interception. BC quickly extended that lead to ten, thanks to an eleven yard Myles Willis touchdown trot.
The score remained 10-0 heading into halftime, but right before the second quarter expired Wake missed a 51-yard field goal attempt that gave the Eagles the football back 59 yards from the end zone with slightly under a minute to play. BC had all three of their timeouts available.
It would have made sense to try and extend their lead by at least trying to work the field to get a field goal attempt. Instead though, Addazio ran one run play and then brought the team to the locker room. It was as if the head coach didn’t even think about trying to make something happen.
This is the mindset that has made BC fans absolutely loathe Addazio over the past season. He does not act like a winner. The way he calls plays, the way he acts on the sideline, the way he deflects blame paired with his looks of confusion and refusal to adapt ultimately scream “loser”. Almost nothing about how Addazio coaches this team leads to celebration or inspiration for BC fans watching on. As one of the Yes Network announcers put it, “Addazio has the look of someone who just sped by a cop who was sitting on the side of the highway”.
The second half saw Wake Forest throw two touchdown passes as BC struggled to move the ball. The all-familiar halfback power up the middle was working about as well as it did for the first eleven games, but that didn’t stop BC from running it every other play. The other plays were usually just Patrick Towles forgetting where he was and then getting sacked. BC somehow managed to get a fourth-and-one inside the Wake 40, but BC got a delay of game penalty to save themselves from the embarrassment of being stopped short of the yard on that classic run up the gut yet again.
With a rare show of consistency, BC was able to replicate this nixing of a fourth-and-one opportunity, inside the twenty-five this time, by getting an illegal shift penalty. The Eagles wanted the difficult fourth and six instead, which they somehow converted with a nice pass to TE Tommy Sweeney. Towles showed off his arm on the next play by beaming a touchdown to Sweeney, which give the Eagles a 17-14 lead with eight minutes left to play.
BC got the ball back with five minutes to play, and after some confusion and a sack on third-and-ten Mike Knoll shanked a punt to give Wake the ball back inside the fifty. A fourth-and-two conversion kept their drive alive, and the Demon Deacons ended up attempting a game tying 40-yard field goal with a minute and a half to play. They missed.
The game was all but over, but three horrible runs up the middle and Wake’s use of their timeouts led to another BC punt with 1:09 left to play. A mediocre punt (that Addazio chose not to redo from five yards closer for some unknown reason) put Wake at their own 37. A big Harold Landry sack led to a rushed throw on fourth down for Wake, which corner Lukas Denis intercepted to close out the game.
BC won. The Eagles are bowl eligible, and will be waiting eagerly to see who and where they will play this December. That being said, this is not a particularly great football team. Landry constantly bailed out the Eagles with big sacks, and Wake Forest did not look like a good team either. Landry, who will likely be a high draft pick this year, did say that the players love to play for Addazio and that he wants him back next year in a postgame interview. Honestly, this word will carry a lot of weight as Landry, the nation’s sack leader, is without question the best player on the Eagles roster.
Addazio, despite all of his game management ineptitude, has seemed to inspire the players. BC probably wanted to end this year with 8 wins and will have a chance to grab a 7th in a bowl, which is really all BC fans should hope for I suppose. One added benefit to the bowl game is that BC will get about an extra month of practice time. This will go miles for the younger players development, and hopefully Addazio can use the time to groom next years starting QB (presumably Darius Wade, possibly Anthony Brown). Addazio will likely be back next season, but I hope he is on a shorter leash than ever.