With one-fourth of the 2017 BC football season in the books, the Eagles are sitting 1-2, and confidence in head coach Steve Addazio has plummeted.
BC started off the year in DeKalb, Illinois against Northern Illinois University. The starting QB for the Eagles had not been named before kickoff, and it was somewhat of a surprise when redshirt freshman Anthony Brown trotted out with the starting unit. Brown played the entirety of the game, securing a 23-20 victory and looking relatively impressive.
Harold Landry, the Eagles all-American defensive end, played a good game. The team as a whole looked a bit rusty and slow, yet comfortable and confident enough to never really put a lot of doubt into fans’ minds as to who would win. The kicking unit also played excellently, with Colton Lichtenberg hitting all three of his field goal attempts, including a long of 42 yards.
The Eagles’ opening day on The Heights was not nearly as enjoyable. The “mighty” Demon Deacons of Wake Forest came to town, and walked out with a 34-10 victory. Wake Forest has traditionally been a game that BC is supposed to win, so it was a major disappointment for the Eagles to get beaten as badly as they were.
Freshman QB Anthony Brown looked significantly worse in that game- throwing for only 119 yards while also tossing three interceptions. One was returned for a touchdown, and another was only a few yards short of being a Wake TD (and was scored by the offense just plays later). The performance was so abysmal that redshirt junior Darius Wade came in at QB in the fourth quarter, but he failed to get anything accomplished either.
Despite the terrible showing against Wake Forest, enthusiasm for the first Holy War on BC soil since 2012 was very high. For some delusional reason, I managed to convince myself that the Eagles were destined for an upset against an Irish team that is good, but not great.
The BC football team seemed to buy in to this mentality for awhile too, but as is becoming tradition in the Addazio era, ridiculous coaching decisions coupled a complete collapse, and BC ended up on the losing end of a lopsided score. The Fighting Irish walked out of Chestnut Hill as 49-20 victors.
I’ve written ad nauseam about my discontent for Steve Addazio, but yesterday brought those feelings back in ways that I haven’t felt since the 3-0 debacle against Wake Forest circa 2015.
Steve (I can call him that because anyone who has made me feel emotions as personally devastating as he has is someone I deserve to be on a first-name basis with) wasn’t entirely at fault for the collapse we saw on Saturday. The defense got utterly obliterated on some big runs, letting ND run for an obscene 515 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns. A lot of these yards came on runs of over 60 yards, which is disappointing because those big plays were few and far between but made all the difference in the end.
However, Steve deserves a big chunk of the blame for the collapse. BC was competing the entirety of the first half, and through half of the third quarter. The team was fired up, the stands were full, the student section was rowdy (a rare level of rowdy that Alumni sees once every few years), and it looked as if this was going to be a game to remember.
BC’s starting running back Jon Hilliman played great. The pass coverage on D was incredible- ND QB Brandon Wimbush had only 96 yards and threw an interception. Even Brown played significantly better- tossing for over 200 yards and two touchdowns (with two tough interceptions in the second half, though).
Where Steve really let the fans, and the team, down was on the last play of the first half. BC was across midfield, thanks to an interception by Lukas Denis, with less than 30 seconds to play. The Eagles were down 14-10, but the game was anyone’s to win. Instead of trying to take a shot, or get into field goal range, or really do anything at all, Steve Addazio ran the ball up the gut, and let the clock run out. This call was met with a chorus of boos that rained down from the stands of Alumni.
Addazio made up some nonsense about not wanting to ruin his freshman QB’s confidence. Honestly, I found it pathetic. It felt like our team had a loser mentality.
I legitimately think it set the tone for Notre Dame that we were afraid to play with them, that we were trying to make mistakes. In the second half, ND put the pedal to the metal and thrashed our linebackers (without starter and arguably the best linebacker Connor Strachan) and defensive line (without Harold Landry for a majority of plays for other bothersome game-plan reasons) for hundreds upon hundreds of rushing yards.
By the end of the third quarter, the game felt out of reach, and it spiraled totally out of control in the fourth quarter. BC hung with the Irish for the entire first half, and a completely cowardly play call coupled with atrocious play by the defensive front seven (the unit that’s been so reliable for BC up until this year) turned the game upside down.
These complete blowouts, total collapses at ends of games, and week after week of frustration with some aspect of Addazio’s game-plan have me screaming in the stands a chant that I’ve been chanting for my entire collegiate career- “Fire Steve!”.