Thursday, October 31, 2013
Numbers say Eagles face tough task
By Jack McCluskey
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- There’s a funny thing about statistics: They say numbers never lie, but sometimes they can be misleading.
Steve Addazio believes that with the caliber of defenses his team has faced this season, some of Boston College’s offensive stats may be skewed.
“People like stats, right? Let me tell you something, your stats are really tough when you’re playing those kind of defenses,” he said in his weekly Monday media session, ticking off his team’s games against USC, Florida State and Clemson as examples. “When you can play some defenses that aren’t that tough you can push them around pretty good and your stats look pretty good.”
That said, it’s not the stats that this weekend’s opponent -- Virginia Tech (6-2, 3-1 ACC) -- sports that bothers Addazio. It’s what the Eagles (3-4, 1-3 ACC) coach sees on tape.
“I’m watching the tape,” he said, “and I’ve told you that we’re playing good defenses before with those other teams -- this defense is better than all the defenses we’ve faced. And that’s a fact. And that’s not coachspeak. That’s just the way it is. They’re legit.
“You can tell by my voice, I knew they were good and now after watching the tape,” he said, letting his head drop and roll in mock exasperation, “I’m like, ‘Wow. Here we go.’”
The Hokies come to Chestnut Hill for a noon kickoff on Saturday (ABC/ESPN2) ranked first in the country in interceptions (17), second in sacks (28) and passing defense (157.8 yards allowed per game), third in total defense (248.8 yards per game allowed) and fifth in scoring defense (14.8 points per game).
Meanwhile, BC finds itself tied for 93rd nationally in scoring offense (23 points per game, 11th in the ACC), 113th in passing offense (163.1 yards per game, 13th in the ACC) and tied for 79th in sacks allowed (17, tied for 10th in ACC). The Eagles do rank sixth in the ACC in rushing offense (176.57 yards per game), with most of that average produced by senior workhorse back Andre Williams (who leads the ACC with 1,010 yards on 183 attempts in 2013).
“This is a team built totally on win with defense, win with special teams, try to control the ball the best you can on offense,” Addazio said of Frank Beamer’s Va. Tech squad. “This should be just a tremendous challenge. Thank God we have them here at our place at home, we don’t have the noise factor filtered into all that. This is a serious, serious challenge for us.”
Potentially making matters worse, the Eagles lost one of their most experienced wideouts in their loss to North Carolina this past weekend. Spiffy Evans suffered a fractured clavicle in that game, and will be out for “quite a while,” according to Addazio.
That means that someone else will have to step up, something senior wideout Alex Amidon is confident will happen.
“It’s definitely tough because he’s one of our more experienced guys and we don’t obviously have a lot of experience at the position,” Amidon said in a phone interview Thursday. “But the young guys are doing well.”
Amidon, who has more than half the team’s receiving yardage (585 of 1,142 total receiving yards) through the first seven weeks, said he thinks sophomore Harrison Jackson in particular is someone who could break out.
“He’s one of those guys -- he’s right on the edge of being ready to contribute and do something for this team,” he said. “He’s got the talent and it’s just a consistency thing with him. And he knows that.”
Jackson has one catch for 15 yards in two games this season. He’s listed as a possible starter as the third receiver on the BC depth chart, along with Dan Crimmins.
Doing anything in the passing game against the Hokies will be difficult.
“You’re gonna have to play the field-position game,” Addazio said. “We have a strong running game and you can’t get frustrated [in the passing game], because what happens is you get a little frustrated and you spit the thing out there and the next thing you know they’re bringing it back on you for six and scoring on defense. That can’t happen. This is a defense that’s really gonna stress you.”
Amidon said that as good as the Hokies are defensively, there will still be chances.
“No one’s ever gonna be perfect, so they might make a couple mistakes and you can get open,” he said. “When the opportunity is there, you have to capitalize on it.”
“It’ll be a great challenge but you know what, that’s what it’s all about,” Addazio said. “We gotta go in there and fight. We’re home. I’m really fired up that we’re home, we’re in our stadium. And that’s what college football is. And we’ll be a better team for playing these teams. Sometimes you don’t feel that way on Monday, but we will be a better team for playing these teams.”
Even if at the end of the day Saturday, the numbers say the opponent got the better of you.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.