The Local Radar Roundup: College Football Week 5
A look from around the world of local college football in New England, Week Five Edition:
-Boston College is a bad football team. Fans used to look at the schedule, see Duke and Wake Forest and pencil in those two wins while preparing for games against Clemson and Florida State. Now, they pencil in losses for Clemson and Florida State while preparing for maybe wins against Duke and Wake Forest. Except, they don’t win football games. They trailed 24-9 after three yesterday and made a mad-dash comeback before ultimately falling short, 27-19. They struggled moving the football (again), and they couldn’t punch the ball in the end zone (again). They’re now 1-4, with their lone win coming against FCS cupcake UMass. They’ve lost to Duke and Wake Forest, a feat not accomplished by any team in the same season since Georgia Tech during a bad stretch in the 1990s. And their remaining games don’t look promising – at Clemson, at Virginia Tech, at Maryland, vs. Florida State, vs. NC State, at Notre Dame, and at Miami. Fans have completely forgotten bowl eligibility, since that should be done when they return home for FSU at 1-7, and when that 13-year streak snaps, at least they’ll be playing four games that most likely aren’t winnable.
-The difference with BC isn’t the talent on the field, though. They’re getting hamstrung by a multitude of factors, almost a perfect storm. Former head coach Jeff Jagodzinski did such a terrible job recruiting that they only have five or six seniors even in the lineup on a given play. There are a number of freshmen and sophomores starting, and their quarterback is a true sophomore who had his freshman season interrupted by injury. That lack of seasoned talent gets coupled with a gameplan that really isn’t designed to win. Current head coach Frank Spaziani and interim offensive coordinator Dave Brockhave singlehandedly lost BC two games in conference. Every offensive set is completely predictable; they’ll either line up with tight ends galore or a slot receiver for a run play, then they’ll either run directly up the gut or throw a down-and-out from the opposite side of the field. We haven’t seen an
unimaginable offense in years. Chase Rettig threw almost 50 passes yesterday, and three-quarters of the were a roll out or a fade back on a hash mark, then throwing across his body across the field to the opposite hash mark. He essentially throws a 20-yard pass every single time out, only it’s a completion for 4 yards over the line of scrimmage, or it hits the turf short of the receiver. And that’s when he doesn’t get killed because “O-Line U” is forgetting how to block this year.
-But, again, the defense showed up yesterday late, only after surrendering 24 points through three quarters. And even then, they showed up, but they didn’t stop Wake Forest. The depleted secondary allowed a drive where two passes in a row (one of which was a trick option play) resulted in 30-45 yard gains. They came up with big stops at times, anchored by Kasim Edebali and a stifling defensive line, but the secondary looked like they were auditioning for the New England Patriots by getting burned, then burned again, then burned again.
-One last thing on that game, and then we’ll continue with others. We are absolutely shocked by two events. Number one – the referees. The reffing in this game was the most egregiously bad case of officiating we’ve seen in years. It was so lopsided on the penalties that it became funny, then wasn’t really funny. Right in front of an official, we saw at least twice, blatant pass interferences that weren’t called against Wake Forest, but there were plenty of chincy BC penalties (see also: a cheap offsides call and an equally cheap pass interference late). There’s always been a belief that Southern officials in the ACC thumb their nose at BC, and yesterday was a pretty good case study. Even Spaziani got angry, which is a rarity. But, then again, BC’s faced this for years with Notre Dame, and they used to have the talent to overcome it. Now, not so much.
-The second part is the general anger by the fanbase. Leaving the stadium, quotes were heard saying, “Worst BC team in 20 years,” among others. The general consensus by the non-student fan base is that Spaz needs to go. He’s a great guy, a wonderfully loyal, nice, appreciative man who is by far a gentleman and a great human being. That doesn’t translate to head coaching material, however. “FireSpaz” is now a twitter handle, and there’s a blog website up asking AD Gene DeFillippo to axe Spaz. And, while they’re at it, the fans are starting to turn against “GDF” because he hired Spaz because he worked on the cheap and was loyal to the school after the Jags debacle. People are angry, and while sports talk radio isn’t talking about it because, well, they’re egomaniacal and hate college football up here for some reason, the core people around BC need to be taken seriously. Stay tuned on this one.
-Yes, there were other games played this weekend in New England besides Boston College. UMass went down to Old Dominion for their first ever meeting. The #20-ranked Minutemen (rankings for the FCS area) promptly lost to the Monarchs, 48-33. UMass looked very banged up on defense after getting smoked by Boston College last week, giving up three touchdown passes by Thomas DeMarco in the first half alone as ODU raced out to a 25-0 lead in the second quarter. UMass rallied with 26 unanswered points by the third quarter, then surrendered a safety to trail 27-25. In a bizarre turn, Tyler Heinicke came in for DeMarco when the incumbent was hurt late and threw two TD passes, including a 56-yarder to Reid Evans. UMass added a score late, but by then the issue was no longer in doubt.
-For UMass, they have to be wary of falling into the same trap Northeastern fell into a few years back. The Northeastern Huskies opened the season at Boston College and the size differential between FCS and FBS resulted in a massive amount of injuries. As BC laid waste to the Huskies in that game, Northeastern lost two quarterbacks and left Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill as a virtual MASH unit. That season was lost right off the start, and NU promptly went winless. The lack of success and lack of ticket receipts actually translated to the university finally dropping the hammer and cutting football. For UMass, the Minutemen don’t have to worry about losing the program; their transition to FBS says otherwise. But the injuries incurred against BC really hurt them defensively, especially up the middle at linebacker. The smaller linebacking corps was deeply exposed in pass coverage, and ODU went over 500 yards of offense. That’s not good.
-The Endicott-Curry matchup was supposed to be the feature matchup of Division III’s New England Football Conference this past weekend. The defending champion Gulls hosted the Colonels in a game that could have brought parity into the NEFC’s Boyd Division. But the 4-0 Gulls destroyed the 3-1 Colonels, leading 35-7 at halftime en route to a 55-7 massacre. Phil Konopka went for 385 and five touchdowns through the air for Endicott, and Mike Lane gained 183 yards on 31 carries. In contrast, Curry’s quarterbacks mustered just 140 yards on 16 completions, splitting reps between Mark Gilson and Anthony Carnavale. Mike Murphy gained 200-plus yards receiving, and the defense registered two big interceptions. This was supposed to be a marquee matchup up in Beverly. Instead, Endicott assured themselves the inside track to the NEFC’s championship again, and they put a stomping on a rival to boot. Unless something drastic changes (and Dan Rubin is eyeing the 10/22 matchup against UMass-Dartmouth for that one), they’ll be repeat champions.
-Bobby Tarr just keeps getting better and better for Bentley. He notched two scores again in a 28-14 win over American International in a Friday night matinee. The senior gained over 100 yards on 20 carries, teaming with fellow back Lorenzo Warren for all of Bentley’s scores. But the real highlight of the night came from the Falcon defense. AIC scored a TD on their opening
possession, then mustered three points the rest of the game. Sal Ruffino scored three individual sacks and split another with RJ Barden. Eight Bentley tackles went for losses, AIC QB (lots of letters there, huh?) Kevin Arduino threw for only 65 yards. Bentley did give up over 100 yards rushing, but it was easily overlooked with the results of other games. The Falcons, who’ve won seven consecutive NE-10 football games, are now 4-1. If they beat Merrimack next week, they can start setting an eyeball on the SCSU and New Haven games with a chance to take control of the conference.
-Speaking of Dan Rubin and his beloved UMD Corsairs, how ’bout them? Edgar Osols drilled a 45-yard field goal with under a minute to play as the Corsairs shocked MIT with a 31-29. Osols also served as Corsair punter, coffin cornering one at the MIT one-yard line to set up a UMD touchdown. The win pushed UMass-Dartmouth over .500 to 3-2 heading into next week’s showdown in Rhode Island against Salve Regina. It also pushed them to 2-0 in NEFC play, and that 10/22 game at Endicott might end up being one with league championship implications. This makes our editor-in-chief very happy, and if he’s happy, we’re happy.