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October 27, 2013

Offense Stale Against Heels

Although the result was almost the same, Boston College head coach Steve Addazio didn't think Saturday's 34-10 loss at North Carolina was too similar to his team's last road loss. The intensity wasn't there in the second half of a 35-7 slaughter at USC, but against the Tar Heels it was simply a matter of execution

"We need to execute at a higher level," Addazio said. "We need to play better. We played with great toughness and intensity, but we didn't play well."

The Eagles didn't play well on offense, particularly. Addazio credited dropped passes and unnecessary sacks leading to long third downs as the main reasons for the offensive deficiencies.

"It's real tough," senior wide receiver Alex Amidon said. "We played hard but we didn't play well at all. Time to get back to work."

Here are a few areas in which things fell apart for BC:

Chase Rettig

BC quarterback Chase Rettig posted the second lowest passing total of his career. His 57 yards on 10 attempts was the smallest amount since he threw for 32 on the road against Maryland in 2011, but the Eagles had 372 rushing yards in that win.

The passing woes weren't all on Rettig. A lot of times when he dropped back to throw, there wasn't an open receiver down the field for him to hit. A few other times, receivers dropped the ball on key downs. He missed some throws, most notably a wide-open David Dudeck streaking to the end zone in the second quarter, but improved quarterback play alone won't fix BC's trouble through the air.

Rettig's biggest mistakes, which Addazio noted, came when he moved out of the pocket but made the wrong decision with the football. He took four sacks, the same amount that BC forced on UNC, but those four sacks lost a total of 43 yards. There were chances to dump the ball to a receiver or throw it out of bounds and they were missed. Until the offense starts finding more opportunities for Rettig to get the ball in the hands of playmakers, he'll have to focus on preventing big losses more than creating huge gains to keep the Eagles in games.

Playmakers

One reason the offense stalled, and one reason Rettig's performance initially looked so bad, was the stalled attack from BC's skill position players. Andre Williams ran hard up the middle as he surpassed the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the season through just seven games, but eventually UNC stacked the box so heavily that there was no way Williams was going to break anything big. By the second quarter, the Tar Heels were forcing the Eagles to create anything through the air, and BC couldn't make it happen.

With every secondary using a team effort to contain Amidon, BC needs more from another skill player to keep drives rolling. The Eagles also need to use the skill position players in more creative ways.

Myles Willis, the best proven playmaker behind Williams and Amidon, had just one carry for one yard and no receptions. His quick and agile running provides a change of pace from Williams that can throw off defenses, and he's more useful in the passing game than his starting counterpart.

When the box is loaded and Williams can't create big plays and Amidon is receiving all of the defense's attention down the field, BC hasn't put Willis or Amidon in creative position to get the ball and make plays through screens or delays. BC could have thrown out some of the screen plays that the Tar Heels used to terrorize the Eagles on long third downs throughout the game.

The Eagles have repeatedly gone back to the delayed counter that allowed Willis to score against Clemson and Tyler Rouse to score at USC, but every BC opponent should have that play scouted by now.

A second receiver may not step up this season to provide relief to Amidon. Dan Crimmins, Spiffy Evans, and Harrison Jackson haven't separated themselves, but that doesn't mean BC needs to continue to try and execute the same offensive plays hoping for different results-and that was the main issue in the second half on Saturday.


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