The Trojans have flexed their muscles on defense in the first two weeks of the year, but in come the BC Eagles to the Coliseum on Saturday as a team that has started to gel on offense under new head coach Steve Addazio.
With plenty of senior talent at the skill positions on offense, in addition to an offensive line with 77 career starts between them, Boston College should be the stiffest test of the USC defense to date.
Despite averaging just 24 points in two games, the Eagles have quickly progressed under Addazio, the former offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer at Florida. Quite simply, BC is relying less on senior quarterback Chase Rettig, as he’s no longer the boom or bust option of the Eagles’ attack.
The native Californian averaged nearly 39 passes per game last season, while struggling to stay efficient despite All-ACC wide receiver Alex Amidon. So far in 2013, Amidon leads the ACC in receptions with 18, but he’s caught 60 percent of BC’s completions.
The focus of the offense lies in the backfield, which has lessened the burden on Rettig and has allowed him play more within himself and more efficiently.
Rettig is completing 68 percent of his passes, up from 54 percent last year, and he’s been intercepted just once in 44 attempts.
The Eagles as a run-first offense are led by senior running back Andre Williams. Through two games, Williams is more than halfway to his rushing total from last year, ranking third in the nation in yards, with 318.
Last week in a 24-10 win over Wake Forest, Rettig took a back seat and attempted just 14 passes, while Williams had his best game to date with a career-high 204 yards. Not surprisingly, he earned him the title of ACC Offensive Back of the Week.
Against the Trojans, it’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles mix up the gameplan, as USC boasts the No. 1 rushing defense in the country, giving up just 0.3 yards per carry, through two games.
BC never trailed against Wake and could afford to run the ball 77 percent of the time, while against Villanova in Week 1, they trailed for roughly 30 minutes of gameclock, forcing Rettig to wheel and deal in the pocket and lead the charge on a solid second half of play.
They’ll need balance against the Trojans to keep USC honest, and as the most balanced offense the Trojans have faced, should give a matchup that will be intriguing going forward, with balanced attacks from Utah State and ASU looming.
Yesterday, Joe Micik from Soaring to Glory mentioned how creativity was pivotal for BC, as echoed by Addazio.
This week, we are going to get to see how adaptable the offensive coaches are. Steve Addazio said in yesterday’s press conference that he is aware of how good USC’s run defense is and that running against them like they were playing Wake Forest would be futile. He stressed the need for offensive creativity, so now, we get the chance to see what they mean.
A balanced attack might work, especially if BC goes back to the play action. The Eagles have to run the ball steadily to keep the Trojans honest and ensure a slower tempo, if they can get first downs doing it, but as for the bigger gains, it will be on Rettig to get them.
The biggest key however, will be protecting the quarterback. Rettig was sacked three times last week despite a limited number of drop-backs against Wake Forest, which is potentially worrisome for BC, given that USC’s front seven has swallowed both Hawaii and Washington State’s offensive lines whole. Through two games, USC has totaled 11 sacks in the first two weeks, two more than anyone else in the country.
Boston College’s Projected Offensive Starters:
LT Matt Patchan #77
LG Bobby Vardaro #76
C Andy Gallik #59
RG Harris Williams #64
RT Ian White #62
Y/TE C.J. Parsons #87
HWR Mike Naples #89
QB Chase Rettig #11
TB Andre Williams #44
FB Jarrett Darmstatter #82
WR Alex Amidon #83
WR Dan Crimmins #18
WR Spiffy Evans #7