This time there were no excuses. No fumbles inside the Red Zone. No “what ifs”, “if onlys “. The bottom line for Boston College on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Stadium was simple.
The Eagles weren’t good enough to beat Clemson.
Aren’t good enough.
That is not a mystery. Clemson is more talented and forget about the two second half picks thrown by BC QB Chase Rettig. They were as much the result of good plays by the Clemson DB’s as bad throws by Rettig.
BC knew it before the game and they certainly knew it after the Tigers pulled away from a 24-21 halftime lead, built the margin to 38-21 and then held off a fourth quarter Eagle surge to post a 45-31 victory.
The Eagles didn’t have to play a perfect game against Clemson to win, but it would have helped.
The Eagles could have used some “Clemson moments”–times when the Tigers play well below their level of talent both physically and mentally.
Those happened in the second half, but there weren’t enough of them.
So what does this all mean in the grand scheme of a BC season in which Coach Frank Spaziani hoped that his team would be, at worst, 3-1 going into October?
That would have quieted, but not silenced, the growing chorus of voices at BC that it is time for a coaching change.
It doesn’t matter a bit, of course, that the three teams the Eagles lost to this season–Miami, Northwestern and Clemson–are a combined 13-2.
It doesn’t matter that the Eagles’ kept coming back, even when they could have picked up their toys and called it a day when Clemson built its lead to 17 midway through the third quarter.
The Eagles– Rettig, wide receiver Alex Amidon and the rest of the offense–kept pushing, kept trying to turn the direction of a tide which is clearly flowing against them.
But every time the Eagles came up with a big play–and they had plenty of them–Clemson and QB Tajh Boyd had an answer that turned up on the scoreboard.
BC is capable of beating Clemson on a given Saturday, but not in a shoot out and not without some help from Clemson.
So what does this all mean for BC and for Spaziani?
The Eagles, barring a mental collapse, which is not likely since three-quarters of the season still remains, should bounce back next week against an Army team that lost to Stony Brook on Saturday.
After that, the Eagles will face a similar situation to the loss to Clemson in a much tougher situation. Beating Florida State, which beat Clemson by 12 points last week, is highly unlikely to happen in Tallahassee.
That would put the Eagles at 2-4 going into the second half of their season. The prevailing wisdom is that the Eagles need to win at least 6 games to even begin the discussion of Spaziani coming back for a fifth season. Some suggest the bar is higher than that, maybe as high as 7 games.
A 7-5 season after a 2-4 start would mean a 5-1 finish against a schedule that still includes Notre Dame, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. But if you look at what has happened in the first month of the season, neither Georgia Tech, NC State or Virginia Tech has looked anything close to invincible. All three lost “winnable” games on Saturday.
And who knows what kind of shape Notre Dame will be in when the Irish come to Alumni Stadium after playing a stretch of games which includes Miami, BYU, Stanford and Oklahoma, with a potential look-ahead game at USC coming after their meeting with the Eagles on Nov. 10.
That is of little comfort to BC.
Spaziani offered some normal observations after the game. “Clemson played a good game,” said Spaziani. “They deserved to win. We’re disappointed, but not discouraged.”
Then he went into a little more detail about what was ailing his team. “We’ve got to play better on defense,” said Spaziani, knowing that his team has given up an average of 36 points in each of its three losses. ”
When asked about the quality of the teams which have beaten the Eagles, Spaziani acknowledged the record, but correctly pointed out there is a danger in using that type of thinking as a clutch. “We still got beat,” he said. “We just didn’t make enough plays when we needed to make plays.”
Not that the Eagles didn’t come up with big plays on their own, including those made by Amidon, who had 8 catches for a career high 193 yards and 2 TDs.
The problem on Saturday was that the offense was playing catch up most of the day because the defense was giving up big plays to Clemson.
“We need to make big plays,” said BC middle linebacker Nick Clancy, who had 10 tackles. “And we let up to many big plays. You can’t take anything away from Clemson. They’re extremely talented and have a lot of weapons. And they’re not afraid to us them.”
Clemson used many of them and BC lost-again. And now they must deal with a 1-3 start instead of the 3-1 beginning most of them had hoped would happen.
On Saturday, no one was making any excuses or cloaking the situation in any kind of false optimism.
“We’re 1-3,” said Rettig, who despite his two interceptions had another 300 yard plus (341) day and threw 3 TD passes. “Those are the numbers.”
Yes they are.© Copyright 2012 Mark, All rights Reserved. Written For: A Jersey Guy