After five straight games in Massachusetts and four straight at home in Chestnut Hill, the roller coaster that is Boston College football has come to a screeching halt at their bye week. This means that for the first time in over a month, Boston College students will have a weekend without football to watch.
But have no fear SuperFans, here at The Gavel we are looking to fill that void for you with a little analysis of what we have seen so far by passing out mid-season awards and talking about what adjustments could be made during the off week to help the Eagles with the tough rest of the schedule.
This far into the season it seems as if there are two different teams in the maroon and gold. The team that has played USC, Maine and UMass, and the team that has played Pitt and Colorado State. Now this seems easy to say, as the team played well in wins and poorly in losses, but there is some statistical evidence behind this.
BC’s good games have thus far been all about how their defense plays. More specifically: as the defensive line goes, the Eagles go. The contrast is best shown between the USC game and the Colorado game. BC’s defensive line in the USC game was fantastic, getting great push on the edges and up the gut causing the USC offensive line to double team. This freed up linebackers like Josh Keyes to be all over the Trojan running backs.
This pressure just didn’t happen against CSU. The telltale sign of the difference in the two efforts is in the opposing rushing statistics. USC averaged 0.7 yards per rushing attempts. Less than one yard per carry. This forced USC to be entirely one dimensional and predictable. Colorado State on the other hand averaged 6.8 yards a carry.
All-in-all, things have gone pretty well for Boston College and there are some Eagles that we need to point out in particular. Here are the mid-season (third-season?) awards for BC:
Most Valuable Player: Tyler Murphy
This one seems a bit predicable but it isn’t as easy as it seems. Murphy has really changed the Eagles offense since coming over from Florida in the off season and has exceled in certain facets of the game. The reason he is the MVP thus far is mainly for his contributions in the ground game. Murphy has rushed for 652 yards this season (not counting yards lost in sacks) which leads the team by nearly 300 yards. Murphy’s explosive legs pick up on average 8.2 yards per carry and cause linebackers to have to spy on him rather than cover tight ends or key on running backs. One reason this wasn’t as clear cut and easy as it seems was that he has struggled at times as a passer. He has twice as many interceptions as he does TDs and is completing just over 50 percent of his passes. However, this is outweighed by his amazing play-action and rushing skills, making him Boston College’s MVP through the bye week.
Defensive Most Valuable Player: Josh Keyes
This award is not even a question. Manual Asprilla is the only other name that comes into the conversation with his five pass deflections and high tackle total, but Josh Keyes to this point has truly been the heart of the defense. His team leading three sacks and seven and a half tackles for loss make him one of the cogs of a Boston College run defense and pass rush that is key to the outcome of each and every game. He has five more tackles for loss than any other player on the team and without him this defense could not function.
Rookie of the Year: Jon Hilliman
Jon Hilliman has been one of the more pleasant surprises for the Eagles this year. The true freshman tailback has solidified the running back position and really been a work horse for BC with a team leading 76 carries. He is second on the team in rushing and tied for first in rushing touchdowns. Jack-of-all-trades Myles Willis looked to be the feature back for the Eagles this year but the emergence of Hilliman has allowed Willis to be much more involved in the return game. Hilliman will need to continue to be a force in the Eagles 7th ranked rushing attack for them to be successful going forward.
Most Improved Player: Josh Bordner
Josh Bordner has been one of the best stories so far this season for the Eagles. The long time backup quarterback behind Chase Rettig finally thought this year was going to be his shot. When the news broke of Tyler Murphy coming to BC, however, Bordner immediately took action. He had no interest in spending a fourth straight year on the sidelines and used the offseason to learn to play wide receiver. Many players have made this switch or done the opposite of this and been very unsuccessful, but that is not the case for Josh. Named a team captain this year he has lead the Eagles in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns – by far the most improved player on the Boston College roster.
The Eagles’ bye week gives them an opportunity to sure up the couple of holes they have: protecting the ball in the passing game and getting the defense to consistently own the line of scrimmage like we have seen them do. The rest of the schedule for BC is tough, with NC State, Clemson, and Florida State all still on the slate. These games are just a few of the tough tests left for BC that will be great stages for our mid-season award winners to shine like they have for the first few weeks.
Kick back, relax and prepare yourself, SuperFans, for the stretch of exciting football your team will be playing in the weeks to come.
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