Syracuse @ BC – Game Preview

I’ve said my piece about last week.  It was an excruciating game to watch and I’ve still got a bad taste in my mouth.  It may seem as though there is not much left to play for this year, but that is ultimately shortsighted.  An extremely talented senior class has their final game at Alumni Stadium and bowl implications abound.  I’m still turkeyed out, but let’s get into it.

Ruminations and Considerations

I’m going to back off my hill from earlier this week.  If Addazio wins both remaining games, he obviously has earned another year.  The frustrating thing, however, is that I think this might be a good year to make a transition away from Addazio.  There is a ton of talent on this team, but it’s very young talent going into next year.  With that in mind, it does make sense to me to bring in a new coach to prime this team for a 2020 run.  Ryan Day, Manny Diaz, who knows.  I’ll understand if we keep him.  He will have earned it.  But if 2020 ends as a letdown just like this year, we will all look back and wonder if we made the wrong call.

Let’s get into this matchup. All stats provided by Sports-Reference or Bill Connelly’s awesome statistical profiles.

Game Preview

When the Eagles Have the Ball

BC’s Offense

While I am willing to overlook some of the coaching mistakes I saw from last week, I still affirmatively believe that AJ Dillon’s usage constituted coaching malpractice.  He has been hurt all year, sure, but seeing him take a beating while Levy, Bailey, and Glines received 3 carries to his 37?  WHAT A JOKE.  The theorists that think Daz for some reason doesn’t care about his health are dumb, but for fuck’s sake how was that remotely acceptable?  37 CARRIES.  37! It just makes no sense to me.  If we don’t see more balanced running back usage this week I will be sorely disappointed.

Anthony Brown had possibly the most Anthony Brown game of all time, pooping the bed in the first half and delivering absolute STRIKES in the second.  The second half game plan had him moving laterally to set up a vertical passing game, and he succeeded.  In what I think will be a shootout, this is going to be a major key.  It was refreshing to see the “Crayola Connection” of Brown to White rekindled so emphatically.  Let’s hope that we get more of Dr. Jekyll AB this week at home and that Mr. Hyde stays locked away.

Syracuse’s Defense

Syracuse has an extremely active defense that punishes offenses foolish enough to get into blitzing downs.  Good thing the BC offense does a good job of getting into short yardage manageable downs, right?  Shoot me.

The Orange rank no lower than 20th in any of the blitz-down success metrics provided by S&P+, ranking 2nd IN THE COUNTRY in blitz down success rate.  They do a great job of limiting offenses that put themselves in tough spots.  Once again, shoot me.

Other than that, though, the Orange defense is uninspiring.  It ranks 68th overall in S&P+ defense, with no other cumulative defensive ranking coming in above 57th (other than passing downs, which is highly correlated to the blitz-down rates from above).  BC should be able to dictate the game with a strong running game and first-down passes.  Michael Lombardi, the NFL analyst, talks about teams that play “canadian football,” getting first downs in 2 downs instead of 3.  A game plan that highlights that will be key for BC this week.

The defense is headlined by an experienced front 7, led by SR LB Ryan Guthrie (70.5 Tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 19.5 Run Stuffs).  Guthrie also has some hogs in front of him, in JR Alton Robinson (32/16/9 Sacks/18.5) and JR Kendall Coleman (24.5/9/7/10.5).  Expect them to create some pressure to allow FR DB Andre Cisco (6 INTs) and the other DBs to hawk some balls.

The Gameplan


BC will need to stay on target all game.  Play Canadian football, and keep themselves out of third and long, or third and any plays.  Get the first down in two, and don’t let the Syracuse defense fall back on its blitz-happy ways.  If we’re seeing anything longer than 4 yards out on 3rd down, its going to be a long day.  Rollouts and Smith Sweeps will force the defense to guess as to where the ball is heading and whether a blitz is appropriate.  If we can do that, the offense should be allowed to operate.  With a blitz-happy defense, expect AJ Dillon to have a Saquon game: several TFLs coupled with a few BIG plays.

When Syracuse Has the Ball

BC’s Defense

See here. And here.   I can’t tell you anything new about this unit.  Despite getting the top taken off of them at the end of the game, they were not the reason we lost last week.  We’ve got one of the most complete defenses in recent memory, with playmakers, not just starters but PLAYMAKERS, at every level.  Keep a safety deep this week.  Otherwise, don’t change a thing.

Actually I do need to say one more thing: God bless the day that Zach Allen decided to put on a Boston College uniform.    He is one of the best BC defenders to lace them up since the turn of the century, and it will be so fun watching him in the NFL next year.  He needs to get his due this Saturday on Senior day.  Give it up for him (and all of the other Seniors too duh).

Syracuse’s Offense

QB Eric Dungey runs for the first – (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

This is a little tougher to gauge then most weeks.  With Eric Dungey potentially out, the Orange Offense could take on a number of different looks.  Tommy Devito was abused by Notre Dame last week but I doubt we can glean much from that performance.  Devito has some experience because Dungey always gets hurt and is a redshirt freshmen meaning he has some experience in the Syracuse program.  Nonetheless, I think Dungey probably plays this week which will be a whole ‘nother nightmare for our team.

Dung/vito have help in the form of JR sparkplug running back Moe Neal (786/5.6YPC/5TDs) and a unique crop of wide receivers – ranging from tall redwoods like Jamal Custis (43/758/5) to small speedsters like Sean Riley (58/618/2).  Syracuse has 4 WRs with at least 30 catches, 400 yards receiving, and 2 TDs, meaning that they do a great job of spreading the ball around.  Their advanced metrics put them at 48th in country in overall S&P+ offense, which seems about right considering that they dont have a really potent running game.  In many ways, the Orange Offense is the Bizzaro World version of BC’s.

THE BABA YAGA – Eric Dungey

Every week I’ve tried to identify the player who will be BC’s “boogeyman” for that particular game – the player who gives BC fits and causes us to lose sleep at night for how they beat us.  I’ve decided to turn it into its own section of the preview.  Previous Baba Yagas would’ve been Travis Etienne (guess I was wrong) and Tamarrion Terry (I hate that I was right).

All the talk of him not playing is, I think, bullshit.  Dungey will play this week and its going to fucking SUCK for BC.  He is a nightmare for our defense.  Everything good and great that this defense does is compromised when faced with a running QB.  Dungey actually leads the team in rushing yards and has an uncanny ability for extending plays.  He is big, has the true swagger of a leader, and keeps drives alive uncannily.  No matter the down and distance, no play or drive is ever over with his legs.  Dungey pairs his legs with a moderate arm, throwing for 2200 yards, 14 TDs, and 6 Ints.  His legs, however, have earned him 816 yards on the ground, along with 12(!!!) rushing touchdowns.  This kid has all the tools to embarass this defense.  If they are not careful, he will. So how do they stop him?

The Gameplan


Stick a LB on Dungey like glue.  It’ll need to be one of our more athletic LBs, so I think this is going to be a perfect task for Isaiah McDuffie, who I think could have a big game thrusting him onto the ACC/national scene.  By keeping someone in the box shadowing Dungey, it forces him to beat us with his arm which, given how Hamp Cheevers and Brandon Sebastian have been playing, I don’t think he’s going to do.  We will sacrifice some big defensive plays by doing so, but I think its better to limit their offense then run our full, balls-to-the-wall defense.  Keep Dungey contained and let the rest of the Orange try and beat us (they wont).

Final Thoughts

With Dungey out, this game should be a shoe-in for the Eagles given how much he brings to the Syracuse offense.  If he plays, I think its going to be a long night for the boys.

My gut is telling me that Dungey plays and plays very well against us.  We have just failed to stop running quarterbacks when they come to play against us and I don’t see BC winning a shootout.  Dungey can kill the Eagles, and I think he will if he plays.

The offensive matchup isnt great for the Eagles either.  Sure, we should be able to run the ball, BUT WE SHOULDVE BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT LAST WEEK.  FSU is a worse team defensively than the Orange are, and we know that the Eagles don’t do a good job of getting into manageable field position or short-yardage scenarios (and don’t do a good job of calling the right play for those scenarios I HAD TO GET IT IN).

Worst of all, BC STINKS on Special Teams.  We do a good job returning, but a terrible job when we’re kicking it away.  Syracuse on the other hand only has the NUMBER 1 SPECIALS TEAMS UNIT IN THE COUNTRY according to S&P+.  This is going to be a long day on fourth downs, I can feel it.

My brain is telling me if Dungey plays, Syracuse wins 35-21.  If it’s Devito, Cuse wins 21-17 on the backs of great ST play and terrible ST play by the Eagles.

My heart, however … my heart is always with the Eagles.  I really think they come out PISSED OFF and ready to play.  I think they want to play for Addazio and show the administration and Martin Jarmond in particular that they think he’s the right man for this job.  I think the seniors take the frustration of last week out on a Syracuse team that thinks its hot shit.

For some reason, I think the Eagles win this one.  Either way, its going to be a microcosm of the Addazio experience – a frustrating loss plagued by special teams woes, or a surprising performance that gets buzz going again.  Lets take it to them, and head to Nashville for some beers on Broadway.  BC wins, 30-14, with Syracuse the unfortunate victim of a motivated BC team.  See you on the other side.