With a 3-3 record halfway through the season, Boston College football coach Steve Addazio utilized the bye week following the Eagles’ 24-14 loss at third-ranked Clemson Oct. 12 to evaluate his players.
With six games remaining, including Saturday’s trip to Chapel Hill, N.C., for an Atlantic Coast Conference contest vs. North Carolina, the Eagles still have an opportunity to achieve their goal of becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010.
“The concern I have right now, and I just told this to the team today, we’re going into Week 7 and we’ve been in some battles,’’ said Addazio, noting how BC fell short against then-eighth-ranked Florida State (48-34) and at Clemson.
“People have told [them], ‘You’ve played this team tough and you’ve played that team tough.’ I mean, don’t take any solace in that. Don’t think like we’re OK. We’re [trying to be] 1-0.
“It’s a new slate here now.’’
And make no mistake about BC’s intentions.
“We want to go 6-0,’’ said Kasim Edebali, a senior defensive end and cocaptain. “That’s what we’re shooting for.’’
With no open dates left, the Eagles are looking at their remaining games as a gauntlet.
After facing the Tar Heels, the Eagles host Virginia Tech Nov. 2, then travel to Las Cruces, N.M., Nov. 9 to face New Mexico State, one of seven winless teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Eagles’ home finale is Nov. 16 against North Carolina State before they wrap up the season with conference road games against Maryland Nov. 23 and Syracuse Nov. 30.
If BC can remain healthy while sustaining its physical play down the stretch, “we’ll win our fair share,’’ Addazio said.
“We can ill afford to stroll out like we strolled out to California and play kind of in a malaise,’’ the coach added, referring to BC’s first setback of the season, a 35-7 loss at Southern Cal Sept. 14. “We have to play at the very top of our game. It’s hard to do that week in and week out. That’s what we’re trying to establish in our mind-set and in our culture here, but it’s hard to do.
“So I think we’ve got to do a great job of playing at the high end of our game and that’s a high-energy, physical, tough game. That’s how we have to play. Our margin for error is small. We can ill afford to go out and all of a sudden let someone get out on us quick. We’ve got to keep it in control, keep it intact.’’
Addazio wasn’t idle during the bye week. Last Thursday night was appointment viewing for the coach, who hunkered in front of his TV to watch Miami’s ACC game at North Carolina. The 10th-ranked Hurricanes rallied to score in the final 16 seconds to pull out a 27-23 victory.
So what jumped off the screen at Addazio?
“North Carolina had said they needed to come out firing and I thought they did,’’ he said. “They came out, at home, a lot of energy at their stadium, and you could feel it on TV. I thought they played really hard and I thought they played like a team that was backed up and coming out swinging.’’
“They were physical, they were fast, they made plays, and they looked pretty good,’’ Addazio added about the Tar Heels (1-5, 0-3). “That’s the team Thursday night that you thought you’d see, and you saw them. I mean, they’ve played some good people, too, now — Miami, Virginia Tech, and South Carolina to open the season. They haven’t had the easiest schedule.
“They’ve played some good teams and we’ve played some good teams. We’re not coming at this like they’ve played some poor football teams. Those are some quality outfits.’’
As he did for the games at Southern Cal and Clemson, two of the noisier venues in college football, Addazio had crowd noise blaring from the speakers at Alumni Stadium during Monday’s practice to prepare for Saturday’s game.
The Eagles returned to full pads Monday after going through a pair of scaled-back practices during the bye week. Addazio said he spoke Monday morning with his former Florida mentor, Urban Meyer, now the coach at Ohio State, about being a physical team and not being able to practice that way because of concerns about injuries and depth. “I’m a big inside drill guy, but I’ve walked away from inside drill a little bit in our practice,’’ Addazio said. “It’s just the little things to try and accommodate how we get our work done, stay physical, but I’ve only got so many guys and I’m trying not to get this team beat to pieces and trying to get ourselves intact for the games, but yet we can’t be a team that takes off the shoulder pads, so to speak.’’ . . . Addazio was happy to see freshman running back Tyler Rouse, who has been slowed by a nagging hamstring injury, “make a cut I hadn’t seen him make yet. He looked like a big-time guy today in practice. I think he’s finally getting healthy. He had a hamstring that he pulled before camp and during camp. You hurt that hamstring and, God forbid, you reinjure it, then it’s a 2-3 month [rehab]. So he’s starting to get healthy, so that’s encouraging.’’ . . . The ACC announced the Nov. 2 home game against Virginia Tech will kick off at noon and be televised by ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2.
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.