WEST POINT, N.Y. — More than any other loss this season, falling to Army Saturday, 34-31, left Boston College deflated, almost too stunned by giving up a late go-ahead touchdown to think about what the solutions possibly could be.
The game tape didn't cause coach Frank Spaziani to see things any other way the next day.
"It's still a very tough defeat in a lot of ways," he said. "It's something that we have to put behind us and put our nose to the grindstone and move forward."
A dazed frustration threaded its way through the Eagles' locker room. Wide receiver Alex Amidon called the room despondent. Quarterback Chase Rettig was down on himself after his offense failed to come up with what would have been a game-clinching first down. Linebacker Nick Clancy hung all the blame on a defense that's been subpar all season and gave up 516 yards. Wideout Spiffy Evans, who sat out with an injury, took to Twitter to say that something had to change.
All the sentiments, Spaziani said, were understandable. But they were feelings the Eagles had to shake off as they prepare to face Florida State in Tallahassee Saturday and try to figure out a way out of the 1-4 hole they've dug for themselves as the midway point of their season approaches.
"Winning breeds a lot more confidence and losing breeds a lot more doubt," Spaziani said. "You certainly have to guard against it. There are a lot of extraneous factors, whatever it is. There's a lot of things working on their mind. They've got to understand this is their team and they can have as much success as they want."
Each of the Eagles' losses has been uniquely disappointing. The opener against Miami had the potential to be an out-of-the-gate statement game. The Eagles unleashed an offense that was dramatically better than it had been in recent years, but the defense gave up big plays that undermined it. Still, even in a loss, at that point BC's potential was evident.
The Eagles beat up on Football Championship Subdivision Maine, then traveled to Northwestern for their first test on the road. But Northwestern's offense dominated, running 100 plays and eating up 560 yards.
Against an Army team that was winless coming in, BC was the favorite even though it knew the Black Knights would relentlessly run the ball and dominate the clock, which they did. Army got 100-yard rushing games from three running backs, using its option to confuse an injury-hampered and as a result more inexperienced defense.
"I think realistically we knew our margin of error was slim and we had to have some things go right," Spaziani said. "We're 1-4. We're playing hard. A couple games could have gone either way, and we've got to figure out why that's happening."
Now the Eagles have to look at their last three losses, each more humbling than the other, and use them as motivation to try to salvage the rest of their season.
"It's something that we've always preached since we've been here," Spaziani said. "You have to keep one eye on the past and look at what you did wrong, why you didn't get it done, and make your best judgments and figure what you need to improve on to get it done and then move forward. You have to compartmentalize and then do it. That's what all teams need to do and coaches, too. It's not easy."
Florida State will be trying to shake off a loss at North Carolina State that was even more unexpected.
"I can't speculate on their mind-set and their motivation," Spaziani said. "I can tell you this, despite what happened [Saturday] night, they have a bevy of football players and that's a very good football team and they were beaten by a very good football team. They were beaten by a very good NC State team in a hostile environment, which shows you things can happen.
"So we have to prepare like we do every week for everybody's 'A' game and go from there."
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.