Boston College bounced back from its first defeat of the season — a 30-13 loss at Purdue Sept. 22 — by beating Temple, 45-35, at Alumni Stadium on Saturday.
The nonconference battle was physical, leaving the Eagles dinged up as they prepare for undefeated North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C.
“It was a pretty tough game,” said coach Steve Addazio on Monday. “We’re beat up a little bit right now. We’re a team that’s leathered up.”
It’s been a mixed bag through five weeks for BC (4-1).
Although the offense is on a record-setting pace, the defense has struggled to keep up, notching a bevy of big plays but lacking consistency. BC’s special teams unit has struggled, too, relying on underclassmen.
The current state of BC football, assessing each unit’s performance, before Saturday’s game (12:30 p.m., NESN) with the Wolfpack.
Addazio did not update the status of sophomore running back AJ Dillon. Dillon injured his left ankle early in the third quarter against Temple. Addazio said he hopes Dillon can suit up against N.C. State.
“I wouldn’t expect some of these guys to be practicing tomorrow to be honest with you,” said Addazio, “but I don’t think that’s a reflection on whether they’ll be able to play for Saturday.”
The Eagles have scored 216 points this season, the most through five games in program history. BC ran 105 plays against Temple, a program record, per Addazio.
Addazio’s group has shown plenty of two tight end sets, loading up the line with blockers to plow the way for Dillon. Senior Chris Lindstrom and sophomore Ben Petrula head a group in the trenches that has been crucial to BC’s offensive success.
“I like where our line is right now,” said Addazio. “I think our line is playing amazing.”
Meanwhile, sophomore quarterback Anthony Brown returned admirably from knee surgery, completing 56.5 percent of his passes for 861 yards and sporting a 3-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Brown also can cause damage as a scrambler in the option, but Addazio intimated he’s playing it safe with his QB, protecting Brown’s running prowess for later in the season.
Right now, BC is just fine with what it has.
Grade assessment: STRONG
BC ranks first in the ACC in sacks (18) and is tied for first with Syracuse in interceptions (8). Senior defensive ends Zach Allen and Wyatt Ray have been sensational, each among the ACC’s top seven in tackles for loss. The talent is evident.
Yet the Eagles can’t seem to stay out of their own way, struggling to get off the field on third down and failing to register easy tackles on numerous occasions.
Addazio entered practice this week with a renewed emphasis on the basics.
“We have to do a better job of stopping the run,” said Addazio. “We have to do a better job tackling and playing fundamentally. We’ll probably have our defensive backs and linebackers in some much more aggressive tackling drills on Tuesday.”
Grade assessment: FAIR
The specialist group has endured a tenuous start.
Against Temple, sophomore punter Grant Carlson muffed a snap, recovered the ball, then kicked it into the back of a blocker before it ricocheted out of the end zone for a safety. BC also fumbled a kick return, leading to a 19-yard scoop-and-score for the Owls.
“We’ve improved a lot in our special teams each week,” said Addazio. “You’re probably listening to me like, ‘What is he talking about?’ The problem is we have these bizarre things going on.
“We dropped a punt that was in our hands, going from our hand to our foot. Mike Walker, who’s been fabulous in the return game, took a hard shot and coughed the ball up. We might lead the country in scoop-scores against us, I don’t know.”
The field goal unit has been equally shaky. Addazio yanked freshman John Tessitore after he missed an extra point Saturday, replacing him with another freshman, Danny Longman. However Addazio anticipated senior kicker Colton Lichtenberg — out since Week 2 with an undisclosed injury — may return Saturday, providing some much needed stability to a unit in flux.
Grade assessment: WEAK
Owen Pence can be reached at email@example.com.