The more yards Kansas piled up, the more Boston College football coach Steve Addazio started to feel as if he was in an alternate universe.
Everything about the way the visiting Jayhawks ran wild on the Eagles in a 48-24 stunner Friday night was head-scratching.
But watching Kansas running back Khalil Herbert’s 82-yard breakaway near the end of the first half left Addazio baffled.
The Eagles called a run blitz, which meant every gap should have been covered. But Herbert didn’t have any issues finding a hole after he took the pitch from Carter Stanley. He slithered through and had nothing but green in front of him.
The part that puzzled Addazio was seeing defensive backs on the edges still covering receivers as if a throw was on the way.
“You literally can still see our DBs still running — run off the field — while the guy’s running down the field,” Addazio said. “It was bizarro.”
The Eagles finally brought Herbert down. But two plays later, the Jayhawks were in the end zone courtesy of a 3-yard pass from Stanley to Andrew Parchment. The score sent BC into the locker room dazed, down 28-24.
“That was a back-breaker,” Addazio said. “When you’re in man coverage, they’re running with the receivers, they’ve got their back to the wall. It looked bizarre. You’d like to maybe get a little faster reaction, I guess, at some point. How far are you going to go down the field? The question I have is, ‘What the heck is [the ball] doing down the field?’ ”
That’s a question the Eagles will have to spend the rest of the week answering after watching their defense get shredded for 567 yards.
In theory, Kansas wasn’t supposed to test the flexibility of the Eagles’ defense when they came into Alumni Stadium Friday night.
They were coming off a 12-7 loss to Coastal Carolina, they were ranked 113th in total offense, and they were carrying 48 straight road losses to Power 5 schools, by far the longest in the country.
That streak ended where BC’s issues began.
The Eagles had no answers for the Jayhawks in the air or on the ground.
Stanley threw for 238 yards and three touchdowns on 20-of-27 passing. Herbert ripped off 187 yards on just 11 carries and his partner in the backfield, Pooka Williams, ate up 121 yards on 22 touches with a touchdown.
“We didn’t stop the run,” Addazio said. “We’ve got to be able to stop the run before you can even stop the pass. We didn’t stop anything. So we need to go back and take a look at where all these breakdowns are.”
With the chance to start the season with three straight wins for the second straight year tossed by the wayside, gravity hit the Eagles hard.
The last time Kansas churned out more than 550 yards of total offense was 2017. The Eagles have given up that many yards four times since then.
BC fell to 2-1 with a trip to Rutgers, their first road game of the season, looming next week.
“We didn’t play very well,” Addazio said. “We played well opening day. I think you saw a few signs of some of this last week and I think that today, we obviously didn’t play well enough at all. And that’s my responsibility.”
The Eagles let running back AJ Dillon’s 13th career 100-yard rushing game go to waste.
He ran 27 times for 151 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Anthony Brown had his roughest start of the season, going 18-for-36 passing with 195 yards and one touchdown.
The Jayhawks racked up 310 yards in the first half. Instead of a cake walk, the Eagles woke up in the middle of a shootout.
BC came in favored by as much as 21 points.
Addazio’s bet before the season was that, if the Eagles’ defense struggled, the offense would be explosive enough to cover the difference.
But BC mustered just 106 yards in a scoreless second half.
“For starters, we’re going to get in here early tomorrow watching film, figuring out what we did wrong and trying to fix what we did wrong so we can play better against Rutgers,” said defensive lineman Tanner Karafa.
“We’ve got to respond the best we can. We can’t let this turn into two games.
“We’ve got to attack Rutgers. Now.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.