BC Football Saturday W2WF: Temple
Adversity has a knack for educating a team about itself. In a physical sense, it forces players to train harder and to work on skills in practice. Coaches focus on enhancing strengths and fixing weaknesses to refine talent. Development encompasses the entire body from the football field to the weight room.
It combines with a mental adversity that can feel altogether different. It forces athletes to stop negative inertia in order to restart the push forward. Mental adversity can feel tougher, but the work is the same. Physical preparation makes a team mentally tougher, and mentally tough teams put in maximum effort to find new ceilings and limits for physicality.
That synergy stood on display in Boston College’s loss to Purdue. The Eagles left last week feeling like a stronger physical team that didn’t do enough to win the game. It created a sour taste, which in turn led to practices pushing players to develop and refine – both mentally and physically.
“Everything is its own entity every week,” head coach Steve Addazio said. “Every year is different. A week ago, I came off the (Wake Forest) game and kind of wanted to make sure our guys were fresh and kind of pulled off the gas a little bit on the physicality of practice. We did the flipside (this week), we went right back to hardcore fundamentals, inside drill and everything else started on Sunday and haven’t let up.”
That physical week will now be on display on Saturday. The Eagles prepared themselves by dedicating themselves mentally to become better physically. Every football team faces adversity in its season, but it never defines the year because teams rarely look back. Instead, they only use it to drive forward.
“We’re looking forward to getting back at it this week, playing Temple,” Addazio said. “(The Owls are) a really fine football team, physical, athletic football team, well-coached and (we are) looking forward to getting back into another game here. We’ve had a good week, a tough week, a physical week, and our preparations have been good.”
Patience you must have, my young Padawan.
Temple opened this year with two straight losses to Villanova and Buffalo before beating Maryland and Tulsa. In those games, time of possession told a direct story steeped in victory or defeat. For the losses, the Owls failed to possess the ball for more than 24 minutes. In the wins, they held the ball for more than 30 minutes. So it becomes a simple storyline to watch – control the clock and control the game.
“This is a game where we will have to be patient offensively and get our opportunities as they come,” Steve Addazio said. “Defensively, we have got to keep field position. That’s going to be critically important.”
Villanova held Temple to only three drives in the entire first half, none of which ended in touchdowns. Temple had only drive longer than five minutes, but it only resulted in a field goal. The Owls did score a touchdown, but it came off of a blocked field goal.
Against Buffalo, the offense played better but had multiple three-and-outs in the second half. Three turnovers didn’t help, and the Bulls shut the Owls off the scoreboard in the third quarter.
“We are predicated on getting the first down, getting first downs and getting going,” Addazio said. “In an effort to get started, sometimes you try to get the ball in the hands of guys you are trying to get going. But if that’s not happening, you get behind the chains.”
The Eagles need to get back to basics this week by moving the chains, and Temple’s rushing defense may provide that opportunity. The Owls rank No. 73 in the nation against the rush and have struggled at times to get off the field on third down. For that reason, BC should look to get into its rhythm and not try to explode the first play. It obviously means shifting gears if necessary, but the Eagles shouldn’t abandon the controlled, patient style that keeps defenses on the field.
“Sometimes I think we are going to have to shift gears a little bit from who we are trying to get going,” he said. “But the problem with that is you also have to be careful that your best players are touching the ball.”
One thing about Temple’s defense – it isn’t afraid to change its look on defense with a variety of different formations and personnel groupings designed to maximize speed versus physicality in specific areas.
“(Temple head coach Geoff Collins) is an outstanding coach,” Steve Addazio said. “I’m sure he’ll take into consideration all the things that we do and make some decisions and build his game plan to what he perceives our strengths are or our weaknesses or whatever. We do the same. We look at the tape and try to build our game plan.”
Collins is a former defensive coordinator in the SEC and helped make Florida one of the best units in the nation. His Temple team last year held teams passing to just about 200 yards per game and finished the year in the top half of the Football Bowl Subdivision. This year’s team ranks 58th in total defense, but it is No. 1 in the nation in red zone defense, No. 2 in the nation in interceptions and No. 5 in the nation in sacks.
“They’re very multiple,” Addazio said. “They come at you with a lot of coverage and a lot of pressure and a lot of different stuff. They’re going to play physical. There’s no doubt about that. But they also want to be disruptive and get you to turn the ball over.”
Back to the Future, Part III
This year’s schedule has been something of a time machine for Boston College football. The Eagles played two historic matchups against Massachusetts opponents and now play Temple, a former Big East foe, on Saturday.
It’s hard to call Temple a rival when BC is 28-7-2 lifetime and 18-2-1 at home. The Eagles won 12 of the last 14 annual matchups, and Temple hasn’t won in Chestnut Hill since 1990. BC won the last five in a row by an average of score of 34-11.
It’s harder, though, to ignore history. The two schools helped found the Big East’s football conference in 1991. When the league played its first full complement of games in 1993, Temple’s first conference game was against the Eagles. BC was Temple’s last Big East game in 2004. Eight years later, Steve Addazio helped bring the Owls back, and they now carry the torch as the last founding Big East member still in the American Athletic Conference.
“I’m very appreciative to Temple and the people at Temple that gave me an opportunity,” he said. “I loved my experience and my time there. I really embraced and love the city. I enjoyed having a real part in building that program. Just the ability to recruit that area and the great high school football around that area, we had a chance to bring in some really, really fine players.”
They Said It
“All of us have been at practice this week with a sour taste in our mouth about how last week went. The way we practiced this week felt like we had a purpose and a mission. It felt a whole lot different than before.” –Aaron Monteiro
“We had probably the best Sunday that we’ve had in my time here. It’s been the best week of practice. I’m just thankful to be a part of a team with this group of guys who put their head down.” –Chris Lindstrom
“The game of football is about learning from your mistakes, getting better, making corrections and getting your mind straight because a new train is coming down the tracks.” –Steve Addazio
Perfect fall weather is in the forecast for Alumni Stadium on Saturday. Whatever rain hits the New England region on Friday will be long gone by the time kickoff rolls around on noon, and it’ll leave sunny, crisp skies.
Temperatures will be cool in the morning, but the afternoon will warm up quickly into the low 70s. Nothing will get higher than that, though, and the mid-afternoon will watch the mercury start dipping. Overnight temperatures will push down near 40, though everyone will be home when sunset hits.
Conference games continue to slide into the schedule as teams begin wrapping up their non-league slates. Five games will impact the ACC standings, including four interdivisional matchups. Syracuse heads to Clemson for a noon start in a rematch of last year’s upset special in the Carrier Dome, while Florida State plays at Louisville at 3:30 and Virginia Tech heads to No. 22 Duke at night.
The ACC nonleague pick of the week goes to Pittsburgh, which plays at No. 13 Central Florida.
Rounding out the schedule are Georgia Tech and Wake Forest’s respective home games against Bowling Green and Rice.
There are a couple of games nationally to watch, none the least is No. 4 Ohio State’s trip to No. 9 Penn State. That kicks off opposite No. 7 Stanford at No. 8 Notre Dame. Three other games – BYU-Washington, West Virginia-Texas Tech, and Oregon-California – are matchups between ranked teams.
BC’s next opponent, NC State, plays a conference game as the only interdivisional matchup when it hosts Virginia. The Wolfpack are a perfect 3-0 but remain unranked as a team receiving votes in both the Associated Press and Amway Coaches poll.
Pregame Quote & Prediction
It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! -Rocky Balboa, “Rocky Balboa”
Last week knocked BC a little bit, making it impossible to ignore, but Boston College can’t and won’t dwell on it too much longer. This week provides a fresh opponent, and Temple brings a new outlook to a game. It’s an entirely different opponent with an entirely different story, so there’s only so much focus that can be spent on the past. Saturday is an opportunity to look forward, and that’s exactly what BC will likely do in front of an Alumni Stadium crowd that surged to start the season.
Beating Temple will require a balance that simply didn’t exist against Purdue but was very present against UMass, Holy Cross, and Wake Forest. It requires a synergy that’s vital all three phases of the Boston College game plan. It’s been there before, and it can be there again. Achieving it likely means the offense spurs the defense and vice-versa, with special teams helping to seize the day, overcome adversity and become, once again, “1-0 for the week.”
Boston College and Temple will meet at Alumni Stadium on Saturday with a 12 p.m. kickoff. The game can be seen on ESPNU and online at WatchESPN.com. Audio broadcast is available via the BC IMG Sports Network and on Sirius channel 134, XM channel 203 and Internet channel 968. The game can also be streamed via the TuneIn app on mobile devices.