October 11, 2012

Tape Breakdown: Boston College offense

Boston College week provides a bit of a challenge to the film room. Defensively, the Eagles are giving up over 250 yards a game on the ground. As a team, it has zero wins against FBS competition and a loss to Army on the resume. However, if there is one side of the football that is interesting to watch, it is the B.C. offense. Let's take a look at a couple of components worth noting ahead of Saturday evening.

Boston College offense

What makes the Boston College offense click? It all centers around the quarterback.

Chase Rettig

Although it has been a rough go of it for the Eagles in 2012, quarterback Chase Rettig is certainly the brightest spot on the team. Rettig has a strong arm, one that he uses to navigate the seams, down the field and to find underneath routes. Although Clemson's defense is porous, Rettig showed an ability to fit the ball into tiny windows.

It's hard to get a sense of velocity looking at still photos, but look at the window Rettig finds here on this touchdown pass. One could argue that his intended receiver is not the one who comes down with the ball, but only a quarterback with but faith in his arm and the requisite strength can make a throw like this one.

Boston College knows it has to ride Rettig's arm too. In two ACC games, the junior has thrown the ball an average of 47 times and a total 782 yards and five touchdowns against three interceptions. Bottom line: Rettig is not a one-man upset machine, but given any kind of time, he is a quarterback that can beat good coverage. It is also worth noting here that, in most situations, the Eagles do commit at least one extra body to protect the passer.

Fourth down

When B.C. even sniffs a must-have fourth down, it will go for the conversion. That was the lesson against Clemson, a team that the Eagles knew would score often. Boston College ended up 2-for-4 against the Tigers in fourth-down situations, and had one interesting go-to play.

Out of a single-back formation, the Eagles stack one side of the line with an extra two blockers. From here, Rettig tosses the ball several yards behind him, akin to the go-to L.S.U. toss play from the past handful of years. Although the run blocking is suspect for B.C., this is a play it tried twice against Clemson in the first half on fourth down (one was whistled back due to a late timeout call). It may not always succeed, but the Eagles clearly like an overload run in short-yardage.

Also worth noting, later in the second quarter, Boston College again went for it on fourth down, scoring a 31-yard touchdown on a quick slant.


In short-yardage situations, Boston College will use a tactic that isn't seen too often anymore: the Eagles will go unbalanced on the line of scrimmage. This means taking either a tackle or guard from one side of the formation and moving them to the other. Imagine, for example, Cam Erving taking his stance to the right of Menelik Watson before the snap. That's what you'll see below, as B.C. moves its left tackle all the way down the line to try to gain a numbers and size advantage. Going unbalanced doesn't make much sense unless it's done as a pre-snap reset of the formation, so should the Eagles employ this tactic, it will be after they initially line up as a traditional offensive line.

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