Oct. 1 MVP: MassVarsity Pre-and-Post

No one is going to pretend that an injury to AJ Dillon would not be a devastating blow to Boston College.

After the star sophomore tailback left the Temple game this past weekend with an apparent ankle injury, the Eagles were left without their best weapon and the reason why expectations have been higher than they have been in a decade.

But rather than state the obvious as to Dillon's importance, it is worth taking stock in what the Eagles have if they need to survive without him for any significant period of time.

In BC's 45-35 win, converted receiver Ben Glines came in and rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Against a team like Temple, that type of production is not unrealistic for any back in the Eagles' stable.

Now, though, the Eagles trek to Raleigh to face an unbeaten NC State team that hasn't faced a serious test yet. Sure, the Wolfpack just took down Virginia by two touchdowns, but what exactly does that mean? Right now, no one really knows.

So, let's say, hypothetically, that Dillon is not healthy for the NC State game. Does that mean certain defeat? No.

There are a number of reasons for this, but if you want to boil it down to one, the simple fact remains that the Eagles have yet to put together a complete game against an opponent not named either Holy Cross or UMass, and even then there were little hiccups along the way.

Quarterback Anthony Brown has shown flashes of being able to take the next step as a passer who can carry the offense when the running game isn't clicking. The defense has forced turnovers, come up with sacks and negative plays at critical moments. The special teams has not come anywhere close to what it's capable of.

Essentially, we don't know the full sum of BC's parts yet, because they've yet to come together and show what they're capable of when they're hitting on all cylinders.

That can mean either one of two things. Either the Eagles just are not on the level we thought they were after the first few weeks, or their best is yet to come.

If it's the latter, even with Dillon potentially out, BC has every reason to believe it can beat both NC State and Louisville before Miami comes to The Heights on Oct. 26.

Time out

There were a lot of off-field moments this weekend for UMass that qualify as cringe-worthy.

There were coach Mark Whipple's inappropriate comments following his team's loss to Ohio, and the brief possibility of no media availability leading up to the South Florida game.

Whipple has been suspended for the week, and defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham will take his place for now. UMass also announced that athletic director Ryan Bamford and Pinkham will be available to the media, but details are still being worked out.

That's a lot to digest, but it is worth noting that, on the field, UMass can be just as hard to figure out.

Momentum really does not apply on a game-to-game basis for this team, it seems. One would have thought the Minutemen had turned a bit of an emotional corner after its win over Charlotte, but that did not carry over to this weekend. Ohio ran all over UMass in a 58-42 romp.

What does all of this, or any of this, mean?

Well, if you want to hitch on to something tangible, no team can gain traction if it cannot stop the run. That part of the game has never changed. At 2-4, stiffening up in that part of the game is the only way to keep this team's slimming bowl hopes alive.

Guessing game

Speaking of teams that can cause confusion, how about next Saturday's game between Holy Cross and New Hampshire?

We know the Crusaders have been bitten hard by the injury bug, but the loss to Bucknell Saturday was still a bit of a surprise.

And, yes, UNH has played a very challenging early schedule, but no one expected this team to still be winless at this point in the season.

Both teams are reeling, so expect them to play with a bit of a chip on their shoulders. When that happens, you usually see a compelling battle.

Positive steps

No one really likes to talk about moral victories, but even though Harvard lost to the University of Rhode Island Friday night, the Crimson cannot come out of that game feeling too deflated.

For starters, URI has some serious talent. As we noted in our story about the game, there are a number of Football Bowl Subdivision programs that have to be kicking themselves for missing out on some of the players suiting up for the Rams.

That URI team could very well be the best one the Crimson face this season. The fact that Harvard rallied and pulled to within one score in the fourth quarter tells you that this team still looks every bit like one that can win an Ivy League title a year after going .500.

Can't stop, won't stop

If we have learned anything about Assumption after five games, it is that if you're going to beat the now 4-1 Greyhounds, you better be prepared to win a shootout.

The 32-28, season-opening loss to Kutztown has been the only game this season Assumption has been held to under 49 points.

That's some serious offense, as American International found out this weekend in a 54-9 loss.

October, with games against Southern Connecticut, New Haven and LIU Post, will offer the most serious challenge for Assumption. But it's safe to say the Greyhounds can keep pace with anyone left on the schedule when it comes to lighting up the scoreboard.


Perhaps the biggest Division 3 result of the weekend came when Williams broke a seven-game losing skid to Trinity with a 21-16 win Saturday.

Now 3-0, the Ephs are getting major contributions on both sides of the ball from South Shore natives.

Quarterback Bobby Maimaron of Duxbury threw for 154 yards and two touchdowns, and also led the ground attack with 95 yards there.

On defense, Norwell's TJ Rothmann, who played his high school ball at BC High, made 15 tackles, 2.5 for loss, a fumble recovery and an interception in the end zone.

High drama

From Xaverian's overtime win over Catholic Memorial, to Mashpee's thriller over Abington, to Acton-Boxboro's upset of Lincoln-Sudbury, and more, there were plenty of special moments Friday night at the high school level.

The true shocker came in the form of the Colonials' win at L-S. We had a feeling A-B would be improved this year, but not this much.

As for a game that wasn't a classic but nonetheless intriguing in its outcome, Dracut handled a good Billerica team, 32-14.

Billerica coach Duane Sigsbury was one of several Merrimack Valley Conference observers who told us to watch out for the Middies this fall.

Sometimes, the hype is right.

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