On Thursday night, Boston College traveled to Wake Forest and came away with a 41-34 win in its first Atlantic Coast Conference victory of the season. There were some positive and not-so-positive moments for the Eagles, but 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the conference heading into a road test at Purdue is right where they want to be.
Here are some takeaways from the Wake Forest win.
— This offense is taking shape as one of the best in the country. Look, a lot of BC fans get frustrated by the fact that the Eagles tend to stick to the run almost exclusively on first down at times. But the fact of the matter is that BC has one of the best run-blocking offensive lines in the country, one of the best running backs in the country, and one of the best play-action offenses in the country. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. In a lot of ways, this offense does what a good Wisconsin offense will do in terms of its approach. Given the type of personnel BC has and usually gets, that is what you want, and what you can do to beat the best teams on the schedule. At the end of the day, over 500 yards of offense and close to or more than 40 points a game is starting to become the norm. That's good play-calling and execution, no matter how you slice it.
— We wrote this week about this being a sort of Heisman watch type of game for running back AJ Dillon, and he produced. Not sure if anyone can watch that game Thursday night and say this is not one of, if not the best, running backs in the country. He finished with 185 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries. The touchdown came off a gaping hole on the left side, but most of his runs displayed an incredible, almost unmatched, ability to carry defenders forward after first contact. This is a special player, and he continues to show that.
— We also wrote about this being an important game to see what quarterback Anthony Brown really has and how much the sophomore has truly developed. What we saw Thursday night was not just a game manager that BC needs to have with a back like Dillon, but a playmaker and difference-maker. Brown completed 16-of-25 passes for a career-high 304 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. And unlike some of his big throws against UMass and Holy Cross, many of these completions came on third down, when the Wake defense knew BC would throw, and in tight coverage. What you are looking at is the maturation of a quarterback who has excellent feet and an arm that can make basically every throw you need.
— The main negative continues to be special teams, and it needs to be a huge focus going forward for the coaching staff. We felt after the first two games that it might not carry over into the third, but boy, did it ever. A muffed punt and a blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown kept Wake in this game. BC also missed an extra point. This could have been a slightly easier game for the Eagles if they did the little things right, and just a little more attention to detail fixes those miscues.
— The defense gave up some long drives, and Wake piled up 34 points, but the defense still showed off its playmaking ability and dominant pieces at all three levels at times. Will Harris and Hamp Cheevers each had interceptions, and defensive end Wyatt Ray was simply unblockable with a school-record and career-best four sacks. Linebacker Connor Strachan also piled up a career-high 15 tackles.