The results for Boston College and UMass were very different Saturday afternoon. BC went up to Syracuse and came away with a hard-fought, 16-13 victory to improve to 5-3 overall and 4-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. UMass went to a ranked Marshall team and lost, 51-10, to remain winless in two games this year. BC still feels like a team that can give almost anyone a game with Notre Dame coming to Chestnut Hill next week. Although UMass didn't win, there were more bright spots for the Minutemen than there were in the opening loss to Georgia Southern. Let's take a closer look at both games.
You wanted a run game? The Eagles brought you a damn run game. This was the first game of the season where Boston College really had a true advantage when running the ball. That facet of the offense had simply been disappointing up until this point. But from the beginning of the game, the Eagles seemed determined, by hell or high water, to get it done on the ground. For the game, BC rushed for 191 yards on 47 carries. David Bailey led the way with 125 yards on 25 attempts. BC made a few nice chunk plays, but mostly, these were grind-it-out, deliberate runs. The plays were there to be made, and BC did everything it could to make the most out of them. Going forward, it is hard to see BC taking this game plan that much more, but the Eagles at least know they can do it when it's there.
The defense played one of its best games of the year. Could you make the argument that, given the opponent, the BC defense should dominate? Well, sure. Syracuse is not a good football team right now, and BC was expected to win. All that said, the Eagles did not give Syracuse much. The Orange only threw for 188 yards and rushed for 52 on 21 carries. Syracuse started a true freshman at quarterback in JaCobian Morgan. What stood out the most was a pass rush that seemed to constantly be in Morgan's face. Luc Bequette's forced and recovered fumble in the fourth quarter proved critical. Syracuse made some nice plays here and there, but overall, the defense dominated for BC. Even though Syracuse is not very good, this is a performance the the Eagles can build on.
Will Koch made a solid argument to be the guy at quarterback. UMass played three different quarterbacks against Georgia Southern in the opener for the Minutemen. But against Marshall, freshman Will Koch started and was played most of the way before being replaced by Garrett Dzuro. Although there are some other good options at the position, we feel like Koch, a true freshman, should hold on to his spot for now. Although his numbers won't blow anyone away, Koch's dual-threat ability made a difference at times. We knew coming into this season that Koch was the best runner of all the quarterbacks, and that seems to be something that can continue. Even though the offense only scored 10 points, it was the most effective it looked all year, and Koch was a part of that.
Although those may have been by baby steps, UMass made progress. We know. We know. Marshall won by a score of 51-10, and any way you want to slice it, that is a blowout. But if you're UMass, there were things you like to see. The Minutemen found ways to move the ball. They scored some points, and on defense UMass at times made a ranked team work to get in the end zone. Would you have liked to see a closer game, or perhaps more consistency from UMass on either side of the ball? Sure. But, realistically, the steps forward by this team are going to be a lot more incremental than that. UMass was more competitive than the Minutemen were in the opener. For now, that will have to do.