CHESTNUT HILL, MA. - Somewhere, the words of The Who echo even louder today. Maybe it’s “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” (many of us did) or “Meet The New Loss, Same As The Old Loss.”
Another football season began at Boston College on Saturday, sun-splashed Alumni Stadium with all the students jumping around, and yes, this would be different. Better days ahead. Offensive line fixed. The requisite optimism tethered to the season opener. (Very) beatable opponent in Northern Illinois, a middling member of the Mid American Conference.
And then BC did the BC thing again. Confounding and confusing. Two quarterbacks. Dropped passes, dumb penalties, furious rally, the lead in overtime, and until ol’ Lucy showed up and yanked the ball away again.
Northern Illinois 27, BC 24. In overtime.
And so while BC coach Jeff Hafley and his players said all the right things after the game -- the opportunities were there, blah, blah, blah - here is a question for the entirety of the program:
Why would hardened, tortured BC people believe a word of it? Nothing has changed around here since the day Matt Ryan stepped off campus. Here’s a stat for you: The Boston College Eagles are 89-100 since Ryan left.
“We're fortunate we got great guys in the locker room. It sucks to lose. But nobody's bailing out,” linebacker Vinny DiPalma said. “I don't really think anyone bailed out last year. Last year got pretty tough. We're not even close to that yet. We got guys who play hard and really care.”
A nice sentiment. But why would anybody who uses his or her BC education buy in for one more second?
The hot take from this loss is to dissect the quarterback situation ad nauseum. (More on that later.) But do you know why BC lost this game? Its best players came up feathers. All of them. And BC just isn’t good enough to overcome that.
It defies explanation that Christian Mahogany, the presumptive savior for the offensive line, contributed two of the 10 penalties, a hold and a false start. Graduate transfer (and all-Sun Belt player from Texas State) Kyle Hergel killed a drive with unnecessary roughness. Defensive ends (and alleged All-ACC candidates) Donovan Ezeiruaku and Shitta Sillah had no sacks, although Ezeiruaku did get flagged for a killer pass interference on third down late with BC down 21-14.
Elijah Jones, the best cornerback, got flagged for pass interference on fourth down that kept a drive alive for Northern Illinois. The result of the drive: touchdown.
How is it possible that your most veteran, most talented and most experienced players swing and miss like that?
“I sat in this room day one, week one, (saying) we can't be sloppy,” Hafley said. “You can't have careless penalties. Gosh, I preached about it so much. And here we are with 10 penalties for 93 yards. So that's disappointing. We need to do a better job there.
“Thirty-seven minutes (of possession for the opponent) is just too high. We get the fourth down stop and get a roughing (the passer) call and then we the fourth down stop and get the (pass interference) call. Disappointing there. We never felt like we could get going on offense because of all the penalties. I felt like we were on the field the whole entire game on defense. You're going to wear out eventually.”
The penalties certainly didn’t help the sudden quarterback quinella of Emmett Morehead and Thomas Castellanos, the transfer from Central Florida. Both had accuracy issues Saturday, although Castellanos gets high marks on the Excitement-O-Meter.
I asked Hafley if we could expect the two-quarterback thing the rest of the season.
“We'll talk about it. I think they're both deserving to play,” Hafley said. “We’ll talk to the offensive coaches and then we'll go from there. I don't have an answer for that right now. I respect the question.”
All parties said that playing two quarterbacks was part of the plan. This just in: It’s a dumb plan. Pick one and develop him. The vote here is for Castellanos, a former four-star recruit who scrambled 22 yards behind the line of scrimmage and made a throw to get BC a first down late in the game. The kid is exciting.
“Tommy runs around like a maniac and makes tremendous plays. I mean, that's just what it is. And Emmett can really throw it. He's got great command in the huddle,” DiPalma said. “We knew that going into the week and everybody in the locker room knew it, we felt confident with both guys. They both made a ton of plays in camp.”
Lest we forget most of the stadium was empty by the time the Eagles completed their 14-point comeback. Know why? They’d all seen this movie before. The ones who stayed for the ending … have seen that ending all too many times, too.
This program has some work to do before earning the trust of the fan base. Even the students, who were here en masse most of the game, bailed. Hard to blame them. And now they get to ponder losing to FCS (but damn good FCS) Holy Cross at Alumni next week. Oh, joy.
Mike DiMauro, a columnist in Connecticut, is a contributor to Eagles Daily and BC Class of 1990. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org @bcgenius