Boston College offense hopes to stay afloat against Notre Dame

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

It takes more than one leak, or one wave, to sink a sturdy boat.

Unfortunately for Boston College, the waters have been unforgiving.

Imagine, head coach Steve Addazio says, that the boat represents Boston College’s troubled offense. Since the beginning of the 2015 season, quarterback Darius Wade, running back Jon Hilliman and tight end Mike Giacone — all starters — have been lost due to injury.

These are holes in the boat, which is gradually filling with water.

Next, bring on the waves. Florida State, Wake Forest, Clemson, NC State. Each formidable defense punishes Boston College’s shaky youth. The waves crash into the boat’s creaky foundation, and the holes multiply and expand. The waves keep pounding, pounding, pounding. They are relentless, and meanwhile, the boat begins to sink.

“We’re playing the very elite of our conference, which is the very elite in America, which this year happens to be some of the best defenses in the country,” Addazio said. “Well, it all happened to go at a time when we were rebuilding and got hit with some serious injuries on one side of our football (team).

“That perfect storm, so to speak, is tossing the ship around … heavy. You know? You take on water.”

For Boston College, losers of six consecutive games, the proof is on paper. The Eagles rank 91st nationally in rushing offense (153.2 rushing yards per game), 121st in scoring offense (17.3 points per game), 124th in passing offense (123.4 passing yards per game, only ahead of four option offenses) and dead last in total offense (276.6 yards per game).

This boat isn’t sinking. It already sank.

“These are a lot of guys right out of high school,” Addazio said. “They have a hard time digesting — understanding defenses, understanding pressure, understanding what they’re seeing across and then applying a game plan. It’s a work in progress, and it’s going to be a work in progress.”

Against Notre Dame, Addazio is looking for just that: progress. A pulse. A sign of life.

He needs to find it, first and foremost, in his quarterback — true freshman walk-on John Fadule.

“He’s got to take another step,” Addazio said of Fadule, who passed for 257 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions in a loss to NC State on Nov. 7.

“I told him that today at practice. You go from reading cards and just kind of freelancing and making plays, and then you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the play call. There might be a check involved. You have to have a motion go in place. You’ve got other things going on. And oh, by the way, on a certain play you’ve got to have a great play-action ball fake and then you’ve got to plant your feet in the pocket and throw the ball. It’s no longer ‘run around and go make plays.’

“He and (freshman quarterback) Jeff (Smith) are working very hard, but that’s a very unfinished product right now.”

Ready or not, here comes Notre Dame. On Saturday, with a playoff berth hanging in the balance, Sheldon Day won’t take pity on an offensive line that allowed seven sacks apiece against NC State and Louisville. Jaylon Smith won’t sense Fadule’s confusion and offer a helping hand.

Waves, after all, never stop crashing.

“I’ve seen a lot of football now, and I’ve seen the highest level of defenses in the SEC,” Addazio said. “Those are two guys that are as elite as I’ve seen in my career.”

Addazio knows a thing or two about quality defenses, as his own unit leads the country in total defense, allowing just 236.5 yards per game.

But a defense alone can’t win a football game, especially one featuring as potent an opponent as Notre Dame.

If he can’t find some offense, the captain will go down with his ship.

“Are we going to play hard? Yes. Are we going to be physical? Yes. Will we compete really hard? Yes,” Addazio said. “We’ll do all of those things. And if we can take care of the football and play a clean game in terms of execution, we’ll battle our tail off out on that field and we’ll have a great opportunity to win that football game.”

mvorel@sbtinfo.com

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Twitter: @mikevorel

Boston College head coach Steve Addazio stands with his players during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Boston, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)