Saturday, December 30, 2006
Boston College was an 8 point favorite in this game. Navy was 9-3, just like BC, but they had only beaten 1 D-IA team with a winning record: East Carolina. For most of the game, however, Navy was in control.
The Midshipmen threw the option at BC, who seemed unprepared to defend it despite having such a long time (37 days) in between their loss to Miami and this game. Navy wound up with 322 total rushing yards on 59 carries. Seven Navy players had multiple carries. Four had more than 40 yards on the ground, two had more than 70.
BC's failure to successfully defend against the option forced them to play it tighter. The safeties were kept in at the snap which made us vulnerable to deep passing routes. Navy exploited this weakness perfectly. They had 2 touchdowns in the air. The only had 5 during the regular season.
The Eagles did their part in screwing up just a little bit. A few stupid penalties to begin the game and a missed XP all of which might have been due to rust after sitting for 5 weeks. Ryan also threw two picks, one which was somewhat of a freak play as the linebacker who picked the ball was hidden from Ryan's view by the umpire. Nevertheless, BC wasn't playing perfectly.
They were still in the game, and halfway through the 4th, they had an opportunity to tie with a 2 point conversion. Ryan threw a bullet that hit Tony Gonzalez in the chest, but Gonzalez couldn't bring it in. After a great defensive series, BC got the ball back on their 42. But the Eagles went 3 and out and punted.
Navy rushed past midfield and were running the clock down. They forced BC to use all of its timeouts. Just under 2 minutes on the clock, Navy had a 3rd and 15 on BC's 47. They could run the ball, and run the clock down to just over 1 minute before pooching a punt and pinning the Eagles deep. Instead, they ran the option and fumbled the pitch. BC recovered at the Navy 40.
After a few plays BC was in field goal range and kicked the game winner.
Earlier in the game, one of the commentators was describing the advantages that running the option can give an offense. Some disadvantages he didn't mention, in no particular order:
1. More likelihood of holding penalties
2. Plays can easily be blown up for a loss
3. Gaining consistent yardage on short situations is difficult
4. Your QB is going to get hit, a lot
5. If you're behind, you're doing the other team a favor by eating up clock
6. What do you do in the shadow of your own end zone? Pitch it into your own end zone?
7. THE LIKELIHOOD OF A FUMBLE OR BOTCHED PITCH
The thing is, Navy didn't need to be running the option so late in the game. It is very easy to say that in hindsight, but on a 3rd and 15 situation, you're probably not getting a 1st down anyway, so mind as well have a safe hand off or run a QB draw or something to run off 40 seconds.
I'm not going to say that BC is "lucky" to have won or that Navy "deserved" to win. There is very little luck in sports, and usually the winner deserves to win. BC deserved to win this game because they were able to put up 25 points, whereas Navy was only capable of putting up 24. It's that simple, end of story.
Hardly the most impressive victory in BC history, but considering the loss of O'Brien as head coach and the unsureness of the coaching situation and it isn't a meaningless win. The Eagles fought nicely in this game, and despite being run over by the option, were able to carve out a victory. That's what good teams do. It'll hardly be an Instant Classic, but it was a solid win.
This was also BC's 7th bowl victory in a row, which I believe is the 3rd or 4th best streak in NCAA history. Of course, the streak is deceptive as most of those bowls have been middling, late December bowls.