The Boston College Eagles survived their first test of the 2018 college football season, winning at Wake Forest 41-34. The Eagles pulled away from the Demon Deacons with five touchdown passes from Anthony Brown, overcoming two crucial special teams miscues.
Eagles Fly Away From Wake Forest In 4th Qtr.
Anthony Brown Airs It Out
Wake Forest limited Boston College running back AJ Dillon for most of the game with a loaded box and strong penetration, but Dillon broke tackles and opened up the play-action passing game. Dillon’s combination of agility and size makes stopping outside zone, power and off tackle runs a difficult for opposing defenses without extra run support. The entire Eagles offense is predicated on the ability to use Dillon to set up play-action shot plays down the field to electric receivers Jeff Smith and Kobay White. Smith can run by just about any defender. White routinely beats corners with precise route-running and strong hands, as he did on an out-and-up route for a touchdown in the second half.
Coordinator Scot Loeffler called a very conservative game in the first half before opening up the playbook in the second half. This will often work for the Eagles with Dillon in the backfield, but Wake Forest frequently stuffed him on first down. Still, the strategy works with strong special teams play.
Punter Grant Carlson has a solid leg. That’s it for positives on special teams. The first snap was high. He dropped the second, then punted right into a Wake Forest defender who recovered for a touchdown. The Eagles coverage unit allowed another long return, although Greg Dortch is a fantastic returner. Backup kicker John Tessitore kicked an extra point straight into the line. It was good to see Michael Walker’s opening kick return, since he hasn’t been a big factor in the passing game so far this year. Then he dropped a punt in the red zone and handed the Demon Deacons a touchdown.
Harassing the Quarterback
Wake Forest certainly proved to be the best opponent Boston College has faced so far, but their flaws really held them back in the first half. With presumed starting quarterback Kendall Hinton suspended through this week, true freshman Sam Hartman struggled with accuracy. In his defense, the Eagles defensive line wreaked havoc in both the run and pass game. Against an offensive line that should be among best in ACC, Wyatt Ray sacked Hartman four times. Ray’s athletic pass-rushing is an ideal replacement for Harold Landry and compliment opposite (or sometimes next to) top prospect Zach Allen.
Hamp Cheevers continues to display a natural feel for opposing passing games, jumping a short hitch route for an interception. He knew the route and simply stood in front of the receiver and picked it off. Earlier in the game, Cheevers jumped a slant and nearly came away with the ball, knocking it away. A natural playmaker, he immediately jumped up into the face of the receiver. He made another play in the second half but couldn’t pull the ball down. Will Harris continues his ball-hawking as hell, using strength and awareness to take the ball out of the hands of star receiver Dortch for an interception. Also in the secondary, Taj-Amir Torres might have played his best game yet. Torres lined up across from Dortch often and made a few key tackles.
The ACC is wide open after Clemson. Look for the Eagles when the AP Poll comes out Sunday at 2 PM. This is the best team in Chesnut Hill since Matt Ryan, and the college football world is starting to notice. Now they just need to fix the special teams.