One of the biggest concerns going into this season was the Boston College defense. They were young in two areas (secondary and defensive line), while most expected that the linebackers would be an area of strength. The results have been mixed after two games, the Eagles are second in the country in take aways with seven, but there are some statistics that should make you worry. Addazio talked about how even though this week the first team defense only gave up 10 points, they still need to improve.
BC has given up a lot of yards so far this season. In terms of rushing defense, they are 89th in the country allowing an average of 156 yards per game, a scary number given that one of their opponents was an FCS squad. While Richmond was more run heavy hence the higher numbers, they had two quarters which were bad (1st quarter allowed 70+, 2nd 50+) a quarter that was very good (3rd, allowed 14 yards) and one that was just played with the two's. Looking at those statistics they still need to clean this up. The are going to face mobile QBs in the future like Jawon Pass, Ian Book, James Blackman and Matthew Mckay. who are much more dangerous than Mancuso. And this week BC will face arguably the best back they have faced in a while, Pooka Williams, limiting him to a manageable number will be key.
Another area of concern still has to be the pass rush. Over two games BC has three sacks, one caused by a very aggressive blitz, another on a blown blocking assignment. That means they have really only had one sack caused by a standard set that didn't involve sending extra blitzers. I thought the defensive ends had a much better game on Saturday, but they will need to continue to grow. Richard Yeargin and Joey Luchetti both looked good, and Marcus Valdez made some plays.
They are never going to be the Zach Allen, Harold Landry elite edge rushers, meaning BC is going to need to get pressure in other ways. One way could be coverage sacks. BC's defensive backs have played very well so far, so this could be something they could make plays on. Another way that sacks may come is from pressure up the gut. TJ Rayam has been explosive coming off the ball, and if he continues to improve he is going to become a disruption in the passing game. If that happens, defensive ends will have more favorable matchups and make bigger plays, and BC may find some success in the pass rush there.. Again we will have to wait and see.
If BC can find success with turnovers none of this will really matter. A bend or break defense can be incredibly successful, but relying on turnovers can be a harrowing prospect. Turnovers are incredibly flukey, and a good team can all of a sudden could drop an INT or fail to fall on a fumble. But BC has been built to cause turnovers, they have interceptions in 10 straight games, but a lot of that is predicated on getting QB pressure, which as mentioned above isn't happening frequently this year.
BC will need to clean up their run defense, while figuring out how to increase their quarterback pressures moving forward. It's still very early in the season, let's see how they grow in these two areas moving forward.