Despite scoring 31 or more points in its first four games this season, Boston College is winless in the ACC and still reeling, with five straight losses and plenty of hot-seat talk surrounding Coach Frank Spaziani. One of BC’s bright spots, however, has been quarterback Chase Rettig, who has quickly adapted to offensive coordinator Doug Martin’s multiple, one-back offense.
Rettig burst onto the scene with a 441-yard, two-touchdown performance in the opener against Miami, and has thrown for 1,917 yards and 13 touchdowns through seven games. Now he and the Eagles offense face a stiff challenge in Maryland’s defense, ranked 11th nationally in yards allowed per game, so Martin graciously took the time to chat about the Terps, the matchups and BC’s ground game.
Coach Martin, the offense put up points in its first four games, but things have tapered off since. What needs to happen to get things back on track?
Offensively? The last game [a 37-17 loss to Georgia Tech], we just weren’t on the field very much. Georgia Tech’s offense controlled the ball, so we only had 48 total plays. Then we just didn’t make plays when we need to. We played really consistent most of the year offensively.
When are you most consistent?
What’s made us go is the quarterback. Chase really adapted to the offense quickly. He picked it up right from the beginning and got off to a great start. He’s gotten better each week. He’s been the one guy for us who’s been the most consistent. He’s the engine, naturally really accurate and sees the field really well. Those are the things you can’t coach, and he does it really well. He’s just making really good decisions. Our passing game has had pretty good timing all year, getting the ball out quick.
Looking at Maryland’s defense, what stands out?
I think this is the best defense we’ve played, and we played Florida State. I think these guys are a better defense, scheme-wise. This is going to be a real tough task, but we need to find a way to create some explosion plays, because they’ve done a good job limiting those.
The Terps have actually talked at length about giving up too many explosive plays. Are you seeing something differently?
I think that’s more about their standard and the way they’ve played. You look at every game, even West Virginia, who’s a dynamic offense, they were really fortunate to get those points on the board. I think Maryland defending them better than most people. Their front seven is really aggressive. I think they play fast and really well together. They’re a tough group.
How important will it be to keeping Chase protected in the pocket, and what have you seen from Maryland’s secondary?
That’s key. I think you’ve got to change up your protections. You can’t do the same thing the whole time, otherwise they’ll key in on you and it’ll be a long day. Change the launch point. Don’t just want to be drop-back passes, do some play-action, so where he’s throwing the ball from the pocket.
I think they play really well back there, a lot of the times the zone pressures they’re bringing, their corners are out there one on one and they do a great job of sitting on routes, particularly the boundary corner [Dexter McDougle]. To me he’s the best cover guy they have here. Seems to read routes really well, and I think they’re really well choreographed with what the front’s doing. They understand the ball’s coming out faster, so they have to jump he coverage. The other thing they do, at times the boundary corner will play man coverage, take that receiver out of the mix and everyone else is playing zone. They can do a lot of different things because of their corners.
The number one thing is protecting. That’s the guy that makes us go and we need to give him the chance to operate, and he can’t operate with people in his face all day. Our receivers shave to be able to get off the coverage. These guys do a really good job of manning up and not giving you space, and you don’t have all day to do it. Receivers need to do a good job of getting open early.
(Bonus!) So how important does it become, then, to establish the run?
It’s important for us to run the ball effectively. That’s not our strength. We’re really throwing the ball more effectively, but you have to be running the ball effectively. We can’t turn into a drop back passes all the time.
You know the pressure is going to come. You can’t let someone come free off the edge and get the back before he gets started. Chase putting us in the right play, we may have two plays called or a run-pass option.