Fundamentals. Basics. Square One.
The Boston College football team, after improving to 4-1 in Saturday's 22-0 shutout of Division 1-AA Maine, will use its upcoming week off to revisit those things before resuming action Oct. 12 against Atlantic Coast Conference foe Virginia Tech in a Thursday night game at Alumni Stadium.
``We've got four victories and we're happy with where we are, but I think we need some time off," BC coach Tom O'Brien said after the triumph over the Eagles' Atlantic 10 visitors from Orono, Maine. ``Guys look a little bit slow and tired to me.
``That three-game stretch we just went through was pretty difficult on us," O'Brien added, referring to BC's back-to-back wins over Clemson and Brigham Young in double overtime that was followed by a gut-wrenching loss at North Carolina State. ``Now we have to get back out on the practice field and go to work fundamentally again.
``We can get better this week as we move on."
The Eagles, who claimed the 25th spot in the Associated Press poll, had better show some improvement in the next 11 days, otherwise the next two-game stretch could prove just as difficult. After hosting the Hokies, who absorbed their first loss of the season against visiting Georgia Tech Saturday, 38-27, the Eagles will make their first visit to Tallahassee, to face Florida State Oct. 21 in an ACC Atlantic Division showdown.
The Eagles return to Alumni Stadium to host Buffalo of the Mid-American Conference Oct. 28.
``I think obviously everybody needs a little rest," said junior quarterback Matt Ryan, who hopes to quiet down the left ankle he injured in BC's season-opening victory at Central Michigan Aug. 31. ``We're five games into the season and it's amazing that we are five games into the season; they've gone by really fast. But everybody can use the rest and just get ready to go in this last stretch we have in the regular season and I think everybody will benefit from this week off."
BC's defense, which welcomed the return of senior strong safety Ryan Glasper from a long rehabilitation because of offseason hip surgery and the contributions of several newcomers, will attempt to build off its first shutout since a 38-0 blanking of Ball State last October at Alumni Stadium. The offense hopes to polish its operation, most notably on third-down conversions.
At North Carolina State, BC converted just 3 of 13 third downs.
Against Maine, the Eagles converted 4 of 13 third-down attempts (and were 1 of 3 on fourth downs) while the Black Bears, who possessed the ball for almost six more minutes (32:58 to 27:02), converted 6 of 16 third-down attempts, and were successful on both of their fourth-down tries (including one on a fake field goal).
``Third down, fourth down, that's crunch time," said Ryan, who completed 15 of 26 passes for 182 yards against Maine, giving him 1,222 yards for the season and 3,086 yards for his career. ``Professional quarterbacks, that's where they make their money -- on third down.
``I have to do a better job of getting everybody on the same page and kind of seeing what defense is being thrown at me," Ryan added. ``First and foremost, I've got to improve on third down. I think guys around me have done a good job, and I haven't put them in the best possible position to convert. So, for me, I think throughout the bye week, obviously, working on third-down-type situations and pressure-type situations will be important."
Last year, in BC's 30-10 loss at Virginia Tech, the Eagles converted just 5 of 13 attempts on third down. So, Ryan knows third-down conversions will be a point of emphasis during the off week, especially given the Hokies' history of bringing pressure in third-down situations.
``It's going to be important to improve," Ryan said. ``I think it's going to be important for us to improve as a team this week, and get healthy and get some guys back and try and do a better job of executing on offense than we have the past two weeks."