Little background is needed for this story. On Friday night, Boston College starting quarterback Darius Wade suffered a season-ending ankle injury during the Eagles’ 14-0 loss to No. 9 Florida State. After two commanding victories to begin the season, and a close matchup with one of the best programs in the nation, two questions immediately arose in regard to Wade’s unfortunate break: who will lead the offense in the foreseeable future, and is this the beginning of the end for this year's team?
Much attention has been given to the first problem. The Eagles will be forced to choose between two young and inexperienced quarterbacks, true freshman Jeff Smith and redshirt freshman Troy Flutie. Choose, however, may not be the correct word, as the Boston Herald reports that Steve Addazio has considered the possibility of employing both quarterbacks in upcoming games, though only as a last resort. Supposedly, Smith and Flutie will be given the opportunity to compete over the next few days for the starting position. Offseason reports indicate that Smith had the edge in camp, and several analysts seem to think that he will get the nod, but Flutie is more comfortable with the offense and has a stronger arm, so it is anyone’s guess as to who will appear under center this coming Saturday. The more important question, though, is does it matter?
The simple truth is that the injury to Wade very well might be looked back upon as a neutral effect on the team, if not even a beneficial one. To this point, Wade’s statistics have been meager. As a passer, he has gone 21 for 42 with 232 yards, only two TD’s (out of 94 total offensive points), and one interception through three games. On the ground, he has had 22 attempts for 73 yards. Though not atrocious, these are not the numbers of an elite quarterback. Offensive production has mitigated what is currently the nation’s best defense, and that is very much in part due to a team leader who was rumored to be quiet, and who has been questioned daily since he was named the starter during the offseason. The fact is, Wade is replaceable.
To compare, Smith has 98 yards and three touchdowns on just seven carries this season. That production is unquestionably superior to Wade’s run game. Although less comparable due to fewer attempts, Flutie’s 80% completion rate and one touchdown on ten attempts impresses more than Wade’s passing statistics do. Further, Flutie’s high school record adds strength to his resume, as he is the owner of multiple state records in Massachusetts, including those for both single-season and career touchdowns thrown.
Truth be told, both freshmen are viable candidates. Addazio has the option to run either of the offenses that he did in the past two years, both of which led to bowl game bids. With Flutie, he can take the Chase Rettig/Andre Williams approach and pound the ball down the middle, made possible by a strong and versatile backfield (Rouse, Willis, Outlaw and Hilliman). Alternatively, he can run a read-option offense with Smith, just as he did with current Pittsburgh Steeler Tyler Murphy. Plagued by an inexperienced offensive line and a weak receiving core, the team will most likely benefit from this second scenario.
Though Addazio has thus far refused to name Wade’s replacement, it is only a matter of time before one of the two backups is given the nod. Fans have been holding a collective breath since the fourth quarter of Friday’s game, when one ankle roll seemed like it was destined to define a season, but Chestnut Hill can rest easy. Addazio has a proven track record, and he prepared himself well for the scenario which he now faces. Be it Flutie or Smith on Saturday against Northern Illinois, Boston College is still poised to have a dominant season.
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