Let's get two things straight. First, Boston College is not a "top 10" defense as Dave Doeren has stated ad nauseam. Second, the Clemson game was a fluke. Everything you saw before Clemson—baffling coaching decisions in the loss to East Carolina, for example—and since—getting blown out by Louisville and losing on homecoming to Boston College, for example—is the true measure of this team. The Pack are going backwards, they will not be a favorite in Vegas for a single game left on the schedule, and they are unlikely to take part in even the crappiest of bowls.
You might say, "BC's not a top ten defense? But...but...but everyone says so, especially State's coach!" To that argument I concede that the Eagles are allowing just 2.9 yards per rush, good for third in the country. But in total defense (20th), scoring defense (34th), and yards allowed per pass (66th) they are not "top 10," and that's just using non-schedule adjusted counting stats. When we peel away at this onion, we see that Boston College's "best" win before Saturday was against UMass, a team that ranks 114th in F/+ combined ratings out of 128 teams. Its lone other win against an FBS opponent came against Buffalo, which ranks dead last. BC also beat Wagner, a 4-4 FCS squad. Not sold on F/+ metrics? Howabout Jeff Sagarin's computer? It ranks all FBS and FCS teams. UMass comes in 141st out of 253, behind a number of FCS teams, Buffalo ranks 183rd, and Wagner comes in at 215th. This is a nonconference schedule to make Seth Greenberg blush.
So, those counting stats referenced above are trash. Ignore them. Here's what Boston College has allowed against actual college football substances: 6.2 yards per play in a 49-0 loss to Virginia Tech, 8.3 yards per play in a 56-10 loss to Clemson, and 7.3 yards per play in a 28-20 loss to Syracuse. It's only "top 10" like performance against a P5 school came in Ireland against Georgia Tech way back on September 3rd when BC held Tech to four yards per play (and still lost). Virginia Tech's output against the Eagles was three yards more per play than it averaged against UNC's vaunted defense; Clemson's performance was over two yards more per play than it averages against everyone else; Syracuse's outburst was its best game of the season from a yards per play standpoint.
Boston College is not a top 10 defense. In fact, Boston College is arguably a below average P5 defense. Every ACC team other than Georgia Tech in an opener that BC had months to prepare for and your beloved NC State Wolfpack have had their way with them.
So, why all this talk about them? It's important to dispel the myth that yesterday's performance can be explained away by saying, "Oh, well we lost to a top 10 defense. The sky is not falling. Phew." The sky is falling, folks; perhaps running for cover from that falling sky is why the stadium was gleaming like Kenan Memorial with all of the empty seats. The sky is falling; perhaps that's why North Carolina affiliates dumped the game in the fourth quarter in favor of Florida-Georgia coverage. The sky is falling; the Wolfpack had -14 yards rushing at the half, managed just 14 first downs, got outgained by 50 yards against a team that hadn't won a conference game in 12 tries, lost a TD due to the inability to line up correctly (again), and choked away a chance to tie the game at the end with first and goal at the three.
Do Doeren and Eli Drinkwitz get a pass because they're breaking in a new quarterback and three new offensive linemen? Eight games into the season, I don't think so. I am ready to concede that firing Matt Canada was a terrible mistake made by a desperate man who is in over his head. Canada's offense ran for 4.2 yards per snap at Boston College last year, the most the Eagles allowed in any game by half a yard, in a dominating win for the Pack that came after Shadrach Thornton was dismissed and Matt Dayes was out for the year. And last year's BC defense was legitimately pretty good. Despite all the attrition at running back, Canada's offense was the sixth best rushing attack in the nation a year ago, according to S&P+, and 32nd best overall. He's done a little better at Pitt (29th), and that number should rise when this week's games are factored in after the Panthers averaged 8.3 yards per snap against Virginia Tech.
The Doeren hire was a gamble, though it was one I applauded. Let's face it; established P5 coaches are not knocking our door down for the job, so tabbing an up and comer with a thin résumé and hoping it panned out was the best route. It didn't. His team's continued lack of discipline, his decision to jettison the OC of what had been a successful offense in favor of another guy with an extremely thin résumé, and his continued in-game mismanagement, show that he can't elevate this program to even a consistent eight-game winner, much less an ACC contender.
Take, as yet another example of game mismanagement, Doeren's decision to go for it on 4th and two with just a few ticks on the clock at the end of the first half rather than try a 47-yard field goal. Even if you pick up the first down, you're ultimately still trotting out the kicker for a long attempt. If you don't pick it up, you never get the chance to tie the game. BC is just going to take a knee if you do miss the field goal. Sure, Kyle Bambard has been brutal, but he does have a career long of 48. Make it and you knot the score, grab the momentum, and boost the kid's confidence rather than giving him a vote of no confidence by leaving him on the sideline. There was absolutely no potential of reward for that gamble.
There is no potential for reward in the gamble that was Dave Doeren, who is likely to be 7-25 against the ACC by year's end. His second season, buoyed by a laughable non-conference schedule like BC's, was his peak, not a rung on a ladder to football relevance. He is responsible, as he noted in his presser, for what the Pack "put on film" Saturday. And the consequence should be his job.