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Eagles Flying High: Boston College’s Stellar Defensive Season

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Take a look at some of the statistics for the nation’s most dominant defense in 2015.

In the 2015 season, Boston College asserted itself as the undisputed top defense in the ACC. Their numbers were amazing, and they absolutely deserved to be in the conversation along with Alabama, Michigan, and others for top defense in the entire country. They were stellar against both the run and the pass, showing no discernible weaknesses. 

Here are the numbers for the Eagles in 2015:

TeamYards AllowedYards Allowed Per GameRushing Yards Allowed Per GameRushing Yards Allowed Per GamePoints AllowedPoints Allowed Per Game
Boston College305225482.8171.518315.3

The first important number that jumps out is the 254 yards-per-game allowed. That number was good for best in the country. Their 82.8 rushing yards-per-game allowed was second in the country, beaten only by Alabama. They ranked eighth in the nation with 171.5 passing yards-per-game allowed. In possibly the most important defensive statistic, points-per-game allowed, BC ranked fourth with just 15.3. Obviously, all of these numbers are incredible and deserve great recognition. 

Here is a breakdown of BC’s points allowed against every opponent, compared to those team’s average points-per-game scored:

TeamPoints Scored Against BCAverage Points Per Game 
Maine314.9
Howard015.4
Florida State1431.7
Northern Illinois1431.1
Duke931.5
Wake Forest317.4
Clemson3438.5
Louisville1728.7
Virginia Tech2631.0
NC State2433.2
Notre Dame1934.2
Syracuse2027.3

On average, Boston College held their opponents to 12.66 fewer points than their per-game average. That’s almost two whole touchdowns. They didn’t allow a single opponent to reach their average, with Clemson coming the closest at 4.5 away. Every single opposing starting quarterback that BC faced either threw for fewer yards than their average, or had a lower completion percentage than their average, except for Lamar Jackson of Louisville. 

Here are some other noteworthy stats from the 2015 Eagles defensive unit:

Tackles for loss: 115 (1st)
Opponent 3rd down conversion rate: 24.1% (1st)
Opponent first downs: 166 (1st)
Opponent red zone attempts: 30 (2nd)
Opponent total touchdowns: 19 (1st)
Opponent rushing touchdowns: 6 (1st)

That’s a pretty dominating set of statistics. The Eagles basically completely controlled games from a defensive perspective. Some teams can’t manage to go three games without giving up six rushing touchdowns, let alone all season. Furthermore, 19 touchdowns in 12 games is just barely over 1.5 touchdowns per game. Almost every decent team can expect to score at least two touchdowns in any given game. 

While the entire defense was great, BC’s run defense was especially fantastic in 2015. They only allowed one 100-yard rusher all season (VT’s Travon McMillian had 104). Nationally renowned rushers were completely stuffed by the Eagles. Wayne Gallman had 48 yards, Deshaun Watson had 32, Dalvin Cook had 54, Lamar Jackson had 15, and CJ Prosise had 57. With the exception of Watson and Jackson (both quarterbacks), each of these players normally average over 100 yards per game. Not many other defenses can say that they consistently shut down some of the top rushing talents in the country. 

Across the entire season and all opponents, the Eagles averaged 82.8 rushing-yards-allowed per game. Only Alabama had a lower average (75.7). BC is the only team in the country to have allowed less than 1,000 rushing yards total this season. To be fair, most top defenses played one more game than BC due to their bowl game, but this is still an impressive number. 

For what it’s worth, Boston College also had a better defensive performance against offensive powerhouse Clemson than Alabama did. The Eagles gave up six fewer points, 18 fewer yards, and had a better defensive third down conversion percentage. It is an incredibly small sample size, but it’s true nonetheless.

The only knock against Boston College’s stellar 2015 defense is the fact that the ACC doesn’t exactly have all of the country’s powerhouse offenses. Still, their season was nothing short of phenomenal. They dominated every opponent defensively, allowing fewer than 1,000 total rushing yards and fewer than 200 total points. Every player on the Eagles’ defensive unit deserves credit for such an amazing feat. 


For those that are more strategy and scheme-minded, this article gives a very nice breakdown of some of the underlying reasons Boston College was so phenomenal.

Edited by Emily Berman, Coleman Gray.

SQuiz
Who was the last team to allow less than 1000 total rushing yards in a season?
Created 3/2/16
  1. 2009 TCU
  2. 2011 Alabama
  3. 2013 Louisville
  4. 2014 Alabama

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