SHREVEPORT, La. — The difference in offensive philosophies for Arizona and Boston College can be displayed by one simple statistic: total plays.
In 12 games this season, Arizona ran 957 plays and averaged 79.8 plays per game.
Boston College, meanwhile, ran just 718 plays, an average of 59.8 per outing.
Different strokes for different folks.
“They are an up-tempo, get-you-to-the-line of scrimmage, fast-paced team,” Boston College coach Steve Addazio said of Arizona. “They are going to make you play option-assignment football. We have a different style. We’re going to slow you down. We’re going to come at you with big bodies and we’re going to have one back rolling downhill on you.
“They’re both strong running games, but they’re totally different styles.”
Indeed. When Arizona and Boston College hook up Tuesday in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl, there won’t be a lot of similarities in offensive style.
The Wildcats swear by coach Rich Rodriguez’s spread attack that often uses four receivers, a single running back and quarterback B.J. Denker in the shotgun formation. The Eagles come at defenses with multiple tight ends, a fullback and as Rodriguez said, “They’ll even bring in some extra linemen from time to time.”
It’s power vs. finesse.
“Their style is hard to simulate, just like it’s probably hard to simulate our style, too,” Rodriguez said. “So I think it makes for an intriguing matchup.”
Added Addazio of the different styles: “It’s the game within the game.”
Rodriguez joked that the only real way to prepare for the Boston College offense is to “get a bunch of 300-pound transfers in the next two days.” But the coach did make some adjustments during Saturday’s practice to help prepare, and will again today.
Rodriguez had his first-team offense go against the first-team defense, but had Denker and company run some of Boston College’s offense. It’s something that the coach hopes will benefit both sides of the ball.
“We just wanted to get some bigger offensive bodies out there for the defensive guys,” Rodriguez said. “And then on the other side, we have to be able to protect. They’ll bring every blitz we’ve seen and some that we haven’t seen.”
Even though the styles are incredibly different, they are both productive. Arizona averaged 5.3 yards per rush, compared to BC’s 5.5. And through the air, both teams kept it short. The Wildcats averaged 6.2 yards per pass during the regular season, while the Eagles were slightly higher at 7.5.
The crux of it all is both coaches admire the other style and wouldn’t mind employing parts of it, but simply can’t right now.
“We’re just a small team,” Rodriguez said. “We’re small physically right now and we’re going to have to fix that in recruiting and in the weight room.”
Addazio spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at Florida and was there for the Tim Tebow days, when the Gators used to mimic Rodriguez and spread defenses out.
“We don’t have the personnel here to run that spread type offense that we ran at Florida,” Addazio said. “That doesn’t mean as we progress and recruit, we won’t get back to that a little bit.”
The UA’s hope on Tuesday is that its speed and athleticism will prove more valuable than Boston College’s strength and size.
Denker believes it’s harder for defenses to adjust to the spread than it is to the power game.
“They’re big and physical, but I don’t know if they are very quick on their feet,” Denker said. We like to spread the field and use our speed to our advantage. I think that’s one of the things, if we can exploit their size and use it to our advantage, we can be pretty successful.”