By Scott Carswell Jr.
On Saturday at 3:30 on ESPN2 the Seminoles will take on the Boston College Eagles.
The 7-3 Eagles come in ranked no. 20 in the college football playoff poll. Their seven wins were against Massachusetts, Holy Cross, Wake Forest, Temple, Louisville, Miami and Virginia Tech. Their three losses have come against Purdue, NC State and Clemson.
The last time the Seminoles played BC in Campbell Stadium was on Veterans and two years ago. The Eagles could not do anything through the air which helped Florida State stifle their offense and when 45-7.
Last year on a Friday night FSU went to Chestnut Hill and got crushed 35-3.
Observations from the Notre Dame game
The amount of penalties got better, but the turnovers, missed assignments and dropped passes were too much to overcome. While I thought James Blackman should have started Francois actually played pretty well sans a couple bad throws and decisions. With Walt Bell calling the plays the offense has found a little momentum and a run game. This of course happened right as the defense has hit a wall.
Florida State offense versus Boston College defense
Every starter on the Boston College defense has been in the program for 3+ years. This experience helps make up for the lack of speed. Pass rushers Zach Allen and Wyatt Ray make the most headlines on this side of the ball. After a big season by Zach Allen last year, opposing teams have been trying to slow him down with double teams and chipping on him. Because of this, Wyatt Ray sometimes goes up against a single blocker allowing him to gather up nine sacks, which is tied with Brian Burns and Syracuse’s Alton Robinson for the ACC lead. Zach Allen has still been able to record six sacks but is on his own creating a very formidable pass rush for the Eagles. Both are big defensive ends which allows them helps them be able to get in on the rushing attack. This constant pressure has forced opposing quarterbacks to throw 15 interceptions (4th in the FBS). Taj-Amir Torres has two interceptions and Hamp Cheevers, who leads the FBS, has six.
Boston College has made a lot of game changing plays with all of the sacks and interceptions but they are still susceptible to giving up yards and points. So a big thing to watch on this side of the ball will be if the Seminoles can hang on to the football. This will be tough as Boston College ranks 7th in the FBS in turnover margin at +1.0 per game. Florida State ranks 3rd to last in the FBS in turnover margin at -1.3 per game.
Due to BC’s lack of size at the corner position, I expect Walt Bell and Francois to target big receivers like Tamarrion Terry and Keith Gavin in this game. Look for FSU to use jet sweeps to Noonie Murray and DJ Matthews to try to beat BC linebackers to the edge as well.
Florida State defense versus Boston College offense
Probably the most important stat about the Eagles offense is that they have 215 more rushing attempts than passing attempts. With that being said, the biggest question going into this game is the health of quarterback Anthony Brown, who was injured in the first quarter of the Clemson game last weekend. Even though Brown does not throw the ball very much he still has 16 TDs. The most reliable receiver is tight end Tommy Sweeney. He leads the team with 26 receptions. Wide receivers Kobay White and Jeff Smith are the deep targets for the Eagle’s offense with both averaging over 14 yards a catch.
Last but not least, is sophomore sensation AJ Dillon. Since he was inserted into the lineup midway through his freshman season he has led the FBS in rushing yards per game with 146. Last year he went just over that average against the Seminoles rushing for 149 yards. Running behind a mammoth and very experienced offensive line has definitely attributed to Dillon’s success, as 4 of the 5 linemen are seniors. To help counter this run heavy offense Florida State has moved Dontavious Jackson to outside linebacker and has moved Leonard Warner to the starting middle linebacker position. This lineup seemed to have helped a little bit in the second half of the Notre Dame game. I also expect run stuffing freshman Robert Cooper to get more snaps at defensive tackle.
The Seminole secondary received good news as starting corner Lavonta Taylor could be available for the first time since the first quarter of the Clemson game. If Taylor is able to take on a BC receiver by himself that will free up a safety to help stop the rushing attack.
Colton Lichtenberg is 5/6 on the season and his career long is 40 yards. It is safe to say that Lichtenberg is very shaky and even though Ricky Agauyo has struggled this season he is the better kicker in this matchup.
The Eagles freshman punter Grady Carlson has shown improvement over the season but is still not on Logan Tyler’s level. FSU has the advantage at both kicking positions. The punt returner for both schools, Michael Walker for BC and DJ Matthews, are in the top 12 in the FBS in return yards per attempt.
Boston College has had a solid year but, when the opposing team is able to hang onto the ball they have had trouble stopping people. Once they get an early lead they like to run AJ Dillon and use the play action pass on offense. When the opposing team is forced to pass, BC lets their talented pass rushers go to work. FSU has fallen behind 10-0 in 4 straight games and 17-0 in 3 straight. So undoubtedly the biggest key for FSU is to start fast and get Boston College to do things that they are not comfortable with.
I think Florida State will finally get out to a good start and battle with the Eagles until the end of the team game. I will say FSU wins 28-26 stopping a Boston College two-point try in the final minutes to get to 5-6. If this happens, next week’s game against Florida becomes that much more important for this team and the program.
It is a waste of time to publish this article every Sunday night when the game has already been played and the outcome decided.