Florida State Football vs Boston College: Game Preview & Prediction

Streeter Lecka - Getty Images

Florida State took a tough lost last week and looks to rebound against a struggling Boston College team.

What They Did Last Week: Boston College

Boston College welcomed Army and its triple option attack to Chestnut Hill in what Eagle's fans hopped would be a 'get better' game. Unfortunately BC could not consistently stop the Black Knights. Army should have won the game by more but missed opportunities and turnovers meant Army had to drive late for the game winning score.

What They Did Last Week: Florida State

While Florida State physically traveled to Raleigh, they certainly left their brains at home. The Seminoles jumped out to a 16 point halftime lead, despite not executing in the red zone. In the second half, they added failing to execute between the 20's. Florida State scored zero points in the second half and North Carolina State took full advantage. The Wolfpack pulled ahead at the end of the fourth quarter by converting three fourth downs on their final drive against a gassed FSU defense.

V. Boston College's Defense

Expect Boston College to try and blitz a bit. While this has not been a staple of the BC defense, FSU has struggled with blitz protection. E.J. Manuel's pre-snap reads are generally not all that good and he tends to struggle when under pressure. E.J. also tends to hold onto the ball too long. He either trusts his escape-ability too much or zeroes in on blitz instead of keeping his eyes down field. Either way, he takes too many sacks in this situation.

The hot read for most of these pressure situations is a bubble screen or quick slants so expect BC to try and take those away. If the Noles are able to keep the pressure off E.J., he will have a shot to make some big plays down field. He had opportunities against NC State but was unable to connect on most of them.

FSU will likely try and run the ball early on to keep the pressure down. However, they will need to do a much better job than they did against NC State. The Noles averaged 7.8 yards/rush in the first half against the Wolfpack with three out of 15 carries going for zero or negative yardage. In the second half, FSU averaged 1.9 yards/rush with seven out of 14 plays going for zero or negative yardage. In fact, only two of those 14 plays were over three yards.

Boston College's defense is not as good as NC State's, giving up 5.6 yards/carry against BCS teams. Even removing the 516 yards on 79 carries from Army (in effect comparing more like offenses) BC has given up 5.1 yards per carry. The 'Noles need to run the ball and run with all their backs, not just Chris Thompson.

Goals:

- more than 7 yards a play before garbage time
- No more than 1 turnover
- 60% or greater TDs in the red zone

V. Boston College's Offense

Chase Rettig has been having a much better year than his 2011 campaign. Against BCS competition, he is completing 58% of his passes for an average of 7.8 yards/attempt. It's a good thing Rettig has been reasonably effective as the rushing offense has been atrocious. The Eagles are gaining 3.2 yards/carry on their rushes against BCS opponents and that is only because they played Army. Against Miami, Clemson, and Northwestern, BC is averaging 2.1 yards/carry.

BC has moved from its run based power game to an up tempo spread based attack under Doug Martin. BC wants to get to the line quickly, call their play and get moving much like Clemson. But unlike Clemson, Boston College does not have the deadly skill players and its line is a bit of a mess. Army was able to bring down Rettig five time last week (note: Army had six sacks on the year before that game).

FSU needs to get a good pass rush, especially from the defensive tackles. Bjeorn Warner and Cornelius Caradine were gassed in the second half of the NC State game. Will FSU play Giorgio Newberry, Toshmon Stevens, and Mario Edwards Jr. more? They would be smart to as those players need to start taking meaningful snaps and are not likely to get the experience they need sitting on the sidelines.

Expect BC to attack FSU's linebackers. While the backers can run well with receivers on seam routes, defensive lapses left crossing routes wide open against NC State. FSU will likely press BC's receivers but needs to pay particular attention to Alex Amidon, who has four of BC's ten receiving touchdowns on the year.

Goals:

- less than 4.75 yards a play before garbage time
- Force 2 turnovers
- 50% or less TDs in the red zome

Special Teams

Nate Freese has kicked well for BC this year by making all nine of his field goal attempts. However he does have a long of only 39 yards and teams are returning just over half of his kickoffs for about 21 yards. FSU should be able to break some plays in the return game against Boston College.

After struggling a bit to start the year, Dustin Hopkins looks to have gotten himself right. Dustin connected on all three of his kick attempts against NC State with a long of 49 yards and is now 9 for 12 on the year. Kickoffs have yet to be a problem this year and FSU will continue to force teams to return the ball.

Senior punter Gerald Levano is having a nice year for Boston College averaging 42.2 yards/kick, which is right around his average. While half of his kicks have been returned, they are only going for about 7 yards. The 'Noles will likely have opportunities in the return game but only if Rashad Greene can hold onto the ball. Greene has done well as of late and needs to keep that up.

Cason Beatty was the lone bright spot against NC State. While he has not been dropping many of his kicks inside the 10, he has done an excellent job of keeping the ball out of the end-zone. Unfortunately, FSU has had two punts blocked the last two games and it has been for the same reason. FSU's blockers are not communicating correctly or do not appropriately know their responsibilities as rushers have come free right up the middle. There is little excuse for this and it needs to be fixed immediately.

Prediction: FSU 41 - BC 16

Miscellaneous

Has Fisher lost the fans? How about the media? It has been a rough week for FSU and Jimbo Fisher in particular. While a blowout win is not going to convince anybody that Fisher has righted the ship, it will certainly help. Did Fisher learn anything from the NC State game? FSU fans will not likely learn much in this game about that but it will be certainly something to watch in the future. For more of these types of thoughts, check out the excellent Tomahawk Nation podcast by Bud Elliot and Ingram Smith.

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