Lead football writer A.J Black was kind enough to join us this week to answer our questions about the 2013 Boston College Eagles. Let's get to it.
TN: Florida State fans remember Steve Addazio from his years at Florida. How do BC fans feel about his hire and what changes has he brought to the Boston College program?
BCI: Eagles fans have been mostly positive about Steve Addazio so far. He has invigorated our recruiting, which fell drastically under Spaz, and his energy has helped unify a team that needs it after flopping to a 2-10 record last year. His coordinators have been a mixed bag so far. Defensive coordinator Don Brown has done a great job so far bringing back the defense to a respectable level, though BC's 3rd down conversion rate is awful. Offensive Coordinator Ryan Day has struggled to start, as BC is near the basement in offensive output, but much of that has to do with the talent he was given. BC has one running back with experience, and an offensive line that needs to be rebuilt through recruiting.
TN: The Eagles have had a nice start to their season, beating two teams over which they were favored in Villanova and Wake Forest. What are your expectations for 2013?
BCI: Two wins is a great start for a team that had two wins all of last season. BC has two more very winnable games against two out of conference opponents in Army and New Mexico State, and after they finish a very difficult portion of the schedule that included USC, Florida State and Clemson, BC should have some winnable ACC games. As long as BC takes care of the OOC schedule, they should be able to win at least two more ACC games and make a bowl game. 6-6 and a bowl are what BC fans are expecting.
TN: The Boston College running game was nearly non-existent last season, which was a major factor in a final offensive rank of 97th. How has the ground game fared so far this season? The offense as a whole?
BCI: The ground game has actually become the bread and butter for the Boston College offense. As I mentioned before the scary part of that is that the Eagles only have one running back with any real, every down college experience. Andre Williams has been injury prone in the past, but bulked up in the off season and the improvements have been apparent. Against Wake Forest he ran for over 200 yards, including a back breaking 4th quarter in which he ground out the last seven minutes of the game.
In terms of the rest of the offense, BC's quarterback is still Chase Rettig. At this point it's pretty clear that he is nothing more than a game manager. Asking more than usually ends with him getting sacked constantly or making a bad interception. He has All ACC wide out Alex Amidon as well, but if FSU brackets or doubles him all game, Rettig's options are limited. The second leading receiver on the team is our fullback, converted LB Bobby Wolford, which says a lot about the depth at wide out on the Eagles.
TN: The traditionally strong BC defense fell to 81st in Frank Spaziani's final season. How has this group fared so far in 2013 and what sort of scheme has new defensive coordinator Don Brown brought to the Eagles?
BCI: Brown has brought a whole new mentality to the BC defense. Creator of the "Be A Dude" mantra, Brown has been gold for every defense he has touched in his career. In a matter of seasons he fixed both the Connecticut and Maryland defense, and his immediate impact on the BC defense can already be seen. Last season the Eagles finished the season with a mind blowing 6 sacks, Brown's defense in 2013 has already topped that with 8. He is aggressive, and is willing to sell out to make plays in the back field. Kevin Pierre Louis is the leader of the defense, and Brown has had him flying around the field making plays.
TN: Tell us a bit about Boston College's special teams and any key players that ‘Noles fans should keep an eye out for on Saturday.
BCI: Special teams for BC hasn't been anything to write home about this year. Nate Freese is a solid kicker and punter for the Eagles, but he doesn't have a huge leg. Spiffy Evans, while having a great name, will return kicks but again he hasn't shown that much this season as well.
In terms of key players, I would look at the BC front line on offense. Anchored by tackles Ian White and Florida transfer Matt Patchan, they are going to be critical if the Eagles want to move the ball on the ground. They struggled mightily last weekend against USC, and FSU is going to be yet another challenge.
TN: Boston College opened as a 22-point underdog to FSU. What will the Eagles need to do if they are to pull an upset and how do you see the game playing out?
BCI: Eagles are going to have to a number of things right if they want to beat FSU. First on offense, they are going to need to control the line of scrimmage, the time of possession and not make any silly turnovers. Rettig can not be asked to just air it out, because it just won't work given BC's personnel. Slow methodical drives that eat up a lot of clock and leave FSU's offense on the sideline is going to be critical.
In terms of defense, BC is going to have to get pressure on Jameis Winston. If there is one knock on your QB, it's that he hasn't faced a legitimate defense yet this season. BC is going to need to confuse him with blitzes, mix up coverages, and hope they can force a critial mistake.
After watching USC dismantle BC last weekend, my hopes for this weekend are pretty subdued. I don't think the Eagles will win and the offense will struggle. I predict FSU to win 38-10.
Thanks to A.J for the great information! Be sure to head on over to BC Interruption for all things Eagles. Our answers to their questions will be up shortly.