Florida State v Boston College: Preview, prediction and podcast

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Addazio has taken the helm of the Eagles and has already matched last season's wins total but have the Eagles improved enough to threaten the Seminoles?

Boston College has won fewer games every season since going 11-3 in 2007. While Frank Spaziani was a very good DC for BC for almost a decade he just couldn't get it done as the head coach. Steve Addazio, you may remember as UF's OC in 2009 and 10, has taken over and early returns are positive. Boston College's recruiting has seen an uptick and they won their first two games, but there's still work to be done.

3:30 | ABC/ESPN 2 | Line: -22

Boston College's Season so far...

Boston College opened the year with a win against Villanova after being down at the half and then scored the same amount of points (24) in a win over Wake Forest. Unfortunately a USC loss dropped the Eagles to 2-1 entering their bye week.

v. Boston College's Defense

Florida State's offense has been very good this year, but the opposition has been questionable and that will continue this weekend against Boston College. While having a history of a strong defense spearheaded by its defensive line and strong, fast linebackers, BC's defense leaves you looking for more. Spaziani left the cupboard bare for DC Don Brown (previously of UCONN and Maryland) to fill out his 4-3 alignment.

There are many problems with BC's defense but the consistent issue is lack of talent. The defensive line can hold up well to the likes of Wake Forest and Villanova, but will likely struggle against FSU just like they did against USC. To be fair some of that struggle is because the offense cannot hold onto the ball and the defense gets tired, but historically it's rare to see a team have as much success on runs up the middle against BC as USC did.

Last year the Eagles were not able to pressure the QB, but with another year under their belt and a new scheme, they've done a better job. Really, they couldn't do a worse job than last year but Brown has called more blitzes and they are actually getting home on some. Through 3 games the Eagles have registered 9 sacks while they only had 6 last year. Unfortunately blitzing leads to open receivers and a QB of Jameis Winston’s caliber will have opportunities to make plays.

The BC secondary isn't much better. Again, a lack of talent really hinders this defense and it really shows with the lack of depth in the secondary. The starters are really not all that bad but with two freshmen and a walk on listed on the two deep you run out of gas real quick. The lack of depth is one of the reasons BC has been pretty bad on 3rd downs this year.

The Eagles need to do everything they can to stop the run. They've given up 4.5 yards/rush this year, but their rush defense might not even be that good considering Wake only gained 1.5 yards/rush (Wake is a mess on offense). The problem with selling out against the run is that the passing lanes open up and BC doesn't have the secondary to stay with top WRs like USC and FSU's group. I would expect BC to stack the box against the Noles and play a soft cover-3 over the top in an attempt to force Jameis Winston to show his patience. It's possible that BC's defense can make FSU pay for Winston's predilection to throw deep, but not likely. Either way Winston needs to get into the mind set of taking what the defense gives him because some of his decisions make the rest of the game harder on him.

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Expect BC to blitz FSU's offense when they get the opportunity. Fisher likes to throw on 1st down as it gives his QB a lot of open space to work with, but it might be smart to break tendencies here and run more on first giving FSU's offense a more convertible 2nd and/or 3rd down. FSU has picked up the blitz well this year and Winston is 11/11 on blitzes at last check, but BC has to do something to force the issue and create turnovers against the Noles.

Goals

  • More than 7.0 yards a play before garbage time (350 yards on 50 plays, 420 yards on 60 plays, 490 yards on 70 plays)
  • No more than 1 turnover
  • 75% or greater TDs in the red zone

v. Boston College's Offense

If you never watched Boston College's offense last year you really missed out. Something was going to happen on every play whether it was good for the Eagles or not. Chase Rettig is a solid QB but more of a game manager type that can hit the deep ball on a somewhat consistent basis and WR Alex Amidon consistently ranks among the top WRs in the ACC. Unfortunately, Boston College struggled to keep Rettig upright and although Spiffy Evans is a speedy WR, BC struggled to find other consistency at the WR position outside of Amidon.

In comes Addazio determined to keep the Boston College offense balanced and offensive coordinator Ryan Day has done just that so far. Once again though, the cupboard was left bare and the former shotgun spread team has not transitioned well to the more pro-style offense. In all honesty, they wouldn't fare well no matter what their scheme was, but trying to transition to a power based scheme makes things a bit tougher.

Andre Williams keys the run game for BC, with Tyler Rouse getting the backup carries. Neither is a huge threat, especially with the line problems the Eagles have, but they could find some running room early against FSU. The Florida State defense has struggled on early drives this year, particularly on the run, and needs to do a better job of coming into the game prepared. It bears repeating that FSU needs to do a better job of controlling their gaps, tackling, etc.

FSU will likely pay special attention to Amidon, but BC just doesn't have good enough receivers to consistently threaten this defense. It would not be a shock to see the Noles play more man than usual as Rettig is not a good runner and DBs can stay closer to their mark in man coverage. This is another good opportunity for Florida State to get the backups in to gain experience, but the defense needs to focus on coming out of the gate strong.

The Noles lost Tyler Hunter for at least a game after an injury suffered against Bethune-Cookman. Jalen Ramsey and Keelin Smith have been cross training at the position and will take over for Hunter. Will BC be able to challenge the new safeties and how do they handle the load? Luckily Terrance Brooks, who seems to know this defense better than any other player, can help them out.

BC's offense will be a good challenge for the FSU defense as they are likely to try and run the ball early and often. FSU certainly has the talent and depth to deal with this sort of attack but do they have the discipline? Early on in games this year they have not, but the defense will come around and should be able to stop BC's rushing attack with its front 7. Like any team worth its salt, the Eagles will throw play action off the run and the Noles' DB need to be ready for this.

Goals

  • Less than 4.5 yards/play allowed before garbage time (225 yards on 50 plays, 270 yards on 60 plays, 315 yards on 70 plays).
  • Force 2 turnovers
  • Less than 50-percent touchdowns allowed in the red zone.

Special Teams

Nate Freese handles Boston College's punting and kicking and has been solid so far. He's done a good job on the punting front with 9 of his kicks landing inside the 20 and 4 of them being of the 50+ yard variety. Unfortunately he's had a lot of chances (21 through 3 games). Freese has been perfect on his field goals but has only attempted 2 (long of 39) and has done a good job of limiting opponents kick off returns as only 2 of his 12 kickoffs have been returned. BC would like to get some momentum going with Spiffy Evans in the return game but they haven't had much success this year.

Prediction

I really think BC made the right hire with Addazio. They considered him before hiring Spaziani and this could be the correction they need to bring the Eagles back to relevance. Addazio is a good recruiter with ties to the NE and will focus on what Boston College fans expect from their team: good line play. Addazio has also hired some respectable coordinators that can help BC get back on the right track but it's going to take some time. The program lacks talent and until they can close the gap they'll have some tough sledding against the upper tier teams. This year is about beating the teams they should (they have so far) and taking a few from the ACC middle of the pack, like NC State and Syracuse later in the year. Boston College will certainly be prepared for FSU as they are coming off of a bye week but they'll have too much to overcome on Saturday.

Florida State 38, Boston College 13 | Chance of winning: 90%

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