We’re very fortunate to have the SB Nation network of team sites to work with during game weeks. This week’s edition of our Opponent Q&A series features a chat with A.J Black, editor at BC Interruption, SBN’s Boston College blog. We talk bowl eligibility, an offense that has recently learned how to do things, and what to expect on Friday night in Chestnut Hill.
TN: Boston College currently sits at 4-4 and needs two wins against FSU, NC State, UCONN, and Syracuse to make a bowl game. What were your expectations entering this season, and do you think they'll get to six wins?
BCI: I was hoping this season that BC would make a bowl game, I believe at the beginning of the season I was hoping that BC would go 7-5 and win a bowl game. To get the six wins, I think BC needs to sneak out a win against FSU or NC State. I think the Wolfpack are a solid team, better than I expected but they always seem to trip up against BC. A win against UConn is a given at this point.
TN: The Eagles seem to have learned how to offense over the past couple of weeks. What has clicked to allow them to put up some big numbers?
BCI: BC certainly has turned the motor up on on the offense and I think it has to do with a few things. First Steve Addazio has allowed quarterback Anthony Brown more leeway in terms of opening up the playbook. We joked on BCI for the better part of the year that Daz's play calling was a very simplistic run, run, pass, punt. It was almost like clockwork against Notre Dame and the likes. However, as Brown and especially the offensive line has gotten more comfortable Daz has allowed first down passes, less predictable play calls which in turn has kept defenses honest and not allowed them to stack the box.
TN: How do you see Scot Loeffler attacking this Florida State defense? Where do you think they can find success?
BCI: I think BC needs to stay balanced if they want to be successful against Florida State. If they start to lean too heavy on runs or passes, FSU is going to make some plays, but if the Eagles can keep the Noles on their toes they could find success. The other key for BC is to wear down Florida State, something BC did with success against Louisville and UVA. BC is third in the country in plays called, and their tempo has been a killer the past two weeks. If they can gas FSU, they can start to bludgeon them with A.J. Dillon and Jon Hilliman and suddenly those two yard gains are turning into 6-7 yard gains and opening up everything else.
TN: How would you grade Jim Reid's BC defense to this point? What have they done well, and where have they struggled?
BCI: Reid has certainly been a mixed bag this year. Depth has been a problem, with linebacker Connor Strachan and Max Richardson lost for the year early and Harold Landry battling an ankle injury. What's happened for BC most of the season has been the D has looked good for two-three quarters but with the offense struggling that in turn tired out the D who is asked to do more, they eventually wear down and give up big plays. However, with the offense playing more aggressively and executing at a higher level, the D is remaining fresh and making plays. The biggest strength they have clearly has been producing turnovers, they are 4th in the country in interceptions, the biggest weakness? The short plays up the middle, and I still have concerns about tackling.
TN: Which match-ups against FSU's offense do you like? Which, if any, concern you?
BCI: Without getting into an specific matchup, any speed receiver or speed back that can get to the second level quickly concerns me. BC has never had elite speed, and has been torched on missed tackles quite a few times this season especially against guys like Lamar Jackson, Josh Adams of Notre Dame, and Travis Etienne of Clemson. Also a mobile quarterback has been a challenge for the Eagles all season.
TN: How have BC's special teams fared to date, in case this turns into a low-scoring rock fight (a distinct possibility when playing 2017 FSU, might I add)?
BCI: Not bad. Mike Knoll our punter has been phenomenal pinning opponents, he had a fantastic game against Clemson where he flipped the field for three straight quarters. Mike Walker our kick returner has been electric at times, and Colton Lichtenberg is an above average kicker who has bouts of "college kicker" fits.
TN: Finally, let's get a prediction. FSU opened as a favorite, but the spread has come down to around a field goal at the time I'm writing this. Will the Eagles get it done on Friday night and move to five wins on the year?
BCI: If you asked me three weeks ago I would have said FSU trucked BC, but I don't know with BC playing so well, FSU struggling and it being the Red Bandana game, I honestly believe BC is going to win this one. 31-28.
Big thanks to A.J for his time and insight! Be sure to head on over to BC Interruption for all things Boston College.