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 surprise improvements, injuries, and whether the Eagles will prolong Florida State’s miserable stretch.
TN: The Eagles currently sit at 7-3 (4-2) after a home loss to Clemson. What were your expectations for this year’s team coming into the season? How do you see them finishing up the campaign, and what would constitute a success?
BCI: I think most BC fans were hoping for a season that exceeded the usual Steve Addazio 7-5 finish. So far BC has exceeded that, but they are going to need to finish strong for fans to be positive about this season. Against a down FSU team, and Syracuse at home, we are hoping to finish 9-3 and end up at a strong bowl. I worry about the Syracuse game, they are playing very strong football who can score points quickly, but it’s a home game so who knows.
TN: Speaking of last week’s game, obviously it was an emotional day with hosting College GameDay and the ABC primetime game. Do you expect the team to suffer from a hangover this week, or will a trip to Tallahassee be enough to refocus and pick them back up?
BCI: I don’t think there will be a let down from last week. BC lost Anthony Brown pretty quickly and battled hard. I think this is a hungry team that has shown all year that they can recover from adversity and I would expect the same on Saturday.
TN: What’s the latest on Anthony Brown? If he can’t go, what should FSU fans expect from EJ Perry? Somewhat related: Boston College’s offense goes fast now? And is led by Scot Loeffler?
BCI: According to Steve Addazio’s ACC Phone Call on Wednesday Brown was practicing with the team. I have to imagine that if he has practiced already, barring a setback, that he will be good to go on Saturday. This is of course great news for the team, and for Brown personally, it was a scary hit. Yes, BC has a fast pace offense, they go tempo, as many critical BC fans like to say they go “No Huddle Goal Line”.
TN: Which match-ups do you like for BC against Florida State’s defense? Which concern you? I invite you to gush about AJ Dillon here.
BCI; You would think that I would gush about Dillon here, but he has been banged up with an ankle injury and kind of ineffective the past few weeks. Of course Dillon at 75% is still scary good, but he has struggled to break tackles lately, which has made him look a little more vulnerable than expected. I really like Travis Levy, hopefully Addazio utilizes him more, he is explosive. In terms of other positions, I really like BC’s tight ends, but in order for them to work BC has to get the run going, something they couldn’t do against Clemson. (I know FSU is not Clemson but still...)
TN: The Eagles’ defense checks in at an impressive 25th by S&P+. Who are the leaders on this unit, and how do you expect them to attack FSU’s offense?
BCI: Any talk about BC’s defense has to start with Zach Allen, a defensive end who has grown to be BC’s most complete defender since Luke Kuechly. He is a massive disrupter, who’s size (285) and speed make him a nightmare to defend, even Clemson struggled against him last week. On the other end is Wyatt Ray, who is more of a speed rusher, but really benefits when teams scheme to Allen. The secondary for BC has also played exceptionally well, led by Hamp Cheevers, who leads the nation in interceptions. In terms of the linebackers look for Isaiah McDuffie who has quietly become the team’s leading tackler.
TN: If any Florida State offensive players scare you, who are they, and why?
BCI: I know that FSU’s offensive line has really struggled, which makes it hard for me to say someone like Cam Akers or Jacques Patrick. But I know they both have the ability to make a big play, and BC struggled at times against the run, though lately they have been really stout. Deondre Francois, just by name alone makes me concerned, just like many of the elite recruits FSU has brought in, has a history, just a matter of time before he clicks in Willie Taggart’s system right?
TN: S&P+ has Boston College’s special teams at 75th, to date. Does that sound about right to you?
BCI: Sounds about right. BC’s special teams are all over the place. On one hand Michael Walker is arguably the best punt returner in the country, on the other hand BC’s field goal kickers have been inconsistent at best (terrible at worst), and Grant Carlson had moments to start the season where he couldn’t handle a punt. I have to say the special teams have vastly improved of late, and have gone from an area of major concern to an area of relative strength.
TN: Finally, let’s get a prediction. The Eagles opened as a slight road favorite. How do you see this one playing out?
BCI: With FSU’s offensive line struggling, I think BC’s defensive line will really step up. Anthony Brown should be back, and have BC’s offense moving consistently as well. I have BC winning this by 7-10 points.
Big thanks to A.J for his time and insight! Be sure to head on over to BC Interruption for all things Boston College.