The Florida State Seminoles football team hits the road this weekend after a blowout win over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. Up next? Another team of Eagles, this time of the Boston College flavor. The Seminoles will potentially battle the Eagles and the weather, as Hurricane Lee looms off the eastern coastline. We’ll discuss what to expect from the Eagles and the weather on this episode of the Line of Scrimmage podcast.
Each week, we’ll be speaking with members of the beat that covers FSU’s upcoming opponent, getting all the details from those who know those teams best. This week, we’ll connect with Curtis Flannery of BCInterruption. Are there areas that the Boston College Eagles can get the upper hand on Saturday? Will the BC defensive line shut down the Seminole offense?
I think before we jump into the Saturday preview, we need to take a look at the radar. Hurricane Lee is threatening the Northeast. Should fans have any concerns that the game could be moved or even canceled? Or are we just in store for a slop fest?
We will probably still get some rain and stuff but it won’t be too bad. We actually just had some rain and thunder and lightning last week in BC’s game against Holy Cross that got delayed. Holy Cross got the ball down three with about two minutes left and we went into a two hour rain delay, which sucks so hopefully that won’t happen against FSU this week. But in terms of expectations, I would just say bring a rain jacket. I don’t think the weather will be too bad.
Let’s move on to what to expect from Boston College on the field. The Eagles are 1-1 on the season with both a close win over Holy Cross and a close loss to Northern Illinois. But in both matchups BC has had struggles. What’s gone wrong in year four of Coach Hafley?
It’s been a real struggle to start the season, which was disappointing to see after expecting a lot of improvement after the debacle that was last season. The big issue this year is just sort of discipline all around. BC specifically has really been hurt by unnecessary penalties, so that’s something they really have to get cleaned up. And then on the offensive side, the receivers have been dropping a lot of balls, there’s a lot of miscommunication, stuff isn’t really clicking yet.
On the offensive side, quarterback Thomas Castellanos is at the helm after one year at UCF. Castellanos may be a familiar name to some FSU fans as he was recruited by the current staff at Florida State. He’s definitely the type of quarterback that can take over the game not only with his arm but also his legs. How’s the sophomore signal caller handling the starting role so far?
Coming into the season, the named starter was actually Emmett Morehead who finished the last half of the season for BC last year. But within three drives into the first game, Castellanos came in, he’s taken over the role, and he’s looked pretty good. On the ground, he’s really a dynamic runner has made some really good plays with his feet.
At running back, Pat Garwo is questionable headed into Saturday but Kye Robichaux ran well against Holy Cross and Alex Broome is set to be back as well. Who do you see as the primary ball carrier on Saturday? And what do each of these guys (if it is a committee) bring to the table.
No update on Garwo. He’s still questionable on our end. We’ll see if he plays but this backfield really is a big committee of backs. Between Garwo, Alex Broome, Robichaux and then Cam Barfield, to a lesser extent, all four of them are real pass catching backs, they can move around a lot. If Garwo doesn’t play, I think what they may be lacking is a real goal line threat — no one is really a ground and pound guy except Garwo.
Florida State fans no longer have to worry about star receiver Zay Flowers after his first round selection in this past NFL draft. Through the first two games, it doesn’t appear as any receiver has stood out, though Lewis Bond seems the most consistent. If the weather holds up, will one Eagle receiver rise above the rest and does BC have any classic northeast tight end to worry about?
Lewis Bond really stood out so far. We weren’t expecting him to have this big of a role coming into the year. But they do have a lot of different threats that could emerge. Ryan O’Keefe is a name. He’s a transfer from UCF, played there for three or four years and now finishing his career at BC — really fast, really shifty, a threat to watch in the short passing game as well as Joseph Griffin Jr, a really tall guy who could almost be a tight end, given how powerful and tall he is. In terms of tight ends, we have George Takacs — he’s been hit or miss. He’s good at route running. He’s a pretty good blocking tight ends. But in terms of catching, he drops a lot of balls.
The offensive line is led by a healthy Christian Mahogany, who is a future pro. Can this line get the needed push in the trenches to make the game interesting on Saturday? Will they have success protecting Castellanos?
You mentioned Mahogany. He’s a potential first round NFL draft pack. And they brought in two transfers. Kyle Hergel from Texas State and Logan Taylor from UVA. So they really revamped the whole line. They’re only bringing back two starters from last year. And they were still two pretty good starters.
Last year, they just had a rotating carousel of injuries and guys out of position. So the improvement has really been there. And honestly, they’ve been the best part of the offense so far this year, because there’s been a lot of miscommunication. Florida State’s pass rusher is pretty formidable. I’m not sure how they’re going to do against them, but they will at least put on a better performance than they did last year.
Jumping over to defense, BC has Aazar Abdul-Rahim and Sean Duggan as co-defensive coordinators this year. What strengths overall has the defense shown in the first two games?
So far their biggest strength has been the pass defense. Jeff Hafley is a secondary sort of mastermind or specialist if you will. He really takes a lot of focus on the defensive backfield and their pass defense, which even though they’ve had a lot of roster turnover has been pretty good. So far, neither of BC’s opponents went past 200 passing yards in either game.
The defensive star for Boston College is defensive end Donovan Ezeiruaku. He’s a stud out there on the edges. How does his play open up advantages for the rest of the defensive line and who are the players that could flash in those gaps?
I think the big thing that sets Donovan apart is his speed and his size combo. He’s a really big guy and he does play defensive end, but he’s a run stuffer as much as he gets after the quarterback. He’s really good at both aspects of the game.
And that allows guys like Shitta Sillah and transfer George Rooks from Michigan to get those one-on-one matchups with offensive linemen and really showcase their talents. He’s really allowing the other members of the DL to shine.
Linebacker Vinny DePalma leads the team in tackles and just fits the mold of what you expect from a Boston College linebacker all the way down to his amazing name. We know the senior leader can bring the hit stick, but where does he and this linebacking crew excel on Saturday to potentially slow down this Jordan Travis led offense?
Vinny DePalma has been on the team for a while. I think this is his sixth-year, so we’re really familiar with him. And the thing is, he’s not really a gamebreaking athlete or anything, but he’s good at making good tackles and stopping players in that aspect of the game. In pass coverage, he could be exploited by a fast tight end or receiver depending on the offensive scheme and the linebacking core around him is also pretty weak. I’d say it’s probably the weakest part of BC’s defense. They really struggle if a quarterback escapes the pocket like Jordan Travis often does. But if you’re running between the tackle boxes, they are pretty good at bringing running backs down.
Opposing quarterbacks have yet to put up gaudy stats against BC but the secondary has yet to pick one off in this early season. Last year, you mentioned this was a very consistent unit, do you still have that same opinion?
Yeah — between veterans and you know, young guys they have they have a lot of options. Elijah Jones is the major guy returning for the backfield. He’s been here a few years at cornerback, but other than that, it’s a lot of new faces. They have Sione Hala, Jaylen Cheek in the backfield, young guys who are pretty good prospects, still in the system getting the in-game experience. They brought in a few transfers from Arkansas, from Harvard from LIU, who are more of those veteran presences. Hafley knows what he’s doing when he’s putting different guys in different spots and getting the best out of each player. So I think that’s why they’re so consistent generally.
And finally, how do you feel Saturday shakes out?
It is unfortunate BC honestly just isn’t ready to play such a tough opponent, and I don’t expect them to be ready. it is the red bandana game. We do have good memories against FSU on the Red Bandana game — a few years ago while I was at BC I think Jimbo Fisher’s last season as coach, BC blew FSU out on the Red Bandana game. So that was a fun, fun experience. But I think the Seminoles may get payback in this one. I’m pretty much expecting a blowout. 28 and a half points is the line. I think that’s fair. It may even be a bit low because this team just really isn’t ready for a big time opponent yet.