Contrary to expectations coming into this 2012 football season, the Boston College Eagles offense has been the lesser issue. Granted, it would not take a great deal of fixing to make them better than in 2011, but there have been a few legitimate improvements. This week, they face perhaps their toughest task of the entire season as they draw the Florida State Seminoles defense.
All Boston College football fans remember what happened the last time these two teams met at Alumni Stadium on a Thursday night last year. The Eagles suffered a blowout loss, and the offense only netted 7 points and 207 offensive yards. These are two slightly different teams now, but the leadership at the top is the same. One would hope Boston College’s play-callers and decision-makers do not decide to give up in 2012 the way they did in 2011 (and make no mistake, whether it’s running consecutive draw plays on 2nd and 3rd & 21 or punting down 31 in FSU territory, the coaches indeed gave up).
Led by quarterback Chase Rettig and wide receiver Alex Amidon, the Eagles’ passing game has markedly improved, and BC’s passing offense is the 16th-most prolific in FBS. Last week at Army, Rettig did not have his best game of the season, but did not play poorly. Amidon did well and the previously-injured Bobby Swigert started getting back into the mix, but what failed Rettig was his offensive line. Until Army, the front five did a respectable job protecting Chase Rettig on passing downs, but on Saturday, a much smaller defensive front seven effectively blitzed and took Rettig down five times. The Black Knights accomplished this through athleticism and probably better scheme.
This is especially concerning because Florida State has no such issues with size, and has far superior athleticism to Army. Defensive ends Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine have a combined 13.5 sacks already this season, leading the Seminoles to the top 25 in the nation in sacks. If the Boston College offensive line can’t stop breaking down like they did in West Point, then Florida State’s front seven will tear it to shreds. Chase Rettig will have to realize that he is not going to have much time in the pocket against the Seminoles.
Boston College’s run game, as predicted and expected, had its best day of the season so far against Army, including Andre Williams’ record-breaking 99-yard touchdown run. The problem is that BC only had a total of 87 yards on 27 other plays, including five Rettig sacks for a total loss of 37 yards. Just like last year, however, the Seminoles come into the BC game with an elite run defense. Florida State is fifth in the nation, allowing only 71.33 yards per game on the ground. It is highly likely that the Eagles will see their run game revert back to what they had been prior to Army.
For what it’s worth, Florida State is also #4 in total defense and #7 in scoring defense. The Seminoles allow the second-fewest first downs in FBS and the third-fewest third-down conversions. Boston College proved comparatively ineffective in the first downs department last weekend and are not good at converting on third downs. Florida State’s red zone defense is middle-of-the-road, which is perhaps the only so-so thing one can say about it.
Clemson is the only team that showed that it is possible to move the ball on Florida State — even with the Seminoles losing last week, they only gave up 17 points. With the state of the BC defense, it is going to take many more than 17 points to win. BC’s problem is that their offense is average, while FSU’s defense is legitimately elite. They are loaded with talent and match up with this group well.