Boston College’s defense is coming off of what can be charitably described as its worst performance of the season to date, allowing 34 points and 539 yards to a struggling New Mexico State team. It’s one thing when a potential national champion in Florida State racks up yardage, but another in this case. Yet, that was last week, and this is this one. The Eagles defense will face North Carolina State at home; how will they fare against the sagging Wolfpack?
The Wolfpack are not much to write home about when it comes to offense. They are presently 97th in the nation in points per game (22.7) and a mediocre 63rd in yardage (410). NC State’s worst quality on offense may be their high volume of turnovers: they’ve forked it over twenty times already this season, tied for the third-most in the ACC. [Side note: the Eagles have committed the fewest turnovers in the conference with nine.] For the Pack, that works out to about two turnovers per game.
Most of those have been interceptions, of which NC State has thrown fifteen. Of those, nine were tossed by Pete Thomas, the starter for much of the year who did not start last weekend. That was Brandon Mitchell, the senior quarterback who was injured early in the year and has been named the starter at Boston College. Mitchell has only thrown 76 pass attempts, completing just under half with one touchdown and six picks. Some expected that things would get better once Mitchell returned, but that has not entirely been the case. Thomas has seen snaps in all but one game, though it would appear Dave Doeren is going to solely rely on Mitchell on Saturday.
Meanwhile, your Boston College Eagles have not been as opportunistic in generating turnovers, coming in near the bottom of the conference in that respect. However, what was particularly troublesome about last week’s game at New Mexico State was that the Eagles got little pressure on the Aggie quarterback after being good all year at sacks. The Wolfpack may be the remedy, as they have allowed 25 so far this season; only Pittsburgh has given up more out of the ACC’s 14 teams. The Eagles will turn to Kasim Edebali, the team leader in sacks and tackles for a loss, to put Mitchell on the turf.
We know the book on this Boston College defense: give up a bunch of yards, sometimes bend but not break, and hit the quarterback. The depth is not what it used to be, and certainly not helped by injuries, but one thing you can say about this group is that they’re competing. The results have not always been there, but they are fighting.
NC State has not been great at offense, and at times, the Eagles have not been great at defense. Sounds a lot like yesterday’s evaluation of the other two units, but it’s true.
It’s hard to figure this matchup, as the Eagles are probably better than they played last week and the Wolfpack are not a scary offensive team at all, but they’ve played down to their sinking competition before. It is equally hard to see either team level a dominating performance in this case. Toss-up; Boston College perhaps slightly favored if you believe “blah defense beats blah offense.”