Boston College rolling, but level of difficulty increases vs. No. 9 Florida State
A scan of the nation’s highest-scoring teams over the first two weeks includes a number of the usual suspects. Of the top 10, six of them were ranked 22 or higher a year ago, and two — Baylor and Cal — ranked in the top 10 in 2014.
But there at eighth, may be the biggest surprise of them all: Boston College.
The Eagles lost seven starters on offense, including their leading passer, rusher and two of their top three receivers, yet are scoring 50 points per game after averaging 26.2 a year ago.
Coach Steve Addazio, though, isn’t getting caught up in those numbers, not with victories over Maine and Howard on the resume.
"Where are we? We’re just a young team battling our tail off," he said. "I wouldn’t say our offense, defense or special teams have any reason to be sticking their chests out about anything. We haven’t done anything. What have we done? Beat two teams we’re supposed to beat?"
The level of competition is going to increase dramatically as Boston College hosts No. 9 Florida State on Friday night. It’s a matchup that figures to show much more about the young Eagles, who are starting five first or second-year players on offense, including sophomore Darius Wade, who attempted eight passes as a freshman.
With that much youth, Addazio’s challenge lies beyond getting his players to do more than control their emotions as they take on a team that in the last two years won a national title and reached the first College Football Playoff.
"It’s getting them to understand what it is going to be like," he said. "Young players just don’t have a reference point. They don’t understand the intensity. What have they seen? They’ve seen Maine and Howard. They don’t understand the intensity of these games. The speed and the physicality of these games is so much greater and different. The margin of error is so much smaller."
But if there’s an area in which the Eagles could give the Seminoles trouble, it’s on the ground.
Florida State ranks 71st against the rush, giving up 170.1 yards per game, giving up 132 yards on 33 carries in the opener against Texas State, and then last weekend yielded 149 to South Florida. Those figures could be partially blamed on four new starters on defense, but the Seminoles did return four players along their front seven, including preseason All-ACC linebacker Terrance Smith.
The Eagles may not have an answer to Florida State’s dynamic sophomore running back Dalvin Cook, who has 422 yards and five touchdowns on 49 attempts, but they do have depth.
Tyler Rouse tops the Eagles with 117 yards and five touchdowns, but has just 14 carries. It’s Jon Hlliman’s 19 attempts (for 72 yard and a score) that lead the way, as five players have run at least 10 times, and five players with 72 or more rushing yards.
"It’s going to be a very tough game," said Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher. "They’re going to be well prepared. They run the ball. Very physical."
So far, Wade hasn’t been quite as explosive as his predecessor, Tyler Murphy, but has been effective in throwing for 185 yards and two scores on 17 of 30 passing, while rushing for 35 yards.
Despite their struggles in defending the run, the Seminoles D figures to be a massive challenge for the young quarterback.
"They are big and physical," he said. "We haven’t seen that. We haven’t played against those big physical defensive fronts. The linebackers, they run like crazy. They can flat out run."
The Seminoles could knock Boston College back to the reality of being a young team that took advantage of a lackluster opening weeks. But it was a year ago, the Eagles pulled off a stunner against a top-10 opponent in Week 3, knocking off No. 9 USC on Chestnut Hill.
For the small number of players on his roster that were a part of that 37-31 win, they can draw confidence from it. But as Addazio put it:
"There is a high percentage of players who (didn’t have that) experience, so it’s not applicable," he said.
Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney
- Boston College Eagles
- Dalvin Cook
- Darius Wade
- Florida State Seminoles
- FOX Sports South
- FOX Sports South - ACC Gridiron Live
- Terrance Smith
- Tyler Rouse