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2013 Boston College @ Clemson Preview

Clemson comes into this contest on a roll...cruising each week since the thrilling opening week against UGa. Boston College has had its moments this season--particularly two weeks ago when they challenged Florida State early in Chestnut Hill. Clemson obviously has the Seminoles next week and will need to avoid looking too far ahead and simply take care of business on Saturday to set up the monster game with the 'Noles in a week.


Coach / School Information

Clemson Boston College
2013 Record: 5-0, 3-0 ACC 3-2 , 1-1 ACC
Rankings: 3 AP, 4 USA Today Not Ranked
Location: Clemson, SC Chestnut Hill, MA
Colors: Clemson Orange and Regalia Maroon & Gold
Enrollment: 20,768 14,500
Athletic Director: Dan Radakovich Brad Bates
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney, Alabama ‘93 Steve Addazio, Central Connecticut ‘81
Record at Current School: 45-21 (.682) 3-2 (first year)
Career Record: 45-21 (.682) 16-13 (third year)
Offensive Coordinator: Chad Morris Ryan Day
Base Offense: Spread Multiple
Defensive Coordinator: Brent Venables Don Brown
Base Defense: 4-3 Multiple
Athletic Website:

General Game Information

Game Time 3:30 PM EDT
Stadium Memorial Stadium
Host City Clemson, SC
Television ABC (Regional) / ESPN2
Play by Play Announcer Bob Wischusen
Color Commentator Rod Gilmore
Sideline Quint Kessenich
Clemson Radio Clemson Tiger Sports Network (WCCP FM)
CU Play-By-Play Pete Yanity
CU Color Commentary Will Merritt
CU Sideline Reporting Patrick Sapp

The 2013 Boston College Eagles are a much different team than the 2012 squad that Clemson dominated. Gone is Frank Spaziani and his staff. Spaz was released of his duties in late November of last season and replaced by Steve Addazio the first week of December. I'll point out that Boston College needs to get some consistency at the head coaching spot. Addazio is the fourth head football coach for the Eagles since the 2006 season.

Head Coach

Steve Addazio came to BC from Temple where he was the head coach for two seasons. His first season at Temple was--especially for Tempe--impressive scoring nine victories en route to a New Mexico Bowl victory. Last season wasn't quite as impressive as the Owls slipped back below 0.500 with a 4-7 record. I should point out that Temple played in the Mid-American conference in '11 and back in the Big East last year so their opponent level did improve year over year.

Addazio came to the national spotlight as assistant coach at the University of Florida. He joined that staff in 2005 and was elevated to the offensive coordinator position prior to the 2009 football season after Dan Mullen left Gainsville to take the head job at Mississippi State. The 2009 season saw the Gators win the Sugar Bowl with a 13-1 record and only blemish to eventual national champion Alabama. Most will remember this season as Tim Tebow's last in college football.

Prior to landing at Florida, Addazio spent time at Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Indiana. In Indiana, Addazio became the offensive coordinator in 2004. I'll be sure to point out that his background is as an offensive line guy. That mentality places is present when you watch his football teams play. He is a graduate of Central Connecticut and earned both a bachelors and masters degree from the University.

Overall, Addazio is always fired up. You'll see him constantly focused on the football game and yelling at someone. This intensity is shown as he participates in timeout discussions, after his offensive line comes off the field, or at pretty much any point in the football game. The man is an offensive line coach. Those guys are wired a little differently than others and always look like they could kill at any given moment. Addazio is no different in that respect and does bring a renewed level of excitement and intensity that I believe is needed to revive the BC football program.


The Boston College offense is led by first year Eagles coordinator Ryan Day. Day coached with Addazio at Temple last season and came to Chestnut Hill when the head coach switched roles late last year. Day previously spent five seasons at Boston College as receivers coach and was a GA at Boston College in 2003/2004. Day, like Addazio, has experience under Urban Myer serving as a graduate assistant down there in 2005. His other experience includes a year as the Temple wide receivers coach in 2006 under Al Golden.

Immediately when I see Addazio's name, I think spread option and zone read. While I believe that is the direction that they may move towards, BC simply does not have the personnel today to make a complete move. Boston College was built more pro-style with a more traditional pocket passer and bruising back. Because of the players inherited, Addazio/Day have taken a metered approach in transitioning this team from a grind it out approach to a more wide open attack.

We've seen a variety of formations out of this offense. BC will show standard Gun looks yet also likes to likes to routinely show more powerful formations that feature multiple tight ends. BC will utilize the Pistol formation. Here, they like to motion a receiver or wing and run a sweep-type play or use that motion as play action. Another interesting item is the use of multiple tight ends from a direct snap similar to a more conventional "Tight Ace" formation. The Eagles will often modify this "Pistol Tight Ace" formation by bringing in an H-Back or motioning receivers into the backfield, often running plays with no receivers split outside of the tight end. Creating a power formation from a direct snap is becoming more and more common in football and BC really likes to implement these types of items. When they run the ball, they like to use straight forward attacks. They like to pull tackles and guards across formations within to lead Andre Williams to the LOS. Look for the Power play early and often on Saturday.

Andre Williams is more of a traditional bruising back who has been successful for this football team running the football. He is a good running back and is nearing 770 yards on the ground to go with 7 TDs and a 5.8 YPC average. He has not been a threat catching the football out of the backfield so far in his career. He has no catches on the season and only 10 catches total in nearly 3.5 seasons at BC.

Boston College is more committed this season to allow Chase Rettig to manage the football game. In years past, previous coaches had this guy out there slinging the ball around all game long. To date, he has 110 attempts on the season. One item that became apparent through film review was the desire to roll Rettig out of the pocket either through play action or by moving offensive linemen one way or another. These efforts are surely in place to better protect Rettig when he does throw the football.

Several times against Florida State the Eagles tried to mitigate FSU's superior speed by rolling Rettig to his right then throwing the ball back across the field. Two of the plays that worked very well include a TE screen and a touchdown pass to the tight end dragging across the field away from the rolling QB. The screen gave BC some easy yards. The drag did result in a touchdown due to a very well placed ball by Rettig.

In defense of the decision to better insulate Rettig, Boston College is very limited at the wide receiver position. Alex Amidon is the lone true receiving threat on this football team. He has well over 400 yards receiving this season. This follows a 78 catch, 1200+ yard, 7 TD season a year ago. No other player on the Boston College roster has more than seven catches so far this season. While you will want to assure you can contain the others, Amidon is the guy to focus on in the receiving corps.

Chase Rettig is a guy who does not run well and can get flustered under pressure. Clemson has proven it is able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season and does have more speed on defense than BC on offense. For those reasons, BC will attempt to implement many items used in the FSU game. Look for BC to first and foremost commit to running the football. BC will run the power play and a host of trap-type plays to hammer the tailback. Williams is too good of a back in this system not to feed him the ball. Handoffs to motioned receivers/H-backs will end up with a carry outside the tackle.

When the Eagles do choose to throw the ball I'd expect to see them strategically roll Rettig outside of the tackle box, utilize screens, and potentially throw back across the formation to try to mitigate the Boston College speed deficit. With so few real receiving threats, I think that the Eagles will need to get creative and "cute" to have significant success throwing the football--specifically if Clemson can shut down Alex Amidon.


Don Brown is also in his first season as a BC defensive coordinator. Brown previously was the UConn defensive coordinator for two seasons and led the Maryland defense during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Brown has an extensive resume including head coaching gigs at Plymouth State, Northeastern, and UMass. His overall head football coaching record is 95-45 including a 43-19 record in his five years as head man at UMass. An interesting fact about Brown is that prior to taking the head job at Plymouth State, Brown served as interim baseball coach for the Yale Bulldogs and attained a 26-10 overall record as manager in 1992--oddly enough, Clemson's baseball team beat his team in a regional game that season.

The last time we saw Don Brown was during his tenure at Maryland. You'll likely remember his defense as extremely aggressive and blitz-happy. Brown still brings an aggressive nature in his defensive plans. Boston College will utilize both even and odd fronts. These include looks that involve three players with a hand on the ground and looks that utilize four. Brown likes to bring players from all over the field and has shown tendencies in the past to bring five or more players in most situations. They were successful early in the Florida State game at getting to the quarterback. I'll note that while BC pressured the QB against FSU early, there were several occasions where the Eagles couldn't finish the play and Florida State made them pay dearly. Clemson will need to be cognizant of the extra defender and pick up this blitzer. This also increases the importance of Boyd understanding hot reads and such to throw to the voided spot or the receiver with the clear advantage.

We'll be focused on how Clemson tries to stop the Boston College barrage. None of us are particularly happy with the play of Gif Timothy to date. We'll see how this staff moves players around to try and shore up this point of weakness. Clemson will start Shaq Anthony at RT though many have clamored to move Isaiah Battle across the formation to fill this role. We'll see a lot and know a lot more about Anthony Saturday night and then can either praise the staff for sticking or bang the drum for more offensive line musical chairs.


If Clemson can bottle up Williams and put pressure on Chase Rettig, this one will be extremely one sided very quickly. We saw that the Eagles can get off to a fast start (Florida State) but also saw that they can give up a lot of points afterwards (Florida State). Boston College will want to run Williams and run him as much as possible. Clemson has to commit to stopping the BC run first and foremost and make BC try to beat them through the air--which I believe is very unlikely due to Rettig's shortcomings and BC's relative lack of threats at the WR position. For Boston College to be successful through the air, they really need production from the TE position.

Offensively, Clemson will see a wide array of fronts and blitz packages. If the Clemson offensive line can improve in several areas to stymie these BC aggressive measures and Tajh can get proper presnap assessments and direct traffic to get his backs in position to pick up/chip blitzers, Clemson will be in great shape throwing the football. I believe we all want to see more of a running attack from the Clemson runningbacks. While it is great that Tajh can get valuable yards on the ground--we'd all like to have our runningbacks carry more of the load and keep Tajh Boyd from taking hits running the football.

Boston College is definitely better off today than they were a year ago but they simply cannot hang with our Tigers due to talent. Keep this team and their head coach on your radar in the years to come but Clemson should roll Saturday to set up a big showdown in Death Valley next weekend.

Video of BC this season can be seen below.


Wake Forest



FSU (1st Half)