Boston College seems to have taken a step forward since last year. With that said, there really wasn’t anywhere to go but up. This is an experienced Eagles team, the only starters who aren’t at least redshirt sophomores are the quarterback, fullback and the center. Three star redshirt freshman Anthony Brown has taken over the quarterback position and has shown some potential (two of the three interceptions he threw again Wake Forest hit his receiver in the hands), but he’s still averaging less than five yards per attempt. Despite being recruited as a dual threat quarterback Brown mostly uses his legs to set up throws on bootlegs at this point. These bootlegs typically either leak a tight end or running back to the flats and send someone deep behind him, giving Brown an easy high/low read.
BC prefers to line up in 11, 21 or 12 personnel. Tight end Tommy Callahan emerged as a bright spot last year and has the athleticism to be a matchup problem. Head coach Steve Addazio and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler have been very willing to use Callahan as an in line tight end, in the slot, or even as backside receiver with trips opposite to him.
Jeff Smith, a former quarterback, is in his second year as a receiver and is clearly the Eagles best big play weapon. Kobay White may be as explosive, at least in the passing game. Smith gets quite a few rushing attempts on jet sweeps with inside zone attached. Wisconsin, LSU and Arkansas have all run this scheme extensively.
BC will often run the jet motion as a decoy, much like the Tigers. The Eagles like to base their running game around inside zone, counter (with the tight end lead blocking and guard kicking out), power and outside zone. BC also features the G lead play Louisville ran last week and the occasional pin/pull sweep.
Boston College has experimented a bit with tempo and had mixed success. In the past couple games they’ve converted third or second and short by hurrying up to the line and running power before the defense could get settled. With that said, the Eagles probably can’t rely on the running game to win with running backs Jon Hilliman and AJ Dillon under four yards per carry.
Addazio is familiar with the quarterback run game after his time as Urban Meyer’s OC at Florida but so far that hasn’t really been a part of the playbook. This makes BC pretty one dimensional from the shotgun, they’ve typically only used it when forced to pass. This is not a team that can pass the ball reliably without the threat of play action. Senior WR Charlie Callinan is massive (6-4, 240) and often lines up as a wingback. He’s a good enough blocker to moonlight as a second “matchup problem” tight end. The success Boston College has will probably come through getting either Smith, Callahan or Callinan the ball. Linebacker and safety coverage is going to be particularly important.
BC isn’t a great quick passing or screen team, and the offensive line probably lacks the athleticism to keep up with Clemson’s front seven.
While fundamentally sound this just isn’t an offensive line talented enough to keep up with the best teams. There’s a reason the tackles don’t pull on counter. Having a freshman at center rears its head in blitz pickup and we know Venables is going to attack.
In the past Boston College has not done well against elite teams. As Bill C’s preview this year pointed out, “In four games against S&P+ top-20 teams, BC got outscored, 202-24”. There’s no reason to think that the Eagles running game can keep them on schedule, and this has never been a team designed to sustain itself through drop back passing. Boston College may be better this year but if they’re able to move the ball on Clemson I would be astonished. Clemson may not cover the spread but expect the Tigers to win comfortably barring an unforeseen catastrophe.
Clemson 35, Boston College 10