The Clemson Tigers don the orange britches for the de facto ACC Atlantic championship game in Chestnut Hill. With a win, they will clinch the ACC Atlantic for the fourth straight year. BC will look to win it for the first time since 2008, and a win will give them control of their own destiny.
The Eagles are ranked #17, but enter as major home underdogs. To help us prepare for this clash, we partnered with AJ Black of BC Interruption. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here. Enjoy the Q&A!
STS: Many of us were high on Boston College this season, but with a seemingly unfortunate draw of Miami and Virginia Tech from the Coastal, the ceiling on what this team could accomplish seemed pretty apparent. They’ve now gone 2-0 against those Coastal opponents and have College Gameday coming for the ACC Atlantic Championship game this weekend.
A week ago against Miami, the crowd looked apathetic and more interested in Game 4 of the World Series (not that I totally blame them, but still). Are students and alumni rallying around Steve Addazio and team? What type of atmosphere can we expect relative to other Alumni Stadium atmospheres we’ve experience?
AJ: I wouldn’t read too much into the reaction at Alumni Stadium for the Miami game, the fans were much louder than the mics ESPN had them set at. That being said, I think BC fans are all in now with Steve Addazio, though you will still have a few doubters. With College Gameday there, I expect Alumni to be sold out and the place to be rocking.
STS: Boston College runs the ball on about 65% of their plays and relies heavily on star running back AJ Dillon. He missed a few games including the loss to NC State with an injury and left the Virginia Tech game with another injury. Can you update us on his status and tell us what we expect to see from the Eagles’ rushing attack? How will they scheme to get something going on the ground against the top rushing defense in the country (S&P+)?
AJ: Dillon is considered a gametime decision after dinging up his ankle last weekend against Virginia Tech. I think BC will go with their usual bread and butter, rushing attack mixed with play action. I imagine they may go heavier on the pass than usual to try and counter act that Clemson defensive line. It’ll be interesting to see if Addazio uses Travis Levy more, like he did against the Hokies. Levy is clearly the fastest back they have, and can attack aggressive defenses with his speed.
STS: Although the offense is predicated on the running game, they’ve been rather efficient passing the ball. Anthony Brown has a 16-3 TD-INT ratio and looks like a vastly improved QB. Can you tell us about the strides he’s made?
AJ: Brown certainly has improved, though he needs to continue to be more consistent as he has shown moments when he is great (second half of VT), and others where he looks completely overwhelmed (the Purdue game). The one thing I have liked out of his game so far is that he is minimizing his mistakes, not giving opposing offenses good field position. I think part of the improvement as well is the scheme, which has left tight ends wide open on play action.
One wrinkle I think you may see more out of Brown on Saturday, and hasn’t been used all that often, is the read option especially if Dillon is healthy. Opposing defenses scheme so hard on Dillon that sometimes that leaves Brown wide open to tuck it and run. They have hit on this run a few times every game, I wonder if they open it more against Clemson to see if they can spread out the defenders.
STS: Which individual or positional matchup concerns you the most? Which makes you most optimistic?
AJ: Clemson’s defensive line scares the hell out of me, which is probably something that every opposing team says. In terms of optimism? Uh, yeah you got me, I don’t know where BC would be able to have an advantage. I guess, maybe our defensive line against Clemson’s offensive line? Just based purely on the play of BC’s defensive line with stars like Zach Allen and Wyatt Ray.
STS: Boston College has had a great season, but this remains a question worth asking. Clemson, @FSU, and Syracuse remain on the schedule. The teams they’ve beaten in ACC play have a combined 6-15 conference record. Virginia Tech may be their best win. Against the only “good” teams they’ve played, Purdue and NC State, they lost. Against Purdue, it wasn’t close. How good is this Eagles team? Is it a hair better than your typical 7-5 squads taking advantage of a down ACC or is it something more?
AJ: If a team goes 7-2 they are good. If you were to tell me before the season that BC was going to go into the Clemson game 7-2, with wins over VT, Louisville, Miami and Wake Forest I would have been elated. They have a strong defense that can be shut down good when they turn it on, and an offensive line that is as good as any in the ACC. This team is clearly not a juggernaut like Clemson, but I really don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that they go 9-3 and get a strong bowl game.
STS: And with that segue, how do you see this one playing out? The spread is 20 points.
AJ: It’s going to be cold, BC fans are going to go crazy, and the team should be amped to go... but I think Clemson has too many weapons for this team. I think BC beats the spread, but I don’t think they win. Clemson 38-24
A big thanks to AJ Black for joining us and shedding some insight into the Eagles. Our answers to their questions are now posted on BC Interruption. You can read them here.