Whenever a team goes on the road to play a less fortunate, losing side, coaches try to find new and inventive ways to praise their opponent.
You hear all about how the opponent is “a real wounded animal,” and how “they’ll get after ya,” or that the upcoming game is “their Super Bowl.”
But Boston College isn’t really a wounded animal. They have virtually no expectations under first-year coach Steve Addazio. Becoming bowl-eligible will probably be their biggest achievement this season. They haven’t beaten the Hokies since 2008 when Chris Crane was their signal-caller.
And yet, despite their ineptitude and 3-4 record, Boston College has been interestingly capable of playing up to their level of competition. Earlier this season, Clemson trailed BC going into the fourth quarter and the Eagles jumped out to an early two-touchdown lead against Florida State.
“You can tell that their coaching staff’s really done a good job,” said Tech defensive line coach Charley Wiles. “They’ve hung in there with everybody.”
Senior running back Andre Williams has taken it upon himself to power the Eagles’ offense. At his best, he’ll take over a game all on his own; he's already run for more than 200 yards in a game twice this season and is averaging over 140 yards per game.
“Every game it seems like he’s broke a long one. You load 10 or 11 guys in the box and all of a sudden they force your safeties or corners to tackle, and one of those guys misses a tackle and he’s going the distance,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said of Williams. “What we’ve gotta do is get him stopped before he gets started, so to speak.”
Wiles seemed to have an epiphany while commenting on Williams’ abilities.
“Their back is really good. Wow. He’s good. He is good,” Wiles said.
Another senior, quarterback Chase Rettig, is under his fifth offensive coordinator in four years, and the lack of continuity has really hamstrung him in terms of how much responsibility Addazio feels comfortable giving him. Earlier this week Addazio endearingly called Rettig a “game manager.”
Yet, shockingly, Rettig’s numbers are up. He’s attempting far fewer passes per game, has gotten more efficient and has improved on completion percentage and yards per attempt.
A lot of this is because yet another senior, receiver Alex Amidon, is proving that last year wasn’t a fluke. In 2012, Amidon showed up as a threat all over the field, and will likely have another date with Hokies corner Kyle Fuller this Saturday.
In each of the two games Rettig has played against Tech, he’s been exposed.
He's thrown for less than 200 yards and completed 13 of 30 passes in both games. And with the Hokies’ secondary playing the way they have been, Boston College and Tech both know that if the Eagles want to win, they’ll have to run the ball extremely effectively.
With a lot of pressure on Tech a week before their huge showdown with Miami, the Eagles know that it may be possible to catch the Hokies off guard. The Eagles’ offense may look anemic on paper, but they’ve shown that they can bring it against the ACC’s best.
“Last week could help us because we’re not gonna overlook BC this week,” said linebacker Jack Tyler. “We’re gonna be mentally ready and charged up because we know we have to get a win. We have to win out to meet our goals.”