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Virginia Tech will travel to Boston College for the 2nd consecutive year on Saturday to face their cross-division rivals. Recently, this matchup has been the source of frustration and close games. For Virginia Tech fans, Boston College might forever be associated with that 2007 loss in the final seconds with Matt Ryan scrambling then hitting an open receiver in the endzone. The good news here is that the Hokies have won five straight and six of the last seven against the Eagles.
2012: VT 30, BC 23 (OT)
2011: VT 30, BC 14
2010: VT 19, BC 0
2009: VT 48, BC 14
2008: VT 30, BC 12 (ACC Championship Game)
So far this season, the Eagles have improved drastically under new head coach Steve Addazio but their record hasn’t reflected the improvements. That said, Boston College is the only team that was able to hang with Florida State, losing that game in Chestnut Hill 48-34. They also nearly beat Clemson in Death Valley before Tajh Boyd lead a game winning touchdown drive. So, at the very least, BC is probably one of the best 3-4 teams in the country, if not the best.
On offense, Tech fans will be familiar with senior quarterback Chase Rettig, who started his first season way back in 1912, or at least that what it seems like for me. Rettig has been solid yet unspectacular this season, throwing for 1140 yards, 10 touchdowns, and four interceptions. Overall, the Eagles are not going to pass the ball unless they absolutely have to. On 1st down, they’ll probably run the ball. On 2nd down, they’ll probably run the ball. On 3rd down, they may just try to run it for the 1st down.
Through seven games, Rettig has completed just 94 passes. That’s an average of just 13 completions per game. My guess is you’ll see a similar strategy from Bud Foster that you’ve seen against Alabama and Pittsburgh. Tech will load the box, bring Kyshoen Jarrett close to the line of scrimmage, use Dadi Nicolas as a WHIP, and make Rettig beat us through the air.
BC has two real playmakers on offense with their primary go-to-guy being starting running back Andre Williams. Williams has totaled 1010 rushing yards already on the season to go along with eight touchdowns. He’s a big, physical back that has thrived in this new offense. However, he has yet to play a front seven similar to the Hokies. The Eagles will use Williams so much that it wouldn’t shock me to see him have limited success but I think Tech will do enough to keep him well under his 144 yards per game average.
Boston College’s 2nd playmaker is Alex Amidon, who leads the team with 46 receptions for 585 yards and three scores. He is the only BC receiver who has reached the double digit mark in receptions. Yes, the ONLY receiver. The 2nd leading receiver on this team is both Spiffy Evans and Bobby Wolford who each have eight. Of the 94 passes Rettig has thrown this season, Amidon has been on the receiving end of 49-percent of those throws.
The Eagles also possess a solid kicker in Nate Freese, who is 7-7 on the season with a long from 49. Since the Hokies won’t score much either, Freese may be a big factor in this one and his consistency is a little concerning.
Boston College’s defense hovers between below average and average. At times, they’ve looked like a top 30 unit (Wake Forest and Clemson) but other times they’ve looked extremely pedestrian (Florida State, USC, UNC). The bad news for the Hokies is that BC is fairly similar to Pitt. I do think the Panthers have more overall talent but the way each team plays is eerily similar, especially on defense. I wouldn’t expect Tech to score more than 21 points in this one so we’ll have to rely once again on our defense to pitch a near shutout in order to win.
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If there is one upside here it’s that BC is terrible against the run. They rank 82nd nationally with an average of 181 yards surrendered per game on the ground. The Hokies have not been able to consistently establish a running game but if there was ever a time to try and establish one, this is it. I do think Edmunds can have some success if our offensive line plays well.
The Eagles are not tremendously skilled at defending the pass either, ranking in at 73rd nationally with 237 yards per game.
Overall, this is a defensive unit that relies on great linebacker play to propel them into being a statistically dominant unit. We’ve seen that in the past with guys like Mark Herzlich and Luke Kuechly. This year, the Eagles don’t have a tremendously talented linebacker. Kevin Piere-Louis is probably their best overall player and is doing enough in his senior year to be projected as a 3rd-4th round pick in this upcoming NFL draft. Aside from him, there’s very little NFL talent currently on this defense.
What Does It All Mean, Basil?
This game will play out the same way the last five games have played out for the Hokies. If Tech plays turnover free, plays well defensively, and can get points from our special teams, we will win this game.
If the Hokies turn the football over multiple times, gives up an easy score or two, and miss field goals, they will lose this game.
You could apply this logic to any of Tech’s final four games and it will remain true. Tech lost to Duke because of turnovers, missed field goals, and mistakes. They can lose any of the remaining four if they follow the same formula.
However, they can win all of their remaining games if they follow the recipe they concocted during the six game winning streak. Don’t turn it over, score points when you can, and let your defense go to work. If Boston College gets to a point where they have to pass the ball on Saturday, they will be in trouble. The quicker we get them out of their comfort zone the better chance we have to win this game convincingly.
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