Five Questions Boston College Has To Answer to Defeat Clemson
Boston College faces off with the reigning ACC Champions on Saturday when they head to Death Valley to face Clemson. The Tigers who sit at 6-0, are playing extraordinarily well, what will Boston College have to do to stand a shot and possibly win this game? Let's explore.
1. How will Boston College slow down Travis Etienne?
The Eagles have faced two teams this year (VT, UNC) who can run the ball well, and in both cases BC struggled. The Tar Heels ran the ball for 176 yards while VT ran it for 350 yards. Now BC has an even bigger challenge. Travis Etienne, who Jeff Hafley called the "most under rated player in college football" is even more explosive than Michael Carter and Khalil Herbert. This is going to be a monumental task for the front seven, who are going to have to be at their best at tackling and wrapping up this elusive running back. BC obviously doesn't have the defensive talent that Ohio State has, but last year in the Fiesta Bowl, Hafley's defense contained Etienne for 36 yards on the ground.
2. How do the Eagles contain the passing attack?
While Hafley's defense was able to stop Etienne from rushing it last year, he crushed them in the passing game with two touchdown catches. On top of that Trevor Lawrence was electric, throwing for 250 while rushing for almost 100 yards himself. The Tigers are missing star wide receiver Justyn Ross who is out for the year, but Amari Rodgers is still one of the best wide outs in the conference, and leads the conference with 520 receiving yards. BC have the talent at defensive back, and they have made plays all seasonbut will it be enough to slow down a generational quarterback who hardly ever makes mistakes?
3. Can the Eagles play virtually mistake free?
Head coach Jeff Hafley has pointed out that in every game BC has made mistakes that have left points off the boards. This week he was able to show that there were over 20 points that BC errors prevented. These can happen because of turnovers, drops, and penalties. Two weeks ago it was the five turnovers that killed the Eagles, last weekend, the penalties (10 for over a 100 yards) that stood out. BC can not give free downs to the Tigers. They have to play their cleanest game of the season if they want to stay in the game.
4. Can the offense move, and score points against an elite defense?
BC has played some good defenses already, and they have put up points. But Brent Venables and his defense brings a whole new challenge to this offense. The Tigers are second in the country in sacks with 24, they are third in turnovers gained, and they play with a tenacity that is hard to match. Last weekend against Georgia Tech the offensive line played easily their best game of the season, and didn't allow Phil Jurkovec to get sacked. They are going to need to play well against the Tigers.
On top of that let's see how BC's weapons perform. Zay Flowers, Hunter Long, Jaelen Gill and CJ Lewis will be facing off against blue chip defenders, some of the best they have faced. And do the Eagles try and lean more on the rushing attack, with the hope that they can control the clock and keep Trevor Lawrence off the field?
5. What tricks does BC have up their sleeves?
If BC is going to win this game they are going to have to throw the kitchen sink at Clemson. Just lining up and trying to beat them man to man, is probably a recipe for disaster given the talent the Tigers have on both sides of the ball. Hafley and his staff are going to have to be aggressive. Whether that is something on special teams (fake punt), going for constantly on fourth down, or trick plays, BC needs to try to catch Clemson off guard.
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