The Vegas odds haven't come out yet, but the Eagles will be going into Week 5 as heavy underdogs to the Clemson Tigers. Clemson just came off a tough loss to #4 Florida State, and Dabo Swinney will be looking to turn around the ship Saturday in Chestnut Hill. But is hope completely lost for the Eagles? Maybe not, after watching the Tigers get trounced by West Virginia and fall to the Seminoles yesterday, there might be a few strategic moves they can make to pull off the upset.
Test Clemson's Secondary Deep To Start The Game -- If there was one thing that yesterday showed, it was that Clemson struggles against the pass. E.J. Manuel threw for a career high 380 yards against Clemson, while Geno Smith threw for 407 yards and 6 TD's against the Tigers. Rettig has the arm to do this. He obviously is not the same type of QB as Manuel and Smith, but he should try some deep stuff early. If the Eagles can do this, they will get the home crowd rocking and hopefully put a little crowd pressure on the Tiger offense as well.
Keep The Cushion -- Most of us know and hate the Frank Spaziani seven yard cornerback cushion, and with good reason. His reliance on it against lesser teams can be agitating, and allows teams to dink and dunk their way down the field. But this week's game is a perfect example of when the Eagles need to use it. Clemson has easily two of the best wide receivers in the nation in DeAndre "Nuk' Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. If the Eagles try to use a simple man, or zone coverage to cover these two, Boyd is going to have a field day. At this point I'd rather see Clemson try to stick with 5-7 yard passes down the field and hope they make a mistake, rather than the alternative which is getting torched on long passes the entire game. If the latter happens, things could get ugly very quickly.
Run The Ball -- Clemson's biggest weakness on defense is the running attack. BC's biggest weakness on offense is their running attack. Something has go to give here. BC could take advantage of this if they simplified their running attack into a series of off tackle runs. As we have seen the first three games, any attempt of stretch runs have been an abysmal failure, blocking is too slow and the plays take forever to develop. Clemson, even with their deficiencies will devour those type of plays. However if BC can attempt to run the ball inside, with quick handoffs, they may see some success.
If Running Game Fails, Give It Up Quickly -- If the previous suggestion does not work, and BC continues to get snuffed inside, Doug Martin needs to give it up. A run here and there will be fine, but stop being bullheaded if the run isn't working. BC can't be giving up possessions all in the futile attempt to "establish a running game". Line up five receivers, and substitute screen passes for runs. Alex Amidon, Spiffy Evans, and Bobby Swigert all fit the mold of a protoypical screen pass receiver. Other teams, especially ones running the Air Raid offense have gotten away with a minimal run game.
Contain Tajh Boyd -- Boston College is going to have enough problems with the other weapons that Clemson will employ. Boyd needs to stay in the pocket, because if he gets free, he will pick up huge chunks of yards. Spaz will have to be careful with the blitz packages he uses, and make sure that Boyd is forced to stay in the pocket.
Keep The Plays In Front of Them -- Clemson has speed, and if they are allowed to hit the second level they are going to cause problems. BC is going to need a near perfect game from the corners, but equally as important will be the safeties, who are going to need to provide over the top help on the long passes. At this point it's beating a dead horse, but if the Eagles continue to miss first tackles, Andre Ellington and the Tigers are going to put up huge numbers next week.
Do Not Get Burned By The Gadget Play -- BC needs to be aware that Chad Morris has a bevy of flea flickers, wide receiver throws, and other gadget plays in his tool box. If BC starts to have success on defense they will need to watch out, because at any time this could happen:
4th and less than 5 on the Clemson Side of The Field? GO FOR IT -- Clemson is going to put up points, we all concede that at this point. BC can not be settling for field goals in this game. If we are hearing a lot of "Nate Freese lines up this 33 yard field goal", the Eagles are going to lose. Spaz needs to understand that his passing offense can put up points, but he has to have faith in them, and he needs to be aggressive, especially in the Red Zone.
Keep Clemson's Offense Off The Field -- One of the caveats of running a fast paced offense, is if you fail on the first three downs, the opposing offense will get the ball back very quickly. I'm not advocating that BC slow the pace of the game down, far from it, but they will need to get first downs. Keep that clock moving, and put together long drives that eat up the clock. Clemson's offense can't hurt you if they are on the sidelines.
Pray -- Superfans around the country should be heading to church and recite the following prayer "Our father who art in heaven, please make Clemson pull a Clemson on Saturday".
Do you think BC has a shot against Clemson on Saturday? What do you think they will need to do to pull off the upset? Leave your thoughts in the comments.