Last season Boston College got absolutely waxed against Florida State 51-7 in Tallahassee. Easily this was one of the hardest games to watch, but given the shape of the team in 2012 it wasn't all that suprising. If you were to put together a list of things BC did wrong you would have a "War and Peace" sized novel on your hand. The game was basically a microcosm of everything wrong about the 2012 season. They didn't play defense, Chase Rettig was laid out every time he went back to pass, and E.J. Manuel lit up the Eagles' porous conservative defense.
But it's time to put that game behind us. As we have said before, the driver of the bus has changed, but most of the passengers remain the same. What can this new coaching staff change to not only keep Boston College in the game, but also give them a chance to win given that they have mostly the same starters as 2012?
1. Get to Jameis Winston Early. This is not going to be easy for Boston College, as FSU is returning four of their starters on the offensive line last year, including second year starters stud guards Tre' Jackson and Josue Matias. There is certainly a lot of talent on the line, however FSU is susceptible to allowing sacks, as they gave up 26 last season.
Don Brown is going to need to blitz and send guys in after Winston. The redshirted freshman must not be allowed to be comfortable. Brown is the perfect defensive coordinator to set up this aggressive scheme as well. Send linebackers, safeties and corners, make the young QB never know where the blitzes are coming from and BC might be able to rattle him. Might being the key word.
2. Win The Turnover Battle. BC's margin for error in this game is going to be razor thin, and turnovers are going to be a huge key for the Eagles. If Chase Rettig throws interceptions deep in his own end like he did numerous times last year, FSU will capitalize and score quickly. If BC wants to stand any chance this can't happen.
One of the few things BC did reasonably well last year against FSU was causing two interceptions from Manuel. They are going to have to do that again, and you know, do something positive with the ball after the turnover. BC might not have the talent to beat a team like FSU so they are going to have to take some chances to win. Sitting back conservatively will end with a quick death, but if BC can force a turnover early they could change the tide of the game.
3. Control The Game Tempo. Two interesting statistics from last year's game. In last year's game the Seminoles only had one prolonged drive of 10 plays or more, and none of their scoring drives took longer than 3 minutes and 38 seconds. What does that tell you about FSU's offense that put up 649 yards in the game? Answer: They moved up and down the field at a blistering pace and scored at will both on the ground and in the air.
Boston College can not allow FSU to dictate the tempo like this again. FSU is too fast and too good to be allowed to gain huge chunks of yards every play. If James Wilder is hitting the second level on his runs, BC is going to be in for a world of hurt. The Eagles have to slow the game down, hold FSU on 3rd downs and then....
BC is going to need longer drives. The one score BC completed in 2012 was a 10 play drive that took over 5 minutes off the clock. If the Eagles are going to want to stand any chance, they need to slow the game down on offense. Hopefully the new offensive line will open some gaps for Andre Williams, because if BC wants to win this they can't expect to run up and down the field with FSU because if they do they will lose...badly.
4. Protect Chase Rettig. BC's senior QB needs to be viewed as the most valuable commodity on the Eagles this year. In the past two years he has been blown up by opposing defenses, mostly due to shoddy offensive line play. If Rettig goes down, all bets are off for the remainder of the season as BC will have to choose between the unknown (James Walsh, Mackay Lowrie) or the questionable (Christian Suntrup, Mike Marscovetra).
In terms of the FSU game, Rettig is going to feel the pressure every time he steps back. However I think a new offensive line coach, and some new faces (Matt Patchan, Wins Homer, Frank Taylor) will be a huge help in terms of keeping Rettig off the turf. Florida State is going to have the talent up front, mostly from freak athlete Mario Edwards Jr., but if BC wants to win this, they can't be peeling Rettig off the ground after every offensive snap.
Those are just four key areas of the game BC will need to execute in to stay in a game against the highly ranked Florida State Seminoles. It's a tall order to think that a team made up of mostly the same players as last year will be able to hold their own against a team that annihilated them. But stranger things have happened, this is a new coaching staff that might get more out of their players, and utilize a scheme that could put BC in better shape. The odds are certainly not in the Eagles' favor, but as they say "Any Given Saturday".