To preview this weekend's matchup between Boston College and third-ranked Florida State, we caught up with ABC Sports analyst Ed Cunningham. Cunningham will be in the broadcast booth along with Mike Patrick to call this weekend's game between the Eagles and Seminoles.
BC Interruption: Florida State hasn't lost in over two years, yet their win margin has been much smaller this year. What have you noticed about their offense and or defense that has led to those struggles?
Ed Cunningham: In 2013, their defensive secondary seemed to be a bit more dialed in and had far fewer breakdowns than in 2014, from what I've seen. LaMarcus Joyner was a physical presence and playmaker, and I don't believe his role has been fully replaced quite yet. They have plenty enough defensive talent to be dominant, and played very well in the second half against Miami the other night, so they could close the gap with last year's defensive team.
Offensively, with the emergence of Dalvin Cook at running back, I think they have the potential to be as good or better than the 2013 version down the stretch of this season.
BCI: Now, having said that, Florida State has looked scary good in the second half of games this year after letting teams hang around for a half. What have you seen that makes the Seminoles so good in the second half of games this year?
Cunningham: Defensively, they settle in and have a better idea of what they're going to see. They have great athletes, and the entire team is very well coached in a super competitive practice environment, so that lends itself to better play once they understand how they're being attacked.
On offense, I think it is a matter of Winston getting into a rhythm and understanding what teams are doing early in games. As the champs, and with his abilities, every team has something new to show him and the offense, and it takes a while to get it figured out. Once they do, and he feels comfortable, they can be very efficient.
BCI: Everyone knows Jameis Winston at this point, but Rashad Greene may be one of the most talented players on the Seminoles. What makes him so dangerous?
Cunningham: He is a very polished, smart receiver who competes hard as a blocker. He has plenty of speed, great hands and is a real leader in their lockerroom. I'd bet at season's end, he gets the team's MVP. He's a huge part of their success.
BCI: Boston College's bread and butter is the run. The Eagles have faced some of the top run defenses in the country so far this season. Florida State isn't an elite rushing defense but they are certainly very talented. How do think BC's front line, running backs and Tyler Murphy will do against the Seminoles front seven?
Cunningham: I think they'll do well. I've watched a good bit of the USC game and will study more of BC's offense as the week goes on, but this is the type of game that is very hard for an undefeated team, especially late in the season. BC is good enough to hang with FSU, and if they do get a power run game going with a few play action pass hits off of it—like early in the '13 game—this game could get into the 4th quarter.
At that point, everyone in the building, especially the Eagles, will think the magic may run out, and when you can control the game late with the run, you have a chance to have the ball for the game winning drive instead of the reigning Heisman winner.
Cunningham joined ABC Sports as a college football analyst in August 2000 and currently serves as the analyst with Mike Patrick (play-by-play) and Jeannine Edwards (sidelines). A graduate of Washington, he was a captain of the 1991 National Championship team. Cunningham was drafted 61st overall by the Arizona Cardinals in 1992 and would play five seasons in the NFL between the Cardinals and Seahawks.