Coming off a stunning loss at NC State, the now 12th-ranked Florida State Seminoles look to pick up the pieces, as they welcome the Boston College Eagles to Tallahassee for ACC action at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles cruised to five straight wins to begin the season, positioning themselves near the top of the national polls (third last week) with stellar play on both sides of the football. However, after taking a 16-0 lead into halftime in Raleigh last weekend, the team failed to make plays on either side of the ball after intermission and fell to the Wolfpack 17-16. Still, the team's 5-1 start matches its best since 2005, as it aims for an ACC crown in 2012.
Fisher questioned his own play-calling in the loss to NC State.
"We couldn't control the line of scrimmage," Fisher said. "We should have been aggressive and thrown the ball more."
Frank Spaziani's days in Chestnut Hill may be numbered, as the Eagles once again are struggling in terms of wins and losses, after going a dismal 4-8 in 2011. The only win this season for Boston College came against FCS foe Maine (34-3). Since that win, the team has dropped three straight games, including last week's heart-breaking 34-31 loss at Army.
"Once again, it's a matter of execution," Spaziani said after the loss to Army. "It was a combination of them executing, us not executing when we had some time to execute, and then just not making enough plays. You still have to make some plays. We're going to have to look ourselves in the mirror and figure out where to go. There's no place to go but up. We need to work through it."
Florida State holds a 6-4 edge in the all-time series with Boston College, but the two teams have split four meetings in Tallahassee. FSU has claimed victory in each of the last two meetings, including a 38-7 win in Chestnut Hill last season.
The Eagles were in a close game in West Point last week, but allowed Army to score on a 29-yard touchdown run with 45 seconds remaining to fall to the Black Knights 34-31. Offensively, BC got a huge game from tailback Andre Williams, who produced a career-high 191 yards and two touchdowns in the loss, including an electrifying 99-yard TD run in the second quarter. Wideout Alex Amidon scored twice as well, once on a reception and the other on a running play. Quarterback Chase Rettig was 16-of-29 passing, for 244 yards and one TD.
Rettig has proved doubters wrong this season, despite the team's losing record. He has completed 56.8 percent of his passes, for 1,531 yards, with 10 touchdowns against just three interceptions. Amidon has clearly been the go- to-guy in the passing game, pacing the team in receptions (38), receiving yards (644) and TD catches (4).
The ground game has produced just 107.8 yards per game on the season, with Williams leading the way (379 yards, four TDs).
While the offense had success against Army, the same cannot be said of the BC defense, which was torched for 536 rushing yards, as three Black Knights eclipsed the century mark on the ground.
That has certainly skewed the numbers against the BC defense, which now ranks a dismal 117th in rush defense at 259.0 yards allowed per game. The team also ranks 104th in total defense (469.8 ypg) and 82nd in scoring defense (29.0 ppg).
Linebackers Nick Clancy and Steele Divitto continue to pace the team in tackles. Clancy has been all over the field with a whopping 68 stops through five games. Divitto has an impressive 52 stops to his credit. However, making plays up field have been rare for this defense, as Boston College has just 12 TFLs and four sacks on the season.
FSU has been strong offensively this year thanks to a renewed emphasis on the run. The team ranks 13th nationally in rushing (238.5 ypg), good for second in the ACC. Tailback Chris Thompson rushed for 141 yards against NC State last weekend and now leads the team with 572 yards (7.7 ypc) and five TDs. Backfield depth is found in the form of James Wilder Jr. (6.2 ypc, six TDs).
Quarterback E.J. Manuel put up modest numbers against NC State (218 yards and one TD), but has managed the defense quite well this season, completing 70.5 percent of his throws, for 1,365 yards, with 10 touchdowns against just two interceptions. Manuel has spread the ball around with seven different players posting double-digit receptions, led by Rashad Greene (19 catches, 246 yards, one TD).
The defense played well in Raleigh, limiting NC State to just 325 total yards, but it wasn't enough in the setback. The usually potent pass rush recorded just one sack in the game. Rush ends Cornellius Carradine (team-high 36 tackles, 8.0 TFLs, 7.0 sacks) and Bjoern Werner (20 tackles, 10.0 TFLs, 6.5 sacks) have created mayhem in the backfield this season. Linebacker Christian Jones (31 tackles, one fumble recovery) headlines the play in the middle of the defense, while Xavier Rhodes (21 tackles, two interceptions) provides big play ability in the secondary.
Florida State has thrived in just about every facet of the game defensively, including on third down. Opponents are converting just 23.6 percent of the time, as FSU ranks third nationally in third-down defense.