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Game Preview: Week 8 vs. Boston College

Game Preview: Week 8 vs. Boston College

Paul Austria
The matchup in Chestnut Hill Friday night will be a crucial conference game for both teams as the Miami (FL) Hurricanes (5-2, 2-1) face off against the Eagles of Boston College (5-2, 2-1). A loss by either team essentially waves goodbye to their chance at making an appearance in Charlotte for the ACC Championship game.

This was an interesting past couple of weeks for Canes fans. There’s a chance that the current quarterback situation has you feeling some type of way and you probably can’t help but scratch your head.

During a 16-13 loss to Virginia on October 13th that saw the Canes drop out of the Top 25, coach Mark Richt made the controversial decision to pull redshirt-freshman N’Kosi Perry towards the end of the first quarter to re-insert opening day starter Malik Rosier behind center. Perry had just thrown a couple of interceptions right into the hands of Virginia defenders, one of which Richt admitted could’ve been an error by the receiver, so it was a decision that was heavily criticized by fans on social media.

Nevertheless, Richt stuck with Malik for the duration of the game and last Thursday, he announced that Rosier will remain the starter with Perry expected to a few reps in.

"Right this minute I think Malik is better equipped from his ability and his experiences to lead this team," coach Richt told ESPN. “Made it very clear to N’Kosi that he’s going to have a great career...He’ll get snaps, for sure. Malik right now is the guy that gives us the best shot.”

Rosier’s final stat line against Virginia was 12-23 with 170 yards and an interception. Playcalling was also an issue, as the offense stalled throughout the game. There was one instance where the Canes encountered a 3rd-and-short situation and ran a standard fullback handoff to Trayone Gray, who came up short. Coach Richt decided to go for it on 4th down and ran the exact same play with the same result.

Tailback Deejay Dallas and receiver Jeff Thomas were essentially non-factors in that game as well, and outside of Travis Homer’s 70-yard run, the Canes had 269 yards of offense, which is definitely a very low number for a team with this many offensive weapons.

“It boiled down to our lack of execution which starts with us first as coaches. We have to do a better job of coaching our guys. Either we’ve done a poor job of coaching guys or we’ve got too much stuff in our offense that they can’t retain, they can’t execute well,” co-offensive coordinator Thomas Brown told the Miami Herald. “But all around we have to do a better job of preparing these guys, and they have to go out and do what we tell them to do.”

Another microcosm of the offensive struggles could be attributed to the offensive line, where they’ve shuffled a few bodies around around the line, including testing mammoth Navaughn Donaldson at both right guard and right tackle.

Donaldson has unfortunately struggled dealing with fast, athletic defensive ends while at tackle so coach Richt has opted to leave Donaldson at right guard permanently while true freshman DJ Scaife will assume the tackle responsibility.

Despite the offensive woes, the defense has continued to hold to show out, putting up yet another dominant performance against the Cavaliers, allowing only 236 yards. Miami still the 2nd best defense in the country as behind the dominant defensive line tandem of senior DT Gerald Willis and sophomore DE Jonathan Garvin. Both Willis and Garvin are tied for 5th in the country in tackles for loss with 13 a piece while LB Shaq Quarterman and junior DE Joe Jackson have 9 a piece.

Miami’s 2nd-ranked pass defense has shut down nearly every opposing pass offense this season and are led by CB Michael Jackson and S Jaquan Johnson, who were both recently named semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe award, given to the best defensive back in college football.

The Eagles currently ranked third in the ACC Coastal division and are also coming off a bye week after a tough loss against NC State. Head coach Steve Addazio is entering his 6th season at the helm and the team has gotten off to a great start this season with a 5-2 record.

The face of Boston College’s offense is AJ Dillon. In case you don’t know, the 245-pound tailback took the college football world by storm in 2017, running circles and amassing 1,256 yards in the last seven games alone as a freshman. Fast forward to the present and this season, he is currently the ACC’s leading rusher with 652 yards despite missing BC’s last two games. Dillon has resumed practice and is currently slated to play on Friday.

Dillon will most likely have his toughest test yet against a stifling Miami run defense that is 12th in the nation.

Even in Dillon’s absence, quarterback Anthony Brown has done a great job running coach Addazio’s offense, throwing for 14 touchdowns versus four interceptions.

In the past, he’s also been known to be a threat on the ground as well, which has been the ultimate downfall for the Miami defense as of late. Brown’s maintained a fairly well-balanced passing game among his receivers, as the Eagles have five players with at least 10 receptions this season. Addazio is aware of the challenge in front of this unit and is hoping his team will do its best to protect the football.

“You’ve got to take care of the football or you don’t give yourself a chance to win,” coach Addazio told the Boston Globe. “If you don’t and you’ve got a team like Miami coming in here, you’ve got a problem. As much as any team we’ve played, Miami does a great job of taking the ball away.”

Year in and year out, Boston College’s defense has played its natural role one of the toughest defenses in the ACC and this season is no different. Defensive end Zach Allen finished last season with 100 tackles, first among all defensive linemen in the country and this season, he’s already racked up 4.5 sacks along with 36 tackles and 11 tackles for loss.

On the other side of the line, Wyatt Ray has been a huge nuisance for opposing offensive lines, as he currently 8.5 sacks this season, which is 3rd in the country. As a unit, they’ve also averaged 8 tackles for loss a game, which could spell trouble for a Miami O-Line that’s still trying to find its footing.

As for the pass defense, BC holds the 69th best pass defense in the nation and they have a shutdown corner in Hamp Cheevers. Cheevers is tied for the conference lead with four interceptions this season on top of 28 tackles. Cheevers will most likely hold the responsibility of containing Miami WR Jeff Thomas.

Don’t forget, Friday night’s game will be broadcasted nationally on ESPN at 7 PM.
 

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