Opponent Film Review- Boston College

Opponent Film Review- Boston College

Lance Roffers
Miami comes off a bye week licking their wounds after a disappointing performance at Virginia. Now, Miami will head to Chestnut Hill to take on Boston College and their dynamic RB, AJ Dillon. What challenges does Boston College present? What types of plays are they vulnerable to? Find out below in this edition of Opponent Film Review.

When it comes to representative games for Boston College it is slim pickings. I wanted to show a home game against a P5 team with Dillon available for the game. Boston College has not played any games that match this criteria. In the end, I chose the game against Purdue for a couple of reasons; they had momentum for the season and it was a game they were “all-in on.” The other reason is because Purdue has Rondale Moore and I wanted to see how they used him to stress the defense because I believe Jeff Thomas can be that type of player for us to use against them if the coaches decide to go that direction.

BC is a running team. They like to rely on their power running game and have a physical OL and also utilize a FB. On a cold Friday night, it’ll be interesting to see if the defense wants to tackle all night against a tough running game.

To give you an indication of how much BC wants to run the ball, Purdue opens up in a single-high S with 9 in the box and BC still runs off-tackle on 1st down. The run goes for only 3 yards.

Second down is even more old-school tight formation running football. BC doesn’t even send a receiver out wide on this formation and run into a 10-man box.

Third down run a tight formation pass to a WR running over the middle. TE also over the middle. It is obvious this is an offense that will test our LB’s. Will they hold the edge? Will they come up and tackle all night long? How will the backups look when they get in? Will they get in coming off of a bye and a game needs to win? It’s a conservative offense but one that tests your stamina and physicality all game long.

Next BC series they run Dillon off-tackle on 1st down. Then they run a toss sweep to the other side on 2nd down. Something I’ve noticed is they run to the edges on the wide-side of the field almost exclusively.

Third down their QB has a lot of time in the pocket and throws a nice ball. He has a receiver coming over the MOF and fits it into a zone coverage between two defenders. Low and where only his receiver can catch it.

They run a direct give on a motion WR that we saw a lot against Virginia (and defended well). Then they try to run a dive play for Dillon that loses a yard. On 3rd and 11 they run an outside screen and they score a TD on it. BC has a strong OL who gives their QB time in the pocket and can block in space. They’re smart and well-coached on the OL. It will be important for Miami to read their keys all game long and not allow the plays to pop when they’ve had a certain play called all game long that they’ve held. Lose your keys and think it’s the same play to Dillon again or go hunting the QB and you get plays like this where this RB (not Dillon) walks into the end zone untouched. They called holding so it didn’t count, but the play is on film to review.

BC has the ball on 3rd-and-14 now and they go back to that MOF game with their TE’s that they run so well. It’s just a simple seam route against cover-3 and Purdue plays it oh so poorly. This is the game we need our LB’s to show up. They will be tested in all areas in this game.

Something I like to do on these opponent previews and show the plays they like to run out of which formation, but BC runs all of their stuff out of almost the same three formations. They run a very tight offense with players who all understand what they’re trying to do and they test every area of the field. They like to throw the ball to the MOF- especially on 3rd down. They run it so well they’re rarely behind the chains, which opens up the underneath routes over the middle they throw so often.

BC runs a very physical multiple front that wants to rush the passer. When I say “multiple” what I am saying is they run both a 4-3 and 3-4 depending on what they want to do on defense. It’s not always a 3-4 with a standup edge LB like you’d think of in the NFL, sometimes they just run the 3-down and use the extra defenders to defend space against a spread. Their 25 sacks are actually one more than Miami has on the season.

Blough must’ve been looking for something else because he has H-back wide open over the middle at the 1st down marker here. The defender in trail trips and falls down. Eventually this play results in a sack as BC played zone behind this and read the eyes of the QB. The BC DL isn’t an elite group of athletes, but what they do is play with motor at all times. They just keep working and working until they get the QB down.

I must admit I also chose the Purdue game because I love the offense that Jeff Brohm runs. On the next play they bring Rondale Moore across in a fly sweep motion across the face of the QB. The defense goes with Moore because he’s explosive and they bring the RB right across behind the WR and give him the ball. The LT pulls and is a lead blocker on the play. They leave the edge defender unblocked and the read-option holds the edge player. The RT kicks out the DE and it’s a huge hole for the RB that goes for 10. Using Moore in creative ways opens up the defense even more for the run to get back into the set of downs.

BC runs a physical defense that tackles well. What their LB’s do not do exceptionally well is cover in space. Here they spread out the BC defense with empty and run their TE down the seam. The LB loses sight of the ball and receiver and commits PI, even though the ball is caught anyway. Perry throws the seam better than Rosier, but hopefully Miami will look to get their TE’s in space against this LB crew.

Purdue throws deep into double coverage and is lucky it wasn’t intercepted. BC has a DL named Zach Allen who is big, physical, and relentless on the pass rush. The Miami OL needs to know where he is in this game.

Both 3rd downs thus far Purdue has gone empty and gotten the BC defense spread out. BC has not gone to a lot of nickel and likes to leave their LB’s on the field. When Purdue motions out to empty it has left a LB in coverage on the outside both times. This time Rondale Moore beats the LB for a 1st down. Getting Thomas isolated on a LB should be the goal in this game.

BC runs so much zone with their LB’s they are susceptible to crossing patterns that require their LB’s to pass off quickly, communicate, and tackle in space. Here the shallow cross and the slot cross combine to form a natural pick and the LB cannot keep up with #7 across the middle. Another 1st down. Richt is known to be a shallow cross God and this would be a game to utilize this until they adjust.

Purdue runs the jet sweep motion and gives it on the edge in the red zone and gets 10. It’s a pipe dream to expect us to do this since we haven’t all season but BC is confused with their motion in the early going. I’d love to see Miami test the edges with speed since BC is built more on size, assignment football, and physicality rather than pure speed. This defense is different than the physical Virginia defense, which actually had great length and speed on the edge. BC does not have that kind of athlete on the outside of their defense.

In the red zone BC has gone heavy and Purdue decides to test their edge again with an interesting play. In the red zone things are a lot more constricted and defenses do not have to run nearly as far. I’d rather see this play more in the middle of the field than in the red zone. It’s a pop pass with motion both ways. The ball actually goes to the inside receiver coming towards the bottom of the screen and the nearest receiver to the QB is just a decoy. He even puts his arms up to fake a catch of the ball. BC stays home, protects their edge, and it goes for 2.

Purdue gets a TD on IZ. #21 has to get outside to protect against a bounce, but the edge is effectively sealed here. If he comes inside of his teammate he makes the tackle short of the goal line but once he bounces outside the RB just cuts off of the hip of that blocker on the edge and scores. Miami actually runs IZ pretty decently with DeeJay Dallas so it’ll be interesting to see if they try to replicate.

This will be a theme for any time BC struggles. Get their LB’s in space in coverage. Here, the LB’s get lost and the TE is running free over the MOF again. This is a big pass play to the TE. Let Brevin and Mallory eat in this one.

Special Teams
Boston College does a good job on kickoff returns, so Miami will need to stay gap responsible in the return game against BC. Michael Walker is their kickoff return man and he fits the entire mantra of their team. He’s a bigger, physical returner, not blessed with elite speed/athleticism. His long of 60 came in this game against Purdue, but he’s steady and generally doesn’t go down against the first tackler.

Walker is also their punt returner and does a solid job with those as well with a 13.0 average, but again, a long of only 34 yards.

BC really excels in their kickoff coverage units, allowing only 19.9 yards per kickoff return, and that’s with a 73-yard return skewing the results higher a bit. The punt coverage unit has blocked two punts and recovered them in the end zone for TD’s. Same guy on both, Travis Levy. Know where he is.

Look at how all defenders are staying in their lane and then flowing when the returner picks an avenue. So often you see the last defender on this shot getting inside of this play and allowing the edge to be lost. Moore caught this ball about in line with the “B” in “B1G” here. Defender stayed where he should and Moore is brought down at the 25.

BC has had some struggles with punt protection as they’ve had one punt blocked and returned for a TD. They’ve had two team blocks returned for TD’s that makes me believe they were snap issues. They only allow 10.7 yards per punt return when they do get it off.

Their kickers have only attempted three FG’s on the season and none outside of 39-yards, hitting all three of them.

#2 AJ Dillon is a freak show at RB. He tested into the 97th percentile of all RB’s since 2014. At 232 pounds he ran an electronic 4.54 40-yard dash and had a vertical leap of 38.6 inches. He’s not just big and powerful, he is also extremely athletic and explosive. Averaging 6.2 YPC and 130.4 YPG.

#13 Anthony Brown is their QB as a redshirt sophomore. He’s 91-155 (58.7%), with 14 TD’s and 4 Int’s. He is not a runner at the QB position. He generally looks to throw the ball over the middle and they run a lot of TE routes and short screens to their RB’s. Averaging 176.9 YPG passing the ball.

#19 Ben Glines is a nice RB when they spell Dillon. He’s a former WR that has moved to RB and averages 5.6 YPC. He’s not in the same universe as Dillon and generally gets what’s blocked for him.

#6 Jeff Smith is sort of the Swiss-army knife for them. He’s a former QB that they like to give the ball to on the jet sweep motion. They hand it to him rather than doing the pop-pass so it reflects as a rush, but it’s the same thing. He averages 8.8 YPC on his rush attempts and has 13 receptions for 239 yards and 3 TD’s. He has a long of 71 yards and is their explosive WR.

#89 Tommy Sweeney is their TE and he’s a good one. He’s their leading receiver with 17 catches for 141 yards and 3 TD’s. The 8.3 YPR reflects how they use him as a safety valve over the MOF. He’s also an excellent blocker at 6-5, 260. The defense needs to stay disciplined with him because they do a lot of things with this player. Outside of Dillon he is their most important player on offense.

#9 Kobay White is another player they like to put in motion and use as a player with a variety of looks. Smooth athlete who is a solid receiver. 16 receptions for 281 yards and 3 TD’s.

#2 Zach Allen is a very good defensive lineman. He’s huge at 6-5, 285 pounds and is very active. Has 4.5 sacks and 11 TFL on the season. He sets a hard edge and is also excellent against the run. Last year Allen had 100 tackles as a defensive lineman. He also uses his length to knock a lot of passes down. Will be an All-ACC player and a heck of a test for Scaife.

#11 Wyatt Ray forms an excellent tandem with Allen on the edges. He’s 6-3, 255 pounds and has emerged in his senior season. He also uses his excellent length to get his hands into passing lanes. Ray already has 8.5 sacks on the season and 10 TFL.

#13 Connor Strachan is a steady LB who is assignment sound and experienced with over 40 games played. Was honorable mention All-ACC two years ago but missed last year due to injury. The goal will be to get him into pass coverage because he is excellent against the run. Leading tackler with 54 tackles already and does have two sacks.

#8 Will Harris is a solid safety. Has 41 tackles on the season but doesn’t really make plays.

#4 Hump Cheevers is their playmaker in the secondary. 4 interceptions and 5 pass breakups. The Florida native is a talented corner and will be looking to stick it to his home state in this one.

This game is a classic good-versus-good matchup in many areas and a game that will most likely be determined by who can make adjustments to force the opponent into more of the things they do not do so well.

Miami is extremely fast on defense and covers sideline-to-sideline very well. There are times when their ends take themselves out of the edge trying to make plays and jump inside. Boston College loves to test the edge multiple times throughout the game and the ends will need to stay disciplined to avoid getting gashed.

Boston College wants to test the LB’s of a defense and that is theoretically a strength of Miami’s defense is their LB’s. If Miami’s LB’s read their keys and stay disciplined they will make a big impact in this game. If they get out of position, BC’s TE will have a huge impact.

On defense, Boston College has an exceptional set of ends. They do not win with speed, but rather with strength, technique, and motor. This will be a huge test for Scaife, and I am honestly concerned that Allen will make a huge impact in this game if the coaches do not give Scaife help. Miami is going to really struggle to run against BC in this game and I believe they are going to need to throw to setup any type of run game later on. Play action on 1st down is going to play a huge role. Getting BC’s LB’s to cover in space rather than playing downhill against the run will give Miami an advantage. The TE’s need to be targeted early and often. Jeff Thomas needs to get into space over the middle against this team.

Boston College is good in the red-zone with a TD percentage of 76% on 25 drives. Miami is also solid with a TD percentage of 70% on 33 drives.

Both teams are coming off of bye weeks and that scares me more than I believe it helps Miami. I believe BC will put wrinkles into their game plan that Miami will need to adjust to. Miami has this opportunity as well and it will be interesting to see what changes (if any) are made to their approach in this game. With this being a home game, coming off of a bye, on a Friday night with everyone watching, I believe BC is a dangerous opponent. Before the season I penciled this game in as a loss. Coming off of the loss to Virginia I do believe Miami will give their best effort and I’m predicting that there are enough areas to exploit for Miami on offense and Dillon is hampered with an ankle injury just enough to allow Miami to escape with a close victory 24-21.

Comments (13)

Oh Yeah....Lets see em stop the Vaunted Fullback Dive....That'll show em.....and if they wanna talk ****....Then out comes the Dreaded Play Action on 3rd and US1....MoFos won't know what hit em....
Play action on 1st down is going to play a huge role. Getting BC’s LB’s to cover in space rather than playing downhill against the run will give Miami an advantage. The TE’s need to be targeted early and often. Jeff Thomas needs to get into space over the middle against this team.

Great breakdown as always sir. That doesn't sound great as the offensive staff struggle to do any of those things consistently. Richt needs to call a lot more pass plays on first down going forward. One of my bigger complaints with his play calling has been his tendency to run on first down the majority of the time. He calls plays on first and second down that almost guarantee a 3rd and long against any competent defense. Either he calls plays aggressively this game or the offense is going to be in for a long night again.
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@Lance Roffers nice work as always.

I would think our offense could present a lot of matchup problems for them in space.

What concepts would you most like to see us employee that would get our playmakers the ball quickly?
I originally predicted 19-13 BC, but the more I read and the closer we get to game time, the more I feel I was overly optimistic in my initial assessment.

BTW, how is it that we are playing two teams in a row that are coming off a bye week? Nice competitive balance, ACC. Man, fvck the Carolina mafia...
Effin guys here with lame attempts at humor mocking the Canes.
Stupid shet from phony fans.

Thanks for the write up Lance.
Back in August I saw this as the most probable an acceptable loss in a 2 loss season. Well, we are already at 2 losses.

Some things never change for BC as you can count on the TE picking up a few first downs on 3rd and 8 by gaining 9 yards.

Your point total is a little high.
If we can actually make them earn their yards, instead of giving them a short field, we'll be good.

Losing last week will help with complacency.
I agree with the game being decided by a FG or less.
Excellent write up.

We need to expose them with our speed and playmaking in space. I think our D is the big difference. I expect a lights out performance from them.
Miami's offense isn't changing one **** bit. Stop all this nonsense. Richt is too old to change. Thomas is just a fool with a title. The oline is sheep waiting to get eaten by wolves. The receivers are tired of running routes and blocking for a QB that can't hit them if it were skeleton drills. I think the team is mentally spent. Guys are playing for draft status at this point. For themselves. Prepare yourselves for the "L"...
Good stuff. Very informative. You had me up until “Miami’ best effort.” And they eke out a win. This game is trouble.
Good stuff. I was watching the BC/Wake game earlier this year (must have needed a nap) and Wake was running all over them. Both backs went over 100 yards I believe.

If their ends are good it would seem Malik's decisions to give/keep could be huge and frankly I just think he pre-determines it.