After an encouraging win over UMass Amherst, Boston College football is headed down to Blacksburg for a tough fight against Virginia Tech. Lane Stadium is one of the toughest places to play in the entire nation, but the Eagles have momentum after winning the Battle of the Bay State and some favorable matchups that could lead to the Eagles’ first ACC win since Nov. 29 2014.
In his second game under center, Patrick Towles looked like he started to get a feel for who his favorite weapons are. The quarterback connected with former-gunslinger-turned-receiver Jeff Smith five times for 98 yards and two touchdowns (both over 35 yards). Towles arm strength and Smith’s speed give BC the ability to make big plays through the air and keep safeties honest, forcing them to play deep rather than spy the run.
Smith will be key in the Eagles’ offense Saturday against a strong and experienced Virginia Tech secondary. He is the best athlete BC has on the perimeter and will have the best chance of competing against the elite talent the Hokies have in their defensive backfield.
As important as Smith is to the offense, if BC is going to win Saturday, the running game will need to come to life. Outside of one 73-yard touchdown in Dublin against Georgia Tech, Jon Hilliman has just 83 yards on 38 carries this season. That comes out to an abysmal 2.1 yards per rush. He needs to return to freshman year form, when he averaged over four yards per carry, if this offense is really going to take off. On the bright side, Towles has shown the ability to be very effective on the ground, something that gives Virginia Tech trouble.
The Hokies were torched last week when Tennessee ran any form of read option or designed quarter back run. Volunteers' quarterback Joshua Dobbs finished that game with 106 rushing yards on 14 attempts. BC might not have the talent of an elite program like Tennessee, but Virginia Tech struggled tremendously at making one-on-one tackles, meaning the Eagles should be able to make some plays on the ground.
The matchup on the other side of the ball must have Steve Addazio and the Eagles front-seven salivating. After holding GT to 2.7 yards per carry and then UMASS to -23 yards total, getting to face a team that has fumbled 10 times in two games looks pretty nice. The Hokies have found new and creative ways to put the ball on the ground this season, and this BC defense may not be what it was last season, but it will feast on the sloppy ball carrying that VT has had over the past two weeks.
Under center for the Hokies will be dual threat JUCO transfer Jerod Evans, who isn’t particularly explosive and won’t push the ball down the field much, but he makes good decisions and doesn’t throw the ball into traffic. If BC wants to cause turnovers, they are going to have to force fumbles.
The Eagles are listed as a six point underdog entering Saturday’s game in Blacksburg and ESPN’s Power Index gives them a 41.5% chance of winning, but Addazio and company are coming off a win and may just have enough to get their first ACC win almost 22 months.
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