Game Scout: Florida State at Boston College
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
GAME DATE: 9/28/13
SITE: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
SERIES: Florida leads 7-4.
AP RANKINGS: Florida State, No. 8
KEYS TO THE GAME
It's out of the frying pan and into the fire for the Eagles after their bye week.
Traveling all the way across the country to get hammered by USC is one thing, but BC, coming off the first of two 2013 bye weeks, now has to face No. 8 Florida State.
The Seminoles, who clobbered the Eagles 51-7 in Tallahassee last year, are 3-0 and come in as at least a 21-point favorite to drop the Eagles to 2-2 at the start of the Steve Addazio Era at Chestnut Hill.
"We've made a lot of progress. I'm not going to let one game wipe out the progress that we've made," Addazio said after the 35-7 loss at USC. "That's not right. There is a lot of progress. There are a lot of good things."
Progress may be a tough word to use with this opponent coming in. The Eagles host Army on Oct. 5 in a game that will test the defense playing against the Black Knights' option attack. But that playing field will be an even one. Florida State figures to be a whole different story.
Florida State (3-0, 1-0) has outscored Pitt, Nevada and Bethune-Cookman a combined 157-26 in three wins to open the season while steadily climbing the top-25 rankings. So that partly explains why FSU enters Saturday's game as a 21-point road favorite despite the Eagles boasting the ACC's top running back in Andre Williams.
"They like to run and we like to hit," Seminoles defensive back Terrance Brooks said with a smile. "So we'll see how that turns out."
The 12th meeting in program history on Saturday will mark Florida State's second of two ACC road games to begin the season. But regardless of venue or opponent so far, the Seminoles don't seem be fearing anyone.
"We are anxious to get back at it, and we are playing a really good opponent for the second consecutive game," Addazio said Monday. "FSU is one of the top defenses in the country, and without a doubt we are coming off one (defense) two weeks ago that was outstanding."
The Eagles opened the season with home wins over FCS Villanova and Wake Forest, equaling the win total of last season. Then they ran into USC, a team playing with a mission after a home loss to Washington State. But this is a different animal coming to the Heights this weekend.
"I've seen defenses like this when maybe the offense wasn't quite right," Addazio said. "I think this is the most talented whole package I've seen."
FSU comes in averaging 52.3 points per game while giving it up at a rate of just 8.7. Thriving with a freshman quarterback (Jameis Winston), the Noles are averaging 547 yards of total offense per game, and it has been balanced.
BC has lost 11 straight games to top-25 teams since beating No. 17 Virginia Tech on Oct. 18, 2008.
"We'll have our hands full. We have a game in the league, and it's always critical to win on the road," Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said. "You got to beat a good football team. We need to step up and bring our 'A' game."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--Senior RB Andre Williams had his big start slowed by Southern Cal in BC's last game, and it will be tough for things to get much better with No. 8 Florida State coming to BC this week. Despite running for just 38 yards on 17 carries, Williams is still averaging 118.7 yards per game, which leads the ACC and is fifth in the nation.
--Senior QB Chase Rettig was a non-factor in the loss at USC. The Trojans were able to take his top receiver, Alex Amidon, out of the picture, and the running game was going nowhere. Rettig was just 11 of 24 for 83 yards in the loss. "They did everything we thought they would do," Rettig said. "They just played better than us today." Rettig is sixth in the ACC in passing efficiency.
--Senior WR Alex Amidon, clearly BC's top weapon through the air and leading the ACC with 18 receptions coming in, was limited to two catches for 23 yards in the loss to the Trojans. He now faces a very tough Florida State defense. Amidon enters play this week fourth in the ACC with his 20 catches.
--Senior K/P Nate Freese, who has added punting to his duties this season, had a big day out in Los Angeles. He averaged 50.4 yards per kick on eight punts, including a 63-yarder. Career-wise, Freese, who had some tough misses as a freshman, is 52 of 63 on field goal attempts, with his .825 percentage ranking fifth in the country among active kickers.
--LB Kevin Pierre-Louis had been leading the conference in tackles but is now second in the ACC with 9.3 stops per game. Remember, the Eagles have had the conference leader in tackles each of the last four years: Luke Kuechly did it three straight seasons and Nick Clancy followed in 2012.
--Florida State's running backs. A lot will be made about Boston College's ACC-leading RB Andre Williams coming into this game, but any three of Florida State's studs in the backfield could likely be challenging for the conference's top spot if coach Jimbo Fisher didn't spread the carries around. Bethune-Cookman coach Brian Jenkins called FSU's trio of Devonta Freeman, James Wilder Jr. and Karlos Williams a "three-headed monster," and they're averaging 266 yards per game -- second best in the ACC -- while sharing the load equally. Wilder led the Seminoles in their Week 1 win over Pitt, then it was Williams emerging as the leading rusher in Week 2 against Nevada, and Freeman was top dog last week against Bethune-Cookman -- although Williams scored a team-high two touchdowns in that game. Fisher surprisingly converted Williams from safety to running back after the season opener, and now it may be Williams who's emerging as the biggest threat of them all. And despite coming in as the third option during his first two collegiate games at running back, Williams may soon see just as must action as Wilder and Freeman based on his recent performances. "When we put him in the game (last week), we did some different things and I called some things on purpose to see how he would handle it. He handled the adjustments -- pass protections, routes and different things -- extremely well," Fisher said of Williams, who was the No. 5 overall recruit in the nation out of Ridge Community (Fla.) High School, where he starred at both defensive back and running back. "I'm very comfortable that he'll play at any time."
--Florida State's rising defensive stars. FSU senior DB Terrance Brooks said this week that everyone knows the "the best player" will play each week at any given position, and soon several Seminoles underclassmen may be seeing significant playing time over veterans on the defense. Redshirt freshman DE Chris Casher and redshirt sophomore LB Terrance Smith accounted for 22 total tackles in last week's win (Smith 12, Casher 10), and Smith added his first career sack. Also getting their first career sacks in the game were freshmen Matthew Thomas and Jalen Ramsey, and all four players -- as well as Jacobbi McDaniel, Derrick Mitchell, Nile Lawrernce-Stample, Demonte McAllister, Ukeme Eligwe and Justin Shanks -- drew Fisher's praise this week, along with the coach's assurance they'll see more playing time as the season progresses. "It's just about technique and assignments and just getting the playing time to relax and do what you do and taking it from the practice field to the game field, and you see that more and more -- you see that and are much more comfortable getting them reps and keep developing," Fisher said. "We are going to keep developing those guys."