By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Every year, no matter what the Tigers are ranked, The Boston College Golden Eagles have been a challenge, including last season when they shocked the Tigers, beating them 16-10 and sending the Tigers into their downward spiral to finish out the season.
This season however, the Tigers are ranked #8 in the country, as they are still perfect in their 5-0 start after beating three ranked opponents in a row. The Eagles however are off to a slow start, with a 1-4 record and a 0-2 record in ACC play. With BC’s senior running back Montel Harris, their biggest offensive weapon out against the Tigers this Saturday, everything seems to be in the Tigers favor however they come into this game tied in the series with the Eagles 9-9-2 and haven’t scored an offensive touchdown against Boston College’s stout offensive front in two years.
“We’re going to be going up against a typical BC team,” Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney said on Tuesday at a press conference. “They’ve been a tough team for us, every single year. They’re a team that beat us last year and although they’re not having a great season at this point, they weren’t last year when they beat us either. We’re in for a tough game, they’re an 11-12 personnel type of team, they try to get you to line up wrong with shifts and motions, and they’re very capable. They want to run the football, that hasn’t changed. They’ve also got their play-action type passing game; they’ll take some shots down the field every now and then, that’s what they do. Just like last week, our defense has got to stop the run, win first downs and get BC into third and long situations in order to win this contest.”
BC on Offense-
For the past four years, Montel Harris has been a huge factor for the Golden Eagles and winning football games, especially against Clemson. Last year, Harris carried the ball 31 times for 143 yards. However, Harris is out this year against the Tigers as he reinjured a knee injury that he suffered last season, last week against Wake Forest. My question is how will BC’s offense fare without their biggest threat plowing through tackles?
The Eagles return their starting quarterback this year in sophomore Chase Retting who has started in 14 consecutive games for the Eagles. Although Retting has not played a game in Death Valley yet, he showed last week against Wake Forest that he can make big plays in crucial situations.
BC’s Week 5 performance on Offense-
Last week, the Eagles were defeated by Wake Forest 27-19 at home, although it may look like the game wasn’t a close one, the Eagles fought hard in the second half coming back from a 15 point deficit to pull within 8 points.
Senior running back Montel Harris was a factor for the Eagles against Wake after missing the first few games of the season with a knee injury. He carried the ball 22 times for 108 yards setting Boston College’s All Time Rushing Leader record with a 24 yard carry in the fourth quarter. Although it seemed at times that Boston College was getting their star player back, Harris reinjured his knee and is out for this weekend’s game against Clemson. Quarterback Chase Retting completed 23 of 47 passes for 188 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The story of the day though for the Eagles was their kicking game. Sophomore place kicker Nick Freese kicked four field goals, including a career long 52 yarder to put points on the board for the Eagles.
Advantages for Boston College-
The main advantage for the Eagles coming into this weekend’s matchup is that they have yet to win an ACC matchup this season, making them very hungry for a win. Boston College’s offense has had success against Clemson’s defense in the past and if they get on a roll in Death Valley Saturday, it may be hard for Clemson’s defense to stop them.
Another advantage for Boston College is that Clemson’s defense may have hit their peek against Virginia Tech and played their best game. Clemson’s defense held Virginia Tech to only 3 points, something that hasn’t been done at Lane Stadium since 1995. After a scrappy game, Clemson’s defense came away a little beat up, with starting safety Jonathan Meeks getting injured late in the game and cornerback Bashad Breeland suffering a concussion. Although both Meeks and Breeland will be back for the Boston College game, the question remains will they be 100%?
Clemson’s Week 5 Performance on Defense-
In Clemson’s Week 5 matchup against the Virginia Tech Hokies, the Tigers did the impossible in holding Tech to only 3 points at Lane Stadium. This hasn’t happened since 1995 when Virginia Tech lost 16-0 to Kansas at home. Defensive end Andre Branch led the way, becoming a superhuman in the second half of play and recording 11 tackles (tying his career high), 4 sacks and 6 tackles for loss against Virginia Tech’s offense.
Linebacker Tig Willard also had one of his best games against the Hokies, having nine tackles. Seven of his tackles were first hit tackles. Branch and Willard were rewarded ACC Defensive End and Linebacker of the Week. This was the first time a Clemson linebacker was given that honor since September 8th, 2009 when the award was given to Brandon Maye.
Overall Clemson’s defense has only allowed one second half touchdown this season which came in their September meeting with the Florida State Seminoles.
Advantages for Clemson Defense-
One of the big advantages for Clemson’s defense is that they’ll have the home field advantage against the Eagles. BC’s quarterback Chase Retting has yet to play a game at Death Valley, therefore he hasn’t heard how loud the Clemson faithful can get. I suspect that he will have a tough time at least at first getting used to the opposing crowd noise and may make a few mistakes because of it.
Second, the Tigers are still searching for their best overall game. Yes they’re 5-0 but they’re not satisfied, knowing that they still have a lot of work to do in order to be the team they want to be. This team knows that the fun is in the winning, and each week they prepare the same way no matter who they’re facing.
Third, after coming off a big win against Virginia Tech, Clemson’s defense is confident. A lot of Clemson’s players were on the team last season when Boston College beat Clemson and they believe that this year will be different.
Montel Harris is out of the game for the Eagles which is definitely seen as an advantage for the Tigers. He has been Boston College’s main source of offense throughout his career as an Eagle so without him this weekend, we’ll see how Boston College rearranges their offense because they’ll be missing a vital part of it.
Lastly, an advantage for Clemson is that they’re not the same Clemson team as last year or years past. Instead of playing down to their opponent, or up to their opponent, this Clemson team is trying to prove something. After a disappointing season like last years, the Tigers are hungry and humble, because they’ve seen both extremes as a winning and losing team. This being said, I don’t think our Tigers will take any team for granted this season, even if they are coming into Death Valley with a losing record and minus a playmaker.