By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
Last year Clemson ran up 576 total yards on 84 plays in a 45-31 victory at Boston College. Ahead by just three at halftime, the Tigers pulled away in the second half thanks to a dominating performance on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
On offense, Clemson racked up 209 yards on the ground, led by Andre Ellington’s 132 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Tajh Boyd also rushed for 42 yards and was sacked only once. On defense, the Tigers sacked quarterback Chase Rettig three times, had two interceptions and held the Eagles to 51 rushing yards.
And though it’s June, look for a similar outing when these two teams hook up in Death Valley on October 12. As everyone knows, Clemson returns four starters on the offensive line as well as three of its four starters on the defensive front, plus tons of quality depth in both areas. While the Tigers were getting better last season in the trenches, Boston College was getting worse.
The Eagles ranked 119th in the country in rushing offense (90.5 yards per game) and allowed Rettig to be sacked 36 times last season.
It was even worse on the defensive side. Boston College ranked 11th in the ACC against the run (214.1) and finished last in the country in sacks with a measly six. To compound the situation, defensive tackle Max Ricci, who started six games last season and was penciled in as starter after the spring, left the team last week.
Ricci departure leaves new head coach Steve Addazio with two new starters on a defensive line that lacks quality depth and numbers.
“Depth is a problem right now, at a lot of positions,” Addazio said. “So you’re in that quandary of you’ve got to develop a tough, physical, hard-nosed football team, and the only way to do that is to practice really hard. When you do that, you become susceptible to some injuries, and injuries won’t be our friend because we don’t have a ton of depth.
“But if we can manage to stay healthy with the development of our guys and the influx of some young players that can help us, I think good things can happen.”
Good things are not likely to happen in the Clemson game, though.
Oct. 12 @ Clemson Memorial Stadium
ACC Atlantic: 1-7, sixth place
The series: Clemson leads 10-9-2. Tigers have won four of last five meetings
Offense registers concealed weapons
Returning starters: 8
QB: Chase Retting ranked sixth in the ACC last year with 3,065 yards. He also threw 17 touchdowns. But he will be facing his fourth season with a new offensive coordinator in former BC assistant Ryan Day. Last year, Rettig completed 54.2 percent of his passes, threw 17 interceptions and was sacked 36 times.
RB: Andre Williams, who missed the last three games due to injury, returns for his senior season. He rushed for 584 yards and four touchdowns before getting hurt. Second leading rusher Rolanden Finch—426 yards—left the team in the spring and reserve running back George Craan did the same last week. That just leaves little used David Dudeck (111 yards) and Tahj Kimble (40 yards) to provide depth.
WR: Like the running back position, the Eagles lack experienced depth as well, thanks to the departure of Jonathan Coleman. The potential starter left school in the spring as well after catching 33 passes for 489 yards and four touchdowns. Bobby Swigert (23-268) and specialist Spiffy Evans (22-247) are expected to pick up the slack and help All-ACC receiver Alex Amidon, who had 78 catches for 1,210 yards and seven scores in 2012.
TE: The Eagles will have to break in a new tight end with Chris Pantale graduating.
OL: Tackles Emmett Cleary and John Wetzel are gone, but guards Bobby Vardaro and Ian White and center Andy Gallik return. Junior Aaron Kramer and sophomores Dan Lemke and Liam Porter are competing to start at the tackle positions.
Returning starters: 7
DL: The Eagles are hurting with depth issues at the defensive tackle positions, but starters Dominic Appiah and Kaleb Ramey are back. Jaryd Rudolph, Connor Wujciak and Kieron Borcich also started some last season at defensive tackle. Truman Gutapfel and Tevin Montgomery are also going to provide depth. Both starting defensive ends in Mehdi Abdesmad and Kasim Edebali return as well.
LB: In all, the Eagles returns eight of its top nine tacklers from last year, including LBs Kevin Pierre-Louis (85 tackles), Steele Divitto (92) and Sean Duggan (39). Nick Lifka will compete at middle linebacker this fall, while redshirt freshman Tim Joy will battle for playing time at the other linebacker spots.
DB: Corner Sean Sylvia had 86 tackles last season, while fellow corner Manny Asprilla is back as well strong safety Spenser Rositano and free safety Justin Simmons. Corners Al Louis-Jean, C.J. Jones, Bryce Jones and safety Dominique Williams will be in the mix as well.
PK: Nate Freese was 12 of 18 in field goals last season with a long of 45 yards, while scoring a team-high 78 point.
P: BC is looking for a new punter after Gerald Levano graduated last season. He averaged 42 yards per punt.
Bottom line: Since Matt Ryan graduated in 2007, Clemson is 4-1 against the Eagles. The Tigers were 0-3 against Ryan when he was the starting quarterback at Boston College. Clemson’s average margin of victory in those four wins – 15 points.