Boston College head coach Steve Addazio calls No. 2 Clemson one of the best teams he has ever seen.
“I see a team that’s probably as elite a team as I’ve seen in my career,” Addazio said as his 17th-ranked Eagles get set to host the Tigers Saturday (8 p.m., ABC) at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass. “So the challenge for us will be a great challenge for sure.”
The challenge starts up front where BC (7-2, 4-1 ACC) will try and move the Tigers’ massive defensive front, something no one has been able to do this season. Clemson leads the ACC and ranks sixth nationally in rushing defense, yielding just 90.4 yards per game.
In the Tigers’ win over BC at Death Valley last year, they held the Eagles to 97 rushing yards, while ACC rushing leader A.J. Dillon was held to a season-low 57 yards on 18 carries.
“I think that you’re talking about they’ve had an elite defense there and still do right now, maybe their best,” Addazio said. “But they just have really good players and a really good scheme and do a heck of a job preparing themselves.”
Clemson (9-0, 6-0 ACC) is preparing for Dillon again, even though the league’s leader rusher in terms of yards per game average is questionable for Saturday. During the ACC Coaches’ Teleconference on Wednesday, Addazio said his star tailback is day-to-day.
Dillon is suffering from an ankle injury that he sustained Sept. 29 against Temple, and he re-aggrivated the injury against Virginia Tech last week.
On Monday, the BC coach was more optimistic about Dillon’s chances of playing. That did not seem to be the case on Wednesday.
“We’re going to hope that we have a healthy AJ Dillon and put together a good plan and see where those chips fall,” Addazio said.
Those chips could fall in the hands of quarterback Anthony Brown and backup running back Travis Levy to get the job done.
Brown is completing 58 percent of his passes for 1,567 yards to go along with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. Levy is averaging 4.4 yards per attempt for 177 yards and two touchdowns.
“AJ is a day-to-day guy. He’s done a fabulous job of managing his injury, and we just kind of get through the week, and each week we hope we gain on it a little bit. But he’s doing well,” Adazzio said.
The Eagles are hopeful they can find some success in the passing game like Texas A&M did back in Week 2 when it had the Tigers on the rope offensively as they gained 501 yards. Since the trip to College Station, Clemson’s defense has not allowed anyone over 312 yards of total offense.
The Tigers are allowing 251.3 total yards and 12.4 points per game over the last seven games.
“You know, it’s hard to make plays against Clemson,” Addazio said. “It is very, very difficult. You’ve got to earn every one of them. They (Texas A&M) were able to make a few, and that’s what you need to do. You need to be able to make a few plays. You need to be able to get the ball down the field, and it’s hard.
“You’re going to have a real hard time going down in increments of three and four yards the length of the field against the kind of defense that they have and the kind of players they have. You’ve got to create some explosives, whether you create it in the option game, create it in the downfield passing game, or you’re just fortunate to hit a couple of big runs or play actions. You need explosives, and they were able to find them.”