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FOOTBALL: Defense Looks To Prove Itself Against Seminoles

Heights Staff

Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

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Graham Beck / Heights Editor

The Boston College football team faces what may be its most difficult challenge of the season on Saturday, when it travels to Tallahassee to take on No. 12 Florida State. The Seminoles, who had been ranked as high as No. 3 before losing last week at North Carolina State, enter play with a record of 5-1 overall and 2-1 in ACC play. Yet despite the success that Florida State has enjoyed so far, defensive back Sean Sylvia thinks the team may be overlooking the Eagles this weekend.

“We’re a team that’s hungry to get our second win,” Sylvia said. “Florida State, I think, isn’t as hungry to get a win. I don’t think they’re going to take us as serious and I don’t think they’re going to prepare as hard for us. I just think we’re going to go in there and do good things.”

Offensively, the Seminoles are led by senior quarterback EJ Manuel. A true dual threat QB, Manuel has completed over 70 percent of his passes on the season while also ranking third on the team in rushing yards with over 250 in six games. In the backfield, Chris Thompson and James Wilder, Jr. both average over six yards per carry, while the receiving core makes up for a lack of stars with impressive depth.

The Eagles have struggled throughout the season on defense, a problem that was most noticeable last week when they allowed over 500 yards rushing to an Army team that had not won a game. Senior captain Jim Noel spoke about the challenges the defense will be facing on Saturday, mentioning the balanced attack that the Seminoles bring.

“I think this offense has got more weapons than Army,” Noel said. “Going into Florida State, they like to pass the ball a lot and run the ball a lot. They’ve got a good running back in Chris Thompson, good wide receivers, so I think this Florida State offense has a lot of weapons.”

Sylvia was also weary of the threat that Manuel poses to the defense, but nonetheless looked forward to the opportunity to play against such a talented opponent.

“He’s extremely talented and physically gifted,” Sylvia said. “He’s probably going to be playing on Sundays, so it’s a real great chance to go in there and give them their second straight loss, is the way I look at it.”

The Seminoles present an equally daunting task for the Eagles on defense. Florida State has allowed just 223 yards of total offense per game and has managed to stifle most of the offenses it has played. Only once have the Seminoles let up more than 17 points, and they already have two shutouts to their credit. They also rush the QB better than any team BC has faced so far, racking up 16 sacks in just six games.

Florida State is led on the defensive line by Cornellius Carradine and Bjoern Werner, who have combined for 13.5 of FSU’s 16 sacks. BC offensive lineman Bobby Vardaro spoke about the difficulties of playing such a skilled D-line.

“They’re big,” said Vardaro. “I think all four of them are 300, 310 pounds and really fast. We played most of them last year. They’re going to be a handful, but we’re preparing really well. We had a great practice [Tuesday] and on Sunday, so I guess we’re going to see.”

Despite the strong Florida State defense they will be facing, the Eagles have reason for optimism on offense. Running back Andre Williams enjoyed a breakout game last week and the offensive line continues to improve its run blocking. Quarterback Chase Rettig has made enormous strides this season along with wide receiver Alex Amidon, and the two have been the stars in almost every game so far. With a difficult task ahead of him, Rettig spoke about how the offense would be approaching the game.

“We’re going to have to run the ball well and then we’re going to have to try and do what NC State did and complete upwards of 30 passes,” Rettig said. “So that means there’s going to be a good amount of attempts. We just have to have a pretty balanced game. We’re a good out-of-the-gates offense, so hopefully we start fast and then continue to execute throughout the game and help our defense out.”

On paper, the two teams couldn’t be more different. Florida State began the season with national title hopes and remains a contender for the ACC Championship, while BC has struggled out of the gate yet again. But as linebacker Steele Divitto said, when the teams hit the field on Saturday, anything could happen.

“Florida State knows when they play us they’re going to be playing a BC football team,” Divitto said, “which is a tough, physical, hard-nosed team, and they need to bring their A-game.”

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