FOOTBALL: Defense Set To Slow Down Speedy Tigers
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
The Boston College defense has its hands full for this weekend’s matchup against the No. 17 Clemson Tigers (3-1, 0-1 ACC). The Eagles must prepare for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but they won’t have to worry about star wideout Sammy Watkins, who was ruled out of the game last night. Nevertheless, Tajh Boyd, an all-around excellent quarterback, and Andre Ellington, a lightening-fast running back, will pose a threat to the Eagles’ defense.
“They have the kids Sam Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, both outstanding receivers—nationally, everyone knows what they can do,” said fifth-year linebacker Nick Clancy. “Tajh Boyd is a triple-threat quarterback—he can beat you with his feet, and he can beat you with his arm. Then Andre Ellington, the running back, who is an outstanding runner. He’s hard to tackle, so we pretty much keyed them this week, knowing what they could do and respecting what they can do.”
Going into this weekend, BC expects that Clemson will come out running fast and hitting hard—nevertheless, Clancy is confident that his defense is capable of stopping any kind of offense, whether they are running down the middle or spreading the ball around the field. Yet the defense agrees that it must be mentally prepared for what the Tigers have to offer.
“You have to play discipline, and you have to play smart,” said linebacker Steele Divitto. “[Tajh] is a smart kid, and still has another year to mature. We’re going to play smart as well.”
The key to the Eagles’ dominating this game defensively must involve keeping up with the speed of play and outsmarting the Tigers’ offense. With the combination of Boyd, Hopkins, and Ellington, the BC defense has quite the battle to overcome this weekend against Clemson.
Bye week used well
After he took a beating in his last game against Northwestern, Clancy feels more than ready for the matchup this weekend against the Tigers.
“We definitely used the bye week as a leg up to focus on Clemson—any edge we can get against this team is going to be helpful for us because they have so many weapons,” Clancy said.
Throughout the bye week, BC’s defense has practiced many different tactics to prepare for Clemson’s dynamic offense. A drill that defensive coordinator Bill McGovern calls “racecar” has drastically improved the quickness and readiness of the Eagles’ defense.
“We’ve been doing what Coach McGovern likes to call racecar, and basically what happens is the scout team doesn’t huddle against us and goes rapid fire, play after play to get us in the habit of running to the ball all the time,” Clancy explained.
This drill simulates what BC expects Clemson’s offense to run like—quick and efficient. Not only has this drill prepared the defense physically, but it has also prepared them mentally for the Tigers’ fast decision-making offense. In order to shut them down this weekend, the Eagles had to work on their mental pace of play.
“If you can get ahead of the game mentally, know what to expect when they line up in [a certain] formation, [know which] plays they are going to run, [this] will allow you to play faster and put you in a better position pre-snap. It allows you to get to the ball faster,” Clancy said.
Trophy on the line
The Eagles and Tigers are not only playing for just a win in the ACC this weekend, but also for the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy, an award given out by the BC Gridiron Club in honor of Charlie O’Rourke, a former quarterback for BC, and Banks McFadden, a former quarterback for Clemson. The Gridiron Club dates back to the 1940s, when both teams competed in the 1940 Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas, Texas—however, the award is a new tradition, only dating back to 2008.
Not only does the winning school receive the trophy, but the MVP of the winning school also receives a replica leather helmet in honor of O’Rourke and McFadden. This award does not represent a rivalry—instead, it recognizes the hospitality of the Tiger fans welcoming BC into the ACC, according to the Gridiron Club. Going into this weekend, the Eagles will need to win in order to tie the all-time series at 10 wins apiece.