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FOOTBALL: Taming the 'Cats

Looking To Steal A Win On The Road, Boston College Will Need The Defense To Bring Its A-Game

Sports Editor

Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

taming 9/12

Alex Trautwig / Heights Senior Staff


It’s been a tale of two games for the Boston College defense, and if the Eagles are to pull off a win at Northwestern on Saturday, the D will need to repeat its performance from last Saturday against Maine.

BC will be facing a different look with the Wildcats, as they are led by Kain Colter, a dual-threat quarterback, and Venric Mark, a small halfback who averages over 100 rushing yards per game.

But Colter is not the only quarterback the defense will likely face, as Trevor Siemian has been in the rotation as well. Mostly seeing snaps in the second half of games, Siemian led the game-winning drive against Syracuse in Week One, and led two go-ahead drives at the end of last week’s win against Vanderbilt. Knowing that, the Eagles are preparing for both Colter and Siemian.

“We know when [Siemian] is in the game, most likely they’re going to be passing the ball, because if he’s in the game, he’s in the game for a reason,” said fifth-year middle linebacker Nick Clancy. “I think our coach has been telling us, ‘If you see Siemian in the game, know what to expect—expect [the] pass.’ That’s what we’ve been focusing on. If Colter’s not in the game, Siemian’s probably going to be in there to pass the ball.”

If Colter is in the game, Clancy and the defense are prepared to try to shut down the quick, run-first quarterback.

“Kain Colter, he’s an absolute weapon,” Clancy said. “I think he’s more of a run-style quarterback—run first, throw second. Whenever he finds himself in trouble, he’s not afraid to just tuck the ball and go run with it. We’re going to do a lot of base stuff, but we’re also going to have guys spying on him and making sure that he’s contained and limit his ability to run around the field.”

Weakside lineback Kevin Pierre-Louis said that defending a guy like Colter is all about going back to the fundamentals.

“Know your job and do your job,” Pierre-Louis said, when asked about the game plan to stop Colter. “Especially if you try to do too much, [Colter] can see an open gap and next thing you know, it’s six [points].”

In order to contain the speedy quarterback, the defense will have defenders spying on Colter in the middle of the field, being careful not to let him run wild.

“Say we’re in Cover Two or base, the MIKE’s taken out of the middle of the field, so if the quarterback can see a crease in the middle of the defense, he can just tuck the ball and run straight up the field,” Clancy said. “If we can just have that guy kind of sitting in the middle reading the quarterback left and right, I think we’ll be alright.”

At middle linebacker, Clancy will likely be a key defender in containing Colter, but he’ll have help from his teammates who might be spying the quarterback as well.

“We actually have defenses where we have a guy that’s going to spy the quarterback, that’s his job, his base. It’s called Dollar Fives,” Clancy said. “I’ll be in the middle of the field as best I can, trying to spy him too.”

The defensive line will play a big part in shutting down Colter as well. Increased pressure on the quarterback will help out the rest of the defense, as it will force Colter to make quick decisions in the pocket.

Last week, the D-Line was crucial in creating the two interceptions due to pressure on Maine’s quarterback, in addition to batting down balls at the line of scrimmage.

“We had eight bat-downs by our defensive linemen. That’s huge. Those are crazy numbers,” Clancy said. “We’ve got some tall defensive ends in Brian Mihalik and Mehdi Abdesmad.

“That’s going to be a big thing for us this week too, is getting in Colter’s face and putting pressure on him. That was one of the key components and why we were so successful against Maine. If we can just keep our front four pushing the line, getting penetration, and putting on moves so they can get in the quarterback’s throwing lane, we’re going to have a good game.”

Another key for the defense will be stopping Northwestern’s hurry-up offense. The Eagles struggled facing it last year in the season opener, but Pierre-Louis feels the D is better prepared to keep up with it now. BC has already faced a hurry-up offense in Miami, and defensive coordinator Bill McGovern has been making it a focus during practice this week.

“We know what we need to expect,” Pierre-Louis said. “Bill McGovern has been stressing the hurry-up, he’s been making the scout team go faster, we’re getting in our positions better. The D-Line is getting set, the linebackers are making sure we’re making the calls, making sure the whole defense is together, and that’s very key, especially going into Northwestern.”

Head coach Frank Spaziani knows it will be a difficult task to keep up with the hurry-up offense, hoping the Miami game will help his defense out.

“I don’t know if it’s getting easier to handle,” Spaziani said. “People are becoming a little bit more comfortable with it and understand exactly what goes on.  But unless your players have been involved in it and have seen it a few times, it can be very disruptive.”

The Eagles will need to play a full 60-minute game if they want a chance to win, as the Wildcats have orchestrated fourth quarter comebacks in each of their first two wins. The players have seen the tape from that game, and are trying not to be Northwestern’s third straight fourth-quarter victim.

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