Keys to the Game: Boston College

Posted on Nov 8 2014 - 1:57pm by Nick Burch
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Photo – Greg M. Cooper / USA TODAY Sports

 

Bouncing back from a gut-wrenching come-from-behind defeat at the hands of a team who was down 21 points in the first half is easier said than done, but it is something that separates the strong-minded teams from the mentally weak. Saturday night at Boston College, Louisville will take the test to determine just what kind of team they are.

There is no doubt the Cards were emotionally affected by the Florida State letdown (any team would be), but there is no time to let a loss like that linger. Allowing a loss like that to stick with them could torpedo the remaining three games for Louisville, all of which are winnable, but only if the Cards play focused. Boston College is not going to show Louisville any sympathy, and they will be more than willing to pounce on the Cards should they play mentally absent.

The type of loss Louisville was dealt by Florida State can either build character or destroy it. Saturday night, everyone will see which side Louisville falls. Are they one of the strong willed teams or one of the weak? The outcome of this game could very well determine how the Cards play the rest of the season.

 

Opponent Breakdown

The Boston College Eagles have been transformed from an ACC doormat in 2012, when they went 2-10 to one of the conference’s most formidable foes under second-year head coach Steve Addazio. The former Temple head coach and Florida offensive coordinator is now 13-9 as head coach and already has the Eagles bowl eligible this season at 6-3. Those three losses were lost by an average 5.6 points. One game they lost to a top 25 Clemson team by four points and another by a field goal to a Colorado State team who is now 8-1. They also beat a solid USC team and took down Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. This is a good, solid football team who Louisville cannot overlook.

Former Florida QB Tyler Murphy has exploded in his one season as Boston College signal caller as one of the most dynamic dual threat QBs in the country. He has thrown for over 1,000 yards and has 965 yards on the ground, averaging over 100 rushing yards per game. The game for Louisville may simply come down to whether they cannot contain Murphy or not. He is most dangerous on foot, but he possesses the traits necessary to burn an opposing secondary through the air as well. He is going to need the undivided attention of all 11 players on defense at all times or else he will burn them.

The Eagles also field the #11 ranked total defense in the country and rank right behind Louisville at #4 in rushing defense. It will be a challenge for Louisville’s offensive line to open up holes for Michael Dyer and company. They also only surrender on average 20 points per game, so Will Gardner and his WR corps will be challenged, too. With points tough to come by, the Cards are going to need the same energy they displayed in the first half vs. Florida State.

 

Area of Concern?

The Cards are going to be without defensive leader Lorenzo Mauldin and junior defensive tackle Pio Vatuvei. That is a major hit to Louisville’s run defense and ability to put pressure on the QB. The Cards are really going to need guys like Johnny Richardson, Nick Dawson, and DeAngelo Brown to step up.

 

3 Reasons Louisville Wins

  1. Resilience. Senior OT Jamon Brown and offensive coordinator Garrick McGee spoke to the media following Tuesday night’s practice, and both seemed sure the Cards were ready to move on. Brown said the offense took pride in what they were able to accomplish at Florida State and are excited to build on it. If that’s the attitude the Cards took with them to Boston, they should be in good shape.
  2. Chip on the shoulder syndrome. Losses like Florida State can depress some teams. For others, it just pisses them off. If Louisville shows to be one of the latter, then they have the talent and playmakers to take out their anger on Boston College.
  3. The offense v. Florida State was no fluke. Too often the defense has had to bail out the lagging offense this year, but over the last few weeks, that narrative has changed with the featured roles of Dyer and WR Devante Parker. With a newfound confidence, the defense will have their counterparts to lean on and help carry the load need be.

3 Reasons Louisville Loses

  1. Pity Party. Again, if the team lets the FSU game linger, it will bite them. This is no longer the AAC where Louisville can win simply by showing up. Boston College is a well-coached, solid football team who will not offer a shoulder to cry on, but will deliver one right to the chest if Louisville is not ready.
  2. Third down woes. If there was one obvious red flag from the FSU game, it was the failure to convert on third down. Just 1-11 in the game (and the one was a fluke in garbage time), not being able to move the sticks killed any chance Louisville had to thwart the FSU comeback. Do not think for a second Boston College will not be able to capitalize on it, too.
  3. Drops…more of them. Aside from DeVante Parker, nearly every WR with a prominent role this year has had a case of the drops. A drop on 4th down was what cemented the game for Florida State, but several more passes were dropped that game as well. James Quick has seemingly had more drops than catches this season, Eli Rogers, a usually reliable slot man, has had trouble reeling in the ball, and the rest of the WR corps has not fared much better. Simply put, if the ball hits the WR in the hands, they need to catch it.

 

Prediction: Louisville 28, Boston College 17

I’m going out on a limb and saying Louisville will prove to be one of the strong-minded teams and will not dwell on what is in the past. It will be a tough battle for the defensive unit sans Mauldin and Vatuvei, but  the offense just gets better every week. It is finally forming into the unit Petrino wants it to be, and he will now be able to throw out more of his tricks. It will not be easy, but the Cards get back in the win column tonight.

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