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Thursday, September 5, 2013
Wake Forest could keep BC guessing

By Jack McCluskey

NEWTON, Mass. -- In a perfect world, you would have only vanilla.

There would be no chocolate, no strawberry or coffee, and certainly nothing fancy like moose tracks or rocky road.

At least, that’s the sentiment that Boston College coach Steve Addazio expressed as his team prepared for its second game, Friday night against Wake Forest (8 ET on ESPN2 and WatchESPN).

“It’s always a scramble early like this,” he said of preparing for opponents. “Honestly, you’re hoping you’re playing more vanilla teams early. You know, traditional pro-style offense, a standardized defense. That’s what you’d wish. But we’re not getting that. Therefore you’re jumping around trying to get it done quick.”

Jim Grobe’s Demon Deacons take full advantage of quarterback Tanner Price’s arm (2,300 yards passing and 12 TDs in 2012), running back Josh Harris’ legs (608 yards rushing and 5 TDs) and the rapport Price has developed with All-ACC wideout Michael Campanaro (79 catches for 763 yards and 6 TDs in just 10 games).

“They run an interesting offense,” Addazio said. “It’s got a lot of option components to it, and they have great play-action passes off those option components and [Price is] an experienced, veteran guy. He’s a great player.”

BC’s defense, which started slowly against Villanova in the opener, will have its hands full with Price, Campanaro and Harris.

Kasim Edebali, a fifth-year senior defensive lineman and co-captain, said he saw a lot of good in the tape from the game about the Wildcats.

“It was a little rough start, but that didn’t really shake us up,” he said after practice Tuesday. “And we just kept playing hard and aggressive, the way coach wants us to play.”

After giving up 14 points in the first quarter, half of which came on a 47-yard fake punt, Don Brown’s defense buckled down and held the Wildcats scoreless in the second half, forcing three turnovers. The unit hopes to build on that performance against the Demon Deacons.

“It’s a veteran, big, disciplined team,” Edebali said of Wake Forest. “So we’ve just got to be on point with our technique, with our toughness, with our speed and just trying to out-execute that offense.”

“I just think we need a higher level of execution quicker,” Addazio said of what needs to improve from Week 1 to Week 2. “You don’t want to get yourself behind against an ACC opponent; it’s harder to get back. So I would say that we would like to start the game at a much higher level of execution on both sides of the ball.”

That includes on offense, where the Eagles managed just 144 yards of total offense and a score in the first half before running up 269 yards and 17 points in the second half.

Nikita Whitlock
Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock has drawn the attention of BC coach Steve Addazio.
“That was just our game plan for Villanova,” quarterback Chase Rettig said of the somewhat vanilla approach on offense in Week 1. “Every week we have a new plan for a different defense. You never know when you’re going to be adding stuff or using some of the same stuff. It just matters on the defense.”

Addazio praised Wake Forest’s defense, starting with nose guard Nikita Whitlock.

“He’s a leader on defense,” Addazio said of the 5-foot-11, 250-pounder. “He’s not a huge guy, but he’s very active and very explosive.”

After giving up a 66-yard run on Presbyterian’s first play from scrimmage and a score three plays later, Wake Forest gave up only one first down the rest of the 31-7 season-opening win.

The Eagles will need another big game from Alex Amidon (13 catches for 146 yards and a TD) and Andre Williams (23 carries for 114 yards and a TD) to beat the Demon Deacons.

Asked about the changes at BC under the new regime in the weekly ACC conference call, Grobe said, “Some of their schemes are different. They're doing a lot of different things defensively, and then they've got some things that are particular to their staff offensively. But I think the thing that Steve and his staff are doing a good job of is they're utilizing the talent they've got.

“They've got a real good mix of knock-you-down and throw-it-over-you kind of stuff.”

The Eagles are 0-2 against Grobe & Co. the past two seasons, and while BC is 5-3 against Wake Forest since entering the ACC in 2005, the series is tied at 5-5 in the past 10 years. And if you believe in statistical oddities, BC may also be getting Wake Forest at a bad time: The Demon Deacons are 10-2 in Week 2 during Grobe’s tenure as head coach, with the only losses coming to Nebraska in 2005 and 2007.

One thing’s for sure, the Eagles will need to step up their game if they want to start the first season of the Addazio era 2-0.

“We know that this is going to be a great challenge for us,” Addazio said, “and we’re certainly looking forward to getting this thing going on Friday night.”

It definitely won’t be vanilla.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.