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Thursday, October 24, 2013
Addazio: Clean slate for second half

By Jack McCluskey

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- The schedule couldn’t have worked out better for Boston College.

“We’re looking at this as a new season -- we’ve got a six-week season,” BC co-captain Ian White said after practice Wednesday in Alumni Stadium. “It worked out perfect. We had the six games before and then a bye week to refresh ourselves and then we cleared our heads of what we’ve done before and start new, start fresh.”

Don’t ask the Eagles (3-3, 1-2 ACC) what their record is as they prepare for their ACC matchup at North Carolina (1-5, 0-3 ACC) on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3). As far as they’re concerned, they’re 0-0 now.

That’s been coach Steve Addazio’s message to the team, and that message has two meanings.

“Every week now we’re 0-0, trying to get that first win,” freshman running back Myles Willis said. “That’s how you have to attack it, like that same hunger that you wanted [the win in] Week 1.”

And when you’re 0-0 with six games to play, you have to win every game if you want to be bowl eligible.

The first-year BC boss is guarding against the complacency he thinks can set in once a team reaches midseason.

“We’ve been in some battles,” Addazio said in his Monday meeting with the media, according to a video of the session posted on the Eagles’ website. “People have told you, ‘Oh, boy, you played this team tough. And you played that team tough.’ Don’t take any solace in that. Don’t think that we’re OK here, we’re 3-3. That’s why, to me, we need to be 1-0.”

The Eagles have to play a physical style of football to win, one that takes a toll on them as well as on their opponents. So Addazio said he gave the players as much time off as he could during the bye last week, not getting the whole group back to work on the field until Monday.

Depth is still a big concern for BC, with the offense searching for playmakers beyond back Andre Williams and wideout Alex Amidon and the defense striving to stop the big plays that have doomed the Eagles in their three losses.

“What we need to do is sharpen our execution on both sides of the ball,” Addazio said. “We need to go on the road and win a road game here and get ourselves, as we are talking about it, to 1-0.

“This is a new start to the second half of the season. It’s an even slate. We’ve gotta get to 1-0 right now.”

This one goes to 11

The Eagles, still seeking their first road victory on the Addazio era, have been practicing with simulated crowd noise blaring from the Alumni Stadium speakers this week.

“I think it's all experience,” Addazio said in his weekly ACC conference call. “So we're right back at it again. We're utilizing that crowd noise at a very, very high decibel level right now.

“I think you have to prepare for that environment so when you hit it on Saturday, it doesn't faze you.”

Willis said the experiences the team has had away from Alumni this season, though they resulted in losses, will help. The Eagles played at USC and at Clemson.

“It’s crazy for me, because in high school going on the road was nothing,” the freshman from Conyers, Ga., said. “You just had to keep a mature mindset. But it’s a big difference when you have the 80,000 [fans] in Clemson screaming down your back and this week we’re gonna have 63,000 at Chapel Hill screaming.

“But we’ve experienced Clemson so going into North Carolina we know how close we were and we know how much more it’s gonna take, so our mindset is right.”

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