Wednesday, November 20, 2013
BC, Maryland show how far they've come
By Jack McCluskey
For a little perspective on just how far Boston College has come in a year, consider last season’s meeting with Maryland.
It was Week 8 and the Eagles were on a five-game losing streak, still looking for their second win of the season. They hadn’t beaten an FBS program all season.
Maryland had to start its fourth-string QB, the first three having been knocked out by injuries. And still the Terrapins led into the final minute of the game before Chase Rettig hit Johnathan Coleman for a game-winning, 14-yard TD.
When the teams meet Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET) at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md., they will be trying to burnish their resumes, not build them from the ground up. Both teams clinched bowl eligibility this past week -- BC (6-4, 3-3 ACC) with a win over NC State and Maryland (6-4, 2-4) with a win over Virginia Tech.
Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown is a "dual-threat guy" and the key to the Terps' offense, according to BC coach Steve Addazio.
If the Eagles are going to get win No. 7 this weekend, they’ll need to do a better job containing Terps QB C.J. Brown than the Hokies did.
The senior, who has played in only eight games due to injuries, made plays with his arm and his legs against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. He finished 12-for-25 passing for 135 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and added 23 rushes for 122 yards and the game-winning score in overtime.
“He’s a real dual-threat guy,” BC coach Steve Addazio said. “He’s a very good player. I think he’s a guy that is really a problem for us on defense.”
Maryland’s offense has scuffled with Brown out of the lineup and without its top two wideouts, Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, ranking ninth in the ACC at 25.3 points per game. BC has scored 34 or more points three games in a row and checks in a few spots higher, tied for sixth at 28.1 points per game.
But Addazio expects offense to be hard to come by in College Park. The Terps’ D is 30th in the country in rushing defense, allowing only 142.6 yards a game. That’s good for fourth in the ACC.
“They’re very, very good and very talented and very strong up front,” the coach said. “Obviously their national rankings tell you what kind of defense they are versus the run.”
Of course, the BC run game has never been more confident than it is after the past two weeks’ performances.
Andre Williams set a new school record for rushing yards in a game at New Mexico State (with 295), then broke it the next week against NC State (with 339). Oh, and just for good measure, he broke the school and conference single-season rushing records (with 1,810 yards and counting). The Eagles are up to second in the ACC (behind only Georgia Tech) and 21st in the country in rushing offense, averaging 217.2 yards per game.
“We laugh about it because every week we see a new defense to try to stop our run,” right tackle Ian White said. “And we take pride in that. They’re almost making up defenses to try to get enough guys in the box to stop our run game.”
At one point, White said, NC State had five guys crowded in the box on one side of the line, trying to stop Williams and the Eagles’ ground game.
“So then they put everyone over there and we go the other way,” White said with a chuckle. “It’s a chess game. It’s actually really fun to watch and fun to look through our game plan.”
BC is 7-3 all-time against Maryland, and since the Terps are leaving for the Big Ten this may represent the teams’ last meeting for a while. Will the Eagles hold serve, making it five wins in the past six meetings between the teams? Or will the Terps take one on their way out of the ACC?
“We’ve gotta go on the road and go beat an ACC, bowl-eligible team ... and it won’t be easy,” Addazio said. “The good news is I think our kids understand that. Our seniors are hungry. They know they’re coming down the homestretch now.
“The good news is we’re 6-4. That’s good. That’s great. But we need to be 7-4 and that’s all that matters right now.”
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.