What: In a game that, in all honesty, figures to be a bore-fest, two ACC bottom-dwellers meet in a game where points will be at a premium
Where: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, MA
Gameday Weather: 53 and sunny
Line: BC -4.5
Where to Watch: ESPN3.com
In a Turtleshell
Maryland Offense vs. Boston College Defense: Boston College's defense is pretty solid, at least more so than their offense. The leader of the group is Luke Kuechly, a tackle machine of a middle linebacker; he's probably the most active linebacker in the ACC, and is like a better version of Alex Wujciak. He's one of the biggest reasons that Boston College is so good against the run, where they're 10th in the nation.
That's troublesome, because if Maryland can't run, that means they'll pass. That, of course, means that they'll have to expose Danny O'Brien to their very beat-up offensive line, which will in all likelihood be debuting a new LT, possibly a true freshman seeing his first snaps ever. To make matters worse, he'll be going up against Alex Albright, BC's best defensive lineman, who's racked up 3.5 sacks and 11.5 TFL on the season. According to the guys at BCI, the Eagles got pressure on Christian Ponder last week, and if they got through the Noles' OL, MD's won't pose much of a problem.
Now, they're not great against the pass - they're down in the 70s - but if O'Brien's on the ground all day, it won't matter what their coverage is like. In fact, it seems rather likely that O'Brien, who threw three interceptions last week, would throw at least a few more this week against one of the most ballhawking defenses in the country: the Eagles are 7th in the nation in turnovers forced, with CB Donnie Fletcher leading the way with three interceptions. The key will be keeping pressure off O'Brien, because if he has time, BC can be beaten through the air.
Boston College Offense vs. Maryland Defense: One word: Montel Harris. Stop him, stop the offense. Heck, you might not even need to stop him to stop them. Harris is a great running back who went off for 191 yards against FSU and 111 against Virginia Tech, and even if many of those yards came on a few long runs, they're better than nothing. And he's just about the only bright spot on the season so far for BC.
Chase Rettig, their true freshman QB, might become a bright spot in the future. After Dave Shinski and Mike Marscovetra failed early in the year, Rettig took the reigns against Notre Dame and looked okay before getting hurt. He then did absolutely nothing against FSU in his second start of the year. He's a very talented guy, but he's unproven, inexperienced, and doesn't have much to work with.
With the injury to Colin Larmond, Jr., the Eagles' top receiver is Bobby Swigert, a true freshman who was an unranked three-star before bursting onto the scene. He's put up solid stats, but there's certainly a dearth of talent in the skill positions for Boston College. As a consolation, their offensive line isn't all that bad, checking in in the 60s in both sacks and TFLs allowed.
But like I said in the first look, the situation is as bad as it looks. Unless Rettig magically progresses, BC's looking at an unproductive offense that's in the bottom 40 in almost every important category there is. If Maryland's defense can't stop this offense, things have gone too far. Considering the great job they did against Clemson, I have a lot of confidence that they'll be able to. Most importantly, Maryland's corners - *cough* Cameron Chism *cough* - shouldn't have any problem with BC's inexperienced, slim wide receiver corps. The real key here is to force turnovers; Maryland's offense will have their hands full, so a few short fields might be necessary.
Keys in Cliches:
- Establishing a run. Maryland's offensive line probably won't be able to protect Danny O'Brien unless they can get a run game going. They've lacked it in both of their losses, abandoning it far too early. They need to stick with it and establish it as soon as possible. Otherwise, Alex Albright will start teeing off.
- Limiting Harris. Montel Harris probably won't kill you all game, but he can bust a few big runs. Maryland couldn't keep Noel Devine from getting one on the fourth play of the game; they kept Andre Ellington under wraps all game. If Harris can't score, BC probably can't. So, can Maryland keep him under control.
- Score points at any cost. Seriously, saying "points at a premium" is just a euphemistic way of saying "both of these offenses are terrible." Maryland won't get a lot of chances to score, so they may have to take some chances on short fourth downs (unless they're absolutely certain they can get three out of it).
Players to Watch:
- Montel Harris, RB, Boston College - He is, quite simply, their offense.
- Donnie Fletcher, CB, Boston College - BC's top cover corner and leading interceptor could make some plays if Danny O'Brien is pressured.
- Max Garcia / Whoever Plays LT, Maryland - Blindside protection is paramount. Maryland has...none.
- Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland - If Maryland's worried about their QB being pressured, might as well try to dish some out, too. Vellano is Maryland's leading sacker, and is their best chance at getting consistent pressure.