As part of Testudo Times' 2013 football coverage, staffer Alex Kirshner is corresponding with opposing teams' beat writers and SB Nation bloggers for each week on the Terrapins' schedule. This week, we check in with AJ Black of BC Interruption, SB Nation’s Boston College Eagles site.
TT: When Boston College seemed like a terrible team last year, they did get a dramatic win against Maryland in Chestnut Hill. Where have this year's Eagles improved from last year's version?
BCI: Everything. Last year's team was awful from top to bottom. Frank Spaziani had no business being a coach and it was exemplified on the field. BC's running game obviously has improved, their pass rush is IMMENSELY improved, the coaching is miles apart from last year, the moral and team unity is high. Honestly I could go on and on.
TT: Steve Addazio has hung onto his job, and the Eagles have turned in a nice year so far. Is he safely entrenched at this point, for the long term? How do you feel about him?
BCI: Steve Addazio is the man. He set out with one goal this year, and that was to be bowl eligible. He has done that. Also in the span of a year he has reenergized the fan base, brought back the tradition of power BC football, and improved our recruiting class moving forward. He is everything BC needed in a coach, and is a huge success this year.
TT: Chase Rettig has posted quality numbers in his fourth year as a starter. His traditional and new quarterback ratings are miles ahead of where they were in any of his other three seasons of action. What's been the source of his personal improvement?
BCI: The biggest improvement for Rettig is that he isn't throwing the ball 40 times a game anymore. Last year Doug Martin had him set up in a spread offense, with a terrible offensive line, bad play calling and no running game. He got killed. This year Rettig is a game manager, he makes short passes, mostly off play action and is only asked to throw the ball 15 times a game. That is perfect for his skill set. What he needs to do is just hand off the ball to Williams and make a few third downs without turning the ball over, and for the most part he's done that week in and week out.
TT: Running back Andre Williams, too, has been great, with nearly 2000 yards rushing, 14 scores and more than six yards per carry. That's a yard and a half better than at any point in his career. How has that happened?
BCI: A few things. One Andre Williams put on 15-20 pounds of muscle in the offseason; he was always a power runner but now he has legs the size of my waist. Secondly the offensive line has improved tremendously. Ian White and Matt Patchan are tremendous tackles who blast open huge holes for Williams regularly. Finally, Addazio had made him the focus point of the offense, in years past Spaz would spend most game passing the ball, with little emphasis on the run, Addazio is the opposite of that and it's paid off. Andre Williams is a truly special player, and one of the great stories of this season. Hope you Terps fans enjoy watching him.
TT: Maryland's pass rush, so excellent early in the season, lulled for more than a month before notching seven sacks in Blacksburg last weekend. Does BC's offensive line have the chops to hold the Maryland front seven at bay?
BCI: Yes, as I pointed out before Chase Rettig isn't going to be passing the ball much on Saturday so sacks almost become a non factor. The offensive line versus your running defense will be the bigger story. Addazio has used all sorts of blocking schemes including using 6-7 tackle Matt Patchan as a FB, lining up one WR and two tight ends and a FB and it's helped Williams. Many teams have tried to stop this running attack and for the most part only Clemson/UNC/USC have succeeded.
TT: Maryland's still dealing with a patchwork secondary because of cornerback injuries. Are the Eagles' receivers good enough to exploit that unit?
BCI: BC has one solid wide receiver, Alex Amidon who last year broke BC's single season receiving yards record. Chase Rettig loves to go to him, mostly because he has no other receivers of note. Brian Miller, Spiffy Evans and Harrison Jackson all WR's who were on the two deep for most of the season are gone with injuries. BC isn't going to pass the ball to wide outs, so you shouldn't have to really worry there.
TT: Lastly, AJ, what's your prediction?
BCI: I like BC in this game for one big reason. Andre Williams is a monster, and just seems to get stronger week after week. Maryland has the 30th ranked rushing defense, but I think that number is greatly skewed by their cupcake schedule. When the Terps have to play actual opponents and not FIU, Wake Forest (sorry guys) or UConn, they have let up 247 yards on the ground to Clemson, 242 to Syracuse, 183 to Florida State, and 242 to Virginia. I think Maryland's passing game will put up points but the D will have a hard time getting Williams off the field. BC wins, 31-27.