After a long week off for the Boston College football team, the Eagles are ready to get back on the field and make a statement to start off league play in the ACC.
For almost a year now the BC faithful have been patiently waiting for Saturday’s matchup with Virginia Tech and finally the day of reckoning is upon us. Last year’s 48-14 blowout in Blacksburg was a disgrace and left a very bad taste in the mouths of everyone associated with the program.
It has been a long time coming, since that dreadful loss at Lane Stadium, and this time around the Eagles look ready to welcome the Hokies into Alumni for a beat down of their own.
Now, this is clearly a very different Virginia Tech ball club than the supposed national title contender in Week 1. A nail biting loss to Boise State to open the season followed by an unthinkable upset by FCS opponent James Madison in Week 2, left the Hokies out of the Top-25 and had skeptics wondering if they would even finish the season .500.
An impressive victory against a talented East Carolina squad has reignited hopes for the Hokies this season and puts them right back in the midst of the ACC title talk.
Along with the rest of the country, BC is well aware that the Hokies (1-2) record is not an accurate judge of their talent level as a team. That’s why the extra week of preparation should help the Eagles against a very disciplined Tech defense and explosive rushing attack.
BC quarterback Dave Shinskie is definitely looking forward to another crack at the Hokie defense also. Shinskie was absolutely abysmal in the meeting last year, getting the hook in the 3rd quarter after completing just 1-12 passes for just 4 yards and two interceptions.
Although Shinskie has not been perfect in the first two games this season, a combined 28-of-47 for 399 yards, he has shown signs of maturity.
Against Weber State, Shinskie tossed a couple of interceptions and forced the Eagle defense into a boatload of action early. But as the game went along, Shinskie seemed to settle into the pocket and showed added confidence on his throws.
Much of the same could be seen in the Week 2 win over Kent State. Again, Shinskie dug himself into an early hole with errant passes and a few poor decisions, including a dropped INT that would have led to a definite Pick-6. As the game went along, Shinskie once again settled into his role in the offense, rediscovering his accuracy and trusting his receivers.
The maturity has gone a long way, as Shinskie tossed two touchdowns in the second half against Kent State and went 10-for-12 for 109 yards after the break.
Shinskie’s performance will definitely play a big role in the outcome for the Eagles. But, to go right along with that here are three keys to Saturday’s matchup with the Hokies.
Three Keys vs. Viginia Tech:
Possession is 9/10 of the Law – The Hokies boasts one of the most technically sound and complete football teams in the country. They pay extreme attention to detail and are very focused on the defensive side of the ball, so they will certainly be looking to control the clock and give their strong defensive unit a rest.
If the Eagles want to be successful against Tech on Saturday then possession is key. Montel Harris will need to churn out a few more yards on every carry and Shinskie will need to keep the ball away from Hokie defenders, allowing the check down to be his best friend, even if it is to the dismay of many BC fans.
Controlling the ball and forcing the ball out of the ultimate playmaker, Tyrod Taylor’s hands will be essential for BC to pull out a victory.
Don’t let him out – Hokies quarterback and senior leader, Tyrod Taylor has proved throughout his college career in Blacksburg that he is one heck of an athlete. His passing is crisp and his accuracy has improved each year in Frank Beamer’s balanced offensive system. But, what sets Taylor apart from other ACC quarterbacks is his ability to create when the pocket breaks down. He was the team’s leading rusher and only real source of offense against Boise State in Week 1. Without Taylor Boise very well might have just walked all over the Hokies.
Taylor’s mobility and quickness can be a nightmare for opposing defense and it will be no different against BC on Saturday. Sure, the Eagles boast the nation’s best rush defense and without Ryan Williams in the equation it should be a little easier to contain the Tech attack. But, as much pressure as Herzlich, Kuechly and company can create they must also be aware of the jets that Taylor can throw on in a flash. So, if BC expects to control the clock and the football for the majority of the game, then the defense will need to keep Taylor in the pocket and force him to beat them with his arm, not his legs.
Does age mean maturity? – Uncle Dave sure has the numbers over everyone else on the field come Saturday, even if only in the age column. But, with his obvious experience as a 26-year old sophomore, Shinskie should also bring more maturity to an otherwise inexperienced passing game. He will need to lead his receiving corps and show that his age is truly more than just a number on Saturday.
Shinskie had a terrible time against the confusing looks of the Hokie secondary last year in Blacksburg. He needs to learn from his mistakes and read the defense if the Eagles expect to be in any position to win come the 4th quarter.
He has shown a great deal of maturity in the two wins already this season, although they have been against lesser opponents. But, if Shinskie can continue to show consistency and poise in the pocket then it will certainly go a long way in getting the Eagles a much needed win this weekend.