FSU vs. BC: Preview, keys to victory

Florida State enters the final game of its ACC schedule against Boston College with momentum and a lot to play for. The Seminoles (4-6, 3-4 ACC) control their own destiny as it pertains to qualifying for a bowl. Beat the Eagles (6-4, 2-4) this week and FSU will head to Florida on the Saturday after Thanksgiving with the postseason just a win away. Boston College started the week as a 2.5-point favorite but the line has shrunk to the Eagles just being a 1.5-point favorite over the Seminoles.

The game will be televised on the ACC Network with Dave O’Brien handling the play-by-play and Tim Hasselbeck alongside as the football analyst. It will be cold but sunny on Saturday afternoon in Chestnut Hill. The forecast calls for a high of 47 degrees and a low of 37 degrees with almost no chance of precipitation. FSU leads the all-time series between the two programs with a 13-5 record.

Boston College 2021 schedule and results

Boston College 51 Colgate 0

Boston College 45 UMass 28

Boston College 28 Temple 3

Boston College 41 Missouri 34

Boston College 13 Clemson 19

Boston College 7 NC State 33

Boston College 14 Louisville 28

Boston College 6 Syracuse 21

Boston College 17 Virginia Tech 3

Boston College 41 Georgia Tech 30

Coaches’ Corner

Boston College is in its second season under the leadership of coach Jeff Hafley, who has a 12-9 record with the Eagles. Hafley was a co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State in 2019 before taking over the BC program. Prior to that he spent seven years as a secondary coach in the NFL with San Francisco, Cleveland and Tampa Bay. He also had stints at Rutgers and Pitt prior to landing a job in the NFL.

Frank Cignetti has been Hafley’s only offensive coordinator at BC. Prior to Hafley’s staff, Cignetti spent seven years in the NFL as either an offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach for Green Bay, New York (Giants) and St. Louis. He also had stints at Rutgers, Pitt, Cal, North Carolina and Fresno State. Other NFL stops include San Francisco and New Orleans.

Tem Lukabu is in his second season as BC’s defensive coordinator under the defensive-minded Hafley. Prior to joining Hafley’s staff, Lukabu has stints in the NFL with Cincinnati, San Francisco and Tampa Bay. On the college level, he also had stints at Mississippi State, FIU, Rutgers and Rhode Island.

By the Numbers: Boston College’s Offense vs FSU’s Defense

Boston College Total Offense- 370 YPG (92 in NCAA) vs FSU Total Defense- 386 YPG (68th in NCAA)

Boston College Rushing Offense- 165 YPG (67th) vs FSU Rushing Defense- 143 YPG (58th)

Boston College Passing Offense- 205 YPG (97th) vs FSU Passing Defense- 243 YPG (88th)

Boston College  Scoring Offense- 26.3 PPG (78th) vs FSU Scoring Defense- 27.1 PPG (75th)

Boston College Third-Down Offense- 42.1% (52nd) vs FSU Third-Down Defense- 39% (62nd)

Boston College Sacks Allowed- 1.9 spg (50th) vs FSU Sacks Made- 2.8 spg (28th)

Boston College Run Plays Over 10 yards- 47 (76th) vs FSU Runs Allowed Over 10 yards- 49 (69th)

Boston College Pass Plays Over 20 yards-29 (87th) vs FSU Passes Allowed Over 20 yards- 36 (93rd)

Boston College on Offense

The Boston College offense has been a tale of two quarterbacks. Junior Phil Jurkovec (6-5, 226) entered the season as the Eagles starter and as a prospect that was moving up most NFL team’s draft boards. He led BC to their first two wins of the season. He broke his hand against UMass and was expected to be lost for the season. However, he returned to the lineup against Virginia Tech and he has led BC to two straight wins heading into this week’s game. BC is 4-0 in games which Jurkovec has started. BC’s one-back, pro-style offense has also bee more productive with Jurkovec at the controls. The Eagles have averaged 421 yards of total offense in Jurkovec’s four starts, while averaging just 308 yards of total offense in the six games he didn’t play. The Eagles have also rushed the ball better in games in which Jurkovec has started because of his ability as a passer. BC averages 214 yards on the ground in games in which Jurkovec plays but ran for an average of 132 yards in the games he missed. The Eagles have run the ball 59 percent of the time this season and Jurkovec will operate under center the majority of the time on first and second downs. They primarily use “11” and “12” personnel groupings.

Leading the BC ground game is sophomore running back Patrick Garwo (5-9, 214) who has accounted for approximately 50 percent of the Eagles rushing yards this season. The sophomore has carried the ball 170 times this season for 933 yards and six touchdowns. Garwo has not been much of a factor in the passing game with just two catches on the season.

In the passing game BC has seven players who have at least 12 receptions this season and 17 different players who have at least one reception. No matter who has been behind center for the Eagles their favorite target has been wide receiver Zay Flowers (5-11, 177). The junior has been one the most productive wideouts in the ACC the last two seasons. Flowers has hauled in 40 passes this season for 653 yards. Junior wide receiver Jaelin Gill (5-11, 187) is second on the team in receptions (22) and third in receiving yards (257). Tight ends Joey Luchetti (6-5, 252), a junior, and Trae Barry (6-6, 244), a senior, have hauled a combined 32 catches for 502 yards and three touchdowns.

BC’s offensive line is considered one of the better ones in the ACC. They are experienced, big and reliable. Senior left tackle Ben Petrula (6-5, 314) has started 58 straight games. Junior right tackle Tyler Vrabel (6-5, 307) has 33 career starts, senior center Alec Lindstrom (6-3, 298) has 34 consecutive starts and senior left guard Zion Johnson (6-3, 316) has started BC’s last 28 games.

By the Numbers: FSU’s Offense vs Boston College’s Defense

FSU Total Offense- 384 YPG (81st) vs Boston College Total Defense- 335 YPG (25th)

FSU Rushing Offense-187 YPG (43rd) vs Boston College Rush Defense- 179 YPG (97th)

FSU Passing Offense- 196 YPG (103rd) vs Boston College Pass Defense- 160 YPG (3rd)

FSU Scoring Offense- 28.4 PPG (66th) vs Boston College Scoring Defense- 19.9 PPG (20th)

FSU Third-Down Offense- 35.4% (98th) vs Boston College Third-Down Defense- 32.8 % (19th)

FSU Sacks Allowed- 2.9 spg (109th) vs Boston College Sacks Made-1.5 spg (110th)

FSU Run Plays Over 10 yards- 69 (18th) vs Boston College Runs Allowed Over 10 yards-53 (81st)

FSU Pass Plays Over 20 Yards- 29 (87th) vs Boston College Passes Allowed Over 20 yards- 18 (2nd)

Boston College on Defense

On defense Boston College is multiple but primarily uses 4-3 and 4-2-5 personnel groupings. Similar to their offense they are very experienced as nine starters are juniors or seniors.

The top players on its defensive front are senior Brandon Barlow (6-4, 256) and junior Shitta Sillah (6-4, 253) at defensive end and sophomore Cam Horsely (6-2, 290) and senior TJ Rayam (6-0, 292) at the two interior tackle spots. Barlow is sixth on the team in tackles with 36 and tied for second in tackles for loss with 3.5. Horsley and Rayam have both made 30 tackles this season. Sillah has 31 tackles, including two TFLs and a sack.

At linebacker Vinny DePalma (5-11, 227) and Isaiah Graham-Mobley (6-1, 230) rank second and third on the team in tackles. DePalma, a junior, has made 48 tackles from his WLB spot, including threes TFLs. Graham-Mobley, a senior, has 46 stops at MLB despite playing in just seven games. Sophomore SAM linebacker Kam Arnold (6-0, 228) has 45 stops, including a team-best 3.5 TFL’s.

Two of its top playmakers reside in the BC secondary. Junior nickel back Josh DeBerry (5-11, 176) leads the team in tackles with 53 stops. He also leads the team in TFLs (7) and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions. Former FSU safety Jaiden Woodbey (6-0, 220) starts at strong safety for BC, where he is fifth on the team with 39 tackles. He also has two interceptions and a team-high two fumble recoveries this season. Junior cornerback Elijah Jones (6-2, 176) leads the team with four passes broken up to go along with his 20 tackles.

Boston College on Special Teams

Connor Lytton will handle the place-kicking duties, where he has made 9 of his 10 attempts this season. He is 8 of 9 from inside 39 yards and has attempted just one field goal beyond 40 yards all season. Grant Carlson is averaging 45.2 yards per punt this season. He has attempted 43 punts this season with 17 of those traveling over 50 yards and 18 of his punts resulting in BC’s opponent starting its possession inside their own 20-yard line.

The Osceola’s Keys to an FSU Win

Don’t Let Flowers Bloom – Zay Flowers is BC’s best playmaker and one of the best deep threats in the ACC. FSU needs to limit the number of times Flowers and Jurkovec connect on Saturday.

Sweet Emotion – This is key for the game. FSU had a tough, emotional win against one of its biggest rivals, Miami, last week and has Florida on deck. Can this team, which has not played real well on the road this season, play with the same emotion and intensity as it did last week?

Phil the Pressure – Jurkovec has been outstanding in the four games he has played this year. He has completed 63 percent of his passes and has only thrown one interception. FSU’s defense is one of the best in all of college football at getting to opposing quarterbacks. The Seminoles rank 29th in the country in sacks. Jermaine Johnson, Keir Thomas and the rest of FSU’s defensive front need to become well acquainted with BC’s QB on Saturday.

Run the Dadgum Ball – This should be the key against BC and Florida but, then again, it was essential against Miami, too. This is an FSU strength vs. a BC weakness. The Eagles will have extra defenders up in the box, but Jordan Travis’ abilities in the RPO game, as well as some deep throws, could loosen up the Eagles’ defense and allow the Seminoles to put together drives and get to the red zone — where they have scored a touchdown or field goal on 25 straight trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.