It's back! EA's Eric Hoffses gives his three reasons why Boston College will defeat Northwestern on Saturday.
1) BC ground attack
The Eagles will be without Montel Harris, but still have Andre Williams and Tahj Kimble in the backfield and both are more than capable of producing on Saturday. It looks like starting left guard Nate Richman won't be able to play, which is somewhat worrisome, but Andy Gallik has done a nice job since stepping into the starting lineup at center, and Mark Spinney has made a nice transition to left guard.
If the Eagles have trouble running against Northwestern it could be a sign of trouble. Last year the Wildcats rush defense was awful away from home allowing an average off 225 yards per game on the ground in road/neutral site games. Yes I realize one of those games was a 519 yard disaster against Illinois, but the Wildcats also allowed 192 against Vanderbilt (80th ranked rush offense), 165 against Minnesota (86th ranked), 260 against Penn State (74th ranked), 329 against Wisconsin (12th ranked), and 183 against Texas Tech (75th ranked). In other words some teams that were not good running teams had much more success than usual when they went against the Wildcats.
Williams and Kimble should be able to combine for at least 150, and then some other players should sprinkle in some extra yardage.
2) Chase Rettig
I love preseason college football magazines like Phil Steele, Athlon, and Lindy's as much as the next guy. The problem with them is that they aren't able to adjust to many, if any developments over the spring and summer. For Boston College that's important because the player that plays at the most important position on the field is one of the most improved players from last season.
Chase Rettig put up numbers this spring and summer in scrimmages that haven't been sniffed since Matty Ice was at the Heights. For the last couple of summers post-Matty Ice, it has been surprising when the 1st team offense drove the ball inside the red zone and actually scored a field goal in a scrimmage. Rettig has done his best to erase those memories. At the end of this summer session, it was actually astonishing when Rettig didn't throw a touchdown pass in the last scrimmage since he had thrown multiples TD passes throughout the summer. Now it's time for Rettig to translate all this improvement into a game.
Northwestern isn't the easiest opponent when it comes to their pass defense. Vince Browne is a workhorse pass rusher off the edge that is capable of causing disruption on a couple of plays per game.Jordin Maybin is an undersized but pesky cornerback that can handle a man-to-man assignments on occasion.
Other than those two players the Wildcats don't have too many play makers in their pass defense.
Look for Rettig to be able to handle whatever NU throws at him. When the Wildcats play their off and soft coverage (similar to BC), Rettig should be able to revert to how he played in the summer. When NU wants to send a blitz package or stop the run they will leave their corners (especially Maybin) on an island. When you see that look for a long pass going Colin Larmond's way.
3) Dan Persa's Injury
During the summer I watched games from 2010 of all of BC's opponents, and if there's one thing I'm confident about it's that no other quarterback performed as well as Dan Persa did. Persa has the rare combination of being able to make big plays with his feet and arm that you just don't see from many college quarterbacks. When you throw in the fact that he Persa has the smarts to operate a fast paced spread attack that throws a mix of option runs and long passes at you, you begin to realize how special of a player Persa is.
From all indications, NU backup Cain Kolter is a very good runner and can make plays with his feet. Certainly this could be a pain for the BC defense to deal with. Regardless, all I know is that anyone not named Dan Persa is a step down, and is an advantage for BC.
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