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Wake Forest vs. Boston College Preview: Can Wake Forest Attack Boston College's Impressive Defense?

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Can Wake Forest wins its first ACC road game since 2012?

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-3, 0-2) are coming off a well-played, but difficult loss to the Florida State Seminoles. This week, they'll be traveling north to take on the Boston College Eagles (3-2, 0-2), who is coming off a 9-7 loss at Duke. This is a very important game for both teams. How do the teams match up?

When Wake Forest Has The Ball

I'm not sure who Wake Forest's starting quarterback will be in this one. Still, Wake's offense has been effective under both John Wolford and Kendall Hinton. The offense has improved from 128th in Offensive S&P+ Ratings last year to 74th this year. As improved as Wake's offense has been, the B.C. defense is currently 1st in Defensive S&P+ Ratings. They limited Florida State to under 3 yards/carry, and also limited Duke to 0.94 yards/carry.

Wake really struggled to run the ball against Syracuse (46 yards on 32 attempts), but averaged 3.94 yards/carry against Florida State last week. The Seminoles have the 10th best defense according to Defensive S&P+ Ratings. Still, Wake was able to have three rushers average at least 3.7 yards/carry. The Kendall Hinton dynamic forces the defense to have to respect his ability, and forces defenses to defend standard running plays as if they're defending a zone read. If Wolford is the starter, then that dynamic is erased, but Wake does receive an upgrade at passing.

With either Wolford or Hinton, Wake has an advantage at the receiver positions. Cortez Lewis, Chuck Wade, and Cam Serigne were all impressive last week.  Boston College's defense has had just two sacks in each of the past three games, so either Hinton or Wolford should have enough time in the pocket to make good decisions. Given Hinton's rapid improvement as a passer, I'm confident with either option. If Wake struggles to run the ball against Boston College, then the receivers will have to get separation, and allow Wake to attack the B.C. defense through the air. In all honesty, my strategy would probably be to come out passing from the beginning of the game. If Wake Forest passes a lot, however, they cannot afford to give the ball away to Boston College. Wake has been horrific at giving teams points off turnovers. That must change in this game.

Additionally, Mike Weaver needs to be money in this game. Duke beat Boston College last week by kicking three field goals, including one over 50 yards.

When Boston College Has The Ball

Boston College's offense has been less than stellar this season. They are averaging just 8 points per game against FBS competition, and is currently 114th in Football Outsiders' Offensive S&P+ Ratings. That puts them right behind their good friends at the University of Connecticut. The Eagles have the 52nd best rushing attack in the country, but just the 94th best passing attack.

B.C. is rotating quarterbacks, and both Troy Flutie (same Flutie) and Jeff Smith have their individual strengths. Flutie is the far superior passer of the two. He is averaging 11.0 yards/attempt, while Jeff Smith is averaging just 1.7. Smith, however, ran for 56 and 60 yards against Northern Illinois and Duke, respectively. Flutie can scramble some, but is not a true dual-threat. From that perspective, Wake Forest's defense should be able to recognize the quarterback who is in the game, and adjust the coverage accordingly. Boston College's top receiver is Thadd Smith, who has just 132 receiving yards on the season. He is the only receiver on the team with more than 100 receiving yards. Because of this, I expect the Wake Forest defense to move more defenders into the box. Still, they have to actually TACKLE when they have the opportunities.

Boston College rotates through a number of running backs. Tyler Rouse will now be their primary back, after Jon Hilliman broke his foot in the Eagles' 17-14 win over Northern Illinois. Expect Marcus Outlow to get more carries as a result. Against Duke, he had a season-high 11 carries, and that trend should continue against Wake Forest. Wake's rushing defense is currently 38th nationally in both Rushing and Passing Defensive S&P+ Ratings. The linebackers are the strength of the team, but the defensive line is going to have to generate enough push, and not get leveraged by the B.C. offensive line.

Boston College's offense is not explosive. If Wake can avoid giving up big plays, then the Deacs should be in the game until the end.

Prediction:

Probably more heart than head, but...

Wake Forest 13

Boston College 10