Although not specifically directed to Saturday's match-up between Army and Boston College, it could not have been said anymore precise than the headlines from Monday's USA Today's college football sports section.
Monday's opening caption stated, "Real Season About To Start". As such, it went on to capture the essence of Saturday's game by further pointing out, that it's "time to get serious".
For us to suggest that neither team hasn't been serious prior to their upcoming contest at Michie would be a fallacy. However, somewhere along the path to their upcoming Northeast contest, they have lost their way and both squads will need this game to get their respective seasons on track.
Let's see what analysts A.M. Allan of GoBlackKnights.com and Eric Hoffses of EagleAction.com have to say about Saturday's upcoming contest.
What team has the more potent offense?
Army's disappointing offensive performance last week against Stony Brook, saw the nation's leading rushing offense drop to 2nd spot going into week six of the college football season. Army's offense had blemish after blemish last week as they coughed up the ball four times, twice in the red zone. However, this crew can wear a defense down ... emotionally, as well as physically while trying to stop the triple option. Despite it all, the Black Knights maintain an impressive 367.50 yards per game average and Boston College will have their hands full slowing down this attack.
The Eagles on the other hand present a balance attack and are ranked 57th in the nation in overall offense, just a notch below the Black Knights, who are ranked 56th.
However, like their competition this upcoming Saturday, the Eagles' offense took a slight nose dive last weekend, as QB Chase Rettig threw 2 interceptions, the OL gave up two sacks (albeit against Clemson's DL) and the rushing game remains non-existent.
It is imperative that the seasoned leadership for both offenses to do just that ... lead.
I give the slight edge to Army
Obviously Army has to be respected for the damage it does on the ground. In this day and age of college football I'm almost always going to go with the great passing team over the great running team though, so I'll choose BC.
Junior quarterback Chase Rettig is averaging over 300 yards per game through the air, and hasn't thrown under 200 yards in any game this year. Rettig has an above average arm, and this year his decision making is much better. The offensive line has been protecting Rettig very well, which has helped his decision making.
Rettig's favorite weapon is wideout Alex Amidon, who is 4th nationally in yards per game (139). Amidon has good speed and is an above average route runner, especially on post patterns. Army is going to have to keep an eye on him. BC's leading receiver from last year, Bobby Swigert, just returned to the lineup last week. He is another receiver to watch.
Who is the offensive x-factor and why?
Simply put, it is Remington candidate and center Ryan Powis. Although QB, Trent Steelman and backup center Will Wilson clicked throughout the Stony Brook game in the QB/Center exchange, Powis' absence/presences extents beyond that connection. The sophomore center is without question the catalyst of the offensive line and as he goes, so goes the rushing attack. If he is back in the lineup against Boston College, he will be the X-factor.
Despite everything that I said about the passing game above, the BC running game remains a concern and is the one thing holding the offense back from being great. Mostly it's because for as well as the offensive line has done pass blocking they've been equally as poor run blocking.
Andre Williams is the starting running back, and when he has room to run he has the ability to break big runs. Williams has 2 explosive play touchdowns this season. The issue is whether or not he will get help from the line.
Why is this game a must win and/or a defining game this Saturday for the Head Coach?
Although Boston College has faced top level competition during the first 1/4 of their schedule, as far as the Eagle fans are concern, 1-3 is 1-3 and there aren't any acceptable excuses that will hold water. Losing to Army on Saturday, could place head coach, Frank Spaziani in "hotter" water.
But Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson knows exactly what his counterpart is feeling or he should. The Black Knights' 0-4 start is from what many observers were anticipating at this time of the season. Of course, last week's embarrassment against Stony Brook are beginning to generate rumblings amongst the Army faithful. Although some of that pressure has been removed via Army AD, Boo Coorigan's endorsement this past week when he declared, "Rich is our coach and will be for the foreseeable future".
Either way, I call this one even.
There's no doubt that this is a must win game for BC coach Frank Spaziani. The Eagles are coming off of their first season not qualifying for a bowl game in over a decade. Heading into this year, most thought that Spaziani had to win at least 7 to keep his job. The Eagles are 1-3, so they need to pretty much go 6-2 for Spaziani to be considered for retention. Even though it's a road game, this weekend marks the best chance that BC has to win the rest of the way. If they fall to 1-4, fans are going to be calling for his head.
Which team has the better defense?
As noted in our post game analysis following the Stony Brook game, "When you look at the Black Knights' season, there aren't too many positives defensively and the trend albeit somewhat improved on Saturday, is still a point of much concern."
Coming into the contest against Boston College, the Army defense will face an offensive line that may cause some Army fans to cringe. And unfortunately, there is no magic wand that the coaching staff can utilize to help what ails this defense. The Black Knights' best defense come Saturday will be their offense's ability to successfully control both the ball and the clock, while putting points on the scoreboard.
Boston College has the edge.
I'd have to go with BC, although neither team is doing a good job at all this year. The Eagles have had to go up against tougher competition in teams like Clemson, Miami, and Northwestern, and overall still have better statistics than the Black Knights.
Who is the defensive x-factor and why?
With the Eagles inability to consistently run the ball, look for Rettig to test the Army secondary, early and often. Against Stony Brook, senior linebacker Nate Combs was consistently effective in Army's blitz packages where he registered two sacks. That effort will need to be duplicated in the Black Knights' "D" is going to come close to slowing down BC's attack.
For BC it's defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey. The issue is that nobody ever seems to know if he is playing until game day. Ramsey has been hampered by injuries throughout his career and this year is no different. When Ramsey is in the game, he is disruptive and closes down the middle for teams to run through. When he's out, the middle of BC's line is fairly weak.
Which team will control the game offensively?
By virtue of their offense style, Army will look to maintained control of both the clock and the ball. Presently, the averages 32.14 in the time of possession category. However, those number are only effective when the net result is the Black Knights putting up scores, not turnovers at the end of their time consuming drives.
I think BC OC Doug Martin will come in with a game plan to try and keep this game at a fast pace. I look for BC to air it out and try and force Army to run the ball less and play from behind.
Which player is the sleeper for Saturday's game & why?
Kick-returner and back-up slotback, Stephan Fraser. His presence as a return man and even the minimum reps he receives offensively will factor in on the outcome of Saturday's contest. The speedy sophomore is due to break one (kick-off) and will also take advantage of his opportunity in the backfield.
Spiffy Evans would be my pick. He has a punt return for a touchdown this year and has the ability to make some big plays in the return game. BC doesn't have any other returner that's a candidate.
What will be the deciding factor that could give the team the edge?
With both offenses having their way, the team that wins the turnover battle will come out victorious on Saturday.
In my mind, it revolves around Army being able to run the ball. Army is going to be able to pick up yards on the ground. If they can keep BC's offense off the field and shorten the game, they are going to be in it at the end. The BC players haven't shown that they are closers against Miami or Northwestern, so there's no saying that they could do the job easily against Army either.
Predict the final score?
Sold out crowd, ACC opponent, fall atmosphere and with the season on the line, Army's offense puts on the performance of the year, despite the Black Knights' defense having their hands full throughout the day. Army pulls out this slugfest.
Boston College 30
BC gets a must needed win in this game. 34-20 BC.
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