Miami Sports Day

ACC: Canes Ready for Physical Battle at Boston College

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Miami Hurricanes are ready for a physical battle on Friday night.

The Canes (5-2, 2-1 ACC) head to Chestnut Hill, Mass., for a nationally-televised game against a rough and tough Boston College team that is 4-0 at home this season.

“They do a really good job in all areas,” Miami head coach Mark Richt said. “They’re a super strong, mature, solid football team that will get after you. Playing at their home, where they haven’t been beaten, is going to be quite a challenge for us.”

The Eagles come in to Friday’s game with the third-ranked rushing offense in the ACC, averaging 226.9 yards per game on the ground, while Miami’s defense has held opponents to just 106.1 rushing yards per game this season. BC star running back AJ Dillon has missed each of the last two weeks, but the Eagles’ offense has stayed effective in his absence.

“Their last ballgame, they beat Louisville, 38-20,” Richt said. “They racked up 430 yards of total offense and had 35-plus points for the fifth time this season. Very impressive, what they’re doing offensively. They had two running backs that weren’t named Dillon have 100 yards apiece in that ballgame.”

The Canes will be ready if Dillon returns to action, but are also prepared to face the talented duo of David Bailey and Ben Glines. No matter who lines up in the backfield with quarterback Anthony Brown, Miami has a plan to face Boston College’s offense.

“They don’t change their scheme if Dillon’s not in,” Richt said. “He’s had a long time to get healthy, but I don’t know the type of ankle injury. People talk about a high ankle injury, how they’re a little more severe. My guess is they don’t want to play him until he’s really ready. Whether he’s not ready or not, I don’t know, but I don’t think it’ll change their scheme. You watch Dillon play, he’s a beast. There’s no doubt about it. He’s a giant man for a running back, and I think early in the year, I forget who they’re playing, I’m watching them play somebody on a Thursday or Friday night, something like that, and he’s just trucking people. They were getting after it up front. They’re impressive running the ball.”

While all three backs have proven to be talented and capable runners at the FBS level, Dillon is the cream of the crop. A Preseason All-ACC pick, the sophomore leads the ACC with an average of 130.4 rushing yards per game and has scored six touchdowns over five games played. Dillon’s tally of 652 rushing yards on the season ranks second in the ACC this season, despite playing two fewer games than anyone else ranked in the top 10 in the conference.

“Well, there [are] three things that make you hard to tackle, right,” Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “One is being big, one is being fast and one is being quick. Okay? A good player should have, theoretically have one of those three attributes. If you have more than one of those attributes, then you are a problem. And obviously his size, you just look at him and [can] tell it is like tackling a middle linebacker. But then he has the speed to go all the way, he has got very good feet to make guys miss in the hole. So, I think that is why all the draft people rate him so highly, and he has been a problem when he has been in there.”

In preparation for their potential matchup against one of the country’s finest running backs, Diaz had been showing the Canes a variety of Dillon’s highlights since he arrived at Boston College last year to give the defense a sense of the many different things he can do.

“We actually showed them all of his long runs from a year ago,” Diaz said. “Just to get a sense, because again, a couple of the games that we scouted against him, he is not in those breakdowns. So just to get an idea of who we are going against. You know, our guys are super excited to go against him. And that’s what you want to do, you want to come to Miami and play against great players.”

Defensive back Trajan Bandy has been a leader for the Canes all season and the sophomore was especially impressive in Miami’s last game, a 16-13 loss at Virginia on Oct. 1, tallying two interceptions and three tackles. Bandy and the Canes know they will need to be physical on every down if they want to leave Boston with a victory.

“We’re going to have to tackle,” Bandy said. “We know the ball is going to spit out to the sideline and we’re going to have to come up, make a lot of tackles and be physical this game.”

Miami’s defense got back to work almost immediately after its last game. The Hurricanes, who are coming off a bye week, got back to fundamentals and focused on preparation for their upcoming games. But Diaz believes the break from competition last week helped recharge Miami’s players mentally and physically.

“The thing I will say about our guys, is we have got great leadership, “Diaz said. “We have got great chemistry on defense. Our guys love playing with and for one another. So there spirit has been great all week: in practice, in meetings and they are very eager to get out and play. You know, sometimes bye weeks come in good times and bad times. I think we would have rather gone out and played last weekend, truth be told. But that being said, physically, mentally we probably needed it [a game], but physically it was probably good to get away for a little bit and rest our bodies and get ready for this November.”

Linebacker Shaquille Quarterman has seen a highly motivated Miami team on the practice field, especially after the loss to Virginia, and he feels the Hurricanes are using the let down at UVA as motivation heading into the second half of their season.

“Honestly, we’ve had really great practices after that,” Quarterman said. “We practiced a couple of times last week, came back yesterday, got back to work and had a great practice and today we had another one. We’re just adding fuel to the fire in that regard.”

The Eagles have a strong, aggressive and physical offensive line that has helped paved the way for its effective running game. Miami is going to face a tough test when it lines up against Boston College, but they are ready to have to battle for 60 minutes against an tough and motivated BC team.

“I would not say they are the biggest or most physical, but I would say that they are in that league,” Diaz said of the offensive line. “I mean, we have certainly played against some other large and physical downhill running offensive lines. I think just from the demeanor of this football team and what they want to do and how they want to pound that ball and the personnel they have to pound it. And the sets they get into, with the personnel groups on the field that they get into, I think that will be unusual to what we have played against.”

Quarterman expects Boston College to exhibit its tough demeanor on every snap on Friday. They play a no nonsense brand of football and the Hurricanes will need to be ready to match that physicality.

“They do what they do very well,” Quarterman said. “There are no disguises. They want to run the ball. The game is going to be fought in the trenches and it’s going to be fought there often, every play. We can’t get tired of playing the power or playing the stretch because they will run it back-to-back-to-back until we stop it. So, that’s what we have to look forward to.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *