The Florida State Seminoles have a lot to play for this weekend as they host No. 20 Boston College. In addition to working to keep a 36-year bowl streak alive, the Seminoles are also looking to avenge a 35-3 loss suffered at the hands of the Eagles last year.
To accomplish the goal, Willie Taggart is looking for his defense to execute at a high level this week and slow down Boston College running back AJ Dillon. Though hobbled after tweaking his ankle last week against Clemson, the Seminoles understand Dillon remains dangerous and difficult to contain.
Last season Dillon rushed for 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns and was named ACC Rookie of the Year. This year he’s gained 936 yards and eight touchdowns during just eight games.
FSU’s rush defense is currently fifth in the ACC and 38th in the nation, allowing 136.5 yards on the ground per game. The Seminoles also are holding opponents to 3.4 yards per rush, which is fourth in the ACC and 23rd in the NCAA. The Seminoles have allowed just 12 rushing touchdowns this season, which ties for the fourth lowest total in the conference.
Taggart said earlier this week it’s going to be a physical game, and his defensive line has to be up for the challenge.
“Well, we’ve got to do a good job up front. Our d-line has got to do a good job with defeating their blocks and getting off double teams,” he said. “And [Dillion is] a big guy, so you got to do a great job of gang-tackling. It’s hard to tackle him one-on-one and get after his legs because he’s big, strong and fast, and you’ve got to get multiple people on him. Try to get him before he gets going.”
Defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett said at this point in the season, his defense has to start playing as well as it has been practicing in order to get results.
“Some schemes are a little bit different, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen or practiced and shouldn’t be able to handle,” he said. “All 11 must execute and so we’ll put ourselves in the position to do that this week. We’ll see if we can put more emphasis on all 11 executing. Dominate your gap. Be where you’re supposed to be. Hopefully we’ll get the results on Saturday.”
Offensively, Deondre Francois will start for the Seminoles at quarterback. The emphasis this week has been getting off to a better start in order to get the run game going.
Offensive coordinator Walt Bell said the Seminoles are undergoing the typical growing pains that come with installing a new offense, and it has been compounded by falling behind early. Bell said he’s been keeping things as simple as possible.
“Just minimize the scheme. Make sure, especially with a group that isn’t really experienced and playing a bunch of different guys, just make sure we can minimize as many looks as they can see in practice,” he said. “Let’s just run one or two schemes, and let’s make sure our guys have seen every look, every adjustment and make sure there’s not as much gray for those kids.”