BC Defense Focused On Russell Wilson

On Saturday, the Boston College defense faces one of its toughest challenges of the season. Russell Wilson is arguably the best quarterback in the conference. He also is a mix of running and passing that can confound even the best defensive game plans. This week, some of the BC defenders talked about their preparation for Wilson and the Wolfpack offense.

In the season when Boston College's defense faces the most questions, due to graduations, injuries and coaching changes, it is challenged by some strong quarterbacks. Riley Skinner, Christian Ponder and Tyrod Taylor represent some of the ACC's best, not to mention Jimmy Clausen, a Heisman front-runner still to come. This week, the Eagles will go up against Russell Wilson who may prove the most difficult.

"He is a very dynamic quarterback. Seems like I'm saying this every week, but it doesn't get any better than this," said Captain Mike McLaughlin. "He's the best of both worlds. You watch the kid on tape and he makes reads and looks like a Riley Skinner or a Matt Ryan, like a drop-back guy, but then all of a sudden the pocket breaks down and he'll look like a Tyrod Taylor at the snap of a finger."

Each of the quarterbacks that the Eagles have seen thus far has had a fault. Skinner may have held the ball a few seconds too long and hesitated to leave the pocket. On the other hand, Taylor relied more on his feet before throwing the ball. Wilson combines the two without an obvious preference.

Wilson sits at second place on North Carolina State with 214 rushing yards on the season. He recorded a career-high 91 rushing yards on September 26 versus Pittsburgh. Though BC struggled against Virginia Tech's running back, it did manage to hold the fleet-footed quarterback to only nine yards. The Eagles hope that Wilson resembles that Taylor, rather than the one who ran for 110 yards against BC last year.

Additionally, Wilson sits at second, tied with Skinner, in the nation with 15 touchdown passes this season. Of the quarterbacks BC has played so far this season, only Skinner surpasses Wilson's 1,416 yards. The sophomore holds the NCAA record for most consecutive passes without an interception with 397; his streak was broken this year at Wake Forest after 14 games.

This success has earned Wilson respect from BC's secondary, who has recorded five interceptions this year. This week, like last week, the secondary has a dual responsibility – they must cover the passing game, like usual, but also be prepared for the potential of Wilson breaking through on his feet.

"Russell Wilson was the ACC quarterback of the year, first team, it doesn't matter what we say here. He is the best quarterback in the ACC until proven otherwise. And that is how we are approaching this game," said safety Wes Davis. At the same time, "It's their whole offense as a whole that you have to be aware of."

Toney Baker, running back for the Wolfpack, has returned from last year's ACL injury. He has rushed for 365 yards and scored 6 touchdowns in 67 carries, plus an additional 181 yards and three scores on 18 catches. His skills as a straight rusher and a receiver make Baker another double threat in NC State's arsenal.

Tight end George Bryan adds another element to the Wolfpack's offense. The redshirt sophomore leads the team with 26 receptions for 275 yards. Despite coming off the bench, Bryan grabbed six passes against Duke for a new career high. BC can probably look for NC State to utilize its running game in the form of rushing and screen passes to both Baker and Bryan, both of whom have proven effective targets for Wilson.

In the end, it does come back to Wilson. Though he may be young, only a sophomore, the quarterback has established himself as a leader of the team and threat on the field. He was named to the first-team All-ACC, after all.

"He's basically a Riley Skinner and Tyrod Taylor hybrid," said Alex Albright. "The two quarterbacks that have torn us apart the most with their individual skills seem to be meshed together in him which provides a whole new mess of problems with someone who can sit in the pocket go through all his progressions and make the right play as a passer, but also understand where the pocket pressure is coming from and be ready to run. This guy has a perfect balance of when to go and when to stay."

In the words of McLaughlin: "Scary, huh?"


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