ON THE BEAT: Boston College

Boston Herald beat writer Rich Thompson spoke with Pack Pride about the Wolfpack's next opponent, Boston College. Thompson talked about the team's strengths, weaknesses, and much more in this exclusive interview.

Boston Herald beat writer Rich Thompson spoke with Pack Pride about the Wolfpack's next opponent, Boston College. Thompson talked about the team's strengths, weaknesses, and much more in this exclusive interview.


Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy has been one of the surprises in the ACC this season and you've seen him each week. What are your thoughts on his play?
This kid is a different than Chase Rettig, the previous quarterback. Murphy is really dynamic, and we're curious to see what kind of a passer he is.

They just don't have any receivers. Teams can get away with one-on-one coverage and that's how they load the box a lot to try and defend the run.

Murphy runs a lot, but most of his big plays seem to come from improvising... finding a seam in the defense.

Is it safe to say the staff has been pleased with his play?
Absolutely. He's played well, but he's taken some hits. Coach Addazio has actually been giving the back up extra work because the kid runs the ball a lot. That was basically the knock on him at Florida, all legs and no arm, but I don't think that's true.

If the receivers could get open I think they'd have a much better passing game, but right now it's one of the worst in the country.

Boston College came into the season having to replace Heisman finalist Andre Williams and seem to have not missed a beat with their ground game.
Definitely. The interesting thing is they actually have a more productive running game than they did last year. They averaged about 215 a game last season and are at 314 per game this year so it's a more productive running game.

Right now the freshman, Jon Hilliman, has emerged. He's built in the Andre Williams mode, a big, bruising guy who runs hard between the tackles... Addazio likes guys like that.

The other two are scatbacks, Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse, and they've also worked 5-foot-6 wideout Sherman Alston into the run game some on flanker reverses. He's a small kid but very quick... scoots around the field.

It has definitely been a collective effort at running back, but Hilliman is the main guy.

It seems like you're not high on their wideouts and tight ends.
Their best wide receiver is a converted quarterback who had never played the position before, Josh Bordner. They actually wanted him to play tight end but he couldn't get big enough so he's out at wide receiver.

Along with him they have Callinan and Crimmins with Alston, who I mentioned early. They don't have a wideout with over 250 yards receiving at this point.

The passing game has been an issue for them.

Boston College has a great tradition with offensive linemen and looking at the depth chart, they start five seniors who have graduated. Safe to say this is a good group?
This is a pretty good unit. The center, Andy Gallick, is the anchor of a veteran offensive line. The best athlete on the line is Bobby Vardaro, who missed the Colorado State game but will be back for NC Sate. They use him to pull a lot.

The two tackles... Ian Silberman transferred to Boston College from Florida with Murphy, and he's a big strong kid. The left tackle, Seth Betancourt, is a first-year starter, even though he's a graduate student.

The offensive line should get a lot of credit for what they are able to do in the running game, especially with Hilliman being a freshmen, and they haven't given up many sacks either.

It's a good group.

Transitioning over to defense, breakdown the defensive line.
Well, they lost their best defensive lineman, Mehdi Abdesmad, to a leg injury last week and he was having a good year. He was probably their best guy in terms of defending the run and had experience. The other defensive tackle, Connor Wujciak, is a beast. He's tough to block and very strong. If he gets his hands on you he takes you down.

The other guy with experience is defensive end Brian Mihalik, and he is huge. He's about 6'10 with long arms, and he can really both quarterbacks with his length. He'll use his arms to get in passing lanes and bat down balls.

Overall, the line is weaker against the run, but it's not a bad unit given where they were a couple of years ago.

Linebacker Josh Keyes jumps off the screen in Boston College games with his athleticism. Is he the headliner at that position?
Keyes, he's built like a strong safety, but he's very fast off the ball. He's replacing Kevin Pierre-Louis who is with the Seahawks now. He's not as strong as Pierre-Louis, but he does a good job of getting in the backfield.

They also have two very good middle linebackers, Steven Daniels and Sean Duggan, they were high school teammates at the same high school as Luke Kuechly. That school, St. Xavier in Cincinnati, has put out some good linebackers.

They are tough to run up the middle against.

Is the secondary the weak link of the defense?
Well, they blitz from all angles and I think pressure is important because the secondary is suspect. The starting right cornerback, Bryce Jones, was kicked off the team last week and he was a very good cover corner. That's a loss for them.

They are fairly young back there and have had some breakdowns in pass coverage.

How are the special teams?
Well, Addazio started out with two senior kickers and has benched them both. Anything over 35 yards and they are in trouble. They are going with a true freshman as their placekicker who hasn't kicked yet, and he'll get his debut against NC State.

Alex Howell, one of the kickers, will still do the punting, and I think he's third or fourth in the league in that category. He's solid.

Boston College is solid in the red zone, mainly because of their running game, but the kicking game has put a strain on their offense. Last year with Nate Freese they knew they were good once they crossed the 40-yard line... it was almost like three points in the bank. That's not the case this season.

Will this be their first true road game?
Absolutely. Technically they played at UMass, but that game was played in Gillette Stadium. It's about 10 miles from Boston College... closer to B.C. than UMass, so this will really be their first true road game.

They'll have 30 freshmen on the plane that will see a lot of playing time so it's a concern. They've been working with artificial noise this week and will probably lean on Murphy, who as experience in the SEC, to get their heads on straight down there.

Finally, how do you see this game playing out?
I think Boston College will be in big trouble if Brissett can get a passing game going early. Boston College isn't a team that can catch up. If they get behind a couple of scores, I'm just not sure how they catch up... keep up with NC State.

I'm not sure how it will play out, but I think for Boston College to be successful they need to keep the game close throughout so they can try to win it late in the fourth quarter.

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