Who leads the BC offense in touchdown receptions? Starter Dave Ryan, with four. Who's tied with Ryan in touchdown receptions? His backup, David Kashetta, also with four.
The Eagles have a history of using the tight end, and this year is no different. This year's pair have combined for 32 catches, good for 456 yards and eight touchdowns.
Washington, who is normally crashing downhill in run support, will have to check the BC tight ends often, or else they will be rumbling through the Mountaineer secondary for big gains. That goes double near the goal line, where Ryan and Kashetta are often the first choice for quarterback Quinton Porter on play action.
WVU quarterback Charles Hales vs. BC defensive back Will Blackmon
With Hales at the helm, the Mountaineers will probably be a bit more conservative on offense, but West Virginia has to avoid the trap of being too safe. WVU is 3-1 over the last four games partly due to the fact that the Mountaineers have gotten one big passing play in each of those contests.
Blackmon, just a sophomore, is a solid defender who has picked off three passes this year and broken up eight more. He leads an Eagle defense that tops the Big East with 14 picks.
Despite the WVU staff's desire to limit mistakes on offense, Hales must be allowed to throw the ball downfield when the Eagles load up the line of scrimmage, especially if the Mountaineer rushing game is sputtering.
WVU gap control vs. BC power
Usually we try to isolate individual matchups, but this overall area of strategy is just so big in the game that it deserves a wider spotlight.
Boston College, with their typically mammoth offensive line, is going to try to pound the Mountaineers on the ground. Repeatedly. And if that doesn't work, they'll try it some more. The key to winning for BC is simple. Pound the defense, then use play action to the tight end, or occasionally a wide receiver. Mix in a trick play or two, and by the end of the game 24 or 27 points appear on the scoreboord. It all comes down to the power of the front line. If they can move the defensive line and create running lanes, the Eagles usually win.
To counter that, West Virginia's defensive line will try to use their quickness, along with their gap control responsiblities, in order to jam up those running lanes. The Mountaineers aren't likely to overpower their foes, so they must not make mistakes in their assignments as they fill gaps, and along with the linebackers behind them, close down holes between the tackles. It they are successful, the Eagles will struggle. If Boston College can gash the Mountaineer defense, then WVU will be in for another long day.
THINGS TO WATCH
Boston College wide receiver Larry Lester has played just four games at that spot, but he's already snared seven passes for 165 yards. A converted cornerback, the 5-7 Lester has provided the Eagles with a downfield receiving threat they lacked in previous games. He has BC's single game high this year with 104 receiving yards against Temple. West Virginia will have to be aware of Lester's presence on the field, especially on deep passing routes, after watching Central Florida dink and dunk the ball all over the field last week.
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While we noted the BC secondary leads the league in interceptions, there has been some shuffling going on in that area of the defense. Junior Peter Shean has replaced Jazzmen Williams at one cornerback spot after the Syracuse game, after heretofore pedestrian quarterback R. J. Anderson completed 20 of 27 passes for 215 yards against the Eagles. With Shean standing only 5-9, look for WVU to attack with Chris Henry should the Mountaineers throw the ball.
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With both teams trying to establish the run, this contest could turn into a time of possession battle. Boston College, like WVU, has struggled to keep the ball at times this year. The Eagles' average time of possession per game this season is 28:50, while WVU's is 28:45. If either team can keep the ball for 32 or 33 minutes, they are likely to come out the winner in what figures to be a battle of attrition.