Even if they weren’t 1-4, even if they weren’t winless against Football Bowl Subdivision competition, and even if they weren’t coming off a loss to a winless Army team that left them shell-shocked, the Boston College Eagles still would feel that Florida State was turning up its nose at them.
The Seminoles were the nation’s fifth-ranked team before losing to North Carolina State last weekend and falling to No. 12. Their defensive line, in BC coach Frank Spaziani’s estimation, is NFL-caliber.
And that’s partly where the players in the locker room feel the disrespect is rooted.
“I think their mind-set is, OK, we were these big-time recruits, they’re much more talented than us, we don’t belong on the field with them,” said BC linebacker Nick Clancy. “And I think that’s kind of been the mentality for not just Florida State but a number of teams in the ACC when they face BC.
“They think that we’re much less talented. But when it comes down to it, we’re just different type of people. We’re blue-collar people. We have a very strong work ethic, we know when adversity’s thrown in our face what to do and how to respond, and I think that’s what separates us.”
The teams have faced each other 10 times, with Florida State holding a 6-4 edge in the series, including wins in the last two games.
Clancy said the Seminoles will essentially run three plays. They won’t mix it up, he said, because they don’t feel they need to.
“That’s what we’re preparing for this week, is them running their bread and butter, and they think they’re going to beat us with it,” Clancy said. “They don’t respect us, they don’t respect BC, and in the past we’ve surprised them.”
While the Eagles are trying to salvage their season, linebacker Sean Sylvia figures that losing to North Carolina State shot a hole in the Seminoles’ national title hopes, and now they may be wondering what’s left to play for.
“They’re looking at a national championship and now that’s out of their reach, so I think they’re kind of down and it’s like, ‘What to do now?’ ” Sylvia said. “Those kind of guys have had everything handed to them over the years and I don’t think they can respond to a tough loss like last week.
“Around here, we have more blue-collar guys. We have guys that have been through a lot, and we’re more equipped to bounce back from a loss or start of the season like we have. We have a mind-set of winning seven in a row when they have a mind-set of ‘What to do next?’ ”
Linebacker Steele Divitto doesn’t expect the Seminoles to look past them, but he also gets the feeling that Florida State doesn’t see BC as a threat.
“The fact right now is that we’re 1-4,” Divitto said. “Do they respect us in some aspects? Yes. But I don’t think many teams do respect us, unfortunately. But that’s just because of who we are.
“When we get everything turned around, that’ll be a different story. But as of right now, they know that they’re going to play a tough, physical team but they’re not going to have respect for us.”
Meet the new boss
In the brief chat quarterback Chase Rettig and running back Andre Williams had with new athletic director Brad Bates Tuesday, Rettig asked Bates if he’d make it down to Tallahassee for this weekend’s game.
He told them he’d make it.
“I guess that’s going to be a gauge of the efficacy of his statements,” Williams said. “If he comes, then I guess we’ll expect to see him a lot.”
Bates spoke to the team after practice Wednesday, and by and large players came away impressed by the former Miami (Ohio) AD, who at his core is a football guy, having played at Michigan under Bo Schembechler and headed the Redhawks’ football-first athletic program for 10 years.
“He came from a football school,” Williams said. “So I know that he’s going to have our best interests in mind.”
Rettig, a junior, had a close relationship with former BC AD Gene DeFilippo, who attended almost all of the Eagles’ road games.
“Hopefully I can get a relationship with him like that, too,” Rettig said. “He said he’s looking forward to building relationships with all of us players. That’s really important.
“Obviously he’s done it the right way. He’ll definitely be able to relate to us with a lot of things. So I think guys are excited about that.”
Big piece added
After missing the first six weeks of the season with a broken foot, tight end Chris Pantale returned to practice and is expected to play this weekend, adding a valuable piece to an offense that has put up more than 30 points and still lost three times this season.
“He was such a big part of our team, especially at the end of the year, he started playing really well,” said wide receiver Alex Amidon. “I think him being back will help us for sure.”
With Pantale coming back two weeks after wideout Bobby Swigert returned from a knee injury, the Eagles offense is beginning to take the shape they had envisioned before the season.
Two of the biggest places the 6-foot-6-inch Pantale can help are on third down, where the Eagles are 10th in the ACC, and in the red zone, where they’re dead last.
“It’s going to be hard to cover a guy that size,” Amidon said. “If Chase has someone he knows can just box someone out and get 5 yards, that’s going to make third-and-mediums easier, too.”