Before Boston College hosts eighth-ranked Florida State Saturday afternoon at Alumni Stadium, there will be one operative word for the Eagles in practice this week: Contain.
As in, BC’s defense must contain Jameis Winston, FSU’s fabulous redshirt freshman quarterback.
A 6-foot-4-inch, 228-pound specimen, Winston made quite a splash in his debut by leading FSU to a 41-13 romp at Pittsburgh Sept. 2 at Heinz Field in the Panthers’ inaugural game as an Atlantic Coast Conference member.
Winston had a near flawless effort, completing 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns while rushing eight times for 25 yards and another touchdown.
“I mean, we just got to get after him — we gotta go,’’ said BC coach Steve Addazio, whose team resumes ACC play after its bye week. BC (2-1, 1-0) last played Sept. 14, a 35-7 loss at Southern Cal.
“We just have to be disruptive and we got to work like heck to force their offense out of synch, if you can.’’
The Seminoles, who improved to 3-0 after thrashing Bethune-Cookman, 54-6, last weekend in Tallahassee, Fla., lead the league in scoring (52.3 points) and total offense (547.3 yards) while Winston (8 touchdowns, 1 interception) leads the ACC in passing efficiency (210.5).
“He’s big and strong and he can run it and he can throw it,’’ Addazio said of Winston. “He’s a real dual-threat guy. You got to tackle that guy, because he’ll break tackles and keep the chains moving and give them another set of downs. So it’s hard to get off the field against a guy like that.
“It’s like when we had [Tim] Tebow when I was at Florida. It was hard for defenses to get off the field with Tebow. He could find a way to move the chains on third down, then you’d get another set of downs.’’
Asked if he was impressed by Winston’s debut at Pitt, Addazio replied, “Extremely, I’m telling you, the guy is a really good football player. He throws it, he sees it. He can break tackles. He’s a competitor and he seems completely unfazed by whatever stage he’s on, so I’m very impressed by him.’’
Pressure’s on them
BC likely will rely upon strong-side linebackers Kevin Pierre-Louis and Josh Keyes to pressure Winston in the pocket. Keyes, a junior who is tied for the team lead with 2.5 sacks, suffered a neck spasm at the end of the USC game. He was held out of practice last week.
“He’s an explosive guy like KPL,’’ Addazio said of Keyes. “Those two guys are really explosive. They can make plays for us. They can close the distance really quickly. That’s why you can get them involved in blitzes that can sack the quarterback. They have that ability.’’
Addazio said Keyes, a converted defensive back, seemed better suited to play among the front seven.
“I think he’s more suited to play there than the back end because he’s a physical guy and he’s got that explosiveness,’’ Addazio said. “I think he’s in a perfect spot for him as a nickel, as a Sam [linebacker], those kinds of guys who are hybrid guys who can cover, but they can come off the edge. So we’ve got two of those guys and we need that.’’
Returns on tap
Sophomore defensive tackle Nick Lifka and senior fullback Jake Sinkovec are on the mend after both suffered leg injuries in the preseason. “Lifka is making his way back, which is very encouraging,’’ Addazio said. “In addition to Nick, Jake Sinkovec made his way back to practice full-speed, which is great.’’ Addazio said Sinkovec “will be ready to go” against Florida State and Lifka “might be still be one week away, but almost ready to roll, which is great.’’ . . . Addazio spent his off day on Saturday watching college football. The coach came away with a strong impression of the ACC. “I think we’re one of the stronger conferences right now,’’ he said. “If you want my honest opinion, that’s really what I think.’’ Addazio did some advance scouting on North Carolina, which lost at Georgia Tech, 28-20; Virginia Tech, which survived a triple-overtime thriller against Marshall (29-21); and Maryland, which blanked West Virginia, 37-0. “Some of the other conferences that people think maybe are [strong], I don’t see it,’’ Addazio said. “I watched a lot of college football games on Saturday now, and so I know some of those conferences pretty well. I think the ACC is strong, I think there’s good talent, good teams, good coaching, and it’s playing that way.’’ . . . BC’s home game against Army Oct. 5 will kick off at 1 p.m. It will mark the schools’ 38th meeting, with BC holding a 24-13 edge.
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.