After taking measure of Florida State's high-powered offense, Boston College coach Steve Addazio sees no sense in trying to engage the Seminoles in a track meet in their Atlantic Coast Conference contest Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.
As far as Addazio is concerned, the best way to neutralize the eighth-ranked Seminoles' offense is to keep it parked on the sideline.
"Obviously we're not looking to speed this game up,'' said Addazio. "We're looking to slow this game down.''
The Eagles hope to achieve that through a ball-controlled offense featuring senior running back Andre Williams, a bruising 6-foot, 227-pounder who is averaging a league-leading 118.7 yards per game, to set the tone against the Seminoles' defense, which ranks seventh in the nation.
In the Eagles' 35-7 setback at Southern Cal Sept. 14, they were unable to mount much of a threat against a dominating Trojans defense, which held BC to 184 yards total offense, 83 via the air.
During its bye last week, the Eagles got a jump on the game preparations for what they anticipate will be a smashmouth confrontation.
"I felt like we needed to get a lot of our work done earlier so that we could prepare for a real physical game,'' Addazio said. "We've got to make it a real physical game, because that's what we can do, so we need to do that.''
Problem is, the personnel on Florida State's defense seemed to compare favorably — if not better than — USC's defense.
"They're sort of similar,'' Williams said. "[The Seminoles] play with two stand-up guys on the outside and then they switch between the three-down and four-down. Similar defenses, similar kind of guys. I've played these guys year after year. Their defense is a little bit different from what it has been in the past, but it's basically the same group, so I'm looking forward to it.''
Said Ian White, a senior right tackle and cocaptain: "They're a little bit bigger and a little bit stouter than USC. They play different. USC was kind of quick-twitch, get-off-the-ball quick. These guys really want to stuff you in the hole then shed late, so it's a little bit different style. Our mind-set is that we can run our offense against anyone.''
In their last two meetings, Florida State has outscored the Eagles, 89-14, and held them to 26 percent success rate on third-down conversions (8 for 30). This season, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher brought in Alabama assistant Jeremy Pruitt to coordinate his defense, which seems to have adopted the Tide's 3-4 scheme.
Senior cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, who has played in every game since he arrived in 2010, leads the Seminoles with 18 tackles and has two sacks in three games this season.
"Obviously, we've got to play at a high level at home and we've got to play at a better rate of execution,'' Addazio said. "That's what we're really working on right now — limiting our mistakes and being really crisp.''
The Eagles know they will have to be especially crisp at the point of attack.
"Our offense is ground and pound,'' White said. "That's what we do. We want to be running downhill. No one's really done that against them yet this year.
"Even last year, no one really lined up with two tight ends to one side and really ran downhill at them. We don't know if they really know how to defend that or attack that, so we're just going to try and play our game and play downhill.''
Though Williams was held to 38 yards on 17 carries against the Trojans, which came on the heels of his career-high 204-yard effort against Wake Forest, he was confident his offensive line will help him get back on track.
"I see that the O-line is playing with a whole different demeanor,'' Williams said. "They just look like some mean guys out there. You don't get to see everything on the field, but then you look at the tape and see how guys are finishing and it makes you feel good that you have an O-line that's trying to take care of you and trying to win.''
But, White said, it was imperative to win first down in order to keep the Eagles on schedule.
"If we get into second- and third-and-long then that's playing to their strengths,'' White said. "Their speed, their quickness, their pass rush — that's playing into their strengths. You get 3, 4, 5 yards on the first down — running the ball or whatever we want to do on first down — then it puts us in much better position to win that drive, win that quarter, win that half, and the game.
"We've also got to try to take as much time off the clock, stay on the field as long as possible and keep our [defense] fresh, because everyone knows that playing against Florida State we've got to keep that offense off the field.''
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.