CLEMSON — Fans seem more interested in talking about Florida State next week than Saturday’s game against Boston College.
Could this be a “trap” game?
Is this a prime opportunity for what the Urban Dictionary describes as “pulling a Clemson?”
It’s not ureasonable considering the circumstances. Third-ranked and undefeated, coming off an impressive win at Syracuse that was essentially over at halftime, favored by 24 points at home against a team that’s beaten only Army, Wake Forest and Villanova, this has all the earmarks of a game ripe for a “Clemsoning.”
Reporters have learned to tread lightly down that path with Dabo Swinney, so the question was not broached until the 17th minute of his weekly media briefing. How do you keep a team focused on Boston College with potentially the biggest game in ACC history the following week?
“It’s all we watch, Boston College,” Swinney said Tuesday, smiling as if he anticipated the topic would eventually percolate. “That’s all we talk about when they come in and we have meetings. That’s all we see on tape.”
Boston College (3-2) played Florida State close and was kicked around at Southern Cal — before Lane Kiffin was fired — but first-year coach Steve Addazio likes his team’s swagger and figures the experience should deliver dividends shortly.
“The good news for us is that we’ve played some pretty good football teams, and that’s going to help us,” Addazio said this week. “I think we’re gaining confidence every day.”
Swinney said Boston College “gets your attention. This is a good football team we’re getting ready to play.”
While that might sound hollow from the coach of a team 13th in scoring offense and 16th in scoring defense, with a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback and a defensive end second in sacks, that’s the message.
“The only game that matters right now is Boston College,” said quarterback Tajh Boyd, a fan at heart who understands them. “Florida State is gonna get here when it gets here.”
There are still opportunities to coach. Clemson allowed more than 300 rushing yards at Syracuse and could not score a sixth touchdown in four tries from the five-yard line in the final minute of the first half.
Boston College brings nine offensive starters, including Andre Williams, the nation’s leading rusher with 153.6 yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry, and a big, experienced offensive line. Tackles Ian White (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) and Matt Pachan (6-7, 300) “are playing at a high, high level right now. They’re starting to impose their demeanors on the defense,” Swinney said.
Williams set a school record with 263 yards against Army.
“The holes and opportunities for Andre were incredible,” said Addazio, Boston College’s fourth coach since the Eagles entered the ACC in 2005. “He didn’t get touched a lot.”
Any issues with Clemson’s run defense are explained away by Swinney and defensive coordinator Brent Venables as “correctable.” A closer examination of the Syracuse game reveals that of the 323 yards, 114 came in the first half when the game was still contestable, including a 66-yarder on one snap.
“We can learn from our mistakes,” Swinney said, “not a concern right now.”
Injury note. Safety Travis Blanks (knee), linebacker Ben Boulware (knee), corner Martin Jenkins (hand) and defensive tackle Carlos Watkins (auto accident) are questionable. Blanks and Jenkins are the most promising. Boulware and Watkins were unlikely.