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How Clemson is preparing for Boston College with Eagles star AJ Dillon banged up

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence previews Boston College

Lawrence will make first night game road start on Saturday
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Lawrence will make first night game road start on Saturday

Boston College could be without its star running back and the ACC Preseason Player of the Year when the Eagles host Clemson on Saturday with the ACC Atlantic Division on the line.

BC running back AJ Dillon has already missed two games this season with an ankle injury and tweaked his ankle this past week in Boston College’s 31-21 win against Virginia Tech.

Eagles coach Steve Addazio updated the status of Dillon during his press conference on Monday.

“I saw him yesterday and he was bouncing around, a good smile on his face,” Addazio said. “I mean he’s dinged up. It is what it is. That’s not going to significantly change one way or the other. The question just becomes how well he can handle that. But I would assume with these kind of injures you’re not going to feel exactly the way you should feel until you get to a bowl game and have a few weeks.

“I think this is ongoing and certainly a fair question will be is will it feel good enough by game time to play on it? We’ll have to see each day with that... God willing, he will be healthy and we can get 30 carries out of him.”

Dillon has rushed for 897 yards and eight touchdowns in seven games so far this year and is No. 4 nationally in rushing yards per game with 128.1.

Clemson’s defense, led by defensive coordinator Brent Venables, has plenty of respect for Dillon’s ability.

“He’s got great instincts and great physicality. He runs well behind his pads so he runs through a lot of trash and they force your secondary to tackle him by scheme. So big guy versus a little guy creates a big advantage,” Venables said. “It can be a physical mismatch.”

Still, whether Dillon plays or not, Venables said Boston College has plenty of capable running backs.

Venables mentioned Travis Levy in particular as a player who is impressive on film. Levy rushed for 75 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries last week against Virginia Tech.

“I think they’ve got a number of quality backs,” Venables said. “(Dillon has) missed a few games and yet they are still playing for a division championship on the line this week. That speaks to the depth that they have and their ability to use guys in different ways. (Levy), they’ve used him through the early part of the year in a variety of ways whether it’s the shotgun, zone-read stuff or a lot of screens and getting him out in space. He gets in there this past week, and he had done it prior to that in their heavy stuff and he would run hard, tough, and physical between the tackles, too. More explosive.

“He’s kind of like our No. 9, maybe a little bit heavier but got kind of a shiftiness and change of gear. He runs with power, speed, and runs through trash as well.”