Freshmen at forefront of pivotal Florida State-BC matchup
By JOE REEDY
Oct. 26, 2017
Florida State and Boston College have experienced youth movements on offense this season.
When the teams meet Friday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference matchup at BC's Alumni Stadium, freshmen will once again play major roles for each squad.
Quarterback James Blackman and running back Cam Akers have had to become starters for the Seminoles (2-4, 2-3 ACC) due to injuries. For the Eagles (4-4, 2-3), quarterback Anthony Brown won the job during the preseason while AJ Dillon has taken over as the lead running back the past two weeks.
Boston College coach Steve Addazio said the goal for the Eagles right now is to "make as many plays as we can and continue to develop." But he says everyone needs to understand when you have young players, "don't think your roller-coaster ride is over. That's why they're still young guys."
Each team is currently on opposite ends of the roller coaster.
The Eagles have won two straight and have scored 40 or more points in consecutive ACC games for the first time since joining the conference in 2005. The Seminoles have lost two of their last three and are in danger of missing a bowl game for the first time since 1982.
FSU's James Blackman, who is making his sixth start after Deondre Francois suffered a season-ending knee injury, is tied for third in the ACC in interceptions with six. After not throwing an interception in his first 71 attempts, Blackman has six in his past 65. Blackman also had a fumble late in the fourth quarter that led to Louisville's game-winning field goal.
"His energy has been good. He's had better attention to detail. He's responded just like I thought he would," said Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher about Blackman's preparation this week.
Akers moves into the lead role with Jacques Patrick sidelined due to knee injury. Akers, who was splitting carries with Patrick, is eighth in the ACC in rushing (75.7 yards per game) and has gone over 100 yards in two of the past three games.
Boston College is the only Football Bowl Subdivision school to have freshmen lead the team in passing, rushing and receiving (Kobay White). Addazio said he has been surprised with how quickly his freshmen have made an impact and has not had to wait until next season or longer.
"Every week you're competing for everything you've got. We've done that and you've seen that develop, right now this year," he said.
Dillon's big breakthrough came in the Oct. 14 win over Louisville when he had 272 yards on 39 carries and four touchdowns. He had 89 yards in last week's win at Virginia.
Brown won the starting QB job in the preseason and is the conference's rookie of the week after throwing for 275 yards and three touchdowns against Virginia.
Some other things to know about the Florida State-BC matchup:
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: This is the third straight season that Florida State and Boston College have met on Friday night. The Seminoles have won the past two matchups by a combined score of 59-7. It is also the Red Bandanna Game honoring Boston College graduate Welles Crowther, who saved over a dozen lives during the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
STRONG UP FRONT: Boston College's offensive line leads the ACC in fewest sacks allowed with seven. Florida State, which led the conference in sacks last season with 51, has struggled to have any consistency with a pass rush this season and is tied for 12th in the 14-team conference with 11.
DEFENSIVE LAPSES: Florida State's defense was thought to be the team's strength coming into the season, but it has allowed two last-minute, game-winning drives over the past three games. The Seminoles have really struggled against balanced offenses and face another one in Boston College.
BALL HAWKS: Blackman's struggles with interceptions might not end against Boston College. The Eagles are fourth nationally in interceptions with 12 and cornerback Lukas Denis is tied for the national lead with five.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Florida State tight end Ryan Izzo. With the Seminoles down to just three scholarship receivers, the junior has started to take on a larger role in the passing game. Over the past three games, Izzo has seven receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
Freelance writer Ken Powtak in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, contributed to this report.
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