Daily Trojan sports editor Will Laws and Teddy Kolva, sports editor of the Daily Gavel at Boston College, interviewed each other earlier this week to get a better feel for the opposing teams they cover ahead of Saturday’s showdown at the Coliseum.
Below are Laws’ questions and Kolva’s responses about Boston College — you can check out what Kolva asked Laws about the Trojans at bcgavel.com.
DT: Senior running back Andre Williams has been impressive so far for Boston College, but do you think him being ranked third in the nation in rushing yards is more of an indicator of his talent or the weak opponents (Villanova, Wake Forest) the Eagles have faced thus far?
DG: In the 2012 campaign, Andre Williams showed flashes of versatility and power, but nothing like his start to the 2013 season. Villanova is a FCS team and Wake Forest’s defense proved its incompetence last Saturday, but Williams’ improvement from last year is remarkable nonetheless. I think BC’s offensive line is exploding off the line and Coach Addazio’s play calling is meshing perfectly with Williams’ skill set. USC will be the true test of Williams’ ability—you can’t hide the fact they are the No. 1 rush defense in college football at the moment — but he really has grown tremendously since last year.
DT: QB Chase Rettig is entering his fourth season under center for Boston College. Does he have the arm — and the weapons around him — to make plays downfield against the Trojans?
DG: Yes—undeniably. BC was down a score to Villanova after a weak start, but Rettig’s deep-ball to Alex Amidon for a 49-yard touchdown jarred the team from whatever slumber they were in. That Rettig-Amidon connection was dangerous last year, and not much has changed. USC’s secondary will be challenged downfield, especially if Williams manages to break some considerable carries early in the first quarter.
DT: Last week, the Eagles had an impressive goal-line stand that prevented Wake Forest from scoring on three consecutive plays from the one-yard line (cue flashbacks of last year’s game versus Notre Dame in the heads of every USC fan). Was that a fluke or could BC’s defense really be up to the task of stopping the Trojans’ deep stable of running backs?
DG: BC’s new defensive coordinator is Don Brown, who led Connecticut to a top ten statistical finish in overall defense in 2012. His aggressive, blitz-oriented philosophy has proven risky at times, but valuable in the long run. Coin it as hokey or meat-headed, but there is a mantra at BC called “Be A Dude,” and it has taken form into something special. A “dude,” as preached by Don Brown himself, is a guy who is relentless and unyielding in the face of pressure and adversity. We definitely saw that mantra take its form on the field against Wake Forest last week. I wouldn’t expect much less from the defense against USC either.
DT: If USC head coach Kiffin does decide to open up the playbook this week for the passing game, would Boston College’s defense be up to the task of defending wideouts Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor?
DG: This worries me. BC’s secondary hasn’t faced a wideout tandem like that since Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and Charone Peake in early 2012. If Cody Kessler is on target with his throws, cornerbacks Bryce Jones and Manny Asprilla will be charged with a heavy task. BC doesn’t usually go up against Biletnikoff Award winners — the last being Notre Dame’s Golden Tate in 2009 — so this will be a crucial matchup in Saturday’s game.
DT: After a few disappointing seasons in Chestnut Hill, what is the overall campus sentiment about first-year coach Steve Addazio and the Eagles’ 2-0 start?
DG: Campus is thrilled that the football team is doing so well: matching the win total of all of last year in the first two games of this season is just what the program needed. We are New England’s college football team, and it shows when we do well (the operative phrase being “when we do well”). But, I wouldn’t say the fan base is wholly energized yet. Road wins against USC and Army next week, though, would definitely attract our entire fan base and fans from the region — not just suburban Boston.
DT: What’s your prediction for this weekend?
DG: Prediction: Boston College 20, USC 14. BC’s Nate Freese is one accurate kicker (82.5 percent good from all ranges), and he makes two crucial, long-range kicks to pad BC’s lead late in the game. Until then, it’s a fight in the trenches. Kiffin gives Kessler the nod for deep balls, and USC reaps the benefits of fielding Marqise Lee and gets a touchdown or two as a result. Ultimately, the senior leadership and composure of native Californian Chase Rettig shines through, and BC beats USC to advance to its first 3-0 start since 2007.
Follow Will on Twitter @WillLaws