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    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Head To Head Matchup: Running Backs

    Last week the Noles faced running back C.J. Spiller from Florida. This week they face another Florida native in freshman running back Montel Harris who had 120 yards on 23 carries in the Eagles' win last Saturday against Notre Dame.

    As the Boston Globe described Harris, "... the 5-foot-10-inch, 192-pound freshman running back has some size, some speed, and some potential." Harris arrived at Boston College from Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Fla., which has produced collegiate prospects over the years, including Harris's high school teammate Jamie Harper, who signed with Clemson.

    Boston College head coach Jeff As Jagodzinski admits now at this point in the season that they "... may have something (in Harris).'' Harris is ranked #7 in the ACC with 531 yards and 4 TDs. He is averaging a little over 66 yards a game and 5.5 yards a carry. Harris has had three games that he has rushed for over 100 yards- UCF, Rhode Island, and Notre Dame.

    5-8/190 pound freshman Josh Haden is second in rushing yards with 285 yards and 1 TD. Haden's best rushing game was the Eagle's loss to Clemson when he rushed for 71 yards and 1 TD.

    Boston College is ranked #4 in the ACC in rushing offense averaging 152.44 yards a game and getting 16 TDs on the ground for the season. Boston College ranks first in the ACC in least number of tackles for a loss which is a good indicator of a sound offensive line.

    In addition, Boston College is second in the ACC in least number of sacks allowed which is another sign of a good offensive line. And here is another stat that indicates discipline on both offense and defense.

    Boston College has the least number of penalties in the ACC having committed only 38 penalties for the season and averaging about 37 yards a game. Compare that to the Noles who have 76 penalties and average over 77 yards a game.

    Defensive matchup: The Nole rushing defense is ranked #2 in the ACC allowing on average 103 yards a game and has given up 8 TDs on the ground. They are giving up 3.19 yards per rush attempt. FSU is ranked #3 in the ACC in tackles for a loss. Leading the ACC in that category is defensive end Everette Brown with 12. At #5 is linebacker Derek Nicholson.

    In scoring defense, the Noles are ranked #3 in the ACC allowing a little over 18 points a game. Against ACC opponents, the Noles are allowing 24.3 points a game. The Noles are ranked #1 in the ACC in third down conversion attempts by their opponents. For the season, the Noles have only allowed opponent teams to convert 18.1 % of their third down attempts.

    The Noles rank #6 in the ACC in recovering fumbles by their opponents. In turnover margin, the Noles are near the bottom of the ACC at #10. One of the keys to the game could be a tough and aggressive Nole defense against a relatively inexperienced group of running backs. A key fumble and recovery could make a huge difference in the game.

    For the Noles, it will be senior Antone Smith and freshman Jermaine Thomas. For the season, Smith has rushed for 632 yards and 13 TDs. He is averaging a little over 70 yards per game and 5 yards per carry. In the last three games, he has carried the ball on a limited basis due to being banged up but still has scored three TDs including 2 against Clemson this past Saturday. He has had one game when he rushed for over 100 yards and that was against Colorado when he rushed for 154 yards and 3 TDs. On the season, he has 4 receptions for 34 yards. In the ACC, Smith is ranked #6.

    Backing up Smith is freshman standout Jermaine Thomas. Thomas for the year has rushed for 437 yards and 2 TDs. Against Clemson, he had his second highest number of carries for the year with 11 for 94 yards. He is averaging almost 55 yards per game and 8.4 yards a carry.

    Thomas has rushed for over 100 yards once this year against Georgia Tech when he rushed for 130 yards. He however has not managed to score a TD since the first game of the season when he scored 2 against Western Carolina. Look for Thomas to continue to get more carries as the season winds down. He has only 1 reception on the year for 6 yards.In the ACC, Thomas is ranked #12.

    Defensive matchup: The Eagles will be a challenge for the offensive line and the running game. In the ACC, BC sits at the top allowing 102 yards a game rushing and 9 TDs on the ground. Like the Noles, they are giving up 3.19 yards per rush attempt. In tackles for a loss, the Eagles are #8 in the ACC.

    Boston College has two quality defensive tackles in B.J. Raji and Ron Brace. In addition, BC linebacker Mark Herzlich is ranked #8 in the ACC in tackles with 68 and averages 8.50 tackles a game. Herzlich shared the co-defensive ACC lineman of the week honors this past week as he recorded 11 tackles, 10 solos, and three pass breakups in the Eagles’ 17-0 win over Notre Dame.

    The Eagles are stingy in allowing third downs by their opponents and rank #2 in the ACC with a 34.6% conversion rate. In scoring defense, the Eagles are allowing teams 16.9 points a game. However, when you look at just ACC opponents, they fare worse allowing ACC teams 29 points a game. The also have shut out three teams this year.

    The Eagles rank #8 in the ACC in recovering fumbles by their opponents. In turnover margin, the Eagles are opportunistic and rank #4 in the ACC. Turnovers could definitely be a key to the game.

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