By Kevin J. Stone
CHESTNUT HILL — It’s Clemson week.
For Boston College, this isn’t just another game, no matter how much anyone tries to tell you it is. A prime time matchup in “Death Valley” is simply just a different animal, and the Eagles know it.
As hard as it may be to not look too far ahead to Saturday, BC was doing an excellent job on Wednesday of truly trying to take things one minute, one hour, one day at a time.
BC had its last bit of media availability for the week following Wednesday’s practice in the Fish Field House. It was difficult to avoid the deafening sounds of crowd noise being blasted over the speakers as the Eagles get ready for what should be a boisterous 110,000 people despite the forecasted rain on Saturday night.
“You go into it like its any other game, with the same kind of preparation, but you’ve also got to understand the caliber of team you’re playing,” said running back AJ Dillon. “Clemson is ranked one, two or three depending on the week, they’re a great team and I’ve played them now twice in my career. They’ve got talent across the board in all three facets of the game. We’ve got to make sure we’ve got everybody like-minded and focused on the goal of making sure everyone is doing their job.
“They’ve got a huge venue with great fans and it can definitely get loud down there. So it’s good for us to get used to the crowd noise. I personally love it. It’s fun to be in that atmosphere.”
With a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, it’s imperative for the Eagles to keep emotions in check over the next few days, especially Friday night and throughout game day. Running through a wall at 2 p.m. on Saturday obviously wouldn’t bode well for any success the Eagles hope to have.
“We’ve got to focus at a super-strong level,” said linebacker Max Richardson. “Clemson is a great program and have one of the most elite offenses in the country, but I believe it isn’t necessarily about Herculean strength, it’s about Herculean focus. Going into the next few days when the pads start to come off, it’s about that hyper focus.
“When we get down there my roommate is (fellow linebacker) John Lamot, and we’ll go over the whole game plan together, and throughout the week we’ll each have a few clips that we’ve seen and show each other and share our thoughts. Friday night we’ll watch some Clemson film and then probably one of the games whether it be the MAC or a Power 5 school while we have a team dinner, and just try to (continue) building that camaraderie and morale before the game.
"Then, that day (Saturday) is a long day, you’re anxious and want to get going but that’s the other thing about hyper focus, we’re going to have to sit there and make sure we maintain our focus for a long time before kickoff. That’s going to be a deciding factor on how we play this game.”
If anyone is going to have a tough time sitting still or preserving his energy it will be quarterback Dennis Grosel, who will be making just his second start in one of the most chaotic atmospheres in all of college football.
“It’s hard not to empty that tank emotionally, but we know we have a lot to prepare for,” Grosel said. “We know what’s in store for us and it’s hard not to put (your physical energy) all in on Wednesday or Thursday. But mentally we’re putting everything we have into preparation, and we know that’s the biggest thing we can work on right now.”
In terms of how Grosel and the Eagles will handle everything that comes with playing in Death Valley against arguably the best team in the country, this isn’t the first time around the block for the program.
“We’re prepared for the worst,” Grosel added. “We’re anticipating it to be loud, crazy and hostile. We’re preparing for anything. If you prepare correctly throughout the week, then you’re calm and confident in your ability heading in there, and I think the ones that aren’t prepared are the ones that kind of get themselves too jacked up too early.
“It’s just about preparing as much as you can during the week and then just having confidence in your program, being confident in your scheme and then just going out and being ready to execute.”