CHESTNUT HILL — Sure, Duquesne is not Clemson or Florida State, but the speed UMass wide receivers exhibited against the Dukes in a 63-15 win this past weekend was no illusion.
The Minutemen can run, and if Boston College wants to avoid an upset Saturday at Alumni Stadium, the Eagles will have to find a way to defend the whole field.
In what is probably the biggest challenge for the entire BC team against UMass, the inexperienced Eagles cornerbacks, a position group that graduated its two starters from last year, need to make sure they don't let speedsters like Andy Isabella and Brennon Dingle find the open space. Against Duquesne, the two combined for eight receptions for 192 yards and three touchdowns.
Whether it was via the deep ball off play-action, or shallow crossing routes out of empty sets, Duquesne simply couldn't run with the Minutemen. According to BC coach Steve Addazio at Monday's press conference, there are a number of ways the Eagles can slow UMass down, and it starts with an obvious tactic.
"Their passing is very similar to our right now," Addazio said. "They want to create runners, yet they have the ability to hit you deep. I think you better get some shots on the quarterback. You better disrupt the quarterback, and that's hard to do sometimes when the ball's out of your hands real quick.
"And then you've got to have the ability to mix your coverages. You've got to be able to play man and zone and mix it up. We can run a little bit in the back end. We'll be able to do some different things there. Without a doubt, we have our full attention on the speed they have at the receiver position and the ability to stretch the field."
According to the depth chart BC released, the starters at cornerback for the Eagles will be senior Taj-Amir Torres and junior Hamp Cheevers. Expect freshmen Brandon Sebastian and Tate Haynes to also see plenty of action.
The Minutemen know how to pick up the pace and force defenses into alignments they don't want to be in. Addazio felt confident in the Eagles' ability to be prepared for that.
"Well, (the Eagles defense gets) it every day," Addazio said. "We're going pretty fast in our offense. . . . That will be of no shock to our defense. That's the good news. But we give our defense, we go (first-team offense against first-team defense), we went one-one today. We've got fast guys, too. Jeff Smith's pretty fast. Mike Walker's pretty fast. Kobay White's pretty fast. Our defense is seeing that speed, and they're seeing that tempo every day. So that's a bonus."
A couple other important notes:
— Addazio confirmed that starting quarterback Anthony Brown is "100 percent ready to go," and has been for the last 10 days or so.
Brown, who tore the ACL in his right knee during the NC State game last year, will be backed up by both E.J. Perry and Matt McDonald, each of whom had their moments in scrimmages this camp. Neither is defined as the clear No. 2 on the depth chart.
— Speaking of the depth chart, there were some adjustments to the offensive line.
From left to right, the lineup will be Aaron Monteiro, Sam Schmal, Jon Baker, Chris Lindstrom, and Ben Petrula. Baker is fully healthy off his knee injury that ended his season in the opener against Northern Illinois last year, and Addazio had good things to say about his backup, freshman Alec Lindstrom.
As for Lindstrom's older brother, Chris, Addazio loves his ability to pull from that right guard spot, saying the 6-foot-4, 310-pounder is one of the best he's ever seen in that regard.