No. 17 Boston College has had a history of improbable upsets led by a heroic effort from their quarterback but if that’s to be the case against No. 2 Clemson on Saturday night, the Eagles will have to do so with a backup under center as the team trails 13-7 at halftime in a critical ACC showdown.
That’s because BC starter Anthony Brown injured his shoulder after All-American defensive lineman Christian Wilkins landed on him after a hit, driving the signal-caller into the turf in a legal, yet painful way. He wound up retreating into the locker room in the second quarter and was ruled out the rest of the game after completing two passes for six yards in a limited effort for the team’s offense. Jeff Smith did take over throwing the ball but couldn’t find much success moving the sticks after entering the game.
Even with Brown in the lineup though, the Eagles weren’t doing a ton on that side of the ball either way. Tailback A.J. Dillon did start despite an ankle injury he’s been dealing with for several weeks but recorded only 27 yards on the ground and was swarmed on just about every carry. Steve Addazio’s defense was solid in the first half but will need a lot more after returning from the locker room. Special teams were also a bright spot as Michael Walker did take a punt return, after the ball bounced off a Tigers player and into his hands, 74 yards along the sideline to the end zone to fire up the crowd on Chestnut Hill.
As for Clemson, Dabo Swinney can’t be happy at the lack of finishing long drives from his offense. Trevor Lawrence was already up to 216 yards passing (one TD) through the first two quarters and had already hooked up with seven different players for a reception. However the team found the end zone just once in three trips to the red zone and running back Travis Etienne had just 40 yards rushing. Overall, it was pretty clear that yards on the ground were hard to come by with a stacked box on just about every play, but that did allow the freshman QB to take his shots down the field and could be something for the team to build on going forward.
It is still an uphill battle for the home team the rest of the way but the Tigers are not really taking advantage of their opportunities to put this game away. It should all make for a very interesting second half with the ACC Atlantic title on the line between the two.