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Game Preview: No. 8/8 FSU vs. Boston College

Sept. 27, 2013

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INDIVIDUAL STATS COMPARISON

#8/8 Florida State Seminoles (3-0, 1-0)
Roster | Schedule | Stats | Game Notes
Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
Passing leader
Player Pct Avg/gm TD Int
Jameis Winston 78.1 239.3 8 1
Rushing leaders
Player Att Yds Avg/gm TD
Devonta Freeman 28 273 91.0 2
Karlos Williams 17 193 64.3 3
Receiving leaders
Player Rec Yds Avg/gm TD
Rashad Greene 15 209 69.7 3
Kenny Shaw 14 277 92.3 1
Defensive leaders
Player Tkls Scks TFL INT
Lamarcus Joyner 18 2 2 0
Telvin Smith 17 0 2 1
 

Boston College(2-1, 1-0)
Roster | Schedule | Stats | Game Notes
Head Coach: Steve Addazio
Passing leader
Player Pct Avg/gm TD Int
Chase Rettig 60.3 163.7 4 1
Rushing leaders
Player Att Yds Avg/gm TD
Andre Williams 75 356 118.7 2
Tyler Rouse 14 60 19.3 1
Receiving leaders
Player Rec Yds Avg/gm TD
Alex Amidon 20 262 87.3 2
Bobby Wolford 5 88 29.3 1
Defensive leaders
Player Tkls Scks TFL INT
Kevin Pierre-Louis 28 1 3.5 0
Steele Divitto 25 0 0.5 0

 Week 5 FSU stats infographic

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Brandon Mellor Brandon Mellor
Seminoles.com Managing Editor
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Key players: Offense

Florida State

8 Devonta Freeman

With three standout juniors at tailback in Freeman, James Wilder, Jr. and Karlos Williams, and an up-and-coming freshman in Ryan Green, it's hard to pinpoint any one of FSU's running backs as a key player because the team is so deep and talented at that position and any one of those four could carry the load if necessary.

But Freeman has separated himself early as the most consistent player in the backfield. Freeman boasts a per-rush average of 9.8 yards per carry and a per-game average of 91.0. If those numbers keep up, Freeman should have no trouble reaching 1,000 yards and becoming the first FSU player to do so since Warrick Dunn in the mid 1990s.

In his past two games, Freeman has eclipsed 100 yards and a third Saturday would make him the first Seminoles rusher to reach the century mark in back-to-back-to-back games since Jermaine Thomas did it during the 2009 season.

 
Boston College

44 Andre Williams

Boston College's identity for years offensively has been power football built around a huge offensive line and a strong running back. Despite the addition of a new coach this season, the Eagles haven't lost their rushing identity with Brown, who gives BC a legitimate power-back option that can wear down defenses and move the chains.

"They're very physical on offense --very good offensive line," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Probably one of the best ones we've seen. Their [running back] Andre Williams is averaging over 100 yards a game, is very physical, big, 230-pound guy that breaks tackles -- strong."

Luckily for the 'Noles, facing run-first teams has been the norm through each of the first three games of the season thus far.

"They like to run and we like to hit," FSU senior safety Terrance Brooks said. "So we'll see how that works out."

Key players: Defense

Florida State

13 Jalen Ramsey

Remember when Florida State signed the five-star defensive back seemingly out of nowhere earlier this year? It's hard to remember such a time as Ramsey is now working on becoming a household name.

A three-game starter at cornerback so far as a true freshman, Ramsey will shift to starting safety against Boston College in place of Tyler Hunter, who missed practice all week after being injured in the win over Bethune-Cookman. Luckily for the 'Noles, the move shouldn't be a daunting task for the youngster, who has cross-trained at both defensive back spots since arriving in Tallahassee this past summer and even earned some valuable snaps at safety late in the blowout victory last weekend.

"Jalen has been going back and forth between here [corner] and safety," Fisher said, "and we loved him and what he does, making calls."

 
Boston College

91 Kasim Edebali

A friend of former 'Noles defensive end Bjoern Werner and a fellow German, Edebali enters the game against Florida State tied for the team lead in sacks with 2 1/2.

Edebali leads a defense that has undergone a resurgence in its pass rush. After registering just six total sacks in 2012, the Eagles have already generated nine sacks through three games in 2013. In addition to Edebali, Josh Keyes also has 2 1/2 sacks from his linebacker spot.

As a team, Boston College is second in the ACC in turnovers gained per game at 1.67.

"Defensively, they cause you a lot of different looks," Fisher said. "They trap a lot and bring a lot of different looks. You've got to be very well prepared in order to see the looks and do things, they challenge you there."

Four Downs: Key questions for FSU vs. Boston College

1. Will LevonteWhitfield find the endzone on a kick return?

Whitfield is going to have a chance to impact games on special teams.

It may seem like wishful thinking to predict that Whitfield will return a kickoff for a touchdown in his first career game as a starter at that spot, but the Orlando, Fla. native is so fast that it's never out of the realm of possibility to consider him a home-run threat each time an FSU opponent kicks off.

Whitfield is one of -- if not the -- fastest players in college football and Boston College is about to get first-hand knowledge of that reality. After being brought along slowly to start the year, Whitfield got his first action at wide receiver against Nevada and then his first taste of kick-return duty against Bethune-Cookman when he churned out two returns for 66 total yards.

Because of Whitfield's potential on special teams and because Lamarcus Joyner doesn't get much of a break during games because of his defensive responsibilities, Fisher announced this week that the soeedy rookie will be a new starter fielding kicks -- likely alongside Karlos Williams.

"You've got all those guys doing so much that it's good to give them a break and I think Kermit is very natural at it," Fisher said. "He's very good at it and I think he's mature enough and been around long enough to understand what we want. I've been very pleased with his progress; he made a very nice catch in the game. I think he's progressing nicely and he's very explosive and has a chance to make big plays."

2. How much will the bye week help Boston College?

Rashad Greene and the 'Noles take on a BC team coming off a well-timed bye.

There's a theme to Saturday's game that FSU's coaches, players and fans should get used to: Boston College, like Maryland will do next weekend and NC State will do Oct. 26, squares off against Florida State a week after a bye.

So, what does that mean exactly?

It means that the Eagles, Terrapins and Wolfpack will all have a full extra week of practicing, film watching and scheming against the 'Noles before big games against FSU. It certainly is an added advantage to the 'Noles' opponents -- and one that FSU, too, will get to experience before the monster game at Clemson Oct. 19.

"That's not very nice, is it?," Fisher said with a laugh. "It gives teams more time to plan on you and watch film and learn tendencies and things like that. You have to be aware of those as a coach and make your adjustments and do the things you've got to do, but they'll be rested up and healed and they'll bring their `A' game, there's no doubt. That's another challenge we have to face.

"But, that's the name of the game."

3. How much does Hunter's absense hurt the 'Noles?

Tyler Hunter will miss the game at BC with a neck injury.

Florida State did its best to get through the first quarter of its schedule without suffering too many injuries, but the Seminoles didn't make it to 3-0 completely unscathed. Hunter's neck injury he sustained on the ensuing kickoff following Telvin Smith's 68-yard interception return against Bethune-Cookman leaves the 'Noles down a starter in the secondary.

For as good as Ramsey has looked early in his career, his move to Hunter's spot still signifies a rookie in a new position on the road in a conference game -- so it's still something to monitor. Hunter has proven to be a ballhawk as the team's full-time starter alongside Brooks in the backend of the secondary after beating out Karlos Williams for the job in fall camp. His absense means FSU will be relying on both Ramsey and the unproven but talented Keelin Smith to fill his myriad of responsibilities.

For FSU, this situation is a perfect example of the excellent depth the team boasts on both sides of the ball. Despite losing Karlos Williams (to offense) and now Hunter to injury, the Seminoles have capable players waiting in the wings that can step right in. With Ramsey's move to safety against Boston College, the opportunities for P.J. Williams, Ronald Darby and Nick Waisome should all increase.

4. How will Jameis Winston play in the second road game of his career?

Winston makes the second road appearance of his career Saturday.

After a 25-of-27 nationally-televised debut at Pittsburgh earlier this month in which he set the college football world on fire, it's no surprise that Winston had this to say this week about playing on the road:

"I just love away games period," Winston said. "I think they're just fun games, and we get to travel, so that's always fun. I've never been to Boston before, but I've heard it's pretty nice. We're only there for one day, it's not like a baseball trip."

With his cool and collected demeanor, Winston seems tailor-made to excel on the road and he'll get that chance Saturday at Boston College as the Seminoles aim for a 2-0 start to their ACC schedule.

The Eagles, of course, are well aware that Winston appears unfazed no matter what the situation is so Boston College will probably try to pressure him as much as possible with different blitzes and looks. But will that work?

"Me personally, I love when they blitz because I have a veteran offensive line that knows when they're blitzing --they're actually watching film so they know when something's coming," Winston said. "And I have backs that are going to stand in there and protect me in Coach Fisher's offense. We like the opportunities to make big plays when people are trying to blitz us."

FSU injury report

Probable for game
Out for game
Out for season

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