The Eagles (3-3, 1-2 ACC) arrive in Chapel Hill with an up-and-down season on their hands during head coach Steve Addazio's first season in Chestnut Hill. Boston College opened the year 2-0 with wins over Villanova and Wake Forest, but have faltered a bit lately in losing three of their last four games. The positive spin on the recent struggles is that two of those losses came at the hands of perennial ACC powerhouses Clemson and Florida State. The Eagles played well against the top competition and contended throughout both games before eventually slipping into the losing column.
Addazio's Eagles don't overwhelm from a statistical standpoint in any category. Boston College ranks 99th nationally in total offense (352.8 ypg) as well as 62nd in rushing offense (172.3 ypg) and 104th in passing offense (180.5 ypg) through the first half of the season. Defensively, the Eagles don't fair much better, ranking 89th in the country in total defense (428.8 ypg), 98th in rushing defense (196.6 ypg) and 111th in team passing efficiency defense (153.81 ypg).
Despite the lacking statistical feats, the Boston College power running game features one of the best running backs in the country in senior Andre Williams. The Eagles' tailback ranks fifth in the nation in yards per game (139.7 yards). Quarterback Chase Rettig is completing 63.8 percent of his passes (83-of-130) for 1,083 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions, while wide receiver Alex Amidon (38 catches, 547 yards, 3 TD) presents a deep threat option in the passing game. Both Kasim Edebali (4.5 sacks) and Kevin Pierre-Louis (59 tackles) steer the defensive side of the ball for the Eagles. Boston College will be rested on Saturday following its bye week.
"The running back they have is doing a tremendous job. They're putting him in a lot of positions to do that with a lot of formations and shifting and motions to confuse a defense or to get a defense misaligned and take advantage of it. He's a good player. Defensively, they're doing quite a bit. A lot of it is to probably create some chaos and some confusion for your blocking schemes and your protections. They've done a really good job with it through this point in the season." - UNC head coach Larry Fedora
"On offense, they are averaging over 410 yards of offense per game. Bryn Renner, the senior quarterback, is 119-for-188 for over 1,400 yards passing, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Then of course you see Marquise Williams in the game, you saw him last week, and they were rotating sequences. He can run as well as throw. We have to prepare for two different styles of guys."- Addazio
"They don't run a whole lot of plays. They don't have to. You run the same plays basically out of all of the different looks but the defense has to be able to adjust to all of those looks. On the other side of the ball, they like to create confusion. They're going to hit some plays on you because they're going to do some things that are unique and not normal." - Fedora
Stat to Watch: Penalties
The Tar Heels have struggled to find any sort of consistency on the field this season. One theme that continues to arise, though, is the amount of penalties flagged against UNC. The Tar Heels currently rank 104th in the nation in fewest penalties per game (7.50 penalties). The damage isn't minuscule either for Fedora's team as they also rank 102nd in the country in fewest penalty yards per game (63.17 yards). Boston College, however, resides on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of plays plagued by penalties. Addazio's disciplined approach and background as an offensive line coach has led to the Eagles ranking 8th nationally in both fewest penalties per game (3.67 penalties) and fewest penalty yards per game (31.8 yards).
Player to Watch: Andre Williams
Williams leads the ACC in attempts (157) and yards (838), while ranking second in the conference in touchdowns (7) this season. The big bulldozing back has consistently generated offense on the ground for the Eagles so far this season and is the centerpiece of the offense. Williams has been a bit banged up as of late but Addazio expects him to be ready to deliver blows in the ground game this weekend against the Tar Heels.
"He feels good, he looks good. I think we've done a good job managing him," Addazio said during his weekly press conference earlier this week. "You can't expect that guy to be banged around all week in practice and then go tote the rock 30-35 times. I think that's gone well to this point.
"He's doing a good job, he's grinding, he's done everything we've asked, he's played the way we've asked him to play, he's been durable, he's been tough. I think the guy has really blossomed and he plays a position and a style where I just hope we can keep him healthy."
Williams will serve a pivotal role in determining the outcome of Saturday's contest as UNC ranks 102nd in the nation in rushing defense (203.3 ypg) and 92nd in scoring defense (30.7 ppg).