One of my favorite sayings in sports is styles make the fight, a boxing reference that translates to all athletic competition. Opposites attract and often give you the best contests.
Ali-Frazier, Celtics-Lakers, Russell-Chamberlain and Chris-Martina are just some of the greatest historic examples. Certain types of teams-players with differing styles can be very entertaining to watch.
In the 2014 AdvoCare V100 Bowl we have that potential when the hurry-up style Arizona Wildcats (7-5,4-5 in Pac 12) team face a power heavy Boston College Eagles (7-5, 4-4 in ACC) squad in Louisiana, December 31st.
1 Back Battle
This game features two of the top running backs in the nation with one of them being a Heisman Trophy finalist and the nation’s leading rusher while the other was only player on the Arizona roster to make 1st or 2nd team All-Conference in the Pac 12.
Boston College’s bell cow back, Andre Williams, topped the nation with 2102 (175.2 per game) yards and scored 17 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Wildcat star runner, Ka’Deem Cary, ranked 5th in the country with 1761 yards and 2nd in the country average wise (156.) as he missed a game due to a disciplinary issue.
Over the last two seasons, Carey has amazed this incredible stat line: 3,645 rush yards while scoring 40 times. Eagles fans should be excited that Williams has had some time to recover and heal from late season wear and tear and in the words of his Coach Steve Addazio “he would be ready to roll”.
2 Old vs. New
This matchup also presents two varying ways to move and attack a defense. They both want to run the ball and are great at it. But how they approach it could not be more different. Arizona wants to spread you out; creating run lanes then hit a crease for a big play. BC?
They want to wear you out physically and punish you with a big veteran offensive line and multiple tight end sets. The Eagles basically run 2 plays - the power O and counter - out of various formations, over and over again. They want to test your front seven and its manhood.
Another major difference in the offensive attacks is how the quarterback is used as a weapon.BC has very few designed QB runs outside of standard scrambles, sneaks and play action rollouts for senior starter Chase Rettig. In Rich Rodriquez spread attack, the QB is a runner first (1st year starter B.J. Denker ran for 898 yards, outstanding for a man under center) and passer second (2,241 passing).
To be victorious, the BC defense must respect this on all three downs. The read option is a Wildcat staple and defensive discipline and assignment football are keys to defending it. Interesting to note that The Eagles have not seen much option this season after playing Georgia Tech and it’s vaunted triple option attack for the past couple of years in the ACC they did not play the Yellow Jackets in 2013.
However, BC faced an athletically challenged Army triple option attack this year and gave up 326 yards on 65 carries including an 80-yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter.
3 Pass - The New Four-Letter Word
While both of these teams can run the ball with any team in the Nation (Zona 11th ranked run game in nation, BC 20th), neither passing game will remind you of the 1989 San Francisco 49ers (Wildcats 101st passing yardage, BC 116th).
BC is one of the most run heavy teams in all of college football and when they do pass, they tend to throw it deep and to star senior, WR Alex Amidon. Look for almost every roll out play action pass to be deep pattern to #83 either down the sideline or behind the safety in the deep middle. Arizona has a much more diverse passing game (4 players with 20+ catches, 3 with 30+ each) and they also feature a first year starter in Denker. As I mentioned above, he is also an excellent runner and must be accounted for on each play.
4 BC O: A Real Two Man show
Since this game was announced the members of the Wildcats offense have probably heard the names Andre Williams and Alex Amidon so much they feel they are members of their own team. You would be hard pressed to find two players on 1 team who are so dominant in the pass and run games than these two.
The numbers and stats do not lie. Williams carried the ball on 329 of the 478 designed run plays (Almost 69 percent of the rushes) with backup Myles Willis and Rettig the only other Eagles carrying the ball 50 times.
Amidon’s impact on the pass attack is almost as statistically dominant with the seniors’ 67 catches, 903 yards and 5 receiving TDs all leading the Eagles. Only three other BC players have more than 10 catches and those three have posted 10,11 and 12 receptions!!!!! Two players caught 3 touchdowns apiece and the 2nd highest yardage total on the Boston College roster came from tight end Mike Naples with 198! A word to the wise - Wildcats defenders focus on #83 on passing downs!!!!!!
5 8 is Enough for 2013 and Beyond
Seven wins is nice for both of these teams but 8 would be better. Rich Rodriquez has done a great job taking over a beleaguered Wildcats program in 2012 and has this squad heading in the right direction. Meanwhile, Addazio inherited a 10-loss team and almost triple their win total in season one.
BC was the only team to be within twenty of No. 1 ranked Florida State and was dominating that game until two late TD passes turned the tide at the end of the 1st half. Recruiting has picked up and the New England native has the look of a keeper. This bowl represents momentum to two coaches and teams that have it but would like more fuel for 2014 and the future.