TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The 51 points Florida State hung on Boston College Saturday were the most any team’s run up on the Eagles in 12 years.
The number pierced the pride of a program that’s made defense its calling card.
“I don’t want to say it’s embarrassing, but it is embarrassing as a defense,” said linebacker Nick Clancy. “We’ve had such a strong tradition of having good defenses here, that it makes you feel bad because you feel like you’re a part of the problem.
“That’s not a knock against our guys because every week we work our butts off in practice. But it’s difficult coming off a game like that where they score 50 and guys work so hard and knowing the strong tradition we have here at BC on defense. It’s really hard to swallow.
In the nine games between the Seminoles and the Eagles through 2010, only one was decided by more than 20 points. In each of the last two seasons, Florida State has beaten BC by 31 and 44 points.
Florida State mowed through 649 yards of total offense, its second-highest total this season.
Frank Spaziani, a defensive-minded coach, was clearly disappointed but he said his players are working.
“That’s not easy to swallow,” Spaziani said. “The yardage and certainly the points, because the points are the biggest thing. But what I do see are guys that are practicing hard, working hard and competing. We had some of those younger guys compete out there. So you can build on that, and that’s what you can ask for. You’ve just got to keep putting them in the best possible position.
“It’s very hard here, because of who they are. That’s a good football team out there with a lot of weapons. There’s a lot of offense out there for our guys to see.”
Trying a new route
When wideout Bobby Swigert returned from a knee injury two weeks ago against Clemson, the Eagles welcomed back one of their biggest weapons the past two seasons. But the question then became, how do they use him?
Alex Amidon had emerged as the team’s top receiver, playing the role Swigert had carved out down to every nuance.
Last week, offensive coordinator Doug Martin began to tinker around, trying to find ways to get Swigert involved.
He decided to experiment with lining Swigert up in the backfield, and it paid off when Swigert turned a short pass over the middle from Chase Rettig into an 18-yard touchdown, finding a soft spot in the defense and weaving his way to the end zone.
“They blitzed off the outside actually, so I didn’t even run the route,” Swigert said. “I just ran straight up the middle, was wide open and Chase saw me. I saw an opening and made a couple cuts.”
Swigert matched David Dudeck for the team high in catches with five, for 61 yards. It was the first time this season that Amidon didn’t lead the Eagles in receptions.
“Since he’s back now, once again, there’s only one back and you’ve got to put him in certain spots,” Spaziani said. “Alex has been making some plays and Bobby’s a very good football player, so we’re trying to get him in different spots and I think Doug’s done a good job.”
While he and Amidon do similar things, Swigert said he sees them both working as weapons in the offense.
“Me and Alex are obviously really unselfish guys,” Swigert said. “Whatever we can do to help the team. Obviously, Alex is having a tremendous season. He’s obviously a deep threat, whatever I can do to make us get better every week. Hopefully, we can keep meshing with Chase and keep throwing the ball.”
A broken foot kept tight end Chris Pantale on the sideline for the first five games, and even though the offense moved the ball as effectively as it had in years, in many ways it was still limited without him.
He made his first start Saturday, and although he was held without a catch, he gave the Eagles offense a dimension it had been missing.
“He adds a certain amount of toughness, experience obviously, and leadership,” Spaziani said. “And some confidence. He’s been out there, he’s been in things. There’s a lot of intangibles besides the physical stuff that gives us some more stuff that we can do offensively.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.