WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Wake Forest and Boston College will try to beat Hurricane Florence — and each other.
The Demon Deacons (2-0) play host to the Eagles (2-0) on Thursday in a key Atlantic Coast Conference matchup moved ahead two hours in an attempt to finish before the hurricane reaches central North Carolina.
“It’s a decision of, is it safe?” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “It looks like we can do it in a safe way for our players, for BC’s players and for our fans.
“We want to play the game,” he added. “We’ve done all of the prep and all of the practice. We’re ready to play the game. There’s more to consider. We just have to keep monitoring it and making sure it’s the right thing to do.”
While several other ACC schools called off their games for Saturday, BC and Wake will try to squeeze this one in. That meant a short week of preparation got even shorter by a couple of hours, with officials hoping the earlier kickoff time will allow the Eagles to take off for Boston before conditions deteriorate.
“I feel like I’m in a submarine right now,” BC coach Steve Addazio said of his focus on the game. “If I don’t have complete focus — you miss a day, so to speak, or your practice isn’t right, you’re done. There is no make-up on that now. So I’ve been pretty locked into it.”
On the field, the game matches a pair of teams with designs on continuing their steady, multiyear climbs up the Atlantic Division hierarchy and challenging No. 2 Clemson for the title.
The Eagles are led by AJ Dillon, the conference’s leading rusher at 123.5 yards per game and someone who could put up big numbers if rain and wind neutralize the passing game. Wake Forest counters with explosive receiver Greg Dortch, who leads the nation with 255 all-purpose yards per game.
“Do you need to be aware of him? One hundred percent,” Addazio said. “Can he make an impact on the game? He absolutely can and will, so you’ve got to account for all that.”
Boston College is chasing its first 3-0 start since 2007 — when the Eagles eventually reached No. 2 in the AP Top 25 and played in the ACC championship game. Wake Forest has opened each of the previous two seasons with four consecutive wins.
But how good are they?
Both teams have put up big stats during their undefeated starts, with a combined average margin of victory of nearly 30 points. But there’s still a question of how good they actually are because neither has yet to play a power-conference team. Among the teams they’ve beaten are Tulane, Massachusetts, and two FCS teams. “I don’t know what the value of those stats,” Addazio said. “They’re not real to me.”
Wake Forest’s offensive line leads the ACC in fewest tackles for a loss allowed (six) and has given up one sack. That group should get a test from a Boston College defense that has seven sacks in two games.
The Demon Deacons lead the conference with eight sacks and Clawson says that number could be higher because “we’ve missed a lot of sacks.” Wake Forest did allow 345 yards passing to FCS Towson a week ago. “There’s some fundamental things we need to get better at,” Clawson said. “The message is, we’re capable of being better and that’s why breakdowns happen. We have to coach them out of it.”