These weren't the Florida State Seminoles of the 90's, but that doesn't take anything away from Boston College's monumental victory on Saturday. With only five games remaining in the season, BC now controls their own destiny to play for the ACC Championship and a shot at a BCS bowl game. In what was seemingly a rebuilding year for BC at the start of the season, the team is now in the driver's seat to have one of their most successful seasons in the school's history.
This was one of the hardest "Hot 11" selections I've had to make. There were at least 15 different players/coaches that could've been selected, and there are a few guys being shafted. With that being said here's the list.
Matt Ryan - It has to be apparent, even to the most casual observer, that Ryan has a pocket presence that only a handful of college quarterbacks possess. Ryan seems to never hold onto the ball too long, and when he does, he knows to get the heck out of the pocket. There were at least two occasions were Ryan felt the FSU pass rush coming on, and started to "run" for some yards. As the FSU linebackers came to meet him, Ryan released the ball about an inch in front of the line of scrimmage to a receiver who was left wide open.
The play by Ryan that really impressed me came in the 3rd quarter, with a little over 3:00 remaining. BC had a 3rd and 9 at their own 3-yard line, and looked like they were about to give the ball right back to FSU. Ryan got outside the pocket, and just when he was about to get jacked up for a safety by a FSU defender, the quarterback found Tony Gonzalez for a 48-yard pass play that got the Eagles out of trouble. Ryan knew he was going to get leveled, and boy did he ever, as he took the biggest hit of the game on that play. It was apparent to me after that turn of events that the Eagles weren't going to lose that game.
Offensive Line - On a day when the big guys needed to protect Matt Ryan more than ever, they didn't disappoint. Against a very solid FSU front four, the Eagles O-line gave Ryan an adequate amount of time to throw and kept the hits on the quarterback to a minimum. Furthermore, they kept some holes open for L.V. Whitworth just long enough to keep the running game somewhat productive.
Tom O'Brien - If nothing else, at least TOB can shut up his critics for the time being. As recent as last week local sports radio personalities in Boston were saying that O'Brien is a nice guy, but can't win the big games. Well maybe after knocking off Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Florida State in the same season, TOB has proved his skeptics wrong.
DeJuan Tribble - On the field where Deion Sanders used to make game breaking plays every week, Tribble made one of his own, when he picked off Drew Weatherford's pass for a TD in the 2nd quarter. Tribble made a great break on the pass, and got his1st INT for a TD in his career.
Sulaiman Sanni - I have to admit, Sulaiman Sanni wasn't part of my BC/FSU preview last week. Where the heck did this guy come from? The walk-on senior is listed in the BC media guide as a "valuable member of the scout team" in the 2004 and 2005 seasons, which is a nice way of saying that Sanni doesn't suit up for games. Well for the 2006 season you can list Sanni as "a valuable member of the BC team", as he had one of the biggest plays of the day when he stripped the ball from FSU receiver Caz Piurowski in the 2nd quarter. The fumble was returned by Wes Davis to the FSU 1-yard line and set up a Brian Toal TD.
Austin Giles - It's getting a little rhetoric to say every week that Giles is getting better and better, but it's the truth. Giles, came up with a nice sack in the 3rd quarter, when he flew around the FSU right tackle to sack Weatherford on 3rd down. It was a classic example of a defensive end leaving a right tackle's "pants around his ankles". The most impressive part on that play was that BC had just a 4 man pass rush, so Giles toasted the offensive lineman 1 on 1.
Larry Anam - Anam's biggest contribution of the day was on the last play of the game. With FSU trailing by only 5, Drew Weatherford heaved up a Hail Mary to 6'6" receiver Greg Carr. Anam got into perfect position in front of Carr, and jumped in the air to make the interception, and seal the victory. Every single BC player, coach, and fan were holding their breath on that play, hoping that the ball wouldn't bounce up in the air off of Anam or be caught for a TD.
I was also impressed at how physical Anam was on his tackles. It's the hardest he's hit people all year.
Nick Larkin - It's pretty obvious at this point that Larkin brings his "A" game when BC is playing tough teams. Larkin registered 1.5 sacks Saturday, and got his 1st solo sack since the Clemson game. Larkin and Giles are starting to form a dangerous pass rushing duo for BC's opponents.
Brandon Robinson - It's good to see college players bounce back from a tough week. Robinson couldn't catch a pass to save his life in the VT game, but against FSU Robinson came through in a big way. The receiver did his best to impersonate Terry Glenn, when he hauled in a 44-yard reception while fading backwards in the 3rd quarter. The highlight reel catch led to a BC field goal.
Jolonn Dunbar - Dunbar was just one of the many players that had a hand in leading the Eagles to victory Saturday. Dunbar led the team with 7 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a loss. One play that stood out was on FSU's 2nd to last drive of the game. On a 2nd and 4 at the BC 10-yard line, FSU running back Antone Smith took a hand off and looked like he was about to take off for a 1st down, or a TD. Dunbar stuffed him dead in his tracks to set up a 3rd down. FSU had a turnover on downs 2 plays later. If Dunbar missed that tackle, the game would've probably been tied up.
Johnny Ayers - It's kind of unusual to have a punter in the "Hot 11" when the team wins. However, I couldn't overlook Ayers and his All-American like performance on Saturday. Ayers, averaged almost 42 yards per punt, but more importantly, he pinned the 'Noles inside the 20-yard line on three out of his four punts.
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