Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va., is not the place to be an “eye violator.”
Boston College strong safety Jahmin Muse is a committed practitioner of “clean eyes,” a defensive backfield directive instituted by Eagles’ head coach Jeff Hafley, defensive coordinator Tem Lukabu and secondary coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim.
“If you have someone, man, don’t take your eyes off that man,” said Muse, a 6-foot, 214-pound redshirt junior from Elizabeth, N.J. “In the safety room right now, we have a rapport where we have MA’s (missed assignment) and eye violators and you don’t want to be an MA guy and you don’t want to be an eye violator guy.
“You have to keep your eyes clean and if you have that man, you do not take your eyes off that man. You do not want to be an eye violator.
“You do not want to come in on Sunday and be known as an eye violator. It is not a good look. It has definitely happened to me and I’ve had to work at fixing that mistake.”
Muse will have his clean eyes locked down on specific targets when Boston College (3-1, 2-1) visits No. 23 Virginia Tech in an ACC prime-time matchup on Saturday night at 8 p.m. BC and VT have a rivalry that dates back to the Big East.
The Hokies lead the ACC and are third nationally in scoring offense, averaging 42.7 points per game, and are third in the league in total offense with 492.3 yards per game.
Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente built his scoring machine on a dominant rushing attack that leads the ACC with 299.3 yards per game. The Hokies are 14th in passing offense with 193 yards per game.
Fuente uses two dual-threat quarterbacks, Hendon Hooker and Braxton Burmeister, who is second on the team in rushing with 140 yards on 34 carries. A potent ground game sets up an opposing front seven for play-action passes, a situation Muse expects from the Hokies on any down and distance.
“You’ve got to keep your eyes clean, that’s the one big thing we’ve been harping on since the beginning of the week,” said Muse. “You can’t have eye violators — if you have the tight end keep your eyes on the tight end.
“If you have the slot keep your eyes on the slot. Play-action shouldn’t be too bad for us this week if we keep our eyes clean and run to the ball.”
The Hokies’ two main offensive threats are tailback Khalil “Juice” Herbert and junior tight end James Mitchell.
Herbert is a transfer from Kansas who rushed for 189 yards on 11 carries when the Jayhawks visited Alumni Stadium last season. Herbert leads the nation with 246.3 all-purpose yards per game and tops the ACC in rushing with 149.7 yards per game.
“We’ve got to let it fly,” said Muse. “We had a few problems stopping him the previous game but we have to be relentless to the ball and you can’t think about him making you miss.”
Mitchell is a 6-foot-3, 242-pound junior who leads the Hokies with 10 receptions for 194 yards with a 19.4 yards per catch average and three touchdowns. If Muse is assigned to Mitchell, he will be well prepared because he practices against BC tight end Hunter Long on a routine basis.
“Going up against Hunter Long all fall has made me a better player,” said Muse. “Going up against 82 (Mitchell) from V. Tech, he is the complete tight end.
“He can block, he can catch and is physical in the run game. I’ve got a lot on my hands but I’m ready to take on the task. It’s going to be a good game on Saturday night with me and 82. He’s a hell of a player and I’m ready to get after it.”