Countdown to Kickoff: Boston College Eagles
Spaziani Hopes To Start New Bowl Streak in 2012
Boston College has been one of the ACC's most consistently successful programs since joining the conference in 2004, carrying over a bowl streak that eventually stretched to 12 consecutive seasons and producing stars such as current Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich.
The bowl streak was snapped last season, as injuries to star running back Montel Harris (who appeared in just two games) wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah, and defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey (who both only appeared in the season opener) and inconsistent play on both lines sent the Eagles tumbling to a 1-6 start. BC played much better down the stretch, though, as Coach Frank Spaziani's Eagles won three of their final five games, including ACC wins over Maryland, NC State and Miami. Harris (transfer) and Momah (denied a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA) have departed, and there's a tremendous hole to fill at linebacker following the loss of consensus National Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly to the NFL, but the Eagles return 17 starters from 2011 and hope that this continuity will propel them back to the level of success that has seen them win the second-most games of any ACC team (58) since 2005.
The 2011 Eagles were plagued by inconsistent offensive line play (24 sacks allowed), but are hoping that the return of four of five starters from that group (two seniors, a junior, and a sophomore) will make life easier for QB Chase Rettig. Rettig, entering his third year as a starter, improved his decision making in 2011 (12 TDs to nine INTs in 2011 from 6/9 in 2010), but still needs to improve his accuracy (53.6%). He should benefit from new offensive coordinator Doug Martin's system as well as a talented committee of running backs (Roland Finch, Andre Williams, and Taj Kimble) that combined for 1,378 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011. Their presence should ease the loss of Harris, who transferred to Temple after being dismissed from the team in the spring for rules violations. Starting wide receivers Bobby Swigert (44 receptions) and Colin Larmond, Jr. (15.5 yards per catch) form the core of a unit that returns four of its six leading pass catchers from 2011. BC suffered a blow early in pre-season camp when three-year starting tight end Chris Pantale (21 catches in 2011) suffered a season-ending knee injury, leaving redshirt junior Mike Naples as the likely starter.
Defensively, the Eagles could be better than they were in 2011 despite the loss of Kuechly, the NCAA's all-time leader in tackles-per-game (14.0), a two-time consensus All-America, and the most decorated defender in BC history. The rotation of freshman All-America Dominic Appiah, a healthy Ramsey and Dillon Quinn at defensive tackle should help shore up a run defense that slipped to sixth in the ACC in 2011 (151.1 yards per game) after leading the FBS in 2010 (82.6). Junior linebackers Kevin Pierre-Louis (74 tackles) and Steele Divitto (72) return, and will be joined by sophomore Sean Duggan (39 in a part- time role) to form one of the ACC's better units. The secondary returns two starters in senior cornerback Jim Noel and sophomore strong safety Spenser Rositano, and is looking to improve after yielding 243 yards per game and a 63% completion rate in 2011. Placekicker Nate Freese, who is sixth nationally among active players in field goals per game and has converted on 32 of 41 attempts in two seasons, gives BC a proven veteran. The Eagles will have to find a replacement for departed punter Ryan Quigley.
Spaziani and his staff are counting on a stabilized offensive line, a maturing Chase Rettig, and the return of a stingy defense to allow Boston College to start a new bowl streak in 2012. If the Eagles can weather a rough middle of the schedule (Clemson, and road games at Florida State and Georgia Tech in the span of four weeks), they have a chance to do exactly that. - Charlie Sallwasser
2011 In Review
Boston College's 12-year bowl streak came to a halt in 2011 as Coach Frank Spaziani's third season in Chestnut Hill finished with a 4-8 overall record and 3-5 in the ACC due to a myriad of injuries suffered by the Eagles, not the least of which was the knee ailments which sidelined TB Montel Harris, WR Ifeanyi Momah and DT Kaleb Ramsey... Harris' absence, an unsettled offensive line and the loss of several other players to injury, led to the Eagles stumbling to a 1-6 start...But behind the leadership and play of All-America LB Luke Kuechly, who became the most honored Boston College defensive player in its history, Spaziani's team finished strong, winning three of its final five ACC games... Kuechly. who led the nation in tackles for the second straight year, captured four major national awards: the FWAA's Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation's defensive player of the year; the Lombardi Award, given to the nation's top interior lineman or linebacker; the Dick Butkus Award, as the nation's top linebacker; and the Lott IMPACT Defensive Player of the Year...A two-time consensus All-America who was also the 2011 ACC Defensive Player of the Year declared as an early entry into this year's NFL Draft...He completed his career with 532 tackles, the second-most in FBS history....His career tackle average of 14.0 per game is an NCAA career mark.
Boston College loses only six starters, but one of them is Kuechly, one of the best linebackers in ACC history...The Eagles' defense also will be without leading pass rusher DE Max Holloway, also an NFL early entry, as well as CB Donnie Fletcher, who had 11 career interceptions, FS Hampton Hughes and P Ryan Quigley...On offense, gone are 2011 starters C Mark Spinney and TE Lars Anderson as well as Harris, who stood as the ACC's active leading career rusher with 3,735 yards when was dismissed from the team in May for team rules violations.
Numbers & Notes
.727 - The winning percentage for Boston College under head coach Frank Spaziani in November. The Eagles are 8-3 in November during Spaziani's three seasons as head coach.
5th - Over the last seven seasons, Boston College ranks 5th nationally in rushing defense, allowing its opponents just 99.53 yards per game over a span of 91 games.
32 - Junior PK Nate Freese has made 32 of his 41 field goal attempts in his first two seasons as BC's starting kicker. Freese is tied for 6th among all returnees nationally in career field goals per game, averaging 1.3 per contest.
58 - Since joining the ACC for the 2005 season, Boston College has won 58 games, the 2nd-highest total of any ACC team, trailing only Virginia Tech (84).
243 - The number of rushing yards for Boston College junior TB Rolandan Finch against Maryland in the Eagles' 28-17 win last year. Finch had 39 carries and scored twice. The yardage total was the highest for an ACC player in 2011.
1,222 - BC junior TB tandem of Rolandan Finch and Andre Williams combined to rush for 1,222 yards, 7 TDs and a 4.3 per-carry average last fall.
Boston College 2012 Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs Miami
Sept. 8 vs Maine
Sept. 15 at Northwestern
Sept. 29 vs Clemson
Oct. 6 at Army
Oct. 13 at Florida State
Oct. 20 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 27 vs Maryland
Nov. 3 at Wake Forest
Nov. 10 vs Notre Dame
Nov. 17 vs Virginia Tech
Nov. 24 at NC State