Boston College beat writer answers questions about Eagles
Posted: 11/09/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Rachel Terlep
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Boston College's Chase Rettig (11) looks to pass against Wake Forest during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani looks on during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Boston College's Alex Amidon (83) runs past Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson (9) after a catch during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. Wake Forest won 28-14. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Boston College's Chris Pantale (81) reacts after a touchdown catch against Wake Forest during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. Wake Forest won 28-14. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
The Irish (9-0) take to the road this week to face Boston College (2-7), a shadow of one of Notre Dame’s most storied rivalries.
Richard Thompson, Boston College beat writer for The Boston Herald, was on hand this week to talk an Eagles’ season left in shambles and quarterback Chase Rettig, a lone bright spot on a suffering team.
Q: At the beginning of the year, it looked like Boston College had the tools for a winning season. Now the Eagles are 2-7 with wins over Maine (an FCS team) and a Maryland team that has lost four quarterbacks. What happened this year? When did BC start to fall apart?
Richard Thompson: BC’s defense was overly dependent on middle linebacker Luke Kuechly to make a disproportionate number of plays. The Eagles deficiencies at stopping the run were exposed by Miami tailback Duke Johnson in the season opener.
Teams (note: Army and Georgia Tech) have been running on them ever since. The Eagles’ defense has been woeful getting off the field on third down. Four teams have converted on third down 10 or more times against BC this season. BC is 2-7 because of its defense.
Q: It looks like quarterback Chase Rettig is a bright spot on this team, especially with Boston College’s total lack of a running game. Who are some of Rettig’s top targets and how do you see him holding up against Notre Dame’s front seven?
RT: Rettig has been amazing. BC lost tight end Chris Pantale to a broken foot in training camp. Senior wide receiver Colin Larmond has been on an extended suspension. Junior receiver Bobby Swigert, the team’s leading pass catcher in 2011, missed the first three games with a leg injury.
BC’s passing game was saved by junior Alex Amidon, who came from the bottom of the depth chart to become a nationally ranked receiver. Amidon is fifth in yards per game (119.2) and 10th in receptions per game (7.44).
Q: The Boston College defense is giving up more than 30 points and 233 rushing yards per game. Was the defense’s downfall the loss of Kuechly? Are there any players worth noting on that side of the ball?
RT: The BC linebackers have excellent numbers that have been artificially inflated by a soft and injury-plagued front four. Nick Clancy, a fifth-year senior, has emerged as solid middle linebacker while strong safety Jim Noel is the Eagles’ best defender in the secondary.
BC has not started the same front four in consecutive games this season.
Q: What’s the atmosphere like in Chestnut Hill? Are fans and the team excited for this game — especially after what Pitt almost did at Notre Dame last week — or has this team’s legs been kicked out from under them?
RT: The fans here are listless and angry. Head Coach Frank Spaziani jokes about needing a Kevlar jacket and he will definitely be gone at the end of the season. BC hired a new athletic director named Brad Bates (Miami of Ohio) who once played for Bo Schembechler at Michigan. The kids like Spaz and play hard for him but they are not in Notre Dame’s class.
Q: With a lame-duck coach and a season in free-fall, it’s still a rivalry game and Boston College has nothing to lose this weekend. How can the Eagles pull off the upset?
RT: Rettig spoke for the team when he said the Eagles could make amends for the season with a mega-upset. BC’s roster is loaded with players from the Midwest who sailed under Notre Dame’s recruitment radar.
There is a bit of an edge in their talk, but this is a team that got rolled by Army.