BC Eagles Football Readies For 2012 Season on Media Day; Kickoff with the ‘Canes Three Weeks Away
CHESTNUT HILL – Hope and optimism for successful new season were in the air on Friday afternoon as fourth-year head coach Frank Spaziani and the Boston College Eagles football team hosted its annual Media Day in the Conte Forum.
Following the event, the team participated in its first practice dressed in full pads and the fifth of the preseason overall.
The team loses just six starters heading into the new campaign – which opens with two straight home games beginning on Sept. 1 against Atlantic Coast Conference foe Miami. All-American LB Luke Kuechly and four-year starting CB Donnie Fletcher will headline the missing puzzle pieces but 17 starters and 44 letterwinners return from last year’s squad.
“We’re excited about the year and it starts with the new stadium – the new turf, new brick,” Spaziani said. “We have a tremendous attitude from our players…They have adapted well to the new coaches, the new systems on offense and defense.”
That new staff is headlined by coordinator Doug Martin, who spent the 2011 season in the same position at New Mexico State after seven years as head coach at Kent State. Offensive line coach Jim Bollman comes to the Heights after ten years at Ohio State, serving as offensive coordinator.
“The trend with wins and losses is obvious to everybody but the program is going up. There are a lot of situations that have occurred. We are not going to revisit history. I understand where we are at and that we want to win.”
The major news of the day’s events was the announcement of a “significant” injury to senior TE Chris Pantale, who is estimated to miss 6-8 weeks with a broken bone in his right foot.
“We’re very multiple,” Martin commented. “We’re a multiple one back offense. We can give people two tight ends, we can give people one tight end…The benefit of that is when we have an injury, like with Chris, we can move people around. We can shift and motion to get people where we want and to get the match-ups we want.”
Starting quarterback has not been a question for the Eagles in recent years and the same rings true again with the return of Chase Rettig for his junior season. Early on in his tenure, Martin has high praise on his veteran signal caller.
“I think Chase has a chance to be as good a quarterback as there is in this conference. I really do. I think he’s got the physical ability…[but] the key is consistency. I think in the past he’s had good games, but it’s about having good game after good game after good game. That’s what makes the Matt Ryan’s of the world so effective.”
The Sierra Madre, Calif. native has started each of the last 20 games under center for the Eagles and threw at least one touchdown pass in nine of 12 games last season.
“It’s been [a] good [start],” said the California native on the team’s new system with Martin and Bollman running the program. “In the spring, we got used to the plays and being in a different offense has helped me understand the terminology. Essentially, an offense is running a whole bunch of the same plays the same with different words…so I was able to learn it a little bit faster.”
With Kuechly’s graduation, the team will look to junior Kevin Pierre-Louis and senior Nick Clancy to fill part of the void for such an irreplaceable presence on the defensive side of the ball.
“What you have seen with Kevin is how he has progressed and matured as a player,” said 16th-year defensive coordinator Bill McGovern. “He understands the game a little more, he’s seeing it quicker, and the leadership out on the field with his practice habits sets a great example for the younger guys.”
Pierre-Louis, a Norwalk, Conn. native, leads all returnees with 22 career starts and was second on the 2011 squad with 74 total tackles in nine contests.
“[His absence] obviously leaves a hole in the defense and how we understand that,” Pierre-Louis said. “He did a tremendous job for us over the past three years and we know that we have to pick up where he left off. That’s pretty much what the entire defense is trying to do because there is really no replacing him.”
BC also returns 19 offensive players with starting experience during their careers, including the trio of quarterback letterwinners. The team also boasts a pair of returning tailbacks in juniors Rolandan Finch and Andre Williams, who combined to rush for 1,222 yards and seven touchdowns.
As a sophomore, Finch, an Indiana native, led the Eagles with 157 rushing attempts and 705 yards and his contribution to the team this season can only increase with the departure of Montel Harris.
If you are looking for a cupcake start to the season, don’t look to Chestnut Hill as the Eagles open with the Hurricanes before the regional rival Maine Black Bears bring the opposition for the annual New England rivalry game on Sept. 8. BC opens the road schedule with a tough test at Northwestern and will also welcome Maryland, Notre Dame, and Virginia Tech to Alumni Stadium.
Let the countdown officially begin – only 21 days to kickoff!