We talk quarterbacks, Luke Kuechly, ACC expansion, and more. Let's jump in.
1. 3-7? You guys are usually good. What gives?
This season has been a perfect storm of suck. So much so that I don’t even know where to begin on this question. Some highlights:
-- The offense is anemic. Obviously it hurts when you lose your first-year offensive coordinator, All-Conference RB and arguably the best receiver on the team after the first two games, but those losses alone cannot describe how bad this offense is. BC is averaging just 18.0 points per game (15.0 against I-A opponents). That is second-worst in the BCS behind only Kentucky.
-- Offensive sets typically consist of run-run-pass-punt
-- BC takes off entire halves of football games on offense, including turtling last Saturday to the tune of +3 yards of total offense in the second half.
-- Our usually reliable offensive line has struggled.
-- Other than our linebackers, the defense has also taken a step back from recent years.
-- BC is losing the turnover battle, currently at -8.
And oh, by the way, we lost to Duke. At home. On a missed chip-shot field goal. So, yeah.
2. How is the development of Chase Rettig going? The last time the Irish saw him, he was making his first career start. How has he improved since then?
Not well? Rettig has been OK, but hasn’t been great. In fact, the last time the Irish saw him to today, I’d say not all that much has changed with Rettig. Rettig still shows flashes of brilliance at times, like his game-winning TD pass to Colin Larmond Jr. in the first half of the N.C. State game, which may have been his best pass of the season thus far.
But other times, he doesn’t have much touch on his throws and his internal clock as to when to get out of the pocket when things break down still needs work. There have been several occasions this season where Rettig could have picked up a first down with his legs, only for him to decide to step back and throw an incompletion. Those drive-killers haven’t exactly helped the offense build any sort of momentum this year.
That said, Rettig has been severely handicapped by a couple of factors:
-- Boston College’s first-year offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers look a medical leave of absence just two games into the season and was replaced by tight ends coach Dave Brock. Neither has been able to establish an offensive identity or call a half-decent game on offense.
-- The Eagles’ usually reliable offensive line has regressed to the point where it looks like a shell of its former self. In recent weeks, the line has played better, but there have also been games where I have feared for Rettig’s well-being.
-- Key injuries to offensive players such as ACC Preseason Player of the Year Montel Harris and WR Ifeanyi Momah, who had a huge game in the season opener against Northwestern before going down to injury.
So I think the jury is still out on Rettig. Given a competent offensive coaching staff, some improvement on the line and the return of Harris and Momah next season, I think Rettig can improve. But we just haven’t seen much improvement from his first start last September against the Irish.
3. Notre Dame claims to have a "change of pace" quarterback in Andrew Hendrix, but the coaches seem reluctant to play him. Meanwhile, Boston College does have one in Josh Bordner and he even got an entire series to himself in the games against Florida State and NC State. Explain how Bordner is used and why he's been successful.
Bordner is used to run the ball. That’s it. I really don’t understand why Bordner got his own series against N.C. State, considering this is the basketball equivalent of telegraphing a pass. And by "pass," I mean never passing …
1st and 10 at NCST 46 Josh Bordner rush for 2 yards to the NCSt 44, tackled by Terrell Manning.
3rd and 3 at NCST 39 Alex Amidon rush for 8 yards to the NCSt 31, tackled by Earl Wolff for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at NCST 31 Josh Bordner rush for 2 yards to the NCSt 29, tackled by Dwayne Maddox.
1st and 10 at NCST 31 Josh Bordner rush for 2 yards to the NCSt 29, tackled by Dwayne Maddox.
2nd and 8 at NCST 29 NC STATE penalty 5 yard offside accepted, no play.
2nd and 3 at NCST 24 BOSTON COLLEGE penalty 9 yard holding accepted, no play.
2nd and 12 at NCST 33 Josh Bordner rush for 1 yard to the NCSt 32, tackled by T.Y. McGill.
3rd and 11 at NCST 32 Josh Bordner rush for 8 yards to the NCSt 24, tackled by Earl Wolff.
So on that particular drive, that’s six rushes, no pass attempts. The only variation in offensive play calling in that series was an end around by WR Alex Amidon. Even on a third and 11, Spaz and OC Dave Brock decided to use Bordner to run the ball. But this is the type of play calling we’ve come to expect from BC this season.
As to why Bordner’s been successful … well, I’m not sure if you can say he’s been all that effective, to be honest. Bordner has rushed for 66 yards on 13 carries this season, while completing just 1-of-2 passes for 37 yards. He’s "successful" because the Eagles backfield is extremely thin and he’s been getting a few carries here and there and partly because I don’t think opposing defenses prepared to face a mobile, run-first QB (given the fact that Bordner coming into games is a very recent phenomenon).
4. Luke Kuechly will have 10+ tackles on Saturday. This is a fact. But what other BC defender will make an impact?
There are few bright spots in an otherwise miserable football season. Kuechly is definitely one of them. His 168 tackles are best in the nation, 30 clear of the next closest defender. He’s recorded 10+ tackles in 32 consecutive games, and will break the ACC’s all-time conference tackle record with six tackles this Saturday. Kuechly has an incredible knack for knowing where the play is going and getting to the ball carrier before anyone else does.
Other than Kuechly, there haven’t been many other defenders that have made a huge impact this season. On the line, Max Holloway has been playing better in recent weeks, and has done a good job of breaking through opposing lines and getting pressure on the QB. Holloway knocked down the Wolfpack pass on 4th down that sealed the victory last weekend for the Eagles.
The secondary has been decimated by injuries and preseason departures, as just one projected starter (CB Donnie Fletcher) is still starting for the Eagles. Fletcher had an interception last week, the 11th in his career but just his first this season. The rest of the DBs are all very young and inexperienced. Al Louis-Jean is a Miami de-commit and one to keep an eye on, but the best of the rest may be CB Manny Asprilla.
5. How do you feel about ACC expansion? Do you like the additions of Pitt and Syracuse? How do you feel about the possibility (however remote) of Notre Dame potentially joining the ACC?
We are obviously thrilled with the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Above all else, the additions of Pitt and Syracuse validate Boston College’s 2003 decision to leave the Big East. Syracuse was a part of the original ACC expansion plan as a way of expanding into the northeastern U.S. The conference now realizes that original plan with a conference that spans from Chestnut Hill to Miami and picks up two new states and two large TV markets between Massachusetts and Maryland. One of the biggest perks of this move is that it will allow the conference to renegotiate its current television rights deal with ESPN, which has fallen behind every AQ conference with the exception of the Big East. It also will help expand the TV coverage map into parts of the Northeast – most notably, New York City – that currently do not get ACC Network coverage. Finally, the moves add two traditional football rivals into the conference for BC. BC and Syracuse have met 46 times previously and the only school we’ve played more times in school history is Holy Cross. Similarly, BC and Pitt have met 29 times.
As for Notre Dame joining the ACC, it’s got to be "all or nothing" in my mind. The ACC is currently very stable at 14 programs and I simply don’t see the upside to letting Notre Dame dump its hoops and Olympic sports in the ACC while allowing Irish football to remain an independent with its own TV deal. Those two guiding principles – revenue inequality and separate TV deals -- were no small part responsible for the Big East’s current lot in life and the temporary instability of the Big 12.
And while I don’t see the Irish willingly giving up football independence, if Notre Dame did join the ACC as an all sports member, shared revenue equally, gave up its separate TV deal with NBC, joined hands and sang Kumbaya with the rest of the conference, then I’d be more than happy to see the conference add the Irish. Just bring Penn State or Rutgers with you. We’re full up on women’s basketball schools (sorry, UConn).
Oh yeah, and no pods. Pods are stupid. Ask Coach K.
6. Who ya got?
I would be insane to think that BC can actually win this football game. That said, I think the Boston College defense plays its best game of the season and maybe even finds the end zone up against a team that has struggled every bit as much as BC has in the turnover battle. The D keeps us in the game for three quarters, but the Irish eventually wear BC down and pull away in the fourth quarter. Pressed for a prediction, I’ll go Notre Dame 38, Boston College 24.
Thanks again to Brian! Be sure to stop by the Open Thread tomorrow!