The Boston College football program is currently in a state that it has not been for a decade and half. The Eagles, who went to 12 consecutive bowl games from 1999-2010, are just 2-7 this season after posting a 4-8 mark last year. Last year’s losing record was the first for BC since going 4-7 in 1998 and they are now guaranteed back-to-back losing marks for the first time since 1997 and ’98.
Those woeful seasons came at the beginning of the Tom O’Brien era in Chestnut Hill, but O’Brien packed-up the 75 wins he earned from ’97-2006 and is currently the head coach at North Carolina State. Longtime BC assistant Frank Spaziani is now in his fourth season of a program that has been in steady decline over the past six seasons.
Spaziani’s Eagles snapped a five-game losing streak two weeks ago with a 20-17 win over Maryland, but they have dropped six of their last seven games after a 28-14 loss at Wake Forest (next week’s ND foe) this past weekend. The loss guaranteed Boston College a last place finish in the ACC’s Atlantic Division this season.
BC quarterback Chase Rettig passed for 357 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw three interceptions and fumbled once. Rettig was also sacked three times.
“He did make some plays, but I think there was too much pressure on him,” Spaziani said of his quarterback after the game. “Once again his performance, he would be the first person to tell you, needs to be better. But we’ve got to help him a little bit more. We made it a little too rough on him and guys are human too.”
Rettig is 197-of-349 yards (56-percent) this season for 2,561 yards through nine games. He has thrown 16 touchdowns, but has eight interceptions as well. Sophomore Josh Bordner has also seen limited action in two games at quarterback this season. Keep an eye on BC receiver Bobby Swigert, who is 2-for-2 on pass attempts, including a touchdown, this year.
Alex Amidon is Rettig’s top receiving target. The junior receiver has 67 receptions for 1,073 yards and six touchdowns. He leads the Eagles in all three categories. In fact, his receptions and yards represent more than twice the production of Jonathon Coleman’s 29 catches and 434 yards. Coleman ranks second in those categories to Amidon, who is coming-off a 10-catch 130-yard performance in the loss to Wake.
Andrew Williams leads BC with 599 rushing yards and four touchdowns in 2012, but he managed just five yards on four carries against Wake Forest on Saturday before leaving the game in the second quarter when he re-aggravated an abdominal injury. As a result, the Eagles ran the ball for just 12 net yards in the loss to the Deacons.
With Williams out, converted receiver David Dudek was forced into a more prominent role. Dudek netted 32 yards on 14 carries (2.3 yards/carry). Dudek has 25 net yards on 24 carries this season, while Rolandan Finch is BC’s second-leading rusher with 114 yards in 2012. Finch did not make the trip to Wake Forest last weekend and has been out of favor with his coaches since a rash of fumbles early in the season.
Boston College ranks just 118th in the nation with its rushing average of less than 75 yards-a-game. The Eagles rank 90th in total offense, with an average of 364 yards-per-game. It will be a tough task when they face an Irish defense that ranks 11th against the run and 10th overall.
As woeful as things have gone offensively, they are just as bad on the defensive side of the ball for Boston College. The Eagles, whose only other win besides Maryland this season is a week two 34-3 victory over Maine, are allowing nearly 479 yards and just below 31 points-a-game this season. Those are good for respective national rankings of 109th and 85th. Meanwhile, their 116th ranked rushing defense yields 233 yards-per-game. The Eagles are also just plus-2 in turnover margin with 10 fumbles and eight interceptions committed and a total of 16 takeaways defensively (10 interceptions by the BC defense).
Linebacker Nick Clancy leads the Eagles with 107 tackles. His 59 solo tackles rank seventh nationally. His 107 total tackles rank third in the FBS. He had 14 total tackles vs. Wake Forest. Fellow linebacker Steele Divitto and defensive back Sean Sylvia are tied with 75 tackles each.
Boston College has registered just six quarterback sacks this season while allowing 22 on the offensive side of the ball. They are also trailing opponents 51-31 in tackles for loss through their nine games.
Since losing six straight to Boston College from 2001-2008 Notre Dame has won the last three meetings between the nation’s two FBS Catholic schools. However, BC is 2-0 when faces a Fighting Irish team that is ranked in the top five nationally. The wins came in 1993 and 2002 when ND sported 10-0 and 8-0 records, respectively, heading into the match-ups.