Sports are filled with the narrowest of passageways. The Boston College Eagles successfully navigated one such passageway on Saturday – one that dramatically changed the course of their 2009 season.
As Wake Forest marched toward what seemed to be an inevitable game-winning touchdown, BC faced the prospect of a 2-2 start, a deflating home defeat, and questions about their chances of even making a bowl game.
But with one very fortuitous fumble, the season took a turn for the better. BC is now 3-1, appears to have a confident starting quarterback in David Shinskie, and will now host the ESPN College Game Day traveling circus as it pulls into Chestnut Hill for Saturday's game against Florida State.
With all the hype and excitement surrounding Saturday's game, the Eagles made sure to point out that they were treating it like business as usual – but couldn't deny the extra buzz in the air.
"Last time Game Day was here, you could just tell the whole stadium picks up. You can feel it," said Mike McLaughlin, who redshirted the year BC hosted Florida State and Game Day in 2005.
"It's big time college football – this is what you signed up for."
Of course, the Eagles will want to do better than they did in that 2005 matchup, when Florida State spoiled BC's ACC home opener with a 28-17 win.
"Florida State always comes at you with a lot of intensity," said Rich Lapham. "They're a fast team. They have some quick guys at defensive end… they have bigger, taller bodies – a different build than our guys at BC."
"They're an excellent football team," said McLaughlin. "You know they're going to be coming in here gangbusters after losing [to South Florida] last week. They're the kind of program that really thrives on having the national spotlight, with College Game Day here. We've gotta step it up."
O-Line hopes for another step forward
The offensive line, much-maligned after the disastrous defeat at Clemson, bounced back with a solid if not spectacular performance against Wake Forest, and Lapham knows it will be important to build on that against the Seminoles.
"This week was a confidence-builder for the line," he said, giving credit to "guys stepping up… showing leadership in the huddle."
"[David] Shinskie showed a lot of leadership, and so did Matt [Tennant] – that was the most noticeable difference… now that we've got some confidence back, we can focus more on technique."
The offensive line gave Shinskie time to work, not allowing a single sack after giving up four the week before. BC was also able to chalk up 170 rushing yards after netting only 29 against Clemson – 21 of which came on scrambles by Justin Tuggle.
Shinskie the #1?
While Frank Spaziani has yet to officially name a starting quarterback, David Shinskie appears to have seized back the lead after an impressive outing against Wake. Shinskie was 18-for-29 for 228 yards and 3 touchdown passes. Additionally, his teammates have praised his leadership and increasing confidence.
"Now that's he's got [an ACC win] under his belt, there's a difference in the way he walks around, the way he practices, the messages he sends," said Lapham. "He has really taken on that leadership role.
"Shinskie's shown a lot of growth," said Jordon McMichael, who made headlines with a spectacular one-handed grab for a touchdown against Wake. "Even the mistake he's made, are 100% better than they were at the start. "
"And he's just learning a lot more out there," he continued. "On our touchdown [to Chris Pantale], He went through his progression and went to me, and then you saw his eyes go right back to where Chris was and he threw the perfect ball for a touchdown."
"As receivers and tight ends, we don't care who the ball is coming from, we just want to have the best guy out there," he continued. "But it's nice to have a QB out there to get some rhythm with, who's consistently running first team reps."
While Justin Tuggle and Mike Marscovetra still may get some playing time and first team reps, Shinskie has established himself as the starter for now.
Wanted: Pass Rush
After the Clemson game, most of BC fans' teeth-gnashing concerned the offensive line. After Wake, the focus shifted to the pass rush. BC allowed over 500 yards of offense against Wake and allowed two late touchdown drives to tie the game, and part of the blame for this has been assigned to the Eagles' inability to put pressure on Riley Skinner.
"At the end of the day, we did what we had to do, we won the game," said McLaughlin. "But you also have to be in reality, and see what you did wrong."
"Pressure on QBs makes everyone's day easier. We call plays to get at the QB but over the course of the game, for whatever reason, we didn't get to him. Hopefully we can mix things up and get after [FSU quarterback Christian] Ponder a lot more often."
"We're going to have to be at top speed against Florida State," he said. "As Coach Spaz said in practice, it'll be like chasing rabbits."
Lunch With The Players
Eagle Insider Top Stories
RECRUITING: WSU may land its QB any day nowIS WASHINGTON STATE ABOUT to land its quarterback for the 2018 class soon? Could it be a matter of days? Cougfan.com just connected with all three of WSU’s top targets. The big…
ATH Pacheco Pursued By ACC, Big TenMONTVALE, N.J. -- Vineland (N.J.) High athlete Isaih Pacheco breaks down his recruitment, which includes ACC and Big Ten schools.
Scout Football9:03 AM
Big OT Nick Carey looks to earn camp offersDetroit Catholic Central offensive tackle Nick Carey has four Big Ten camps he knows he is doing for certain as he hopes to add to his offer list which now totals 12.
Scout Football7:43 AM
The Opening Finals 2017 Official RosterThe official 2017 roster of the Nike+ Football The Opening Finals featuring the participants selected from The Opening Regional camp stops...
Scout Football7:00 AM
3-Star DE Daeshon Martin Is Highly DesiredDaeshon Martin is one of the top 2018 defensive end prospects in Ohio, and the Akron Hoban three-star is an extremely consistent performer.
Scout Football5:50 AM