Boston College ran into a snag in its preparation for the next game Saturday, when it had to announce that quarterback Justin Tuggle and running back Josh Haden have decided to leave the team in anticipation of transferring. Tuggle and Haden see this as their best way to get off the bench and have more opportunities to play in the game.
Beginning his freshman year, Haden was a highly touted recruit and was named starter. Montel Harris quickly caught up to Haden and formed an effective 1-2 punch, and even changed his jersey to number two next to Haden's one to reflect that. Harris improved to the point of surpassing Haden and earning the starter job away from him. His 900 yards in 179 carries over the original starter's 479 yards in 130 carries demonstrated this change and set the tone for this season. Though Haden has gotten significant playing time, he has only recorded 234 yards to Harris's 858.
"Josh has done well here and is one player away from starter," said defensive end Alex Albright. "That one definitely caught me off guard."
The quarterback started in the team's first three games of the season, but lost the job after he struggled at Clemson. In BC's first loss of the season, Tuggle completed only four of 20 pass attempts and threw three interceptions. The coaching staff then made a decision to name Dave Shinskie, with whom Tuggle was competing, the permanent starter.
""With three guys competing at quarterback, all in the same year of eligibility, you kind of expect one of them to leave. But you have no idea what is going to happen going down the road. Maybe it is the right situation for Justin," said Albright.
Wide receiver Rich Gunnell allowed that some players may have heard some grumbling in the locker room about who got how much playing time. Everyone watched the games and knew that Tuggle was the only player in the failure at Clemson that was not given another chance on the field, and that it was Mike Marscovetra, who head coach Frank Spaziani put into the game at Virginia Tech.
"It is understandable," said Bowman. "There's only one ball on offense. There's only so many chances each player is going to get to touch the ball. I can understand why Haden would want to transfer, and I can understand why Tuggle would want to transfer. Do I necessarily agree with it being in the middle of the season? Not necessarily. But that's their own choices."
The decision to transfer comes immediately following a tough late-in-the-game loss to rival Notre Dame, BC's third straight road loss. At least four games remain, maybe even five or six depending on postseason play. The timing of the decision did not sit right with some players.
"Absolutely," said Albright about there being a sting. "You don't want guys jumping ship before the ship's even landed."
But Tuggle and Haden deciding to transfer mid-season does not change the schedule, BC will still play Central Michigan on Saturday. They must prepare for the Chippewas, who sit just outside the top 25 at 7-1.
"We'll probably play Jeff Smith a bit more," said center Matt Tennant. "And we just have to aim to protect Dave a bit more and make sure nothing happens because the depth at quarterback has shrunken a lot."
For Saturday, Marscovetra and Rolandan Finch have been named the back-ups at quarterback and running back respectively. Marscovetra has played in three games, including coming off the bench to put together BC's first successful offensive series against Virginia Tech. Finch has contributed in all but one game and has recorded 134 yards in 28 carries this season.
Like many other teams BC has faced this year, the biggest challenge that Central Michigan brings to the game stands behind the center. Three years ago, in the team's last meeting, Dan Lefevour came in as a back up to complete 22 of 37 pass attempts for 221 yards and came just short of a comeback, losing 31-24.
At this point, he has had more practice and more completely developed his game. Lefevour leads Central Michigan in both the passing and rushing categories. On the ground, he has recorded 522 yards in 112 carries, and in the air 156 of 223 pass attempts have connected for 1,696 yards, making him a double threat. At 6-3 and 238 lbs, Lefevour stands out among both passers and rushers as a bigger player than a defensive line usually has to face.
"Even when there is no one in the backfield with him you still have to play the run," said Albright. "He's a big kid… If I were him, I don't think I would have any problem taking on a lot of guys too. A lot of guys are shorter than me so just lower my shoulder and hope for the best."
This season, Lefevour is the next one in a season in which players have called many quarterbacks "the toughest guy we have faced yet." BC looks to rise to the challenge and stop the large play-caller in the air and on the ground.
After all, "This is more of a trap game for them than it is for us really," said center Matt Tennant. "They're the ones 7-1 and going to be ranked in the top-25 soon. We're the ones with the freshman quarterback, guys transferring and everything. We're the ones with nothing to lose. We can just go out there and play."
Looking Ahead To CMU
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