An early look at Boston College

Undefeated Boston College arrives in Death Valley for what has proven to be an annual grudge match against the Clemson Tigers.

HEAD COACH: Frank Spaziani (first season as head coach)

STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (7 - offense, 7 - defense, 1 – kicker)

KEY PLAYERS: QB Justin Tuggle (6-3,222), RB Montel Harris (5-10,192), WR Rich Gunnell (5-11,196), CB Roderick Rollins (6-0,188), DE Alex Albright (6-5,245)

POINT SPREAD: Clemson favored by 7

LAST MEETING: Clemson 27 Boston College 21 (2008)

WHAT WE SAID IN THE PRESEASON: Much like the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were last year, the Boston College Eagles are in a state of transition this year.

And that means transition in every sense of the word –especially when it comes to offense. From the way spring practice ended, new head coach Frank Spaziani will take B.C. from the pass-happy style it used under former head coach Jeff Jagodzinski to more of a power attack in 2009.

"There's been a steeper learning curve because we have young players on offense. We basically have a young team. It's more of a pro-style offense with more two-backs and not as wide open. We will try to run the ball a little bit differently than how we have in the past," Spaziani said.

"Last year's offense was what it was. We aren't going to be throwing the ball all over the place."

It starts at quarterback, where a host of players are continuing to competefor the starting spot, including several familiar and not-so-familiar names.

"We don't have a THE guy [at quarterback]," Spaziani said. "We'll have four guys lined up there. There's competition there for the job – that's for sure."

In addition, a new name has been thrown into the mix in Dave Shinskie and Dominique Davis is no longer on campus.

And of course, as it seems every year, B.C. returns solid on the offensive line, bringing back four of five starters from a year ago. The Eagles also return a solid due in the backfield in Montel Harris and Josh Hayden- the two combined for the second most rushing yards for two freshmen in the nation last season.

Defensively, there are massive holes up front, thanks primarily to the loss of Ron Brace and B.J. Raji (both of which were quickly picked up in the 2009 NFL Draft), and when senior Mark Herzlich discovered he had cancer this summer, it truly changed the complexion of the Boston College defense.

Herzlich recorded 110 total tackles, six interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries last season in being named the ACC's defensive player of the year.

Now he's fighting a different kind of battle off the field.

B.C. tied for first (along with Florida) in the nation a year ago in interceptions with 26, and three of starters return this season, including corners DeLeon Gause and Roderick Rollins.

Gause, you might recall was especially effective against Aaron Kelly in the 2007 matchup for the Atlantic Division championship at Clemson.

On special teams the Eagles welcome back senior kicker Steve Aponavicius, the ACC's active leader in PATs and field goals entering the season.

TWO WEEKS IN: Boston College quarterbacks Justin Tuggle and Dave Shinskie each threw a first-quarter touchdown to lead the Eagles to a 34-7 win over Kent State this past Saturday, moving the team to 2-0.

The Eagles didn't allow Kent State to cross midfield until early in the fourth quarter, holding the Golden Flashes to until 100 total yards until late in the game.

It was their second straight lopsided victory after a 54-0 win against Northeastern last week.

Saturday, obviously, represents B.C.'s first true test of the year.

DID YOU KNOW? The winner of the Boston College-Clemson game receives the O'Rourke-McFadden Trophy. C.J. Spiller earned MVP honors last season and received a leather helmet in the blue and orange colors worn by Clemson when Hall of Famers "Chuckin' Charlie" O'Rourke and James "Bonnie Banks" McFadden met in the 1940 Cotton Bowl.

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