This young football team, which hosts North Carolina State and former BC coach Tom O'Brien on Nov. 12, is loaded with underclassmen. It's time for these kids to keep paying their dues aimed at next year and beyond.
"I don't think with this team anyone is going to quit," said star junior linebacker Luke Kuechly, who has had another outstanding year, this time amid the rubble of a losing season. "I'm trying to win every game."
He says he feels the same from his teammates, so we'll see what happens in the last three games. The effort might be there. The will might be there. But the results?
This BC team, which is 2-7 (1-5 in the ACC), absorbed the loss of its best running back, Montel Harris, the ACC preseason Player of the Year, its best offensive lineman, its best defensive lineman and a pair of main guys in the secondary, and there just wasn't enough experienced depth on hand to survive.
A missed chip-shot field goal that would have beaten Duke in the second game could have changed some of this around. But the bottom line is the bottom line and that's not pretty.
The Eagles play their final home game this week, then finish the season at Notre Dame and Miami. There's a more-than-decent chance they could finish 2-10, the worst year at the Heights since a 2-9 record in 1989 and the first 10-loss season since a 0-11 campaign in 1979.
In NC State, BC gets a bowl-eligible team coming off a 13-0 win over North Carolina that saw the Tar Heels limited to a total of three yards rushing.
"We are really going to have to get after it with a good practice, a good lift and get the guys motivated," quarterback Chase Rettig said after the Florida State loss. "It's our last home game for the seniors and fifth-years, and you have to play for those guys.
"I'm going to try and inspire the guys to do everything they can for those guys because their opportunities are coming down to three now. We have to get motivated to come out and play N.C. State."
-- Boston College has clinched its first losing season since 1998 and will not go bowling for the first time since that season. That was Tom O'Brien's second year of rebuilding a program out of the ashes of a gambling scandal and the Eagles went to 12 straight bowl games starting in 1999.
-- BC won its first three games against North Carolina State after O'Brien changed jobs, but O'Brien's Wolfpack hammered BC, 44-17, last season.
-- Eagles coach Frank Spaziani was O'Brien's running backs coach in 1997 and '98 and then took over as defensive coordinator. The two are close friends.
-- BC is 2-7 overall, but just 1-7 against FBS teams, the other win coming over FCS neighbor Massachusetts. The only FBS win for the Eagles came over Maryland, now also 2-7 Both BC and Maryland are 1-5 in the conference.
-- LB Luke Kuechly took little solace in his 20-tackle performance in the 38-7 loss to Florida State.
"It's frustrating, we had a good game plan going," he said after his 31st straight double-digit tackling performance; with the fourth 20-tackle game of his career. "We knew what they were going to do, even when they were running and having success with that. We were inconsistent. When we get in tough situations we need to withstand it."
-- The Eagles are seeking medical redshirts for star running back Montel Harris and defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey, hoping to give the two mainstays another shot at their senior seasons.
Both players played as true freshman. Both could also get their degrees and play a year somewhere else.
SERIES HISTORY: BC leads North Carolina State, 5-3 (last meeting, 2010, 44-17, NC State)
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Two games ago against Maryland, Rolandan Finch ran wild, to the tune of 243 yards and two touchdowns. But he also fumbled twice, once inside the Maryland 5. Then, against Florida State, he fumbled twice again, and this time did it while gaining just 59 yards, and the fumbles were both costly.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Bordner was added to the mix but it should be clear by now there's a reason (the absence of Montel Harris at the top of the list) that BC is 109th in the country in total offense and 113th in scoring offense. This week, the Eagles, 76th in rushing and tied for 104th in passing, face an NC State defense that is basically middle of the pack in all categories but is 10th in the nation in turnover margin and is coming off a 13-0 win over North Carolina.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: It still looks like All-American linebacker Luke Kuechly is making every play and even though we know he's not, he was in on 20 tackles in last week's loss to Florida State. Other linebackers have stepped up and defensive end Max Holloway is playing better. The Eagles are just 70th in the country against the run, 86th against the pass, 83rd in team defense and 61st in scoring defense. The visting Wolfpack are 106th in rushing, tied for 61st in passing 97th in total offense and tied for 75th in scoring offense.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think that they understand the sacrifices the older players have made to the program. They have a good grasp on that and it's important to them. Even though we are building a foundation for the future and doing a lot of that, it's still about winning now." -- Coach Frank Spaziani on this week's Senior Day game.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: North Carolina State at Boston College, Nov. 12 -- BC's former coach, Tom O'Brien, has his team 6-4, bowl eligible and coming off a 13-0 win over North Carolina as he comes to Chestnut Hill for the third time since leaving. He has lost both previous visits, his teams allowing 89 points in the two games. Still, the Wolfpack is a slight favorite to earn their seventh win and drop BC to its eighth loss.
KEYS TO THE GAME: As always with a young team, the key is to steer clear of as many mistakes as possible, and that means not having your lead runner, in this case Rolandan Finch, not fumble the ball away twice. NC State is not a stat powerhouse so this game could easily come down to mistakes and the Wolfpack are strong in the turnover category.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QBs Josh Bordner and Chase Rettig -- Bordner replaced Rettig in the second quarter against Florida State and his first college play was a 25-yard run that would have been longer if he didn't trip and fall. Rettig, who did return later in the game, has taken a beating and has passed for virtually nothing in the last two games.
RB Rolandan "Deuce" Finch -- The star of the win at Maryland had a terrible night against FSU, netting 59 yards on 28 carries. But, for the second time in six days, he lost two fumbles. This time, he gave Florida State one touchdown by fumbling deep in his own territory and also fumbled near the FSU goal line, although half of that one has to go to Bordner for the exchange.
LB Luke Kuechly -- He recorded the fourth 20-tackle game of his career, with 12 of his 20 stops solo. His 491 career tackles are seventh all-time in the ACC. He leads the nation in tackles by a mere 23 and 2.67 per game.
Freshman LB Sean Duggan -- He played another strong game against Florida State, this time recording his first college fumble recovery and pass breakup.
-- LB Kevin Pierre-Louis missed his second straight game with a leg injury when the Eagles fell to Florida State. No word on his availability for this week's game.
-- RB Rolandan Finch was the only one of BC's original four running backs able to play in the Florida State game. Montel Harris was lost for the season with a knee injury, while Andre Williams (abdomen) and Tahj Kimble (head) were also out.
-- S Jim Noel was missing with an ankle injury as the BC injury report continues to grow.
-- QB Chase Rettig was 11-for-18 for 75 yards, a touchdown and an interception against FSU, his second straight game with 75 yards or less through the air. He has eight TDs and eight picks for the season.