Impact Players: Matt Ryan

If NC State's defense thought they had a tough game last week, just wait until Boston College and star quarterback Matt Ryan hits the field this weekend, as Ryan has blossomed into arguably the ACC's top quarterback.

If NC State's defense thought they had a tough game last week, just wait until Boston College and star quarterback Matt Ryan hits the field this weekend, as Ryan has blossomed into arguably the ACC's top quarterback.

A three-sport star at Exton (PA) William Penn Charter High School, Ryan arrived at Boston College with high expectations but redshirted in 2003. In 2004, he would start the season finale against Syracuse and completed 34-of-71 passes for 350 yards on the season; throwing two touchdown passes and three interceptions.

It would be in 2005 when Ryan really emerged as during his sophomore season he would take over for redshirt senior Quintin Porter midway through the year.

He played in 10 games last season, completing 121-of-195 passes (62.1%) for 1,514 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for 94 yards and another five scores. His presence was most felt in the win-loss column, as he was 5-0 in 2005 when starting for the Eagles at quarterback, pushing his career mark to 5-1 as a starter. A prolific passer, in five of his six starts Ryan has passed for more than 200 yards. His best game might have been in the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl when Ryan threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns against Boise State to earn MVP honors.

As you can see, he entered the 2006 season with lofty expectations, and Ryan hasn't disappointed as he has led Boston College to a 3-0 start, improving his career record as a starter to 8-1.

He opened the year by passing for 323 yards and three touchdowns in BC's season-opening win at Central Michigan, but in the game he would severely sprain his ankle and it has limited his mobility.

The status of his health has been the biggest concern around Boston College ever since the Central Michigan game, but that hasn't stopped Ryan from becoming even more of a star. That's what leading your team to back-to-back home double-overtime wins can do for you.

The first victory came against nationally-ranked and Atlantic Division foe Clemson. After being listed as questionable all week, Ryan would come out on his gimpy ankle and complete 22-of-38 passes for 212 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also scored the game-tying touchdown on a 1-yard keeper as BC defeated the Tigers 34-33 to pick up its first ACC win of the season.

Matt Ryan

Still nursing a sprained left ankle, Ryan came back the next week and completed 29-of-48 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns as the Eagles defeated BYU 30-23 in double-overtime.

Ryan's second touchdown was a 25-yarder to Tony Gonzalez on the very first play of the second overtime that enabled the Eagles to go on to the victory.

"We ended up making more plays than they did in the overtime period," Ryan said after the game. "Tony made a great play. I didn't see it [laughs]. From what I've heard it was a great play… I took a pretty good shot. Whoever was chasing me down was a little bit faster and he gave me a pretty good shot after I let go of the ball, but it's part of the game. It doesn't really matter if you can't see it, as long as the ball is in the end zone."

He did throw two interceptions in the contest, but Ryan's ability to make big plays in crucial situations proved to be the difference.

Through three games, Ryan leads the ACC in total offense and passing average per game. He has completed 83-of-134 passes for 891 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions. The last BC quarterback to pass for more yards after three games was Doug Flutie in 1984 (938).

As a team, the Eagles are leading the ACC in total offense (400.3 yards per game) and passing offense (297.0 yards per game). The last time BC averaged more than 297 passing yards per game was in 1993 (310.9). The Eagles are also averaging 103.3 yards per game on the ground; the last time BC averaged less rushing yards per game was 70.3 in 1990.

Despite the low rushing numbers, uncharacteristic of a Boston College team, the Eagles are 3-0 because of the right arm of Matt Ryan. The junior is arguably the ACC's top quarterback, and although his ankle is still ailing and teams keep coming after him, he continues to win.

Can NC State slow down Ryan and No. 20 Boston College? If they can do it, the Wolfpack just might be able to pull off the upset victory. It certainly won't be easy. Ask Clemson, Central Michigan, and BYU.


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