|11.21.09 at 1:37 pm ET|
CHESTNUT HILL — This game is becoming a bit of a defensive slugfest. The problem for the Eagles is that North Carolina’s defense packs more of a wallop.
BC has created three turnovers against the Tar Heels, intercepting T.J Yates twice and recovering a fumble. The problem is that the offense has not been able to convert into touchdowns, settling for two Steve Aponavicius field goals and a 2-yard Rich Gunnell touchdown pass. On the other end, North Carolina’s defense has turned two of its three turnovers straight into touchdowns.
Breaking it down though, BC had a terrible first 10 minutes of the game, allowing all 21 Tar Heel points in quick succession, but have played quite well since. Sophomore Montel Harris is playing out his role as The Horse with 19 touches (16 carries for 85 yards and 2 catches for 9 yards) and David Shinskie can make the claim that he is outplaying T.J. Yates. Neither quarterback is playing particularly well, but at least Shinskie has a touchdown pass to his credit.
There are two representatives from bowl games present in the press box. The Chick-fil-A bowl, which has first choice of the ACC runner-up is present as is the Champ Sports Bowl, which has the third choice of bowl games. The speculation recently is that the Eagles will slide all the way to the Emerald City bowl in San Francisco at the seventh overall slot if they split their last two games.
|11.21.09 at 12:43 pm ET|
CHESTNUT HILL — The first two looks that Boston College got at the North Carolina defense have not gone well for the home town team. Freshman quarterback Dave Shinskie has been sacked twice, fumbled both times and lost one that was returned by defensive lineman Cam Thomas for a touchdown.
The next series Shinskie was looking for a short out route which star Tar Heel cornerback Kendric Burney jumped in front of and returned for an easy touchdown.
These are the type of things that Frank Spaziani has had no choice but to live with this year from his not-so-young quarterback. It seems that whenever Shinskie faces a good defense (of which North Carolina is spectacular) he gets the yips and starts turning the ball over. Against North Carolina those have become instant points.
The BC defense allowed the first touchdown of the game as North Carolina quarterback T.J Yates orchestrated a 11-play, 70 yard drive in 5:14 on the initial Tar Heel drive of the game. Junior running Ryan Houston capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run at the 7:33 mark in the quarter.
BC cracked the scoreboard thanks to its defense as well. Cornerback DeLeon Gause recovered a fumble on the Tar Heel 29-yard line and the Eagle offense went 19 yards in 6 plays for a Steve Aponavicius field goal.
End of first quarter. North Carolina up 21-3.
|11.21.09 at 10:48 am ET|
“If this is it, please let me know. If this ain’t love you’d better let me know. . .”
There are not many players on the young BC squad who are old enough to remember Huey Lewis and The News (except for maybe the 25-year old David Shinskie) but this may be it for the Eagles. The “it” in this case would be Eagles chase for a third consecutive ACC Championship game, something the seniors on this team have stated as their only goal since the beginning of August.
The thing is, they won’t know.
It all hinges on the University of Virginia Cavaliers traveling to Death Valley and stunning the Clemson Tigers (7-3, 5-2), the team BC is chasing in the ACC Atlantic division race. Clemson, by virtue of its Week 3 win over BC, holds the tie-breaker in the matchup which means that it would have to lose its final ACC game this weekend and the Eagles would have to hold off North Carolina tomorrow at Alumni Stadium and get the job done against Maryland next Saturday. BC will not know if its dreams have gone three-yards-and-a-cloud of C.J. Spiller’s dust during its game because the Tigers do not start until 3:30 p.m. while kickoff on The Heights comes shortly after 12:00 p.m. tomorrow.
Perhaps scoreboard watching tomorrow evening is putting the cart before the horse.
There is the little matter of Tar Heels.
Outside of Clemson and Virginia Tech, North Carolina is the best team the Eagles will face this year (with respect to Notre Dame). The difference between those first two games is that BC gets the Tar Heels at home where it is 6-0 and has made all the plays and performed astronomically better than it has on the road. Though, just as it seemed that the Eagles were lined up well last week for their first road win at Virginia, it could be the opposite this week. The Tar Heels bring one of the top defenses in the nation to Chestnut Hill with NFL prospects dotting every squad of the unit. They are big, they are fast and they are physical.
“Besides being fast, they are big. Besides being fast and big, they are tough,” coach Frank Spaziani said “They’re good. They are a real good defense and we are going to have our hands full.”
Shinskie and company, say hello to Robert Quinn, Quan Sturdivant and Kendric Burney.
North Carolina has the No. 8 ranked defense in the country. It is in the top 15 in the nation in all the major defensive categories: eighth in total defense, ninth rushing defense, 11th in pass efficiency, 13th in scoring defense and 15th in passing defense.
“Raw talent. At every level of their defense they have NFL players from the d-line, linebackers, secondary,” junior free safety Wes Davis said. “All of them are big, fast strong. It seems like they play pretty disciplined football. Probably the best defense in the ACC right now from watching them play. It will be a challenge for our offense. They will hold their own and puts some points on the board. I think it will be a fun game to watch.”
A lot of attention will be paid to current National Defensive Player of the Week Burney. The Tar Heel cornerback laid it down against Miami last weekend to the tune of three interceptions totaling 170 yards of return including a touchdown. The obvious matchup for Burney will be against senior co-captain Rich Gunell but it is not outside the realm of possibility to see him on sophomore Colin Larmond, Jr., the resident deep threat for the Eagles offense. Last week Shinskie had trouble with talented Virginia corners Ras-I Dowling and Chris Cook (both had an interception and Cook returned one for a touchdown) but Burney represents and upgrade over both of them.
“He’s a great corner, one of the better corners in the league. It is going to be a great challenge for us. It is going to be really hard trying to find a weakness in that defense,” Gunnell said.
The name of the game for the Eagles offense is precision, a word that was thrown around by a couple different players this week. Play tight, play smart. Run good routes and have the offensive line hit its keys.
“They have what I think are some of the most complete athletes in the ACC next to Virginia Tech. We have to really be precise and play as hard as we can to beat them,” strong safety Marcellus Bowman said.
“Just being precise, just executing our plays. Be precise, pay attention to detail, don’t make any mental mistakes,” Gunnell said.
The stalwart of the defensive line is Quinn. The sophomore (who has an amazing story after coming back from emergency brain surgery for a tumor in his senior year of high school) has 16.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks on the season. He is tall and fast at 6’5″ 270 pounds and as dangerous a pass rusher as there is in the nation. Behind him is Will linebacker Sturdivant, a Butkus Award semifinalist for the best linebacker in the nation who leads the team with 64 tackles including 11.5 for loss.
As good as the Tar Heel defense is, the offense is on the flip side of the spectrum. It is 11th in the conference in total offense, scoring offense and pass offense and a little bit better in rush offense at eighth. The BC defense does give up yard with its soft style scheme (eighth in the conference) but it has been efficient in keeping teams out of the end zone, ranking first in the conference in red zone defense.
“It is a huge challenge this week. We have to go out there and execute on all cylinders and really play a complete game on offense I think it if we are going to be successful,” Tennant said.
The dichotomy creates an interesting match. If this is it for BC, we’ll let you know with complete coverage at The BC Blog all day.
|11.20.09 at 8:38 pm ET|
Playing the second half without star Rakim Sanders, who suffered an ankle injury, the Boston College Eagles dropped an 84-80 decision to St. Joseph’s University on Friday in the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
BC’s Reggie Jackson missed a lay-up with three seconds remaining that would have tied the game. The Eagles (2-1) took a 40-39 lead into the locker room at halftime but were outscored 45-40 in the second 20 minutes, as St. Joe’s improved to 3-0.
BC plays the loser of Purdue/South Dakota State on Saturday night.
|11.18.09 at 9:10 pm ET|
What a long, strang trip it has been.
For the Boston College seniors preparing to make their final stand on Chestnut Hill this Saturday, those Grateful Dead lyrics ring true. These are some of the final players recruited by coach Tom O’Brien before he made the jump to NC State, who then lived to tell the story of the Jeff Jagodzinski era and come out on the other end as high flying Eagles with Frank Spaziani. These seniors saw Matt Ryan create a miracle against Virginia Tech in 2007 and subsequently lose to those same Hokies in the ACC Championship game. Twice.
They are a proud bunch who identify closely with the team mentality of what it means to play for BC. It was probably not the experience they thought they were going to have when they signed up (as most college students would probably say), but it has been a successful run through the years and they hope to finish strong and maybe have a chance to get back to the ACC Championship game. Hey, maybe this time they can even win it.
“It is a scary thought,” co-captain Rich Gunnell said about the last home game of his career. “I try not to think about it too much. Get ready for the real world. It might be emotional, I don’t know. It might be a spur of the moment thing.”
Gunnell, Matt Tennant, Mike McLaughlin, Marcellus Bowman, Austin Giles, Jim Ramella and Roderick Rollins are just some of the names of the Eagles moving on who are the heart of this year’s squad that have defied the pundits expectations and put together yet another solid run towards the top of the ACC. Not that this group ever cared what pundits think.
“This year more than ever we have taken a lot of pride in our success because it was not expected, more than normal,” Bowman said. “The predictors and experts normally do not pick us but this year they had all the reasons in the world not to pick us and we knew as a senior class that we had to step up more than normal. We had to step up more than normal. More than just making a play. Psychologically we had to step up and make sure the younger guys believe the philosophies that we have at BC. We all take a lot of pride of what we have done before and what we plan on doing.”
Saturday’s challenge against the North Carolina Tar Heels represents a catharsis for these seniors. Once again they come in as underdogs (3.5 points according to Bodog.com) against one of the best defenses in the country, despite the fact that they have not lost a home game all year and UNC can have trouble moving the ball. The seniors are focusing on winning the game but somewhere in the back of their minds they would relish the fact that they did not lose a game in front of their home fans in their final year on The Heights.
“Definitely. Any time we can achieve something like that, especially on your home turf, especially for the last one,” Bowman said. “Nobody wants to have a bad one in front of their home crowd and their family. So, it definitely means a lot to us to perform well and keep that streak alive.”
The Eagles are a relatively young squad. Of the 44 players currently listed on the two-deep depth chart, 23 of them are true or redshirt freshman or sophomores as opposed to 10 seniors and 11 juniors. One of the big questions heading into the season was how the seniors could convey what it means to be a BC football player to the legion of underclassmen and provide the leadership needed for the team to be successful. This was another question from the pundits who were looking at loss of Mark Herzlich for the season to cancer and yet another coaching change as negative blows that the team might not be able to overcome.
It turned out to be just another old hat.
“I think we are the model class for BC,” Tennant said. “This is what we should advertise. Look at these guys, these are the guys you want at BC. Three head coaches and are still winning games. In the end it is not about the coaches, it is about the players and the cohesiveness that we have as a team.”
Tennant said the turning point for this class was right after O’Brien and the players had a team meeting. Former BC linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar said “it is not about the coaches, it is not about the fans, it is about this team and we have to stick together if we want to be successful.” Any time the Eagles faced a set back this year, such as the transfers of Justin Tuggle and Josh Haden or Herzlich’s illness, Dunbar’s message echoed around the team through the voices of the seniors.
“We’ve always believed in each other,” Gunnell said. “We don’t really pay attention to what people say about us. The guys in the room always know we work hard, no one knows how hard we work and then it really pays off on Saturdays.”
This group hopes all that work will payoff on one more Saturday on The Heights.
|11.18.09 at 2:15 pm ET|
Boston is crazy about its sports teams. From Foxborough to Chestnut Hill, sport talk is what drives the region. At the same time, Boston is an academic mecca. When it comes to major collegiate sports, Boston College is the preeminent university in the region. Harvard may have a storied football program and Boston University may be great at hockey but BC is really the only program that makes an effort to put a competitive team in the arena in every sport.
BC can also argue that they are pretty good on the academic side as well.
The Eagles sports teams are near the top of the list in graduation rate for their athletes. The football team has a graduation success rate score of 91 is one of only six teams in the country higher than 90.
This Saturday will be the seniors final game at Alumni Stadium and many of them already have their degrees. It will be emotional for some while other look at it as just another game. Either way, diplomas in hand, they will be suited to jump from the field to the workforce when the time for play is over.
Here is the press release:
Eagles Lead the Nation in Graduation Success Rate Perfect Scores
Twenty-one BC teams receive perfect score; football score among top six in the country
November 18, 2009
Twenty-one Boston College sports teams received a perfect Graduation Success Rate score of 100, according to data released by the NCAA today. That figure represents the most teams with a perfect 100 score of any intercollegiate Division I athletics program in the country.
In addition, BC football – with a score of 91 – was one of only six FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) programs in the country to receive a score of 90 or better.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment by our student-athletes,” Director of Athletics Gene DeFilippo said. “This represents many hours of hard work by them, their coaches, our Office of Learning Resources for Student-Athletes and others. We are unbelievably proud of our achievements in the classroom.”
The 21 Boston College teams that recorded a perfect GSR score of 100 score included baseball, men’s cross country/track, women’s cross country/track, men’s fencing, women’s fencing, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s skiing, women’s skiing, men’s swimming, women’s swimming, men’s tennis, men’s sailing, women’s sailing,women’s basketball, women’s rowing, women’s ice hockey, women’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, women’s softball and women’s volleyball.
The six FBS institutions that received scores of 90 or better were Duke (96), Notre Dame (96), Navy (93), Northwestern (92), BC (91) and Vanderbilt (91).
The NCAA developed the Graduation Success Rate as part of its academic reform initiative to more accurately assess the academic success of student-athletes. The rate holds institutions accountable for transfer students, unlike the federal graduation rate. The Graduation Success Rate also accounts for midyear enrollees and is calculated for every sport.
The most recent Division I Graduation Success Rates are based on the four entering freshmen classes from 1999-2000 through 2002-03. This year marks the eighth year that Graduation Success Rate data have been collected. The NCAA began collecting GSR data with the entering freshman class of 1995. The latest entering class for which data are available is 2002.
|11.16.09 at 2:09 am ET|
Though the Eagles, who claimed a blowout 89-58 win over Dartmouth in their season-opener on Friday, fell outside of the top 25 in both the AP and Coaches Polls, Boston College nonetheless registered a few votes in both. Interestingly, with six votes in the AP Poll and four in the Coaches Poll, BC ranked 46th in the country in both surveys.
For a complete look at the 2009-10 Eagles’ basketball team, click here for Ian Tasso’s season preview.
|11.14.09 at 6:15 pm ET|
It was not pretty. The Eagles played a game filled with mistakes, penalties and turnovers but in the end they got what they needed.
The Boston College football team claimed victory on the road for the first time this season and kept its ACC Championship game hopes alive by gutting out a 14-10 win against the University of Virginia, Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.
For the Eagles, it was live or die with freshman quarterback Dave Shinskie. In the end it was the denizens of Chestnut Hill who were able to stay above water despite their quarterback’s erratic play that involved a plethora of missed passes early in the second half and two interceptions, one a “pick-six” that led to Virginia’s only score of the game.
Shinskie will remember this game. Foremost, of course, because it was the first time in his collegiate career that he was able to lead his team to a victory away from Alumni Stadium, but also for the fact that he played poorly for significant stretches of the game yet was still the deciding factor in the final score.
After a shaky start in the first quarter, Shinskie was able to get the offense rolling a little bit in the second by stretching the Cavalier secondary and forcing them into mistakes. On a 3rd-and-6 Shinskie was able to hit senior co-captain Rich Gunnell for a 35-yard gain to keep the chains moving. Then he went for the deep to the end zone for Colin Larmond, Jr. who was able to draw a pass-interference call on Virginia cornerback Chase Minnifield to put the ball on the 5-yard line. A false start set BC back to the 10, but on the next play Shinskie was able to step up into a throw and hit senior Justin Jarvis at the goal line for the first score of the game.
It would not get much better than that for the rest of the game.
In the third quarter the BC coaching staff must have thought it could beat the Virginia secondary, the strength of the team, down field and let Shinskie loose to carve it up.
Well, in theory anyway.
Shinskie threw seven passes, completed one and then was intercepted by senior cornerback Chris Cook who took the ball back 58 yards for the touchdown.
The Eagles got back to basics again in the fourth, giving Montel Harris the ball and letting Shinskie make throws only when needed. Almost immediately, that was the case. The offensive line committed two penalties in a row –a block in the back by Rich Lapham and a false start Emmett Cleary – that set BC at a first-and-25 near midfield. Shinskie went to work, hit tight end Chris Pantale for 10 yards then Larmond for 13 yards. Harris then took two plays for the final two yards and the drive continued until BC faced another fourth-and-1 . . . this time from the 1-yard line. The offensive line pushed and Shinskie squeezed through for the game-winning score.
Shinskie’s numbers on the afternoon were not great — 12 for 26 for 147 yards with the touchdown and two interceptions. Yet, he picked his team up and led them to the victory. What we really learned today is that the Eagles are good enough to claim a victory, no matter how narrow and error-prone that it was, against a weak ACC opponent on the road despite their quarterback. Yet, in the end, it was him that led the way after all.
Here are four other things we learned from Boston College’s first road win of the season . . . .
Defense Made The Plays
The Virginia did not break the goal line the entire game (its lone touchdown was courtesy of Shinskie) with its only score via a 38-yard Robert Randolph field goal in the third quarter.
Now, there are two reasons for this: Foremost, the Cavaliers just do not have many play-makers on the offensive side of the ball. Their quarterback, Jameel Sewell, is mediocre at best, a poor man’s Tyrod Taylor. Their best mover, Vic Hall, pretty much plays out of position on every snap (he is listed at wide-receiver, quarterback and gets some time at tailback) and their primary running back, Rashawn Jackson, is a lumbering full back with big play potential but better suited for short yardage.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly for the Eagles, is that they continued their general theme of the season on the defensive side — do not break. Especially at the end.
BC gave the ball back to Virginia with 2:22 left in the game, basically banking on the defense to hold up against the Cavalier offense. For head coach Frank Spaziani this was a logical gambit. It became a little hairier than he probably wanted as Sewell and company moved down the field at a pretty good rate, setting up a fourth-and-long with :26 seconds left with Virginia needing to gain the 12-yard line for the first down. Sewell dropped back but went straight for the quarterback draw and the first down marker. He was gang tackled near the first down line but a measurement and subsequent replay showed that he was two chain links shy of the first.
This has been a theme for the Eagles this year. Goal line stands and holding opponents out of the end zone at the end of the game. More than anything else it has been this ability by the BC that has led to its surprising 7-3 record. A slip here or a break there and the Eagles could easily be 4-6.
But that is not the case.
O-Line Holds Up Well For Harris
The offensive line drove the offense for BC all day. Early in the game it was able to give Shinskie plenty of time to look downfield and connect (when he could) for first downs. On run block it tore the Cavalier defensive line to shreds making way for a big day by Montel Harris (38 carries for 158 yards).
The Horse earned his nickname today. Perhaps one of the reasons that the Eagles went to a pass first offense in the third quarter was to spell Harris, who was in the vicinity of 25 carries at the time. Shinskie could not hold it up so BC went back to the ground in the fourth with Harris picking up the bulk of the yards in the final drive that was capped off by Shinskie’s touchdown sneak from the 1.
Harris went over the 1,000 yard mark on the day to end with 1,058 for the season. His 38 carries were a career high, topping his previous high of 27, which he has done twice with the last time in the previous game against Central Michigan. It looks like the diminutive running back is holding up but depth at the position could become a concern if Harris is to go down with injury.
Gunnell Reaching For Records
With only three receptions today its look like senior co-captain Gunnell’s quest for the all-time receptions mark at BC will fall short. He started the game with 161 career catches, 29 behind Pete Mitchell’s (1991-94) 190. Gunnell did move into a tie for second place with former standout tight end Mark Chmura (1987-91) with 164.
Gunnell’s quest for the all-time receiving yards mark was did not take a significant blow on the afternoon. His 75 yards moves him past Brian Brennan (1980-83) for third place on the career list with 2,207 yards. He is now a very attainable 161 yards short of the yardage mark. One decent game from the senior will give him the record.
Penalties Hurt And Help
BC entered the game as the second least penalized team (behind NC State) in the ACC, averaging five penalties for 39.8 yards per game. Yet, the Eagles continually tried to shoot themselves in the foot with more than double their season average with 10 penalties for 85 yards. Shinskie and the offense were called for two delay-of-game penalties and the offensive line was called for two false starts as well as an illegal man down field and block in the back.
As bad as it was for BC, Virginia hurt themselves equally on the penalty front. On both touchdown drives the Eagles were helped by pass interference calls in the end zone that brought the ball within the 10-yard line. The Cavaliers were flagged 8 times for 97 yards on the day.
|11.14.09 at 5:54 pm ET|
It seems that Boston College has forgotten that it has a pretty good running back on its team in the form of Montel Harris. The Eagles have come out throwing in the second half against Virginia, trying to work the center field against the stout Cavalier secondary to absolutely no effect.
At one point in the middle of the third quarter seven of eight BC plays were passes. Shinskie missed all but one and that for short yardage. The only way the Eagles were able to keep the ball moving was a pass interference by Dom Joseph on tight end Chris Pantale and then a roughing the kicker when Ryan Quigley tried to punt deep out of his own end.
Shinskie then served one up. He tried to go down field but senior corner back Chris Cook stepped in front and returned the interception 58 yards for the touchdown.
The momentum is on Virginia’s side as the BC offense has completely stalled in the in the third quarter.
3:00 left in the quarter.
Boston College 7 Virginia 7
|11.14.09 at 5:09 pm ET|
Dave Shinskie found the formula to crack the Cavalier corners early in the second quarter.
The freshman quarterback almost hit the big play when play-action created space for sophomore Colin Larmond Jr. down the field. Shinskie hit Larmond in the hands but the speedy wide out could not hold onto the ball. On the ensuing third down Shinskie had plenty of time to work, shuffled around the pocket and found senior co-captain Rich Gunnell for a 35 yard first down. The Eagles put the ball within the Virginia 5-yard line when Larmond was able to draw a pass interference call on sophomore corner Chase Minnifield. After a BC false start Shinskie then hit senior Justin Jarvis for a 10-yard touchdown pass for the games first score.
Montel Harris has been able to find the seems, get small and explode to move the chains for BC. On the afternoon the sophomore has 15 carries for 60 yards, good for 4 yards per carry and a long of 11 yards.
The Cavaliers offense has not been prolific but they have had scoring chances. They missed a field goal in the first quarter and drove into BC territory late in the second before senior quarterback Jameel Sewell rolled out to his right and tried to go deep back across the field. He sailed it and senior Roderick Rollins stepped in front for the interception.
Halftime: Boston College 7 Virginia 0
Here are the numbers:
Shinskie 7-15 95 yards, touchdown, interception
Sewell 8-17 66 yards, interception
Harris 17 for 86 yards
Jackson 12 for 47 yards
Time of possession