Duke (0-2) travels to Boston College (0-2) this Saturday for their 2011 ACC opener. The two winless teams are off to disappointing starts, but have a golden opportunity to begin to turn things around this week. The Eagles fell to Northwestern 24-17 in their season opener and then traveled to UCF for a 30-3 defeat. Similarly, the Blue Devils suffered a close loss to Richmond in week one and then a humbling defeat at the hands of Stanford last week. The two teams’ struggles are predominantly on the offensive side of the ball. QBs Chase Rettig and Sean Renfree are both still looking for their first TD pass of the season. Early season injuries have plagued both teams at various positions, most notably at running back, where BC has been without the ACC’s leading rusher in Montel Harris, while the Blue Devils have had two of their top three running backs sidelined.
There were high hopes for the Eagles this season, with a new offensive coordinator, a 2nd-year starting QB, an All-ACC running back, and one of the league’s toughest defenses led by All-American Luke Kuechly. What has gone wrong? To help us preview the Blue Devils’ ACC opener, BDN welcomes back BC insider A.J. Black from BC Interruption.
BDN: Duke and Boston College both have stumbled out of the gate this season. Duke has been plagued by offensive red zone struggles, while the defense has performed better than expected at times. What has gone wrong for the Eagles? What is the mood within and around the program?
What has gone wrong? Basically everything has gone wrong for BC already this season in the span of two games. Injuries, bad coaching, issues with the kicking game, issues with the offense, and a non existent defense have all shown their ugly heads. The game against Northwestern was plagued with terrible defense, and the UCF game was marred by bad football all over. The mood is ugly around here especially after that abysmal showing against UCF on Saturday. Fans are already calling for Frank Spaziani's head, which usually doesn't happen until conference play starts.
BDN: We certainly wish OC Kevin Rogers well during his medical leave of absence. How will his absence affect the struggling BC offense? Interim OC Dave Brock has experience coordinating the offense at Kansas State; do you expect him to stay the course or make changes to jump-start the offense?
Boston College is fortunate to have an internal candidate with experience to jump right in and take over the offense. Dave Brock was the guy who recruited Chase Rettig here, so he has some repore with the young quarterback. Will there be major changes? I doubt it. I'm pretty certain that Dave Brock will continue with the current gameplan that BC has run, probably more on the line of what you might have seen when the Eagles played Northwestern.
BDN: The typically stingy BC defense ranks last in the ACC against the run and 2nd to last in total defense. Injuries in the secondary certainly haven't helped, but with All-American LB Luke Kuechly alongside freshman All-American LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, expectations were higher. What has led to the success of opposing offenses against the Eagles in the first two games?
I don't think the problem is Luke Kuechly. Other than the one play where UCF QB Jeff Godfrey absolutely trucked him last week, he has been the same old tackling machine as he has in the past. The issue is the defensive line. Last year BC had Alex Albright and Damik Scafe who provided just enough pressure to highlight the talent of the BC linebackers. This year Kaleb Ramsey has been out, and the rest of the line is getting blown off the ball. If Ramsey can come back, I expect BC's defense to improve.
BDN: In his Sunday conference call, Head Coach Frank Spaziani emphasized the need for the BC coaching staff to do a better job with helping the team manage its weaknesses. What adjustments would you like to see the coaching staff make on the field?
Better play calling. One of the biggest critique's of the Frank Spaziani era is the vanilla play calling on the offensive side of the ball. If I can watch the game at home and guess what play they are going to call, I'm guessing trained defensive coordinators must have a field day game planning. He needs to mix it up. Try more screen passes, passes to the tight ends, and different looks from the wide receivers.
BDN: The ACC's bottom two scoring offenses will meet on Saturday in Chestnut Hill on the ACC network. The Eagles opened as 7.5-point home favorites. How do you think the two teams match up and who will emerge with their first win of the 2011 season?
I am very worried about this game. As a BC apologist I of course will pick BC to win but I think it will be a close one just like the game last year. Sean Renfree probably will pass at will against BC's defense, and it is going to be up to the Eagles offense to start to click. I expect a sloppy game on both ends of the ball for both teams, and BC will sneak away with a 24-20 win.
BDN: While we respectfully disagree with your pick, we’re always glad to have you stop by!