Aug. 23, 2012
by Jon Cooper, Sting Daily –
2011 Finish: 4-8 (3-5, first in Coastal Division)
2012 Prediction: Fifth in Atlantic Division
Sept. 1: Miami
Sept. 8: Maine
Sept. 15: @Northwestern
Sept. 29: Clemson
Oct. 6: @Army
Oct. 13: @Florida State
Oct. 20: @Georgia Tech
Oct. 27: Maryland
Nov. 3: @Wake Forest
Nov. 10: Notre Dame
Nov. 17: Virginia Tech
Nov. 24: @NC State
Who’s Back: B.C. returns 19 starters from last year’s squad, nine on offense, nine on defense and one on special teams. Offensively, they’ll return all their ball-handlers, starting with quarterback Chase Rettig, and running backs Rolandan “Deuce” Finch and Andre Williams, all juniors. Rettig also will have his top four targets returning, led by senior Colin Larmond. In total, B.C. returns 98.5 percent of its offensive yardage from 2011, the most in the nation. Up front, the Eagles, who allowed only 24 sacks, bring back four starters, featuring senior tackles Emmett Cleary on the left and John Wetzel on the right. On the other side of the ball, B.C. returns six of its top eight linemen, including senior DT Kaleb Ramsey. The linebacker corps will sorely miss Luke Kuechly, but returns junior strong side linebacker Steele Divitto and weakside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis. The secondary is young, but is anchored by senior strong safety Jim Noel. Special teams feature senior kicker Nate Freese and return men Spiffy Evans and Tahj Kimble, both sophomores.
Who’s Gone: The Eagles biggest losses come on defense, where Consensus All-America Linebacker Luke Kuechly is gone. Other key losses are defensive end Max Holloway and cornerback Donnie Fletcher, a four-year starter. The Eagles kicking game will miss Ryan Quigley, who handled kickoff and punting duties — he graduated as the schools all-time leader in punts (284).
The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech barely missed the remnants of Tropical Storm Hanna after barely eluding the upset bid of Boston College, coming from behind to beat the Eagles, 19-16, on Sept. 6, 2008 at Alumni Stadium. Tech hurt itself with three first-half turnovers and trailed 9-7 at intermission. The Jackets trailed 16-10 in the fourth, when linebacker Tony Clark sacked B.C. quarterback Chris Crane in the end zone for a safety to cut the lead to 16-12. Four plays after the ensuing free kick, B-Back Jonathan Dwyer broke around right end for a 43-yard touchdown run that gave Tech the lead for good. Dwyer ran for 108 yards on the day on 18 carries and added a career-best 52-yard kickoff return. Quarterback Joshua Nesbitt rambled for 50 yards on 10 attempts with a touchdown. His fourth-quarter 30-yard scamper gave Tech a first down in Eagles’ territory then his one-yard sneak on fourth down sealed the game.
All-Time Series: 5-2 (2-2 at Bobby Dodd Stadium)
Five Things You Need To Know About Boston College:
Don’t expect Georgia Tech to waste its time trying to ice Boston College’s kicker. Junior Nate Freese has a 78 percent conversion rate on field goals (32 of 41) for his career, and that’s coming off a tough 2011 season, when he was 10-of-16 (62.5 percent). The junior still displayed a dynamite leg and ice water in his veins, especially from long range, going 5-for-7 from 40 yards and out, including a season-long 52-yarder against Wake Forest (he hit a season-best four field goals in that game). Freese, who was 26-for-27 on PATs, actually struggled on the closer kicks, making only 4-for-8 from 20-to-39 yards out, and going 3-for-6 from 30-to-39 yards. He’s one of three B.C. kickers to kick four field goals in a game, having done so three times, more than any other Eagle PK.
B.C.’s junior tailback tandem of Rolandan Finch and Andre Williams combined to rush for 1,222 yards and seven TDs. That accounts for 77.8 percent of the Eagles’ 1,571 rushing yards in 2011 and 58.3 percent of their 12 touchdowns. No other Eagle rushed for as much as 170 yards. Finch had one of B.C.’s three 100-yard rushing games, and it was a big one, a 243-yard, two-TD effort at Maryland on Oct. 29th, the biggest day all season for an ACC tailback.
Last season’s 4-8 record is more the exception than the rule for Boston College. Since its initial ACC season of 2005, B.C. has gone into victory formation 58 times. Only Virginia Tech (84) has won more games in that span among ACC teams. Last season was the Eagles’ first losing season since 1998 (a 4-7 mark) and the first time they won fewer than seven games (also ’98).
How dominant was Luke Kuechly? His 191 tackles in 2011, an NCAA-record 14.0 tackles per game, were five more than the combined total of the top three returning Eagle tacklers — junior weak side linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, had 74, junior strong side linebacker Steele Divitto had 72 and sophomore strong strong safety Spenser Rositano had 40. Kuechly’s 102 solo tackles were nine more than the trio (Pierre-Louis had 37, Divitto 36 and Rositano 20). Throw in the loss of defensive end Max Holloway and the Eagles lose 20 of their 54 tackles for loss last season. The cupboard is not bare, however, as Pierre Louis and sophomore defensive lineman Dominic Appiah combined for 13 1/2 TFLs and 4.0 sacks.
The Eagles’ secondary is very young, starting three sophomores in corners Al Louis-Jean (10 games, two starts), and Manuel Asprilla (nine games, four starts) and free safety Josh Keyes (nine games, no starts). The only upperclassman is senior strong safety Jim Noel (16 career starts, eight in 2011). Of the Eagles 13 interceptions in 2011, only five came from returning players and only three of those came from the secondary (Noel, Louis-Jean and sophomore DB Sean Sylvia).