CHESTNUT HILL - At long last, Boston College Eagles football is back. Greetings from Alumni Stadium, where I was the first beat reporter to arrive at the press box for the 2011 season. And I couldn't be more exicted.
On a side note, for those who maintain that to be a good reporter, you can't be a fan of a team, that's completely untrue. I am a diehard Boston College fan, but I don't let it get in the way of my reporting. That being said, if you are a reporter and diehard fan of that team, and you let it influence your reporting, that is a problem. But as long as you have the ability to seperate your fanhood from your journalistic approach and integrity, there isn't a problem.
But let's get back to business - Saturday's season opener between BC and Northwestern in Chestnut Hill. As far as first week opponents go, Northwestern is a tough team to face for the Eagles. Their strength starts under center with quarterback Dan Persa, who is already the recipient of some Heisman Trophy-related buzz, albeit a small amount.
However, Persa has been slow to recover from an Achillies injury late last season that knocked him out for the rest of the year. Persa is listed as doubtful for Saturday's opener, and it would be a big boost for BC's chances if he were to miss the game. Still, Eagles running back Andre Williams sent out a statement on Twitter earlier this week that he hopes Persa is healthy and will play. Be careful what you wish for, right?
If Persa doesn't play, sophomore quarterback Kain Colter is listed second on the depth chart and would be expected to start. Colter starting would be a plus for BC, but at this point, it seems more likely that Persa will fight through the injury and start.
For BC, they have their own injury problems, as both of their top two running backs have fought injuries in training camp. Montel Harris, the team's leading rusher who is poised to break the school's all-time rushing record this season, will miss at least the first two to three weeks of the season recovering from a knee injury. Andre Williams, a sophomore back who took over for Harris after his injury in the second-to-last game of the 2010 regular season, will start in place of Harris, but is dealing with his own problems, as he suffered an ankle sprain in camp.
Williams says he's fine, though, and is close to 100 percent. Hopefully he's telling the truth.
This will be the Eagles' toughest season opener in recent memory, and should provide for a solid 60 minutes (or more) of college football to rejuvenate the BC fan base. It won't be easy, but I do predict that the Eagles will beat the Wildcats in a tight affair, winning 31-24 to open their season in style.
Hopefully you can make it out to Alumni Stadium, and if not, you can catch the game on ESPNU or listen to it on the radio on WEEI. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the game and the season that's in store!