It would be very difficult for a team to have a worse start than the Boston College football team has had this season. As we reach the midway point of the season, the Eagles are already out of contention for a postseason bowl bid (unless, of course, they rattle off six straight wins, and that's just not going to happen.
At 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, saying the Eagles have underperformed is a vast understatement. The season that started with high hopes and a head coach in Frank Spaziani who set the team's sights on winning the Orange Bowl has turned into complete chaos.
Injuries and questionable play calling have led to loss after loss, the school's Athletic Director - Gene DeFilippo - made some questionable comments and the team on the field has appeared out of sync right from the start. Now, the Eagles are halfway through their nightmare, with another six games left that will likely run parallel with the first six.
It all started with a home game against the Northwestern Wildcats. Leading up to the Eagles' season opener, the talk of the town (OK, not the town, but amongst the BC community), was the highly anticipated return of Montel Harris, the growth of Luke Kuechly and the health of Wildcats quarterback Dan Persa.
As it turned out, Persa was unable to play, leading many (myself included) to think the Eagles would coast to a season-opening win. Nope, guess again. Persa' backup, Kain Colter, proved that he was a legitimate threat, rushing for 71 yards and a touchdown while throwing for 197 yards to lead Northwestern to a 24-17 win, putting BC at 0-1.
Sure, it was disappointing, but it wasn't the end of the world, especially with the Central Florida Knights coming up the following week, a team that most expected the Eagles to handle with ease. Well, once again, wrong.
BC took a 3-0 lead on a 47-yard Nate Freese field goal midway through the opening quarter, but UCF unleashed its wrath on the Eagles, scoring 30 unanswered points to send the team back to Boston with a less-than-impressive 0-2 mark. Huh, this is starting to look like it could be a tough season.
But alas, the Eagles looked like they were finally going to end their three-game losing skid, as they played the Duke Blue Devils, their Week 3 opponent, to a virtual draw through nearly four quarters. Trailing 20-19 very late in the fourth, BC drove down the field to set up a very makable 23-yard field goal from the left hash with 43 ticks left. But, it was too good to be true, as Freese botched the kick, and just like that, BC was 0-3 and off to its worst start in over a decade.
Boston College finally claimed its first victory the following weekend, but in reality, it didn't mean a thing. BC beat up their in-state rival UMass Minutemen, 45-17, but because Massachusetts was an FCS opponent, the win did not count towards the six wins necessary for a bowl berth. So in essence, the Eagles were now 0-4. (CORRECTION: You can count one FCS win towards the six wins necessary for a bowl bid, but still, beating UMass is less than impressive.)
Week 5 came and went, and to no one's surprise at this point, the Eagles couldn't get the job done again, this time against fellow ACC inhabitant Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons picked apart the Eagles questionable defense and Tanner Price threw for 252 yards and one touchdown as they coasted to a 27-19 victory. Make it 0-5 (OK, 1-4).
Then, Clemson. Do I really need to say any more than that? The Tigers jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, and just like that, the Eagles were in a hole they couldn't dig themselves out of. BC was now 1-5, where they stand now.
What on earth has gone wrong? For starters, the coaching staff has to be questioned. Spaziani and Bill McGovern have the defensive strategy of allowing receivers to make short catches while trying to stop the big plays downfield. Well, they haven't been able to do either, and opposing offenses are just as happy picking the BC defense apart ten yards at a time as the are gaining 20 or 30 yards on a downfield heave.
On offense, sophomore Chase Rettig has regressed, despite putting up decent stats through six games (1,181 passing yards, six touchdowns). Their top offensive threat, senior tailback Montel Harris, was injury-ridden and was ultimately shut down for the season after gaining only 135 yards on 31 carries. The receiving core has also been bitten by the injury bug, as senior wideout and captain Ifeani Momah was sidelined for the season after suffering an injury in the first game of the year. Colin Larmond Jr. and Bobby Swigert haven't raised and eyebrows, but they haven't been bad either.
The worst problem on offense has been the shoddy play of the offensive line. In the most recent game against Clemson, Rettig barely had an time to throw and has been sacked plenty of times this season. While the line has settled in some from several moves at the beginning of the season, it hasn't reclaimed its formal title of 'O-line U.'
On defense, the line has been hurt by the loss of senior defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey, who has been injured for most of the season. Preseason departures of several key members of the secondary have stripped the Eagles of their depth in the backfield. The only bright spot has been junior linebacker Luke Kuechly, who leads the country with 99 tackles and is a projected top 15 pick in this year's upcoming NFL Draft. Outside or Kuechly, though, the defense has been bleak.
So, now what? Boston College is off this week (thankfully), but begins the second half of the season with another difficult opponent in No. 19 Virginia Tech. After that, the Eagle face Maryland before returning home for a Thursday night match-up with Florida State before closing out the season against North Carolina State, Notre Dame and Miami. Of those six games, it's highly unlikely that BC can win more than one, two at the very most.
When all is said and done, it's looking like Boston College will have its streak of 12 straight seasons with a bowl berth snapped, and changes should be coming on the coaching staff. That's just what has to happen when your team ranks 105th nationally in points for (19.5), 93rd in rushing yards (118.2) and 91st in passing yards (199.7). And just to pile on, the Eagles are currently ranked 110th out of 120 teams in the CBS Sports College Football Rankings.
From Orange Bowl hopes to hoping to notch even two wins, the Eagles just aren't making the cut.