(Sports Network) - It was a tale of two seasons for the Eagles in 2010, as Boston College suffered through a five-game losing streak, before rallying down the stretch with five consecutive wins to post a 7-5 regular season.
Frank Spaziani's second season at the helm in Chestnut Hill got off well enough, as BC opened the campaign with back-to-back wins over Weber State (38-20) and Kent State (26-13) at home. However, the September 11th win over the Golden Flashes would be the team's last until late October. During that span, the Eagles were abused by the likes of Virginia Tech (19-0), Notre Dame (31-13) and NC State (44-17) and lost close contests to both Florida State (24-19) and Maryland (24-21). The team rallied at home to knock off Clemson (16-10) on October 30th and built off that by topping Wake Forest (23-13), Duke (21-16), Virginia (17-13) and finally Syracuse (16-7).
With seven wins, the team earned its 12th straight bowl appearance. Although the Eagles were unable to end the season on a high note with a 20-13 loss to Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, the way the Eagles finished had to leave Spaziani and company with a feeling of accomplishment.
Sep. 3 vs. Northwestern
Sep. 10 at UCF
Sep. 17 vs. Duke
Sep. 24 vs. Massachusetts
Oct. 1 vs. Wake Forest
Oct. 8 at Clemson
Oct. 22 at Virginia Tech
Oct. 29 at Maryland
Nov. 3 vs. Florida State
Nov. 12 vs. NC State
Nov. 19 at Notre Dame
Nov. 25 at Miami-Florida
PK Nate Freese
P Ryan Quigley
Spaziani went to the professional ranks to bring in Kevin Rogers as the new offensive coordinator following Gary Tranquill's retirement. Rogers has plenty to work with, with seven starters back on that side of the football. Gone are some key contributors up front, including All-American tackle Anthony Castonzo, but BC is usually adept at filling voids along the offensive line and this year should be no different. Junior Emmett Cleary (6-7, 303) will be in the spotlight up front this season, moving from guard to tackle. Sophomore QB Chase Rettig was forced into action last season so he has the game time experience necessary to take the next step in his development.
Spaziani certainly hopes that is the case.
"He's making tremendous progress. He's spending the time, he's putting in the work. He's doing all the things to position himself for a base hit. Now, he's got to go do it."
It certainly helps to have the ACC's top rusher back in the mix in senior Montel Harris. The veteran tailback is already the school's all-time leader in terms of carries (756) and 100-yard games (21) and ranks second in terms of rushing yards (3,600). Last season was another productive year for Harris (1,243 yards, eight TDs), who led the ACC in rushing (103.6 ypg), earning All- ACC First-Team honors.
The passing game is not the preferred mode of travel for the BC offense, but Rettig will have some reliable targets available when needed, led by sophomore WR Bobby Swigert (39 receptions, 5-4 yards, four TDs) and junior TE Chris Pantale (31 receptions, 338 yards, one TD).
It was the play of the BC defense in 2010 that fueled the team's string of wins down the stretch. In the end, Boston College finished first in the nation in rush defense (82.8 ypg). The linebacking corps was a big reason for the success and although inspirational leader Mark Herzlich has moved on, two-time All-American Luke Kuechly is back in the fold. The 6-3, 240-pound junior led the nation in tackles in 2010 (14.1 per game), becoming the 11th consensus All-American in BC history. A picture of consistency from day one, Kuechly has recorded double-digit stops in 22 straight games. Fellow linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (93 tackles) is also coming off a big sophomore season and should once again thrive beside Kuechly.
While the linebacking corps once again should lead by example, a lot will be expected of players like DE Max Holloway (36 tackles, 10 TFLs, four sacks) and DT Kaleb Ramsey (39 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks) up front and SS Jim Noel (36 tackles, four INTs) in the secondary.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Another area of strength for the Eagles will be the kicking game, as both PK Nate Freese and P Ryan Quigley return. Freese excelled as a freshman in 2010, going 22-of-25 in field goal attempts, with a long of 49 yards. He was also 24-of-25 on extra points. Quigley averaged just over 41 yards on 79 punts last year, putting 26 of those inside in the 20-yard line.
It could shape up as another season of contrast this year. The Eagles have experience on both sides of the football as well as star power. According to Spaziani, that will certainly benefit the team.
"We have two of the premiere football players in the country. Montel Harris, of course, at tailback, who is as good of a running back as there is in the country, and we're look for a tremendous year from Montel. We also have the boy wonder on defense, the human eraser, Luke Kuechly."
The Eagles could open fast, with their first five games all looking to be winnable. However, following a October 1st date with Wake Forest at home, the remainder of the schedule is daunting to say the least. Five of the team's last seven games come on the road, including unenviable treks to Virginia Tech and Miami-Florida in-conference and Notre Dame to close out non-league play in late November.
Matching last year's 4-4 league record is attainable, especially with the kind of defensive effort the Eagles give week-in and week-out. Getting to a 13th straight bowl game is also within reach, but the team will have to earn it down the stretch.