Looking for turnaround, BC opens with tough test

Boston College coach Frank Spaziani took a seat at the interview

table with a baseball bat in hand, joking that he didn’t want any

tough questions.

His team, on the other hand, will have a very tough test when it

opens the season.

Coming off their first losing season since 1998, the Eagles – in

a pivotal year for Spaziani and Co. – will open with a conference

game, against ACC foe, Miami, on Sept. 1.

Boston College went 4-8 last season, 3-5 in the league.

”I have this bat here,” he said before taking questions on

media day. ”This is for batting practice. You know how batting

practice pitchers are – no forkballs or definitely no curves. Right

down the middle.”

Entering his fourth season as the coach of the Eagles, Spaziani

knows the trend has been downward his first three years. Eight

wins, seven and, then, a disappointing 4-8 mark last year, matching

the school’s fewest win total since 1998. The Eagles also saw their

string of 12 consecutive bowl berths come to an end.

”The trend with wins and losses is very obvious with

everyone,” he said. ”But the program is going north, not south. I

understand where we’re at and we want to win – and the players

understand that.”

The Hurricanes won’t make it easy at the start. The opener will

be a rematch of last year’s season finale for both schools, a 24-17

victory by Boston College in Miami.

”Someone told me – I heard this last year – that the bad thing

about playing bad teams early is they don’t know they’re bad,” he

said. ”Early in the year, nobody knows who’s any good – it takes

five, six, seven games before things settle out.

”As far as opening up with a team of Miami’s caliber, hey

listen it’s the same for them,” he continued. ”They don’t have

any game ahead of time. Let’s get on with it and find out where

we’re at. It’s a long season. It’ll give us a good barometer real

fast where we’re at, and we’re excited about it. We’ve got

everybody’s attention.”

But they’re short-handed for now. BC lost fifth-year senior

tight end Chris Pantale for what the coach called a ”significant”

amount of time with a broken foot suffered in practice on

Thursday.

”They system is flexible enough to move on,” Spaziani said.

”We’ll just do things a little different, that’s all. We’ll have

different packages. He’s one of our fifth-year seniors and

leadership and all that. That intangible is going to be missed on

the field.”

Quarterback Chase Rettig likes that the Eagles can focus on one

team for three weeks after last year’s struggles.

”It’s a good way – we don’t have classes before that game –

we’ll be able to prepare for just football,” he said. ”For the

younger guys that are going to play this year, it’s a good way to

show what real college football is like. They’re a very athletic

team on offense and defense. I think it’ll be a good test for us to

open up the year.”

Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, who is expected to fill a large

void left after the graduation of the nation’s leading tackler,

Luke Kuechly, figures it’s a great way to start after last

year.

”I look it as what we need. We need to start off with a strong

opponent like Miami,” he said. ”Miami has a great reputation as

being a power house in the ACC.

”I knew we would work even harder because they believed they

should have won that game. They are going to come into Chestnut

Hill with even a little more chip on their shoulders.”

Miami went 6-6 last season, 3-5 in the ACC.