Boston College will try to bounce back in ACC
Boston College is coming off its worst season since the turn of the millennium, and quarterback Chase Rettig is making it his job to turn things around.
The Eagles junior, who was thrust into the starting job early in his freshman year, presided over the team's 4-8 record last season - its worst since 1998. It wasn't just Rettig, of course, but he knows he'll have to improve in order to get BC back to a bowl for the 13th time in 14 years.
''Just being the quarterback, you automatically take on a lot of responsibility,'' Rettig said this month at media day. ''I'm just going to prepare as much as I can and try to bring BC to back where we were.''
Rettig was expected to redshirt as a freshman in 2010, but coach Frank Spaziani gave up on 26-year-old former minor-league baseball player Dave Shinskie and then picked Rettig over sophomore Mike Marscovetra. Rettig struggled early - he injured his ankle in his debut against Notre Dame - but won his last five games of the regular season before a loss to Nevada in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
But BC struggled under Rettig last year, losing six of its first seven games. The Eagles went 3-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, finishing fifth in the six-team Atlantic Division.
''We're happy with where he's at. He's making good decisions,'' Spaziani said. ''At all positions, experience is the only thing you can't teach. Certainly the quarterback, with all the decisions, has a lot of responsibility physically as well as mentally. ... We feel like we've got a good one, and have to find out soon.''
Spaziani took over the Eagles in 2009, winning eight games his first year, seven the next and then last year leading the school to four wins and its first losing season since 1998. BC also failed to make it to a bowl game for the first time since `98.
''The trend with wins and losses is very obvious with everyone,'' said Spaziani, whose tenuous job security may have taken another hit when athletic director Gene DeFilippo announced on Friday that he was retiring. ''But the program is going north, not south. I understand where we're at and we want to win - and the players understand that.''
This year's team already has been hit by injuries and other roster problems.
Running back Montel Harris, the leading rusher in school history, was kicked off the team in the spring. Luke Kuechly, who led the nation in tackles last year, graduated. Tight end Chris Pantale broke his foot in practice this month and will be out for what the coach called a ''significant'' amount of time.
Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis is expected to fill some of the gap left by Kuechly's departure.
''It's not extra pressure, it's a new sense of responsibility,'' Pierre-Louis said. ''I feel like somebody needs to step up and be the type of force he was on the field. I feel like being one of the guys who has some of the most experience on the defense, I need to be the leader and the force.''
The Eagles will play Miami in the Sept. 1 opener, a rematch of last year's finale in which BC beat the Hurricanes 24-17. Miami finished 6-6 last year, 3-5 in the ACC.
''A lot of teams used to start off with an easy win, but starting off with Miami is what we need,'' Pierre-Louis said. ''We know that we can't come off slacking in the first quarter or they're going to take the game away from us.''