Posted by Chip Patterson
Expectations have shifted significantly for the 2011 Boston College football team. After winning their final five regular season games, and returning Preseason ACC Player of the Year Montel Harris, the Eagles were picked to finish third in the ACC Atlantic Division and were even suggested by some as a division title dark horse. But heading into the Eagles' conference opener against Duke, the story of the season has been much more about the injury report than the action on the field.
Which is unfortunate, because All-American linebacker Luke Kuechly has not slowed down one bit. His 158 tackles in 2009 set an NCAA record for a freshman and ranked second nationally. In 2010 he led the nation in tackles with 183 - Washington's Mason Foster was second with 162. Two weeks into the 2011 season Luke Kueckly - to no one's surprise - leads the nation in tackles (35).
Kuechly's statistics only compliment what anyone could recognize on tape. The junior has an incredible sense for where the ball is going, and his closing speed is among the best for a player of his size and position. He'll credit those skills to hard work in the film room, but there is an instinctive sense in Kuechly's game that makes him a truly special player.
Kuechly's game has rubbed off on sophomore linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, who has recorded 23 tackles in the Eagles' two losing efforts. Pierre-Louis was tapped as a player poised to breakout in 2011, and so far he has shown many of the same playmaking tendencies as his All-American teammate.
But an impressive linebacking corps will not be enough to fix Boston College's issues. Head coach Frank Spaziani is not one for coachspeak, but the only way for the Eagles to bounce back from their rocky start is to embrace the "next man up" mentality. Running back Andre Williams has certainly put forth a strong effort in the absence of Montel Harris. With Harris slowly returning to the field after his second arthroscopic knee surgery in a year, Williams has rushed 34 times for 174 yards (5.1 ypc) and a pair of touchdowns in two games.
But Boston College needs one of their wide receivers to step up and replace Ifeanyi Momah, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener against Northwestern. The lack of a passing game was the most glaring weakness in Boston College's 30-3 loss to UCF on Saturday. Momah caught eight passes for 171 yards against the Wildcats before his injury, but still remains the season leader in both categories after two games. Rettig only completed 10 of 23 attempts against the Knights, and never was able to get in sync with his receivers downfield.
That Boston College defense did not allow a touchdown for three quarters, but the Knights were given plenty of opportunities with BC only converting 1-of-12 third downs. We are only two weeks into the season, and Eagles fans know as well as anyone that Boston College can bounce back from a rough start. But with the injury bug plaguing both sides of the ball, the Eagles need to look to their linebackers for some inspiration.
Kuechly wasn't even supposed to start as a freshman in 2009. But Mark Herzlich was forced to miss the season due to Ewing's sarcoma, the Cincinnati-native stepped in and thrived as the "next man up." Now the onus is on the current underclassmen to do the same, as Boston College tries to rebound from a dreadful start.
Kuechly consistent for injury-plagued Eagles
Posted on: September 12, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 3:00 pm