2011 Boston College Preview – Offense
Boston College TE Chris Pantale
CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Boston College Eagle Offense
Preview 2011 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: After ranking last in the ACC and 109th nationally in scoring and total offense, the Eagles brought in Kevin Rogers to make a difference. He has a long to-do list. In Boston College's defense, it did use a lot of young players in 2010, namely at quarterback with true freshman Chase Rettig. His development will be the top priority of the staff, if not the entire program. If he can begin turning the corner, the unit has a chance to be markedly better. Montel Harris and Andre Williams are back to spark the running game, and the receivers are deeper and more talented than at any point in recent history. The front wall, usually a given, will have question marks in the summer. The graduations of three players, including leading man Anthony Castonzo, have the Eagles auditioning replacements in the offseason.
Star of the offense: Senior RB Montel Harris
Passing: Chase Rettig
100-195, 1,238 yds, 6 TDs, 9 INTs
Rushing: Montel Harris
269 carries, 1,243 yds, 8 TDs
Receiving: Bobby Swigert
39 catches, 504 yds, 5 TDs
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QB Chase Rettig
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Bobby Swigert
Best pro prospect: Harris
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Harris, 2) Junior TE Chris Pantale, 3) Junior T Emmett Cleary
Strength of the offense: The running backs, depth and size at receiver, line toughness
Weakness of the offense: The passing game, pass protection, third down conversions, turnovers, finishing drives
State of the Unit: Boston College will have quantity behind center, but will it have quality? While everyone from last year's depth chart returns, it's from a team that ranked 111th nationally in passing efficiency and produced just eight touchdown passes in the final 11 games. New offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers, who was last seen mentoring the Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks, will spend a lot of time at the blackboard, trying to coach this group up.
The Chase Rettig era began a little earlier than most expected on the Heights. The 6-3, 210-pound sophomore took over in the fourth game of his rookie year and wound up starting the final nine games. His play was typical of a true freshman thrust into this position, going 100-of-195 for 1,238 yards, six touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Expected to improve with more reps, he has the arm strength and the head to give the program its best shot at consistency behind center since Matt Ryan was on campus.
The battle for the backup job involves 6-4, 220-pound junior David Shinskie, 6-4, 219-pound redshirt freshman Josh Bordner, and 6-4, 210-pound junior Michael Marscovetra. While Shinskie has the clear edge in experience, starting 13 games over the last two seasons, consistency has escaped him. He's thrown as many picks as touchdowns over that time, a key factor why Rettig was summoned from the bench last fall. Marscovetra saw some spot duty a year ago, but was just as erratic, throwing four interceptions and a pair of touchdown passes. Bordner is on the rise, pulling even with Shinskie at the end of spring.
Watch Out For … much more poise from Rettig. Last season was a blur, especially since he took the reins just as the schedule began getting tougher. A second spring will dramatically help with his maturation process, affording him an entire offseason to connect with his receivers.
Strength: Depth. Both the opening day and bowl game starter are back, a luxury for any coaching staff. Plus, Marscovetra is now in his fourth season with the program. While no one has shined at the position, Boston College has three passers on the roster who took snaps a year ago and two with starting experience.
Weakness: Consistency. The passing game was a mess a year ago, which is prone to happen when you hand the ball to a wide-eyed teenager. Too many passes soared or were forced into coverage, as the team's 19 interceptions would attest to. The Eagles' completion percentage was worse than all but option-based Georgia Tech in the ACC.
Outlook: Brighter days are ahead for the Eagle quarterbacks, but by how much? All eyes will be fixed on Rettig, who'll be given the ball for as long as he earns it. He has to be better than last year, when the game was moving at warp speed and his receivers were marginal. If he can throw more touchdowns than picks in 2011, mark it down as a major success.
Unit Rating: 6
State of the Unit: With its top two runners back in the saddle, Boston College will once again ride the ground game. The unit was a disappointment a year ago, but don't wag a finger at the backs, who did their job. They received only marginal support up front from the blockers, a primary reason why the team averaged only 128 yards rushing a game and 3.6 yards a carry.
Returning for one final season as the workhorse is 5-10, 200-pound senior Montel Harris, who's primed to leave the program with just about every rushing record. He's been a starter since his freshman season, running for 1,243 yards and eight touchdowns on 269 carries a year ago. A methodical, between-the-tackles runner, he's not the fastest or most elusive backs around, but he hits the hold quickly, will break through tackles, and has a knack for getting better late in games. He is the face of this Boston College offense.
Sophomore Andre Williams has already emerged as the heir apparent to Harris in 2012. In his first season out of high school, he started the regular season finale, shredding Syracuse for 185 yards, and finished with 461 yards and two scores on 95 carries. Despite being 6-0 and 216 pounds, he has the explosive tendencies to excite the staff and fan base.
Depth behind Williams is scarce after Sterlin Phifer decided to leave the program. The Eagles are hoping that 5-10, 201-pound sophomore Rolandan Finch might finally be ready to go. The projected backup, he tore his ACL last spring and never suited up in 2010.
Watch Out For … freshman John Traeger. Even if he doesn't touch the ball all year, he could play a key role in the running game this year. A 6-1, 230-pound rookie, he's set to vie for fullback, a critical position in the Eagle running game. The graduations of James McCluskey and Codi Boek have left the program destitute at the position.
Strength: The one-two punch of Harris and Williams. Harris was already an All-ACC performer, but when Williams seamlessly moved into the lineup, the Eagles had unexpected depth. Look for Harris to get a few more breathers this fall, allowing Williams to get at least 10 touches a game.
Weakness: Explosions. If there's a knock on the Eagle backs, it's that they can be a little methodical and predictable. Oh, they're effective and always moving in a north-south direction, but a few more bursts through the secondary and more yards per carry would help on offense.
Outlook: As is often the case on this campus, the running game will be focal point of the offense, with Harris amassing more school and ACC records along the way. The difference in 2011 is that he'll get more help from Williams, a blooming star. The one unknown is the offensive line, which has to do a better job of making holes.
Unit Rating: 8
State of the Unit: A key injury to the team's expected go-to guy forced Boston College to improvise at wide receiver. The 2011 squad, and especially QB Chase Rettig, is going to reap the benefits. Far deeper than they were at this time last year, the Eagles bring back last season's top eight pass-catchers.
One Eagle who was idle in 2010 was 6-3, 210-pound junior Colin Larmond, a victim of a season-ending knee injury. When last seen, he was beginning to blossom, catching 29 balls for 596 yards and five touchdowns in a reserve role. A physical target, who'll pick up yards after the catch, he sat out the spring and hopes to be cleared for the opener.
The battle for playing time at wide receiver will be intense. The situation at tight end is far less uncertain. Junior Chris Pantale began to bloom last year, finishing second with 31 catches for 338 yards and a touchdown. Now 6-6 and 248 pounds, he also takes pride in his physicality and skills as an in-line blocker. A tough match up for linebackers, he's a threat underneath and down the seam.
Options for Rettig on the outside will be plentiful. Sophomore Bobby Swigert worked his way into the lineup as a true freshman, finishing with a team-high 39 catches for 504 yards and four touchdowns. A 6-1, 180-pounder, he does a lot of little things well and has a knack for finding spaces in the defense. Senior Ifeanyi Momah started all 13 games in 2010, yet only pulled down 19 receptions for 296 yards and three scores. An imposing target at 6-6 and 240 pounds, he also pitch in at defensive end on obvious passing downs.
Like Swigert, 5-11, 186-pound sophomore Alex Amidon contributed in his first year, turning 16 catches into 338 yards and two scores. He's just 5-11 and 186 pounds, and won't blow you away with speed, but he's tough and can be an effective playmaker out of the slot. Sophomore Jonathan Coleman is still unpolished, but at 6-4 and 214 pounds, it's hard not to like his upside potential. He debuted with 14 grabs for 260 yards, and has the size-speed combo to be brutal on smaller defensive backs. For good measure, behind Pantale at tight end, senior Lars Anderson is an H-back with three letters, 27 career catches, and the soft hands to be a nice outlet. He could also wind up being the starting fullback.
Watch Out For … rookie the health of Larmond's knee. At full-strength, he's an All-ACC-caliber receiver on the outside. And while the Eagles no longer have to him on the field to be successful, his availability would provide a big boost to the passing game.
Strength: Hands. The larger Eagle receivers have gigantic mitts. The smaller receivers have sticky ones. This group ought to assist the young quarterback with enormous catch radiuses and the ability to pull in throws that aren't on the money.
Weakness: A legit go-to receiver. Who is it? It could be Larmond, but only if he can get back to full strength. Swigert, Momah, and Amidon, while quality parts, won't be expected to catch 60 balls in 2011 or routinely dominate opposing defenses.
Outlook: All things being relative, Boston College is absolutely thrilled with the ensemble of receivers it's taking into 2011. It's dramatically better than the group that dotted the depth chart in last year's opener. At that time, Larmond was at the early stages of his rehab and Swigert, Amidon, and Coleman were as green as the Alumni Stadium turf.
Unit Rating: 7
State of the Unit: For the first time in a few years, Boston College is undergoing a transformation on one of its most important units. Three starters are gone, including star LT Anthony Castonzo and stalwarts Thomas Claiborne and Rich Lapham. It's a pivotal year for line coach Sean Devine, whose group underachieved in 2010, struggling uncharacteristically in both run blocking and pass protection.
The first order of business will be to replace Castonzo, a perennial All-ACC first-teamer. One possibility will be moving versatile junior Emmett Cleary, who started five games at right tackle and five at left guard a year ago. The 6-7, 300-pounder has shown the propensity and aptitude to play wherever he's needed, a huge plus for the coaching staff. If Cleary stays put, that'll probably mean that 6-8, 303-pound junior John Wetzel has beaten him out. He's had limited experience as Castonzo's caddy, and needs to improve his footwork to win over the staff. Over at right tackle, 6-6, 305-pound redshirt freshman Seth Betancourt is bucking for more than just a spot on the two-deep.
On the inside, the line performed better last fall when 6-4, 282-pound senior Mark Spinney took over for the final eight games at center, where he'll play this year. He's a heady leader, with the intelligence and work ethic coaches want at the pivot. Spinney supplanted 6-6, 300-pound senior Nate Richman in 2010, who has settled in at guard, a more natural position for him. With two seasons of starting experience, he's in good shape to make it three this year. The other guard spot is less certain.
Sophomore Ian White, a 6-5, 288-pounder, has an edge after starting three games a year ago, but will be pushed hard. Sophomore Bryan Davis, and redshirt freshmen Harris Williams and Bobby Vardaro are all in the mix for playing time.
Watch Out For … the competition to rage on through the summer. Cleary, Richman, and Spinney are in good shape, but Boston College might not have a firm grasp on who gets the openings at guard and tackle until some point in August.
Strength: Toughness. There isn't a lot of finesse within a unit that aims to bloody your nose and bully you off the line of scrimmage. The Eagles are big, nasty, and physically imposing, averaging 6-6 and around 300 pounds on the projected two-deep.
Weakness: Pass protection. The Eagles looked a little slow out of their stance last fall...and that was when Castonzo was still manning left tackle. With the uncertainty at both bookend spots heading into the fall, Boston College might struggle to protect the quarterback, especially against speedy edge rushers.
Outlook: This could be a tougher than normal year in the trenches for Boston College. Usually stout at the point of attack, the Eagles are coming off a mediocre season and needing to replace three talented veterans. There might not be a star on campus, which means the line will have to be a collaborative effort that gets support from inexperienced blockers.
Unit Rating: 7
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Boston College Offense
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