2011 Boston College Preview
Boston College RB Montel Harris
Boston College RB Montel Harris
Posted Jul 13, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Boston College Eagles

Boston College Eagles

Preview 2011

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By Richard Cirminiello

Head coach: Frank Spaziani
3rd year: 16-11
Returning Lettermen
Off. 20, Def. 15, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best Boston College Players
1. LB Luke Kuechly, Jr.
2. RB Montel Harris, Sr.
3. CB Donnie Fletcher, Sr.
4. DE Max Holloway, Jr.
5. TE Chris Pantale, Jr.
6. LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, Soph.
7. OT Emmett Cleary, Jr.
8. WR Colin Larmond, Jr.
9. SS Jim Noel, Jr.
10. PK Nate Freese, Soph.
2011 Schedule

Sept. 3 Northwestern
Sept. 10 at UCF
Sept. 17 Duke
Sept. 24 Massachusetts
Oct. 1 Wake Forest
Oct. 8 at Clemson
Oct. 22 at Virginia Tech
Oct. 29 at Maryland
Nov. 3 Florida State
Nov. 12 NC State
Nov. 19 at Notre Dame
Nov. 26 at Miami

Boston College has played in 12 straight bowl games, yet why is there such an unsettled feeling around the Heights?

Sure, the Eagles have been ultra-steady throughout the tenures of Tom O'Brien and now Frank Spaziani, but spectacular has eluded them. Over the past dozen years, the program has failed to win a league championship or appear in a major bowl game. The last two Decembers were spent in San Francisco, a great city, but not the hosts of marquee postseason stops.

Boston College did well to extend its bowl streak in 2010, getting off the mat at the end of October to win its final five regular season games before falling to Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. The catalysts, as has often been the case in Chestnut Hill, were the no-nonsense running game and the no-name defense. Both areas ought to be strong again this fall, led by RB Montel Harris and LB Luke Kuechly, respectively. If the Eagles are going to ascend to higher ground, though, they'll need a ton more support from a monotone offensive attack.

In its defense, BC went most of last season with a true freshman behind center and its best wide receiver hobbled on the sidelines. Now that both are back, a year older and much healthier, there's cautious optimism regarding an offense that's now in the hands of a new coordinator, former Minnesota Vikings assistant Kevin Rogers. If he can coach up QB Chase Rettig and educe more balance from the attack, the Eagles will take a quantum leap toward being a more complete program.

Okay, so few Bostonians are pacing the floors late at night worrying about the direction of the local school's football program. That sort of behavior is typically reserved for the Sox, the Celts, the Pats, and the Bruins. Closer to campus, though, there's a growing sense of urgency for Boston College to break through and capture an ACC championship. Steady Eddie isn't as far from that goal as it might seem, provided it can crank up the passing game for the first time since Matt Ryan departed in 2007.

What to look for offense: More help for Montel. Over the last three seasons, Montel Harris has been a one-man gang in the running game, toting it an average of 25 times a game. He's been durable, but an occasional breather would be good for everyone. Enter Andre Williams, the unrivaled future at the position in Boston. In his debut out of Parkland (Penn.) High School, he rushed for 461 yards and a couple of scores on 95 carries. More important, he stepped up when Harris missed the regular season finale, obliterating Syracuse for 185 yards on the ground. Harris' job is safe, but the staff now has a reason to give him more blows throughout the year.

What to look for on defense: The fate of the pass rush. For all of the good that the defense fashioned a year ago, leading the ACC it total D, it came without much help from the pass rush. The Eagles ranked 90th nationally in sacks, getting to the quarterback more than twice in a game just one time. The program needs an about-face from a defensive line that's replacing three starters. It all begins with rising end Max Holloway, who had 14 stops for loss a year ago. It'll be worth paying special attention to the interior guys, Kaleb Ramsey, Dillon Quinn, and Conor O'Neal, who have a tailwind and a lot of upside potential.

The team will be much better if ... the offense starts converting. Whether it was on third downs or in the red zones, the Eagles were woefully inefficient for a second straight season. The program ranked 107th nationally on third down and was last in the country at producing six deep in the other team's territory. Even modest improvement will do wonders for the offense and for a defense that spends way too much time on the field.

The Schedule: The Eagles start out with a decent Big Ten game against Northwestern, and then gets a nasty test on the road against the defending Conference USA champion, UCF. ACC play kicks off with Duke, as easy as it gets for an interdivisional matchup, and it doesn't exactly get tougher for the end of the first half of the year facing UMass and Wake Forest. Yes, 6-0 is possible before going to Clemson. And then the problems begin with three straight road games, including getting Virginia Tech on the road from the Coastal, before hosting Florida State and NC State. Closing out the year on the road at Notre Dame and Miami will be interesting.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Montel Harris. The starter and offensive workhorse since his freshman year, Harris begins 2011 as the program's all-time leader in carries and 100-yard games. A tough, north-south runner, he ran for 1,243 yards and eight scores on 269 carries a year ago. While not a blazer, he is an efficient runner, hitting the hole instantly and always moving downhill. Arm tackles won't bring him down, which can be particularly problematic for opposing defenses late in games.

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Luke Kuechly. In two seasons, Kuechly has evolved into one of the country's premier defenders, a tackling machine for the Eagles. A fundamentally-sound 6-3, 235-pound run-stuffer, he posted a nation's-best 183 stops, 10.5 tackles behind the line, three interceptions, and three fumble recoveries. Blessed with next-level instincts and wrap-up skills, he's never too far from the ball. The prototypical linebacker for so many reasons, he'll be tempted to leave early for the NFL at the end of the season.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Chase Rettig. The expectation is for Rettig to take a giant step forward in his second season on campus. He'll need to in order to spark a moribund offense that failed to score more than 23 points in any of its final 11 games. Ideally, Rettig will do a better job of balancing the tough running of Montel Harris by getting the ball in the hands of TE Chris Pantale and receivers Bobby Swigert and Colin Larmond.

The season will be a success if ... the Eagles win eight games. Boston College should get off to a fast start, with a slate that includes four manageable home games in the first five weeks. It's in October that the waters begin to get a rough. The program plays three straight road games in October, and finish with trips to South Bend and Miami. Unlike a year ago, it's doubtful that the Eagles will enter the 2011 postseason with the wind at its back.

Key game: Oct. 29 at Maryland. The Eagles will get reacquainted with new Terp coach Randy Edsall from their days together in the Big East. This might need to be a stop-the-bleeding type game for Boston College, which will be coming off back-to-back trips to Clemson and Virginia Tech, and will be staring at a Thursday night visit from Florida State five days later. If BC doesn't prevail in College Park, it could tumble down the stretch.

2010 Fun Stats:
- Rushing yards per game: Boston College 127.9 – Opponents 82.8
- Red zone touchdown %: Boston College 32% – Opponents 38%
- Interceptions: Boston College 19 - Opponents 20

- 2011 Boston College Preview | 2011 Boston College Offense
- 2011 Boston College Defense | 2011 Boston College Depth Chart