2010 Boston College Preview - Offense
Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo
Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo
Posted May 11, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Boston College Eagle Offense

Boston College Eagles

Preview 2010 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: The quarterbacks are a year older. Coordinator Gary Tranquill is with the program for a second season. The Eagle offense ought to be more efficient, right? It should be, but that's never a certainty in these parts. Boston College has forever struggled offensively, even when Matt Ryan was calling signals. You pretty much know what you're going to get from this attack, a physical offensive line and a no-nonsense, grind-it-out running game. Playing the role of the feature back will once again be all-star Montel Harris, who has the luxury of running behind a veteran, Anthony Castonzo-led line. The Eagles will run it effectively, but can they achieve the balance that they so desire? It all depends on the quarterbacks. David Shinskie, the 26-year old former Major League Baseball player, is back for his second season, looking to sharpen his game and fend off young Mike Marscovetra. Shinskie has the edge, but his margin for error heading into the summer has shrunk.

Returning Leaders
Passing: David Shinskie
149-288, 2,049 yds, 15 TDs, 14 INTs
Rushing: Montel Harris
308 carries, 1,457 yds, 14 TDs
Receiving: Colin Larmond
29 catches, 596 yds, 5 TDs

Star of the offense: Junior RB Montel Harris
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior C Nathan Richman
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore TE Chris Pantale
Best pro prospect: Senior LT Anthony Castonzo
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Castonzo, 2) Harris, 3) Senior G Thomas Claiborne
Strength of the offense: The offensive line, running back, size at receiver
Weakness of the offense: Inconsistency at quarterback, depth, third down conversions, big plays, turnovers


Projected Starter: For the first time in three years, Boston College begins a season with a returning starter behind center. That does not, however, mean everything is hunky-dory at the position. Sophomore David Shinskie played to predictably mixed results in his first season back in football after spending six years playing minor league baseball. He took a while to shake off the rust, finishing 149-of-288 for 2,049 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. The 6-4, 216-pounder has the edge in experience and the job for now, but the kids in the rear view mirror are determined to make sure that this is a tight competition throughout the summer.

Projected Top Reserves: Inching closer to Shinskie with every snap is 6-4, 192-pound sophomore Michael Marscovetra, coming off the best spring of the quarterbacks. Beginning just his second year on campus, he plays with more poise than expected, showing nice touch on his passes and refusing to force throws into double coverage. All that's missing are the reps since he only went 13-of-22 for 135 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick in four games last year.

While unlikely to storm the top of the depth chart, 6-4, 205-pound true freshman Chase Rettig already has a spring session on his resume. It was just practice and the pass rush wasn't scary, but he showed why he was one of the nation's top pocket passers last year, zipping the ball around the field and moving well in and outside the pocket. Barring an injury, he ought to redshirt, get a better grasp of the system, and return in 2011 with a legitimate shot of being the future.

Watch Out For … Frank Spaziani to take his time with this decision. What's the rush? The Eagles are clearly not ready to anoint Shinskie for a second year, and Marscovetra and Rettig need as many reps as possible to attain consistency and develop a rhythm with the receivers. Don't be surprised if the coach waits until just before the Weber State opener.
Strength: The future. Shinskie and Marscovetra are just sophomores, and Rettig could be on the Heights for five years if he redshirts. In other words, Boston College could have a nice situation and plenty of beneficial competition at quarterback for years to come.
Weakness: Consistency. Shinskie is the only player on the roster with starting experience, and he was 86th nationally in passing efficiency. There are concerns that the 26-year-old's ceiling isn't much higher, and if he's not the answer, the other options for 2010 are two kids with just 22 career attempts between them.
Outlook: All things being relative, Boston College is in a much better situation at quarterback than in 2009. Unlike a year ago, when chaos was the theme, at least Shinskie has a full year under his belt and the young kids are closer to being ready. The Eagles will not be prolific through the air, but a better product under center is likely.
Unit Rating: 6

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Junior Montel Harris is back to be the workhorse of this offense for a third consecutive year. In one of the best seasons ever by an Eagle back, he ran for 1,457 yards and 14 touchdowns on 308 carries, getting marginal support from the passing game. A 5-10, 200-pound downhill runner, he's not the fastest or shiftiest back around, but he hits the hole with authority, will break through tackles, and has a tendency to get better late in games. he was a rock for the offense highlighted by a 264-yard, five touchdown day in the win over NC State, and he ran for 100 yards or more in each of his final five games. However, he only scored one in the final four games and that came in the bowl against USC.

Boston College is thrilled to be getting back 6-2, 251-pound senior FB James McCluskey, one of the quiet catalysts of the ground game in the past. After suffering a broken leg and a torn Achilles' tendon in each of the last two years, he's hoping to go an entire season injury-free in 2010. An absolute battering ram as a blocker, he can also provide a change-of-pace as a short yardage runner and has better than expected hands as a receiver.

Projected Top Reserves: An untimely injury has propelled 5-10, 213-pound redshirt freshman Sterlin Phifer into the two-hole behind Harris at tailback. A strong and compact athlete, he's a north-south runner, who will drag tacklers for additional yards. About a year before anyone expected, he's in a position to get a handful of touches a game.

With everyone moving up a peg in the spring, 5-7, 164-pound Mike Javorski could compete for snaps this fall as well. Much tougher than his size would indicate, he showed a knack in the spring for taking a pounding and quickly bouncing back to his feet. On toughness alone, he could earn his first letter this fall.

Watch Out For …the health of 5-10, 201-pound sophomore Rolandan Finch . The projected backup, he tore his ACL in the spring and will be lost for at least the beginning of the season. A non-nonsense, straight-ahead runner, he showed flashes of potential as a rookie, turning 28 carries into 134 yards and a touchdown.
Strength: North-south runners. Whether it's Harris, Finch, or Phifer, the backfield is comprised of deliberate backs, who hit the hole quickly, make no wasted movements, and barrel through the first line of defense. Rarely do these guys, particularly Harris, ever get hit behind the line or taken down for minus yards.
Weakness: Depth. Not only is Finch on the shelf for the time being, but Josh Haden, last year's second-leading rusher, transferred out of the program. The Eagles are frighteningly thin at the position, an even great concern since Harris takes such a pounding and often gets 30 touches a game.
Outlook: As long as Harris stays healthy through December, the running game has no worries for the upcoming season. If he gets dinged, however, Boston College will have to improvise on the fly. No other healthy tailback on the roster has a carry at this level, meaning getting Finch back at some point will provide a much-needed insurance policy.
Unit Rating: 8.5


Projected Starters: Now that Rich Gunnell has graduated, 6-3, 200-pound junior Colin Larmond is poised to take over as the Eagles' top target in the passing game. A big and physical target, he showed signs of emerging last season, making 29 receptions for 596 yards and five touchdowns. Unable to be bumped at the line of scrimmage, he's able to create mismatches with smaller defensive backs, and adjusts well to balls in the air.

Although not a flashy game-breaker, 6-2, 194-pound senior Billy Flutie is a valuable jack-of-all-trades for the Eagles. A smart player, who can do a lot of things for the program, he won't hurt you with mental mistakes or poorly run routes. After catching five passes for 48 yards and two touchdowns, he'll be a lot busier this fall, especially when working out of the slot.

At tight end, Boston College has a budding star in 6-6, 244-pound sophomore Chris Pantale . While it's very early in his career, he has his sights set on becoming the kind of complete player that someday attracts the interest of NFL scouts. Although he's made initial headlines by catching 25 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown, he also takes pride in his physicality and skills as an in-line blocker. A tough match up for most linebackers, he's a threat underneath and down the seam.

Projected Top Reserves: The Eagles would like to make better use of 6-0, 191-pound sophomore Clyde Lee, a dangerous weapon out of the slot. Following a tremendous spring in 2009, he only caught four passes for 40 yards. However, he has the speed, quickness, and ability to pick up yards after the catch that warrant more looks this fall.

As expected, redshirt freshman Jonathan Coleman is still somewhat raw, but at 6-4 and 218 pounds, he could be rising up the depth chart on pure potential alone. He has the size and speed of a future playmaker, blending the type of skill set to beat defensive backs in myriad different ways.

Junior Lars Anderson is not your typical tight end. Yeah, he'll spell Pantale on occasion, but he can also play some H-back and was the team's fullback in the past when James McCluskey was injured. A starter in 10 games last season, the 6-3, 243-pounder has soft hands, catching eight passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.

Watch Out For … rookie Shakim Phillips. At 6-2 and 191 pounds, he's physically ready for action and a strong candidate to climb into the two-deep by the end of the summer. Offered by schools throughout the country, he has the size, build, and strong hands to be a factor on the outside very early in his career.
Strength: Mismatches. In Larmond, Pantale, Coleman, and even Phillips, Boston College boasts a nice collection of big and physical pass-catchers, with the big mitts to match. If nothing else, the opposition will have a difficult time jamming these guys at the line of scrimmage and defending them on jump balls.
Weakness: A bona fide gamebreaker. It's been a long, long time since the Eagles have had a true field-stretch on the outside, who can force defenses to respect their explosiveness. While Larmond absolutely shows flashes of that potential, he's not quite there and will get marginal support from the other wide receivers.
Outlook: It's imperative that someone steps up and fills the shoes of Gunnell, who was the team's clutch receiver for the past couple of seasons. Larmond is the logical choice. He and the tight ends form a nice complement, but more help is needed from the wideouts. Keep a close watch on the precocious Phillips, who is as talented a receiver as this program has ever landed.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: Consistent with its DNA, the Boston College attack will once again be built on a solid front wall returning four starters. For one final year, the cover boy will be 6-7, 295-pound senior Anthony Castonzo, an All-ACC first teamer at left tackle. The total package at the position, he's started all 41 games of his Eagle career, is going to be a high draft choice in 2011, and has been nominated by the school to be a Rhodes scholar. He has the long arms, light feet, and punch to be impenetrable as a pass protector.

Forming a bookend with Castonzo at right tackle is 6-8, 322-pound senior Rich Lapham, who is about to begin his third season as a starter. He continued to improve as a forceful run blocker, paving a huge swath of running room for the backs. Still, he can be a little heavy-footed, exposing him to smaller, faster pass rushers, who can get around the edge in a hurry.

Lining up next to Lapham at right guard is 6-3, 325-pound senior Thomas Claiborne , another pile-driver in the running game. The team's most powerful run blocker, he's got a non-stop motor that'll often carry him well downfield as he seeks out someone on the other team to lay out. Far more than just an all-star caliber lineman, he's captain material and one of the inspirational leaders of the offense.

Back for a second season as the left guard is 6-7, 297-pound sophomore Emmett Cleary , a former tackle making good at his new position. Still a long way from being a finished product, he continues to add bulk and strength in an effort to become a more effective run blocker. If he can evolve into more of a knee-bender, improving his technique, the future is bright over the next three years.

The biggest question mark is at center, where 6-6, 292-pound junior Nathan Richman is slated to succeed all-star and long-time starter Matt Tennant. After bouncing around the line and earning a letter as a 10-game starter at guard, he appears set at the pivot. In the spring, he was clean with his snaps and quick out of his stance, allaying some fears about the position among the coaching staff.

Projected Top Reserves: The heir apparent to Claiborne at guard will be 6-6, 277-pound sophomore Nick Halloran , who earned his first letter as a six-game reserve in 2009. A nice all-around athlete, who could eventually slide out to tackle, his top priorities this fall will be to get stronger in the weight room and more comfortable with his technique and fundamentals.

One of the centerpieces of the future at tackle is 6-6, 302-pound sophomore Mike Goodman , another young Eagle to earn a letter in his first season. With a desired combination of athleticism and a strong upper body, he has a terrific future with the program and could eventually be the successor to Castonzo at left tackle if he continues to progress.

Watch Out For … Richman's development in the summer. So far, so good, but if this line is going to gel as one cohesive unit, Richman needs to build on what he achieved in the summer. If he can't be a rock in the middle, snapping without incident and calling the right signals, the entire offense is going to suffer.
Strength: Physicality. There isn't a lot of finesse within a group 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 north of 300 pounds along the starting unit.
Weakness: Proven depth. The second team is getting there and more advanced than a season ago, but it's still young and unproven. With underclassmen everywhere, the hope is that the starters can stay healthy and the reserves can marinate for one more year before taking over in 2011.
Outlook: It's a new year, but the Boston College line remains the same old picture of stability that it's always been. With three senior starters vying for all-star honors, the Eagles will dominate the line of scrimmage at times this fall and put forth one of the nastiest front walls in the ACC.
Unit Rating: 8.5

- 2010 Boston College Preview | 2010 Boston College Offense
- 2010 Boston College Defense | 2010 Boston College Depth Chart
- Boston College Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006