BC's O-line brings stability to an offense in transition

March, 10, 2009
3/10/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Boston College senior center Matt Tennant and his fellow offensive linemen have made it a tradition to get wings at Buff's Pub in Brighton after wins.

Of course, the burly linemen wouldn't mind eating even more wings in 2009.

While there are plenty of offensive question marks for the Eagles heading into 2009, the heart of the offense returns, and it all starts up front. The Eagles return four starters on their offensive line from last year's nine-win team and should again be one of the top two offensive fronts in the conference. They'll have to replace starting left guard Clif Ramsey, but Tennant, left tackle Anthony Castonzo, right guard Thomas Claiborne and right tackle Rich Lapham -- all juniors -- have combined for 84 career starts.

They're a tight-knit group (Castonzo, Tennant and Lapham are roommates, and Claiborne lives right down the hall), and want to uphold BC's tradition of strong offensive fronts. Tennant said regardless of who wins the starting job at quarterback, or who is running the ball, the linemen want to "go out there and dominate."

"It's definitely a thing of pride for all of us, considering the history of guys that have come through here," he said. "You want to be as good as them if not better. You take pride in how you practice, how you study film and how you play the game."

Tennant has had four different offensive line coaches and three different head coaches during his career at BC. He said he's expecting to learn more new terminology this spring under first-year coordinator Gary Tranquill, and first-year offensive line coach Sean Devine, but found the positive in it.

"If you get the chance to make it to the NFL, you're going to have to learn something new there, too," he said. "I just look at it like it's an opportunity to learn a different system."

Tennant, the lone senior on the line, is looking to take on more of a leadership role this season, but his overriding goal is not to just advance to the ACC title game, as the Eagles have done the past two seasons, but to finally win it. He's studying more film, and will graduate this spring with a communications major, which will give him even more time to concentrate on football.

"We've been there two years in a row, and I want it this year," he said. "I'm tired of coming up second place every year."

He's also tired of being underrated, although Tennant admitted it's become part of the team's identity.

"That's the thing you get at BC," he said. "We are always going to come out -- no matter who we have playing for us -- we're going to come out there and give 100 percent. It doesn't matter if we have Matt Ryan in the backfield, Chris Crane, Dominique ... it doesn't matter if we have a freshman tailback. That's the kind of mentality BC has, a blue-collar thing. We get a lot of it from the city of Boston, that work ethic."

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