SoCal native Rettig amped to battle USC

September, 12, 2013
9/12/13
11:00
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 Chase Rettig Jared Wickerham/Getty Images BC QB Chase Rettig hopes to lead the Eagles past a talented Trojans team in Los Angeles.
The Eagles’ wake-up call for Tuesday’s practice was early -- before 6 a.m. early.

But at least one Boston College (2-0, 1-0 ACC) player was up before then, ready to get out onto the practice field to prepare for USC (1-1, 0-1 Pac-12).

Ian White could tell Chase Rettig is fired up for this week, a homecoming for the Sierra Madre, Calif., native, when he looked at his phone and saw a message from the quarterback.

“Wake-up was at like 5:45 or something like that and at 5:20 I get a text from Chase, ‘Let’s go boys, this is our week. This is when we’ve really gotta show ourselves,’” White said after practice on Wednesday. “He’s really excited for this game. He’s always that type of leader, he’ll shoot texts and stuff like that. But this was 40 minutes before wake-up at 5 in the morning.

“He was ready to go.”

While he didn’t display much emotion in his post-practice huddle with reporters Wednesday, Rettig said he’s looking forward to playing in Los Angeles.

“It’ll be fun,” he said. “I grew up going to USC games and UCLA games. So it’ll be fun to go back home and see some family and my family will be able to see me play live.”

BC coach Steve Addazio said there’s no doubt Rettig has “a burn inside” this week.

“Who wouldn't?” the coach said on his weekly ACC conference call. “You're going home to play. I think any competitor has that feeling. So I know he does, and, yes, I can see it in his eyes. He's still going to keep his personality, [so] he's not over the top. But I can't imagine there is a more excited guy getting on that plane tomorrow.”

Though some players going home to play might find themselves facing a favorite team from childhood, that’s not the case with Rettig.

“I was just an Oregon State fan growing up,” the 6-foot-3, 206-pound signal-caller said. “My mom was a Beaver, so that’s who I rooted for.”

Rettig said USC coach Lane Kiffin recruited him while he was at Tennessee, but soon after the offer came from the Volunteers the QB committed to BC. He hasn’t spent much time on it since, and wasn’t interested in reminiscing about the recruiting process on Wednesday.

There’s too much work to do.

USC fell out of the AP Top 25 after a shocking 10-7 home loss to Washington State, but the Trojans gave up only 222 yards of total offense and didn’t allow an offensive touchdown (the Cougars kicked a field goal and scored on a 70-yard interception return for a TD).

Meanwhile, new coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s D leads the nation in rushing defense by allowing just 15 yards per game. The Trojans gave up only 7 yards on 22 attempts to the Cougars.

Coming off a week when lead back Andre Williams piled up 35 carries for 204 yards, BC will no doubt attempt to test that strength. But Ryan Day won’t be stubborn, and if he needs to call more on Rettig he’s shown he will do so.

In the opener against Villanova, Rettig threw 30 times, completing 23 passes for 285 yards and two TDs. He threw just 14 passes in Week 2, with the run game hammering away at the Wake Forest defense.

While USC has been dominant against the run game, it has been just OK against the passing game. The Trojans rank 60th in the country in passing defense, giving up 211.5 yards a game through the first two weeks.

Addazio expects Rettig to play well versus USC.

“Obviously he has to play a great game on Saturday,” he said. “He knows it. Your quarterback is the guy. He's got to play a great game. He's got to get the ball out of his hands and be efficient, and on top of what he's doing and be a leader. I think he'll be all of those things.”

One thing USC does very well is pressure the quarterback. The Trojans lead the country with 11 sacks in their first two games, with three players with two or more sacks already (George Uko with three, and Morgan Breslin and Leonard Williams with two).

If Rettig is able to find Alex Amidon, Spiffy Evans or Dan Crimmins for big gains through the air Saturday, some USC fans -- already grumbling because of the unsettled QB situation, though Kiffin did name Cody Kessler the starter this week, and unusually meek offensive output (18.5 PPG, down from 32.1 PPG in 2012) to date -- might wonder aloud why the Trojans can’t get guys like the San Clemente High grad.

Of course, if the hometown teams had put on a full-court press in recruiting back when Rettig was a four-star prospect ranked the No. 10 pocket passer in the Class of 2010, they might have been able to keep him home. But they didn’t, and he didn’t. The rest, as they say, is history.

Rettig comes home as a four-year starter at BC, and perhaps with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

“It’s exciting to go back,” Rettig said. “I was kind of an under-recruited kid back home. It’s not like I wanted to go to school in California, per se, but obviously when you don’t get seen [during recruiting] and then you come back you just want good things to happen.”

The senior would like nothing better than to help his team win this game, on the road, against a top-tier college football program. And he swears that’s what he’s focused on, even though he’s going to play just 20-odd minutes from home.

“You can’t really look at it like, ‘Oh, you’re going back home. Oh, your whole family’s gonna be there,’” he said. “It’s all about the team and trying to put our team in the best position to be successful on the field.

“It’ll be fun to just be back, but the most important thing is just singing our fight song at the end of the game.”

For Rettig, clearly there’s no wake-up call required for this matchup.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

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