ACC: Kasim Edebali

ACC and the NFL combine

February, 11, 2014
Feb 11
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The NFL draft combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis will be held from Feb. 19-25 and will feature workouts, medical examinations, psychological testing and interviews for the 335 invited prospects. The ACC has a total of 46 players who will participate, including at least one player from every school (we included Maryland and not Louisville in this post, because it is from the 2013 season). National champion Florida State led the league with eight players heading to the combine, but UNC was right behind with seven. Don't cry ... you're gonna miss some of these names next year. Good luck to these guys.

Here is the official list of the ACC attendees:

BOSTON COLLEGE (5)
CLEMSON (4)
DUKE (1)
FLORIDA STATE (8)
GEORGIA TECH (2)
MARYLAND (1)
MIAMI (5)
NORTH CAROLINA (7)
NC STATE (1)
PITTSBURGH (3)
SYRACUSE (2)
VIRGINIA (2)
VIRGINIA TECH (4)
WAKE FOREST (1)

Season wrap: Boston College

January, 15, 2014
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Even though Boston College entered the season with a new head coach in Steve Addazio, preseason expectations outside the program remained low. The Eagles had only won two games the previous year and were picked to finish last in the ACC Atlantic. But Boston College exceeded expectations, getting back to a bowl game for the first time since 2010 and completing the best turnaround in the ACC. The Eagles did it largely behind Andre Williams, whose 2,000-yard rushing season got him a trip to New York as a Heisman finalist. Boston College ended up ranking No. 20 in the nation in rushing offense, a year after ranking among the worst teams in that category.

Offensive MVP: Williams. The senior ended the season with 2,177 rushing yards, the fifth-best total in NCAA history, won the Doak Walker Award and finished fourth in Heisman voting. Williams’ season included four 100-yard games, four 200-yard games and one 300-yard game. He was a unanimous All-American.

Defensive MVP: Kevin Pierre-Louis. Pierre-Louis led the team and ranked tied for sixth in the ACC with 108 tackles, while also adding six sacks en route to first-team All-ACC honors from the media and the coaches. Kasim Edebali also deserves recognition, with 9.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss.

Best moment: Aside from having a Heisman finalist? Beating Virginia Tech. This was the best win of the season for the Eagles, one of just two against teams that finished the year above .500. Nobody gave BC much of a chance to win headed into the contest, but the defense forced four turnovers and Williams ran for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the 34-27 win.

Worst moment: The bowl game. The matchup between Williams and Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey was one of the most intriguing in bowl season. But Williams looked like his shoulder was still bothering him, and the Wildcats totally dominated the BC defense en route to a 42-19 victory in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl. Definitely not the way the Eagles wanted to end the season.

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 26, 2013
12/26/13
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Come chat with AA today at 4 p.m. ET!
You better believe that Steve Addazio has pointed to the recent champion in his backyard as an example for Boston College. The Red Sox embraced everything the Eagles coach has been preaching to his own players, from the minimal personnel turnover to the internal soul-searching to, ultimately, a rapid rise back to the top.

"To me that's a team a year ago that wasn't headed in the right direction," Addazio told ESPN.com. "Now, one year later, they win the World Series. It's because they became a team, and they brought the best out of each other and there was great chemistry and there was unselfishness. And here, I want to have that kind of team."

[+] EnlargeSteve Addazio
Darren McCollester/Getty ImagesSteve Addazio has Boston College inching closer to a bowl bid and has a signature win over Virginia Tech.
Save for maybe Gus Malzahn's work at Auburn, Addazio's reclamation project in Chestnut Hill has been as big of a surprise as any among new regimes. Boston College enters Saturday's game at New Mexico State with a 4-4 record, having already won twice as many games as it did last season.

Addazio made waves across the Northeast this summer, accumulating commitments from a number of elite-level prospects and restoring some promise to a program that had fallen on dark times. But there was still the whole matter of this year's team.

That same outfit that won six total games the last two years? It still had Andre Williams, who might set the school single-season rushing record over these final four (or five) games. It still had Alex Amidon, on the verge of setting a number of program receiving marks. It still had Kasim Edebali, who leads one of the league's best pass-rushing attacks.

All this, and everyone is supposed to get excited about close calls against Florida State and Clemson?

"When we traveled down to UNC I was real concerned," Addazio said of his team's loss two weeks ago at then-one-win North Carolina, adding "Before you know it, it's just human nature to start thinking to yourself, 'Well, we're doing pretty good.'

"Well, last time I checked, football's measured off of wins and losses.”

Nothing he is preaching can be considered innovative for rebuilding programs. It's just that players rarely buy in so soon, and results generally don't show until two or three years down the road.

"He genuinely cares about the students," athletics director Brad Bates said. "I'll give you a really good example. We had a handful of students at the end of last year, shortly after we hired him, who had season-ending surgeries. He's in their hospital rooms, he's calling their parents, he's making sure that their academics are being worked out so that professors are aware that the students are going to be there. … He can be incredibly demanding on [the players] on and off the field because there's that sincerity in what he does."

Addazio called it a simple deal, one he has lived by since his days as a prep coach two decades ago: Coach 'em hard, love 'em hard.

Williams, the ACC's leading rusher, admitted to being taken aback by the barrel-chested, deep-voiced newcomer who was seemingly sticking his nose into everyone's business. But the new coach's intentions became increasingly clear.

"I saw it as a positive, because we were coming from a program that just didn't really have a lot of energy, that didn't really have a lot of pizzazz," Williams said. "I just thought that it was fresh and exciting to see somebody that was willing to get up and raise their voice. I just loved it."

Amidon, 53 yards shy of becoming the program's all-time leading receiver, was struck by Addazio's enthusiasm upon meeting him. Still, Amidon wondered how long it would last.

"But every day," he said, "he gets more and more energetic. He comes into practice every single morning, and I don't know how he does it every morning, more energetic than the day before."

It was evident on the recruiting trail as well. Addazio generated buzz among recruits with the Eagles' #beadude Twitter movement and has hauled in 23 prospects for the 2014 class, more than all but two ACC teams so far.

"It's somewhat surprising in one way, yes," Bates said of the decidedly old school Addazio immersing himself in social media. "… Once he discovers that that is a mechanism by which the students communicate, then he studied it very, very deeply and really looked at it as a way of communicating with these students and using it as a vehicle to get to know them and develop relationships."

Recruits saw the efforts firsthand Saturday when Boston College recorded a signature win over Virginia Tech. The validation was nice for a group that had done everything asked of it, he said, but there is little time to feel good about it.

Addazio knows that, in the grand scheme of things, a footprint is being established. But the program he is running right now remains an all-hands on-deck operation, with every week serving as a "monumental challenge."

"I equate it to like you push the rock up the hill and it comes back a little, and then you re-push it back up a little further and it comes back a little," Addazio said. "And you just keep pushing and pushing and pushing and you know there's no doubt in your mind that you'll get the rock over the top.

"But for me to sit here and say that there's not going to be more peaks and valleys along the way as we're working at putting this thing back together, I know there will be. And as wonderful as Saturday was, here we are. We're right back at it."

ACC lunchtime links

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
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Zero Dark Thursday was already taken, so do we have a good nickname for tonight’s showdowns in the Pac-12 and Big 12?

Virginia Tech players are working to manage emotions in advance of this week’s Coastal Division showdown with Miami, writes the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Al Golden says Miami is fully focused on Virginia Tech and not looking ahead to a potential rematch with Florida State in the ACC Championship Game, writes the Miami Herald.

Thanks to a rash of injuries, Miami will be leaning on a lot of backups in its game against the Hokies, writes the Roanoke Times.

Jameis Winston said he can see just fine — even if he has to squint at the sideline from time to time, writes the Tallahassee Democrat.

Wake Forest is expecting to have its hands full when Winston pays them a visit this weekend, writes the Winston-Salem Journal.

Devonta Freeman’s big game against Miami last week was one of several history-making performances, CSS Sports writes in its latest ACC stats wrap.

It’s been a rough start to the Dave Doeren era at NC State, writes WRAL Sports.

The Wolfpack will have their hands full with Duke’s rejuvenated defense, writes Backing the Pack.

Pitt added a home-and-home with Oklahoma State to its future schedule, writes the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Syracuse is reaping the rewards of recruiting in the state of Florida, writes The Post-Standard.

Maryland coach Randy Edsall spent last weekend in Syracuse, where his wife, a former Orange athlete, was being honored. But because the Terps and Orange face off this week, Edsall wasn’t allowed to attend the Syracuse football game against Wake Forest, writes the Baltimore Sun.

Kasim Edebali has provided a spark on defense for rejuvenated Boston College, writes MetroWest Daily News.

Bryn Renner has officially passed the torch to Marquise Williams at North Carolina, writes the Charlotte Observer.

Anthony Harris has been a bright spot for Virginia’s defense this season, writes The Daily Progress.

ACC helmet stickers: Week 10

November, 3, 2013
11/03/13
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Florida State delivered another big pitch for a BCS championship bid, Virginia Tech's spiral continued, Georgia Tech locked up bowl eligibility, and North Carolina and Syracuse took big steps toward doing the same. But these are the top individual performances of Week 10 in the ACC.

Florida State tailback Devonta Freeman: On a night when Jameis Winston was off his game -- for him, 325 yards and one touchdown constitutes an off night -- the ground game picked up the slack for FSU, and the rushing attack was led by Freeman. The Miami native had 176 yards of offense and scored three TDs. His 48-yard receiving touchdown was the game's highlight, but he delivered a series of punishing blows running the football that set the tone in a physical rivalry game.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd: His 33-yard scoring throw to Sammy Watkins to open the game gave Boyd 113 touchdown passes for his career, passing former NC State QB Philip Rivers as the ACC's all-time leader. Boyd didn't stop there. He finished the game 24-of-29 for 377 yards and three TDs (plus a fourth touchdown on the ground), including a 96-harder to Watkins on the first drive of the third quarter that ended Boyd's afternoon. For his part, Watkins finished the game with eight catches for 169 yards, too.

Boston College defensive end Kasim Edebali: All due respect to tailback Andre Williams, who had another stellar performance with 33 carries for 166 yards and two touchdowns, but it was the BC defense that was the story in Saturday's win over Virginia Tech. The Eagles forced four turnovers, including a 33-yard interception return for a score by Kevin Pierre-Louis. But of all the big performances on D, Edebali may have been the most impressive. The senior finished with a game-high eight tackles, including three for a loss with two sacks. Edebali also broke up a pass and forced three fumbles.

Georgia Tech running back Robert Godhigh: The Yellow Jackets are going bowling once again, picking up win No. 6 against Pitt on Saturday. It was a solid overall performance for Georgia Tech, but Godhigh was the showstopper. The senior running back racked up 89 yards on just six carries, including two touchdowns. Godhigh has emerged as a big-play threat in the past two weeks, totaling 247 yards of offense (and three TDs) on just 13 touches. Godhigh had scores of 33 and 11 yards Saturday.

Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald: The Panthers did little on offense against Georgia Tech, but Donald was so good on defense, he deserves a helmet sticker even in a losing effort. Donald finished with 11 tackles -- all solo -- including a whopping six for a loss. Donald had a sack and forced two fumbles in the effort, too.

Midseason report: Boston College

October, 15, 2013
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A .500 record never looked so sweet.

As the season hits the midseason mark, Boston College at 3-3 (1-2 ACC) has already surpassed its win total from 2012 (two) and is just three wins from a return to bowl eligibility. After the quagmire they slogged through during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, the Eagles have played entertaining and competitive football, outside of a 35-7 thumping at USC in their first road game.

Steve Addazio doesn't believe in moral victories, but BC played No. 3 Clemson and No. 5 Florida State as tough as anyone has this season. The Eagles lost by 14 at home against (then-No. 8) FSU and by 10 at Clemson. They led the Tigers after three quarters, but couldn't finish off the upset.

The Eagles tried to become a pass-first team in the final season of the Frank Spaziani era, with mixed results at best. Quarterback Chase Rettig became just the fourth BC quarterback to pass for 3,000 yards in a season, and wideout Alex Amidon set records for catches and yards in a season. But BC won just two games, struggling to put games away without a reliable run game or a shutdown defense.

Addazio reinstituted the physical, blue-collar mentality that’s always worked best at BC, relying on a massive offensive line and a power run game to set the tone for the team. Defensive coordinator Don Brown installed an aggressive defensive philosophy, and after totaling just six sacks in 2012, the Eagles already have 15 in 2013.

They're a .500 team, but considering the circumstances, things are definitely looking up for the Eagles.

Offensive MVP: Andre Williams. A 6-foot, 227-pound senior, Williams entered the game against Clemson leading the nation in rushing yards (153.6) and attempts per game (26.6). He totaled only 70 yards on 24 carries against the Tigers, falling from first to sixth in yards per game, but Williams, a Schnecksville, Pa., native has topped 100 yards in four of six games and topped 200 yards in two of six.

Defensive MVP: Kasim Edebali. A fifth-year senior co-captain, Edebali leads the Eagles with 3.5 sacks, two more than he had in his career entering 2013. A native of Hamburg, Germany, Edebali has 28 tackles (14 assisted, 14 solo), six tackles for a loss, two quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He’s a steady presence on a defense that is making strides in Brown’s system, despite occasional breakdowns.

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

ACC Week 5: Did you know?

September, 27, 2013
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Here are a handful of fun facts about this weekend's contest, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info and sports information departments.

MIAMI: The Hurricanes' defense has allowed only three touchdowns through three games this season. And their offensive line has allowed just two sacks so far, tied for the ACC lead and tied for fifth nationally. USF has scored just four offensive touchdowns and is 119th nationally in total offense. The Bulls have recorded just two sacks on the season and are tied for 116th nationally in sacks per game (.67).

NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels have made 183 consecutive extra points, the nation's third-longest active streak, behind Washington (195) and Texas Tech (232). Casey Barth converted a school-record 126 in a row, while current place kicker Thomas Moore has an error-less streak of 57 PATs. UNC last missed an extra point Sept. 5, 2009, when Barth missed a second-quarter PAT in a 40-6 win over The Citadel.

VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers have faced Pitt five times, but this is their first meeting since the Panthers joined the ACC. Virginia is 0-5 when facing a new ACC member for the first time in conference play, dating to when Georgia Tech joined the ACC in 1979. Virginia lost to Georgia Tech (1982), Miami (2004), Virginia Tech (2004) and Boston College (2005).

PITT: The Panthers' 58-55 win at Duke last weekend marked their highest-scoring game in 18 years. Pitt has totaled 107 points over its last two games, as it scored 49 against New Mexico a week earlier. It had not scored as many points in consecutive games since tallying 121 points in 1977 when it beat Temple 76-0 and Boston College 45-7.

DUKE: One year after tallying 52 plays of 20 or more yards, the Blue Devils have 18 such plays through four games this season, including at least three in each game. Quarterback Brandon Connette is responsible for 13 of those plays, with five of them going to receiver Jamison Crowder, who has six himself on the year. Connette's 75-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Braxton last week is the team's longest play of the season.

FLORIDA STATE: The Seminoles are one of 10 teams that has 10 different players who have scored a touchdown. Eight different players scored touchdowns in last weekend's 62-7 win over Nevada, one shy of the team record set in a 66-17 win over Memphis State in 1979. FSU ranks first in the ACC in scoring offense (52.3 ppg) and total offense (547.3 ypg).

BOSTON COLLEGE: The Eagles were able to record two sacks in a 35-7 loss at USC, upping their season total to nine. They had just eight sacks during last season's 2-10 campaign. Senior end Kasim Edebali has 2.5 sacks through three games, more than his 1.5 from last year. Josh Keyes has 2.5 sacks as well.

NC STATE: The Wolfpack beat Central Michigan 38-24 in 2011, the only meeting between the teams. CMU was coming off a win over Northern Illinois, which was then coached by current NC State first-year Dave Doeren. Doeren, who brought over six other staff members from DeKalb, Ill., to Raleigh, N.C., finished with a 1-1 mark against the Chippewas, beating them last year, 55-24.

WAKE FOREST: The Demon Deacons are 1-33 all time against top-five teams, and they are riding a 32-game losing streak to squads ranked that high. The only one came on Oct. 26, 1946, a 19-6 victory over then-No. 4 Tennessee on the road. Clemson is No. 3 in the Associated Press poll. Wake Forest is 0-19 all time against top-three teams. Two years ago, it took a 43-yard field goal from Chandler Catanzaro with no time left to put away Wake, 31-28.

CLEMSON: Tajh Boyd is within striking distance of a few important milestones: He is 409 yards of total offense away from becoming the third quarterback in ACC history to notch 10,000 total yards. He is two touchdown away from becoming the second player in ACC history to account for 100 in a career. And he needs 145 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for his career. He is also tied with former FSU signal-caller Chris Weinke in career 300-yard passing games among ACC players, with 13.

Eagles D stands strong, stuffs Wake

September, 7, 2013
9/07/13
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NEWTON, Mass. -- It was a pivotal moment.

The Eagles were pinned deep in their own territory after Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock blocked a Nate Freese punt and Brandon Chubb recovered the ball at the BC 3-yard line with 52 seconds to go in the half.

The Eagles had built a 17-7 lead, mostly by taking advantage of Wake Forest's mistakes. Now the defense had to keep Tanner Price & Co. out of the end zone and hold them to three points to try to regain some of the momentum that they’d built earlier in the evening.

As Wake Forest lined up, the noise level in Alumni Stadium built up higher and higher.

Don Brown’s defense stopped Josh Harris at the 1 on first down, then stood him up for no gain on second down. On third down, Price looked to pass and had a wideout open in the back of the end zone but wasn’t able to get it to him, skipping it in as Kasim Edebali came flying at him in the backfield.

That made it fourth-and-goal from the 1, and Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe had a decision to make. Take the field goal and make it a one-score game, or go for the touchdown. He decided to go for the end zone.

BC stacked the line of scrimmage and dug in. The fans got loud. And while Wake Forest had been full of tricks all night, there were none coming on this play. Price handed it off to Harris, who tried to stuff it up the middle. But Mehdi Abdesmad met him in the backfield and slowed him down enough for his teammates to join in and stand him up for no gain.

The Eagles took over on downs, preserved the lead and took back momentum for the second half.

“I was proud of the way our defense played,” BC head coach Steve Addazio said after the 24-10 win. “They held that unbelievable goal-line stand, which was really incredibly important for us, obviously. Played real strong all night.”

[+] EnlargeKasim Edebali
Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY SportsBC captain Kasim Edebali (91) tackles Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price.
Edebali said the pumped-up crowd, announced at 32,465, helped fuel the defense for that critical series.

“It was amazing,” the fifth-year senior captain said. “It was a Friday night game, and the student section was wild. I think the energy that was going on in the stadium went over us. We were creating energy the whole game, we played really tough and physical. And then got after them.

“We executed a little bit better on the goal line. We took a lot of energy and momentum that was created throughout the whole game [and used it] on that goal-line stand.”

No one-trick birds of prey, the Eagles made another goal-line stand later in the game, holding the Demon Deacons to a field goal after they had first-and-goal from the BC 4 in the fourth quarter.

But it was that first stand that was most crucial.

“When we blocked the punt at the end of the half, we’ve got to get that in,” Grobe told reporters after the game. “We’ve got to have a better mentality when we’re down there -- and that’s us as coaches, that’s not the kids. We’ve just got to do the things that we need to do down in the red zone, especially short-yardage stuff.”

For the game, the Eagles held the Demon Deacons to just 246 yards of total offense and 10 points. They forced three turnovers (though Price helped, with two of them coming on fumbles from wayward pitches) and produced two sacks (allowing them to tie their season total of six from 2012 in the first two weeks of 2013).

“Our plan to win starts with playing great defense,” Addazio said. “You want to win, you want to build your program, you’ve gotta play great defense. You’ve gotta play great defense and you’ve gotta have a run game.”

The Eagles did that, too, on Friday night. Senior tailback Andre Williams had a career-high 204 yards rushing on 35 carries.

“You play great defense when you complement your defense,” Addazio said. “One of the good things I think that we’re doing, people say ‘Oh, you run the ball.’ Don Brown’s sitting there at the end of the game saying, ‘I love what we do.’ Because our offense complements your defense.”

With the win, BC starts the season 2-0 for the first time since 2010, when the Eagles opened with wins over Weber State and Kent State. It’s also the first time the Eagles have won their ACC opener since 2007, when they beat Wake Forest to open the season.

While they’ll celebrate the win this weekend, the Eagles aren’t close to overconfident. They know it’s early. They know they have a stiff test awaiting them next week, when they fly to Southern California to take on No. 25 USC.

“I’m proud of the fact of where we are,” Addazio said. “We’re 2-0 and that’s great. That’s great. We’re fighting, we’re scratching, we’re clawing. And that’s fantastic, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

But after matching their win total from 2012 in the first two weeks of the 2013 season, fighting through adversity to come out on top in both weeks, the Eagles seem to be taking on the personality of their new coaching staff, led by Addazio. They’re fighting hard.

And that can only be a good sign for the rest of the season, when the level of play and caliber of opponent picks up.

“I thought the resounding thing here was that we played hard, we played physical, we played like a team,” Addazio said. “When one was down, the other was up. We complemented each other. Our kids had great resilience and great will, which I think is critically important. As important as anything right now.”

In the pivotal moments of this young season, Addazio’s Eagles have passed their tests with flying colors.

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

Edebali, White named BC captains

August, 24, 2013
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With less than a week to go before kickoff of the 2013 season, Steve Addazio announced the first captains of his Boston College tenure: two fifth-year senior linemen, defensive end Kasim Edebali and right tackle Ian White.

The selections, traditionally made by a player vote, send a clear message: Success starts with hard work up front.

Edebali, a native of Hamburg, Germany, who came to BC via a program that landed him at Kimball Union in New Hampshire, has appeared in 36 games the past three seasons. The 6-foot-3, 246-pounder has 99 career tackles, with 53 solo tackles and 9.5 tackles for a loss.

White, a 6-5, 302-pounder from Conway, N.H., has played in 34 games the past three seasons, including nine starts at right guard in 2012.

Both have their degrees in hand, with Edebali earning a bachelor’s degree in communications and White earning a bachelor’s degree in human education. And both do the majority of their work in the so-called “trenches,” where the grit really gets tested and those lacking toughness need not apply.

White will be tasked with taking over at right tackle for John Wetzel, who’s moved on to the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. Edebali, meanwhile, will be encouraged (read: compelled) to attack the quarterback in new defensive coordinator Don Brown’s aggressive philosophy, in an all-out effort to erase the memory of last season’s paltry total of six sacks.

Addazio has said again and again in the buildup to the 2013 season that establishing the proper mindset -- the mindset he believes was missing in recent seasons in Chestnut Hill -- starts with him. But if it’s truly going to resonate with the Eagles going forward, that message ultimately has to come from the players, too.

As captains, Edebali and White can help set the right tone, or at least serve as examples for younger teammates to follow.

Editor's note: This post was edited after it was posted to correctly reflect the selection process of the captains.

Boston College spring wrap

May, 7, 2013
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2012 record: 2-10

2012 conference record: 1-7 (sixth in the Atlantic Division)

Returning starters: Offense: 8; Defense: 8; kicker/punter 1

Top returners:

QB Chase Rettig, TB Andre Williams, WR Alex Amidon, DE Kasim Edebali, DT Kaleb Ramsey, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Steele Divitto, PK Nate Freese

Key losses:

LT Emmett Cleary, RT John Wetzel, TE Chris Pantale, LB Nick Clancy, SS Jim Noel

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Williams* (599 yards)

Passing: Rettig* (3,065)

Receiving: Amidon* (1,210)

Tackles: Clancy (145)

Sacks: Pierre-Louis* (2)

Interceptions: Spenser Rositano* (3)

Spring answers:

1. The players are buying in. First-year coach Steve Addazio said the one thing he felt great about this spring was the team’s willingness to adjust to the staff and its changes. “This is a group of guys that really took well to tough coaching, to accountability, to the concept that we need to be a real team and we need to be accountable to each other, and build some physical and mental toughness.”

2. Running back Andre Williams can be a star. Addazio has made the running game a priority, and Williams is going to have to carry the load, especially after the departure of Rolandan Finch. “I thought Andre had one of the best springs of anybody,” Addazio said. “… I just really am impressed by him.”

3. Ryan Day helped ease the transition on offense. The Eagles’ first-year offensive coordinator was previously on staff as the receivers’ coach, so the players had an easier time adapting to yet another change in coordinator. For Rettig, Day is his fourth coordinator, but no introductions were necessary.

Fall questions:

1. Depth across the board. Addazio said “depth is a problem right now” and it put the staff in a predicament this spring because they wanted to promote toughness, but also keep guys healthy. While he did say the staff “developed the lineup up front,” the team can’t afford injuries to key players.

2. Can the defense get back to its traditionally stingy self? BC returns eight of its top nine tacklers from last season, but the defense has been learning a new attacking scheme under first-year coordinator Don Brown. Things can only get better, as BC ranked No. 111 in rushing defense last season, and No. 100 in total defense. How quickly the Eagles improve, though, depends upon the learning curve this summer.

3. The running game. It was nonexistent last season. While BC’s top running back proved to be dependable this spring, there are still plenty of questions behind him, and this goes back to the issue of depth in No. 1. The Eagles still have Tahj Kimble and David Dudek, but the two combined for 58 carries last season, when BC’s rushing offense was No. 115 in the country.

Hurricanes overwhelm Eagles' initial burst

September, 1, 2012
9/01/12
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NEWTON, Mass. -- The Eagles called this game a benchmark, saying it would be a good indication of how far they need to go to be where they want to be.

If that's the case, there's still a long way to go.

Chase Rettig and the new-look offense started out Saturday like a house on fire, moving the ball efficiently and scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions.

Then the house just burned to the ground.

A three-and-out and a pick-six on Rettig got the Hurricanes back to even, and then the differences between these two teams started to become more and more evident, as Miami pulled out the 41-32 victory.

The Eagles struggled at times to move the ball against the Hurricanes' aggressive defense and ultimately had to settle for field goals. They put the ball on the ground multiple times, losing two fumbles and recovering a couple more.

The Hurricanes showed true home run-hitting ability, getting two 50-plus-yard TD runs from touted freshman tailback Duke Johnson. And when they weren't hitting big plays, the Hurricanes were converting third downs when they needed to and keeping drives alive.

[+] EnlargeAndre Williams
AP Photo/Anthony NesmithThis Andre Williams TD run got BC in front 7-0, but Miami was just warming up.
"I thought we played sloppy, made some mistakes that hurt us on offense," BC coach Frank Spaziani said. "I thought we moved the ball and did some real nice things. We had a couple fumbles and the turnover, obviously, that gave them a score and two long runs that we can't have happen on defense.

"We've gotta play better defense than that. But there were some good signs there, so we've gotta build on it and go forward."

There were, indeed, good signs. Rettig threw for a career-high 441 yards, completing 32 of 51 passes, two touchdowns and one interception. The 441 yards are the most for a BC signal-caller since Doug Flutie -- maybe you've heard of him? -- had 447 on Nov. 3, 1984. It's sixth all-time in the BC single-game record books.

In the first game under new offensive coordinator Doug Martin, the offense piled up 542 total yards and scored 30 points (the final two came on a safety). And there were more points to be had, if not for a few untimely drops and the aforementioned mistakes with ball security.

But it wasn't enough.

After a Nate Freese field goal gave BC back the lead at 23-21 midway through the third quarter, Kevin Pierre-Louis and the BC defense had Stephen Morris & Co. right where they wanted them. It was third-and-16 from the Miami 39-yard line after Kasim Edebali made a play to stop Mike James in the backfield.

The crowd got loud, and those on the BC sideline jumped up and down, willing a stop.

Instead, Morris found Allen Hurns open for a 21-yard gain and a first down. The drive stayed alive and ultimately resulted in the winning points for the visitors.

"No one made a play [on defense]. Didn't look like it," Spaziani said. "Although we did fight and stop them a couple times, not when we needed to. We can't give up that many points."

The big plays by Johnson were killers, but the Eagles said he didn't take them by surprise.

"He's an explosive back, and you can't give him areas like that to get through," Spaziani said. "We've gotta be a little better positioned and more precise."

Pierre-Louis, who had a game-high 11 tackles on the day, agreed.

"I just feel as though we need to execute a little bit better," Pierre-Louis said. "We were right in the right spots; we just need to push a little bit harder."

"When you score 32 points, you expect to win," Spaziani said. "The defense has got to play better than that. We're not equipped to play junior high school basketball games."

A clearly disappointed Rettig said he thought the offense played well overall.

"The only thing I can come back to is we didn't convert a few third-and-1s, and just not scoring touchdowns when we were in the red zone," he said. "We had a couple good looks on a couple plays; we just need to finish them."

The Eagles did score on six of their seven trips to the red zone, but only three of those scores were worth six points. Miami scored on all four of its red zone trips, and that doesn't include the scores by Johnson.

BC just made too many mistakes -- putting the ball on the ground at costly times, in costly positions on the field -- to win against an ACC opponent.

In fact, if the Eagles play like this next Saturday, they might struggle to put away the Maine Black Bears. And they're in the Football Championship Subdivision.

"That was a winnable game," Spaziani said. "Not taking anything away from Miami -- they deserved to win. We need to play better, catch the ball, hold on to the ball, tackle. Those are the things that we can improve on. And we need to."

If this first game was truly a benchmark, a road sign telling the Eagles just how far they have to go to reach their destination, that sign told them two things -- one that might be comforting, and another that might be just as discomfiting.

They seem to be on the right road, but there are still miles and miles to go before they're where they want to be.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.
Boston College held its final scrimmage of preseason training camp on Wednesday at Alumni Stadium. Here are the highlights, according to the team's practice report:

Offensive highlights: Junior quarterback Chase Rettig completed 7-of-13 pass attempts for 130 yards and one touchdown -- a 50-yard pass to Bobby Swigert on the opening series of the scrimmage. Backup quarterback Josh Bordner threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Johnathan Coleman in an overtime situation. Bordner finished 4-for-10 for 36 yards with the touchdown. Tailback Tahj Kimble had seven carries for 26 yards, and Colin Larmond Jr. led the receivers with three receptions for 61 yards.

Defensive highlights: Senior linebacker Nick Clancy led all defensive players with six tackles, and junior linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis recorded four tackles and one pass break-up. Six-foot-7, 250-pound freshman defensive end Malachi Moore knocked down a Rettig pass at the line of scrimmage, and senior defensive tackle Bryan Murray also registered a pass break-up. Kasim Edebali recorded a sack during situational play.

Special teams highlights: Placekicker Nate Freese made field goals from 37 and 34 yards and finished 2-for-3 in field goal attempts. He combined to make 8-of-9 field goal attempts in the Eagles' four scrimmages. Gerald Levano punted three times, including a 33-yard punt on the 13 yard line and a 53-yard punt.

ND's 2012 opponents, Week 10: BC

July, 27, 2012
7/27/12
10:30
AM ET
Week 10: Nov. 10 at Boston College (at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass.)

Time/TV: TBA

Series: Notre Dame leads all-time, 12-9

2011 record: 4-8 (3-5 ACC; fifth place, Atlantic Division)

Head coach: Frank Spaziani (20-19, three years)

Returning starters: Offense: 9; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Chase Rettig, RB Rolandan Finch, RB Tahj Kimble, RB Andre Williams, WR Colin Larmond, WR Bobby Swigert, TE Chris Pantale, LT John Wetzel, LG Bobby Vardaro, RG Ian White, RT Emmett Cleary, DE Kasim Edebali, DT Kaleb Ramsey, DT Dominic Appiah, DT Dillon Quinn, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Steele Divitto, LB Sean Duggan, CB Jim Noel, SS Spenser Rositano

Key losses

RB Montel Harris, TE Lars Anderson, C Mark Spinney, DE Max Holloway, LB Luke Kuechly, CB Donnie Fletcher, FS Hampton Hughes, P Ryan Quigley

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Rolandan Finch* (705 yards)

Passing: Chase Rettig* (1,960 yards)

Receiving: Colin Larmond* (528 yards)

Tackles: Luke Kuechly (191)

Sacks: Max Holloway (2.5)

Interceptions: Luke Kuechly (3)

Three questions for ... ACC blogger Heather Dinich:

Coach Frank Spaziani and players talked a lot this spring about how the worst thing to happen in the 2011 season was the campaign ending, as BC made strides late. Is it possible to build off that momentum in 2012?



Heather Dinich: BC doesn’t have much choice but to answer that with an emphatic ‘yes’ because the Eagles open the season against Miami. That game will set the tone for both programs, and we’ll learn a lot about both of them in Week 1. Voting members of the media picked BC to finish fifth in the Atlantic Division this fall, ahead of only Maryland. The key to whether or not they surpass that is how quickly the offense executes the playbook of yet another offensive coordinator. Offensive lineman Emmett Cleary told me at media days that too much has been made of the turnover at the coordinator position -- that it’s just football and they can learn it. That’s coming from a BC offensive lineman, though -- they’re smart guys. The lack of continuity there will be a factor for some players.



All-everything players Montel Harris and Luke Kuechly are gone, but there is plenty of depth both in the backfield and at linebacker. Can those units maintain production this season?



HD: There’s talent and depth at both positions. Of course, BC would like to have the ACC’s record-setting running back on its roster, but the Eagles will survive without him, especially since the offensive line should be one of the more improved units on the roster. Rolandan Finch and Andre Williams combined to rush for 1,222 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Tahj Kimble had 43 carries and eight catches. At linebacker, nobody can replace Kuechly, but Steele Divitto is sure gonna try. Kevin Pierre-Louis could also be one of the more talented linebackers in the ACC.



Given recent seasons, staff turnover and the mysterious dismissing of Harris, it would appear -- at least on the surface -- to be a do or die year for Spaziani. How does BC respond this year?

HD: Yes, I think his job is on the line. The Eagles, at the very least, must go bowling for Spaz to keep his seat cool. At least that’s my guess. I have little doubt that BC responds like it always does -- with a chip on its shoulder. Spaziani told me at ACC media days that he has a chip on HIS shoulder, and those are the types of players BC recruits, too -- solid, hard-working, blue-collar guys who simply love the game. They’ll play for anybody. BC might not be the best team in the ACC, but you can always expect the Eagles’ best effort.

Boston College spring wrap

May, 8, 2012
5/08/12
11:30
AM ET
2011 overall record: 4-8
2011 conference record: 3-5 (5th, Atlantic)

Returning starters: Offense: 9; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners
LT John Wetzel, RT Emmett Cleary, LG Bobby Vardaro, RG Ian White, TE Chris Pantale, QB Chase Rettig, RB Rolandan Finch, RB Tahj Kimble, RB Andre Williams, WR Coin Larmond, WR Bobby Swigert, DE Kasim Edebali, DT Kaleb Ramsey, DT Dominic Appiah, DT Dillon Quinn, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Steele Divitto, LB Sean Duggan, CB Jim Noel, SS Spenser Rositano

Key losses
C Mark Spinney, TE Lars Anderson, DE Max Holloway, LB Luke Kuechly, CB Donnie Fletcher, FS Hampton Hughes, P Ryan Quigley

2011 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Rolandan Finch* (705 yards)
Passing: Chase Rettig* (1,960 yards)
Receiving: Colin Larmond* (528 yards)
Tackles: Luke Kuechly (191)
Sacks: Max Holloway (2.5)
Interceptions: Luke Kuechly (3)

Spring answers

1. Chase Rettig makes strides: Rettig was thrown into the fire early, and he has endured plenty since, with injuries, new schemes and last year's 4-8 campaign. Now a junior, and playing for another new offensive coordinator, Rettig has the command of the offense and should benefit from playing behind an experienced offensive line.

2. More running back depth than BC probably hoped for: Montel Harris and Andre Williams couldn't go in the spring game. Then Tahj Kimble injured himself early in the contest. Finch, who played a lot last season with Harris sidelined, ended up shouldering the load, and it will take a group effort this season with Harris out of the picture. Injuries and a dismissal gave BC a better look at its backfield talent than it had probably hoped for, but the group effort this spring should benefit the Eagles come fall.

3. Defense looking to build off 2011 finish: Coach Frank Spaziani said the worst thing about last season was that it ended. BC is hungry to build off its 4-8 campaign, as the team hopes to carry the momentum from winning two of its final three games. A long offseason gave the defense time to think about that finish, which was keyed by a unit that held each of the final three opponents to fewer than 20 points.

Fall questions

1. Who will replace Luke Kuechly? The short answer is no one. Kuechly's legend will only continue to grow with each passing day. But the Eagles do return plenty of talented linebackers, led by Steele Divitto and Kevin Pierre-Louis. It will take a collective effort and then some for the linebackers to make up for the loss of Kuechly, but their attitude in trying can certainly rub off on the rest of the defense.

2. What happened with Harris? The school's all-time leading rusher was dismissed from the team after the spring for a repeated violation of team rules. The backfield is used to playing without him after his injury-plagued 2011 campaign, but the suddenness of Harris' departure -- which Spaziani will not get into -- has to have some effect on his former teammates, especially with Harris having been primed to chase the ACC's career rushing record this season.

3. How will the offense transition under Doug Martin? Spaziani said he was impressed with the unit coming out of the spring, but a fifth offensive coordinator in five years has to be challenging for the players. Martin has said he is looking to increase the pace, and he'll have nine starters back to work with come preseason camp.

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