Rettig's performance stands out in loss

September, 3, 2012
9/03/12
12:56
AM ET
Time and tape review didn’t change things for Frank Spaziani.

“Twenty-four hours later, after reviewing the tape, I feel the same way I did after the game,” the fourth-year coach said of the Eagles’ 41-32 loss to Miami on Saturday. “That was a winnable game but we didn’t play winning football. That was disappointing but there’s really a lot of positive going on.”

Much of the positive came on the offensive side of the ball.

The offensive line, now under the tutelage of offensive line coach/running game coordinator Jim Bollman, was stout against the Hurricanes’ rush. Led by massive tackles Emmett Cleary and John Wetzel, the line did not allow a sack and gave Chase Rettig plenty of time to go through his progressions and find open receivers.

New offensive coordinator Doug Martin’s focus on an improved tempo also was clear, with the Eagles often lining up and running a new play before the Miami defense had a chance to get set.

[+] EnlargeChase Rettig
Anthony Nesmith/CSM/Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesChase Rettig's 441 yards were the sixth most in BC history and third most ever allowed by Miami.
But the brightest spot, without a doubt, had to have been the junior signal-caller.

“I’ve been saying all along, Chase is a very good quarterback and he’s shown us a lot of good things,” Spaziani said. “That gives you an idea of what he can do if he gets some help. He stepped up in the pocket, we protected him … we were happy with Chase’s performance.

“Albeit he made a couple mistakes, but we’ll take that every week.”

The glaring mistakes were the pick-six Rettig threw to Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman to even the score at 14 in the first quarter -- Rettig said he never saw the linebacker and credited him for making a good play -- and his decision to quickly run a sneak with the Eagles on the goal line late in the fourth. Rettig got buried in the pile on the keeper, the refs ruled he came up short and after a video review was inconclusive the call on the field stood.

“I should have taken a little more time on the sneak,” he said after the game, “probably because I forgot that it was fourth down. I think we scored on the play before that, and I wish they would’ve looked at that.”

Spiffy Evans might have been in the end zone on the previous play, when he caught a Rettig pass at the goal line before being stood up by two Miami defenders. But Rettig’s decision to quickly goose center Andy Gallik and go for the score didn’t give the officials time to check that one, if they ever intended to.

While those missteps were ultimately costly for BC, Rettig put his best foot forward far more often than not Saturday.

He had career highs in completions (32), attempts (51) and passing yards (441) against the Hurricanes. Only Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib (470) threw for more yards than Rettig in the opening week of the season.

The 441 yards passing is good for sixth all time in the BC record books for a single game, behind three games by Doug Flutie (520 yards vs. Penn State in ’82; 472 vs. Miami in ’84; and 447 vs. Penn State in ’84) and single games by Shawn Halloran (453 vs. Syracuse in ‘85) and Glenn Foley (448 vs. Virginia Tech in ’93). And according to the Miami Herald, Rettig’s haul was the third most yards ever allowed by the Hurricanes.

BC’s 542 yards of total offense was 54 yards shy of double its average last season (298), and the offense put up 30 points (the Eagles also had a safety late in the fourth quarter) after averaging just a shade more than 18 last season.

“We had him for two missed throws out of 50-some times going back,” Spaziani said. “He’s a student, he understands what’s going on and Doug’s got him well schooled. He executed. I think going forward he’ll be better. You’ve got to understand he didn’t have [Bobby] Swigert and [Chris] Pantale to help him out in the receiving corps.

“As good as it was, it wasn’t enough to get the job done.”

Rettig acknowledged as much after the game.

“Chase, with how well you guys were able to move the ball, but then some costly turnovers, does this feel like one that slipped through your hands, like a win you could’ve had?” the QB was asked in the news conference.

“Yeah, definitely one we could have had,” he said shortly, clearly disappointed.

It’s only natural that the negative seems to outweigh the positive, since the Eagles came out on the short end of the opener and will have to fight their way out of a hole right out of the gate for a second straight season.

But for his part, Spaziani seemed to think that most of the errors that did the Eagles in on Saturday can be fixed.

“We made some very crucial mistakes that need to be corrected,” he said on Sunday. “We had eight drops, for example. … That’s unacceptable.”

Two of those drops, one each by Alex Amidon and Brian Miller, had the potential to be either big gains or scores. Amidon seemed to be breaking free over the middle on a slant route but had the ball glance off his hands, and Miller had a step on a Miami defender but couldn’t corral Rettig’s pass as he ran into the end zone.

Then there were the fumbles by the running backs, one each by Tahj Kimble (while running with the ball after a catch out of the backfield) and Andre Williams (on a run deep in BC territory).

“Hopefully we can catch the ball better and certainly hold on to the ball,” Spaziani said. “I think the guys are capable of doing that.”

If the Eagles clean up the mistakes and Rettig is able to repeat his performance, things should be looking up at the Heights.

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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