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Thursday, October 4, 2012
BC notes: DB Sylvia says D must improve

By Jack McCluskey

NEWTON, Mass. -- Sean Sylvia made a momentum-shifting play early in the Eagles' loss to Clemson this past Saturday, diving to pick off a Tajh Boyd pass and giving the ball back to BC's offense. The Eagles scored on the drive and then again on their next drive to take a 21-17 lead.

It was the kind of sequence that can put a team away, in the right circumstances.

Sean Sylvia
Sean Sylvia, right, celebrates his interception against Clemson, but BC's defense needs to make more plays more often.
But the Tigers weren't beaten, and the Eagles' defense couldn't make any more true momentum-changing plays in the eventual 45-31 loss.

So the fact Sylvia had that interception and led the team with 12 tackles? That doesn't impress the sophomore defensive back.

"Leading the team in tackles? I don't care," he said before practice Wednesday. "I still missed four. That stuff just haunts me. And I hope it haunts other people too, because we can't get used to losing around here. It's not what we do.

"Hopefully we can get on the right track this week."

That would require the defense to improve the quality of its play, as the offense has proven in three of the team's four games that it can put up points.

"Defensively we're not really pulling our weight," Sylvia said. "I think we need to start pulling our weight and taking more ownership over stopping people."

Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis agreed.

"There's been a lot of years that the defense has been the strong suit of BC football," he said. "We need to get back to that now."

The defense is ninth in the ACC in scoring defense (27.75) and passing defense (243.8 yards a game) and 10th in rushing defense (192.25 yards a game). BC is 86th in the country in total defense, allowing 436 yards a game.

Sylvia believes part of the problem is that the defense doesn't have the experience that it did in the halcyon days of 2007.

"We don't really know what it is to win a lot of games, because a lot of guys haven't won a lot games here," Sylvia said. "Some people just think you're gonna come into this defense, which has been a top-notch defense year in and year out, and kinda roll out the carpet. But that's not how it works. We've gotta put more work in."

Ignoring instant fame

He's not letting it go to his head.

When the season started, hardly anyone could've picked Alex Amidon out of a lineup. He was a third or fourth receiver on a team not known for throwing the ball, and his statistics proved it.

He had 20 catches for 220 yards as a sophomore, hardly enough to get him noticed.

But with 33 catches for 559 yards and three touchdowns in the first four games of this season, Amidon is all of a sudden making a stir. First he was added to the Biletnikoff watch list, then he was named ACC Wide Receiver of the Week.

"Is this accurate," Amidon was asked Wednesday, "let's say a month ago nobody knew who you were?"

"Yeah," he said without hesitation, drawing laughs from the gathered reporters.

Now that people know who he is, though, Amidon says he's not doing anything differently.

"Nothing changes," he said. "I try and ignore it, really. I guess just try to work harder, maybe, to try to keep it going."

But what does it feel like, to suddenly be talked about and even included in an article highlighting top choices for the ESPN College Football Challenge fantasy game?

"It's weird," he said. "It's definitely weird -- I'm still not convinced yet. I don't know how to describe it. My mom and dad and my like sisters and stuff are trying to tell me how I'm doing and stuff, and I'm trying to ignore it because we have other goals.

"I guess you can't really think about it until the end of the season."

Fond memories

BC head coach Frank Spaziani has a special respect for the United State service academies, having served as an assistant coach at Navy from 1975 to 1981, first as a tight ends/tackles coach and then as a defensive backs coach.

Before practice Wednesday, Spaziani talked about how challenging it is to play and coach at a place like Army or Navy. He also reminisced about one of the best pranks he saw his cadets pull during the annual Army-Navy game.

"Those are great experiences, the Army-Navy game, the president coming in his limousine," Spaziani said.

One year, the limousine pulled in and the Army side of the stadium stood and saluted as usual.

"The doors open and out of the limo comes the two Navy mascots, with big signs 'Beat Army,'" Spaziani said with a chuckle. "I remember being on the field, going 'That's funny, that's really funny.'"

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