Friday, October 26, 2012
Painful experience for Eagles' D-line
By Jack McCluskey
NEWTON, Mass. -- It starts up front.
The BC D has struggled all season long, with the only exception being when FCS Maine came to Chestnut Hill in early September, and one of the major reasons is the constant turnover on the defensive line.
Kasim Edebali and his fellow BC D-linemen have struggled with injuries this fall.
"We take a lot of pride in the defensive line," end Kasim Edebali said before practice Wednesday. "It's been frustrating this year, but before every game we say everything starts with us.
"[If] we make sure we get to the quarterback, the DBs are gonna have it easier. We gonna stop the run, the linebackers have it easier and ultimately we gonna have a better shot at winning games."
Kaleb Ramsey was supposed to be healthy this year, ready to make a major impact. He hasn't been, and that hasn't happened.
Edebali himself has been in and out of the lineup. And even some of the backups have had to be replaced.
"Disappointing, definitely," the junior from Germany said of the turnover on the line. "Just because you know how much damage these players can do. And you know that they're great players, and at the end of the day you feel bad because you want them to do well.
"But if someone gets hurt, they get hurt and the next guy in line has to step up."
The Eagles (1-6, 0-4 ACC) have used six different starting combinations on the D-line in their seven games this season. Nine different players have started games, including two redshirt freshmen.
"Obviously you'd like to have no injuries," BC head coach Frank Spaziani said. "You need to have consistency, and guys out there. Because that's the only way you get better, I mean consistency, being out there every day working and playing. Hopefully they'll show up."
While those comments are general, Spaziani was talking about his front four on defense. As of Wednesday, the depth chart on the D-line was the same as it was for the Georgia Tech game: Edebali at one end, Connor Wujciak at left tackle, Dominic Appiah at right tackle, and Kieran Borcich at the other end.
If that lineup holds up 'til Saturday, it will mark the first time all season that BC started the same front four two weeks in a row on D.
"It's good when the same four guys start the next game and continue out like that," Edebali said. "Just because [if] the chemistry is good, everybody knows what are the strengths of the guy next to you so you can put yourself in a good position [because of] that."
"It's affected it a lot," Spaziani said of the constant shifting up front. "But there's other factors, too. It all starts up front. That's where everything starts, on the offensive line and the defensive line. If you can't control the line of scrimmage, or have a chance to, that creates other problems."
There have been plenty of problems for the Eagles this season. Formerly known as a defense and running team, BC has struggled to do either successfully in 2012.
BC ranks last in the ACC in a bevy of statistical categories in conference games: scoring defense (43.5 points per game allowed), total defense (550.8 yards per game), rushing defense (252.2 ypg), sacks by (3 in four ACC games) and opponent's third-down conversion percentage (58.5).
Randy Edsall's team is averaging just 313.7 yards (11th in the ACC) and 21.3 points (10th) in conference games, and has uncertainty at QB after losing starter Perry Hills to a torn ACL in last week's game against NC State.
The Eagles badly need a win to stem the losing tide of their season and give themselves a chance to finish strong.
If that's to happen, the defense has to improve. And if the defense is going to improve, it has to start up front.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.