Friday, August 30, 2013
BC looks to take bite out of Nova
By Jack McCluskey
The Eagles have quite an appetite.
Coming off the misery that was the 2-10 2012 season, Boston College’s fewest wins since 1989 (when it went 2-9 under Jack Bicknell) and only the second time in school history the football team lost double-digit games, the Eagles are craving the sweet taste of victory.
“We’re hungry,” fifth-year senior co-captain Kasim Edebali said. “We say all the time, every time we break it down, ‘You’ve got to be a hungry dog.’ You’ve got to come out and You’ve got to want it. That’s how we’re going to approach it.”
BC begins the Steve Addazio era on Saturday at Alumni Stadium versus Villanova (noon ET, ESPNEWS, WatchESPN).
And while the Wildcats play in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as I-AA), they were picked to win the Colonial Athletic Association and are ranked fifth in the Sports Network poll and No. 9 in the FCS coaches’ poll.
In other words, Andy Talley’s Wildcats are no pushovers.
Talley returns 16 starters from last season’s 8-4 team, including tailback Kevin Monangai (212 rushes for 1,210 yards and 11 TDs in 2012) and dual-threat QB John Robertson (189 rushes for 1,021 yards and 14 TDs, 152 completions for 1,965 yards and 14 TDs).
Addazio, who played (and beat) Villanova in each of his two seasons at the helm at Temple, has great respect for Talley’s team.
“They’re an explosive team, they’re a veteran team,” Addazio said in his weekly ACC conference call. “And when they’ve had this kind of talent and experience, they’ve had outstanding seasons.
“They’re coming off an outstanding season, so this will be a tremendous challenge for us and tremendous day of football here in Chestnut Hill.”
Edebali said defensive coordinator Don Brown has been drilling the Eagles on containing Robertson.
Kasim Edebali says in practice BC's defenders have been focused on containing Villanova QB John Robertson.
“We watch him on film and he’s looking pretty fast, pretty shifty guy,” he said. “And we’re just trying to execute, trying to play our assignment and be really proper with our technique and trying to keep him in the pocket and just pressure him.”
Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Ryan Day knows Talley very well. Day played against Talley’s teams while he was at New Hampshire and served as Addazio’s offensive coordinator against the Wildcats last season.
“They’ve done a great job of developing some of those young players,” Day said. “We played those guys last year when we were at Temple, they were younger and now they’ve grown up. And they really came on at the end of last season. We’ve got our hands full with those guys because they’ve been in the system now for a few years and they know that defense well.”
Addazio singled out strong safety Joe Sarnese (Nova’s leading tackler with 81 stops), nose tackle Antoine Lewis and defensive end Rakim Cox (sack leader, with 5.5) as potential impact players for the Wildcats.
“I think they've got some really good players on defense,” Addazio said. “They run to the ball well. They play hard. You can tell they're really well coached and going to be an excellent football team, a veteran football team.”
For wideout Alex Amidon, that means the Eagles have to be extra sure to stick to the basics.
“It always works to your advantage when people don’t know what you’re going to do,” he said, referring to the Eagles’ new offense. “But I think we just need to execute what we do the best. We’ve got our core plays and we just need to come into the game and just do ‘em like we know how.”
On Monday, Addazio wasn’t happy with the Eagles’ performance in practice. He said they’d need to be better the rest of the week if they wanted to be ready for Saturday.
“I think in Game 1 what you’re concerned most about is how well will you execute with new schemes. But we’ve got to set forth that platform and we’ve got to do that,” he said. “First games sometimes aren’t real clean, they’re not executed at a real high level sometimes. But you know what, you better play real hard and you’ve got to find a way to win.”
Whatever they do, the Eagles need to avoid taking Villanova lightly.
“All I know is they’re our next opponent and we’re going to do everything to win that game,” Edebali said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re I-AA or I-A, it’s our next opponent and we want to win that game.
“You can never sleep on anyone. You’ve got to prepare right, you’ve got to practice right and then come out and execute right and win.”
When it comes down to it, that’s the only way to begin to satisfy that hunger.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.