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Sunday, September 8, 2013
Addazio: "Team really progressed from Week 1"

By Jack McCluskey



Two weeks into the Steve Addazio era, and already Boston College has matched its win total (two) from the last year of the Frank Spaziani era.

And while he was careful to caution that there’s still a long way to go, Addazio couldn’t help but be pleased with what he’s seen so far from his Eagles (2-0, 1-0 ACC).

“The kids are playing hard, the kids are playing together like a team, they’re fighting hard. They’re doing a lot of good things for Week 2,” he said after the 24-10 win over Wake Forest on Friday night. “I thought our team really progressed from Week 1, and that’s ultimately the goal is to get better each week. We’ve got a lot of football ahead of us.

“We’ve got a big game this week and we’ve got a chance to fight to be 3-0, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Week 3 brings the first road trip of the season for BC, with the Eagles flying to Southern California to take on USC (1-1, 0-1 Pac-12).

The Trojans fell out of the AP Top 25 after an unsightly 10-7 home loss to Washington State on Saturday, but Lane Kiffin & Co. remain the toughest test to date for BC.

“We’re not naive, we’ve got a lot ahead of us right now,” Addazio said. “We’ve got a really awfully tough game. We’re flying out to California on Thursday, we’re playing a great football program on the road. And that’s another learning opportunity for our team -- we’ve gotta go on the road together for the first time. And not just on the road, but across the country.”

Going from the sometimes-shaky 24-14 win over FCS Villanova to the at-times-dominant 24-10 win over Wake Forest, the Eagles’ new head coach saw a lot he liked.

“I thought we took a step forward from learning how to prepare like a big-time football team,” Addazio said. “I thought we took a step forward [because] we came out with more confidence and [didn’t] wait for someone else to make a play. And guys had to stand up and be accountable. Those are all really important pieces in the building of everything right now.”

The Trojans’ defense has produced 11 sacks through two games, best in the nation. Junior defensive lineman George Uko leads USC with three sacks, and linebacker Morgan Breslin and defensive lineman Leonard Williams each have two sacks.

With that in mind, protecting quarterback Chase Rettig will likely be a key topic in Chestnut Hill this week. Especially after the offensive line had a few hiccups against Wake Forest in Week 2, giving up three sacks and losing left tackle Matt Patchan to a hip injury in the second half.

“Are there things we need to get better at?” Addazio said postgame. “Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know why our protection buckled today, but it did. I thought we had great play-action but I thought our drop-back game … we just didn’t look clean in there. That’s something I want to continue to work on.”

Rettig threw only 14 passes on Friday night, going 7-for-14 for 123 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, as the Eagles focused on running the ball in an attempt to control the clock and wear down the Demon Deacons’ defense. Andre Williams, coming off a week without practice as he nursed a hamstring injury and a cold, carried the ball 35 times for a career-high 204 yards and a touchdown in the win.

It was the fewest passing attempts for Rettig since 2011, when he had 13 against NC State and 12 against Maryland. In 2012, Rettig never had fewer than 29 passing attempts.

But the senior didn’t mind ceding the spotlight to Williams, choosing to instead focus on the result for BC.

“It’s awesome to be 2-0,” Rettig said. “It just is a credit to our hard work. We’ve just gotta continue to work really hard. We’re gonna get out of it what we put in.

“The best thing about being 2-0, our coaches always tell us, is we’ve got a chance to be 3-0.”

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