Boston Colleges: Boston College football

Eagles' D will be tested vs. Georgia Tech

October, 19, 2012
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The Eagles say they will not make excuses. They are 1-5 and have yet to beat a BCS opponent, their only win coming against FCS Maine.

They have been better on offense, but mostly putrid on defense.

“There are no excuses,” BC head coach Frank Spaziani said in his conference call Sunday. “You deal with the situation the way it is. We have not been very good on defense.”

The Eagles are 11th in the ACC in scoring defense, allowing 32.7 points per game, rushing defense and total defense. There are 12 teams in the ACC.

While they aren’t making excuses, the Eagles do say there are certain extenuating circumstances.

“One of them is guys have been in and out,” Spaziani said of his defense, which at times has missed defensive linemen Kasim Edebali and Kaleb Ramsey and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis and hasn’t had Al Louis-Jean all season. “That’s OK sometimes if you have some veterans that have been around and played a lot of football, but these guys need to practice and see the reps and be in the same spot all the time.

“KPL played hard and played well and did some things, but missing a week and missing a day or two in practice, he did some things out there he doesn’t usually do,” Spaziani said, referring to Pierre-Louis’ performance against No. 12 Florida State. “That’s where it hurts you, in consistency.”

Asked what the team can do to improve the defense, Spaziani said it’s simple.

“We’ve taught our whole package, it’s a matter of execution,” he said. “When you’re facing offenses like they are today -- and we got a different one coming at us again this week -- it’s about fundamentals and understanding your role in a certain defense. Once you start gimmicking things, you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

The Eagles have to deal with Georgia Tech and its triple option offense on Saturday in Atlanta.

Asked if they might have a leg up on this weekend’s matchup, considering BC just played a similar offense in Army two weeks ago, Spaziani chuckled.

“Considering the way we handled Army, I don’t know,” he said. “Certainly there’s some carry-over, we practiced against it, that should be beneficial. These guys are substantially different even though it’s similar.”

The Black Knights piled up 516 rushing yards against BC in a 34-31 win in West Point, N.Y.

Though they had high hopes entering the season, the Yellow Jackets are just 2-4 through half the season. During their bye this past week, the team fired defensive coordinator Al Groh.

BC can’t look at Georgia Tech’s record and the turmoil in its program and feel better about the situation in Chestnut Hill. Spaziani is embattled, and though his job seems safe for the rest of the season -- new athletic director Brad Bates said he would assess the situation at the end of the year, rather than reacting to the week to week results -- anything beyond that is in question.

The Eagles need a win in the worst way.

“They’ve had some issues,” Spaziani said of the Yellow Jackets. “Once again, it goes back to us taking care of ourselves. We take care of ourselves and how we have to improve and we’ll be OK.”

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

BC looks to stick it to Seminoles

October, 11, 2012
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NEWTON, Mass. -- The question was simple and the answer couldn’t have been blunter.

“Do you think Florida State respects you?”

“No,” Boston College linebacker Steele Divitto said.

“Why not?”

“Well, you know, the facts are right now that we’re 1-4,” he said before practice Wednesday. “Do they respect us in some aspects? Yes. But I don’t think many teams do respect us, unfortunately. But that’s just because of who we are. When we get everything turned around, that will be a different story.

“They know that they’re going to play a tough, physical team but they don’t have respect. They’re not going to have respect for us.”

“They don’t respect us,” linebacker Nick Clancy said. “That’s kind of been their thing from the get-go. They don’t respect BC. And in the past we’ve surprised them.”

The Eagles (1-4, 0-2 ACC) have lost two straight to the Seminoles (5-1, 2-1), are 3-4 against them since joining the ACC and 4-6 all time.

Surprisingly enough, BC is 2-1 against FSU in Doak Campbell Stadium. The Eagles won 24-19 in 2006 and 27-17 in 2008.

When push comes to shove on the respect front, the Eagles believe it comes down to pedigree.

“I think their mindset is ‘OK, yeah, we were these big-time recruits coming in. We’re much more talented than these guys. They don’t belong on the field with us,’” Clancy said. “And I think that’s kind of been the mentality not just for Florida State, but for a number of teams in the ACC when they face BC.”

The Eagles know what they have to do to change that perception: start winning games like the one they have on Saturday (5:35 p.m., ESPN2).

Losing motivation?

The Eagles have faced more than their share of adversity in recent seasons and believe they are stronger for the experience. They aren’t daunted by the need to rebound from a tough loss since they’ve had to do it before.

They’re not sure Florida State can say the same thing.

“Those kind of guys have had everything handed to them over the years and I don’t think they can respond to a tough loss like last week,” defensive back Sean Sylvia said of the Seminoles, many of whom were four- and five-star recruits. “Around here we have more blue-collar guys … and I think we’re more equipped to bounce back from a loss or [from starting] off a season like we have.”

“We know when adversity is thrown in our face what to do and how to respond,” Clancy said. “And I think that’s what separates us, guys with character and guys that won’t spit the bit when they’re faced with hard times.”

Sylvia, who is from Dartmouth, Mass., said he thinks the Eagles are adopting the same sort of mindset the Red Sox did when they were down 3-0 to the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series.

“It’s kind of a ‘Why not us?’ type deal,” Sylvia said. “I just think anything can happen.”

Pantale progressing

Offensive cocaptain and preseason Mackey Award watch list member Chris Pantale is back on the practice field for the Eagles, and if all goes well this week the senior should be back against FSU.

Pantale broke a bone in his right foot during training camp and needed surgery. He’s missed the first five games of the season.

His teammates are looking forward to getting him back.

“He’s feeling good,” Alex Amidon said of Pantale. “He was such a big part of our team last year, especially at the end of the year he started playing really well. So I think him being back will help us out, for sure.”

BC coach Frank Spaziani appreciates getting Pantale -- the Eagles’ most experienced player with 38 career starts entering the 2012 season -- back for other reasons, as well.

“He adds a certain amount of toughness and experience, obviously, and leadership,” Spaziani said. “He’s been out there, he’s been in things. There’s a lot of intangibles besides the physical stuff that he now gives us some more stuff we can do offensively, with him.”

New leadership

Change is afoot in Chestnut Hill, with the hiring of new athletic director Brad Bates being made official on Tuesday afternoon.

The Eagles aren’t sure how it will affect them directly, but they’re excited to find out.

“Initially he just seems like a really down-to-earth guy,” Clancy said of Bates, who spoke to the football team after practice Tuesday. “Experienced, knows what he’s doing, very well spoken. He looks like he’s going to bring some excitement.”

“From what he said, I think he’s really passionate about the school,” Sylvia said.

The BC players were used to seeing a lot of Bates’ predecessor, Gene DeFilippo, who liked to come to practices, occasionally shared a meal with the team and accompanied them on trips. Now they’re wondering if things will be similar with Bates.

Quarterback Chase Rettig said it’s hard to know much about Bates, since he’s only officially been at BC for a little more than 24 hours. But there are definitely things to like, including his background playing for legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler.

“I’ve heard a lot that he was a hands-on guy when it came to working on different levels of the football coaching side,” Rettig said. “He’ll definitely be able to relate with us in different things, so I think guys are excited about that.”

Ultimately, though, it doesn’t really matter much for them.

“We just play ball no matter what,” Sylvia said. “I mean, AD or no AD, we just go out and play ball for the coach that we have.”

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

BC DB Louis-Jean out with foot injury

August, 14, 2012
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With fall training camp just more than a week old, the Boston College football team got its second dose of bad news on Tuesday when head coach Frank Spaziani announced that sophomore defensive back Al Louis-Jean suffered a left foot injury in practice on Monday.

The Brockton, Mass., native is expected to miss “several games” as he rehabs from the injury, according to a release from the school.

Louis-Jean, a four-star recruit who originally committed to Miami before switching to BC, played in 10 games as a true freshman in 2011. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder had 15 tackles, three pass break-ups, one interception and one forced fumble in his first season in Chestnut Hill.

Prior to the injury, Louis-Jean had been listed first on the BC depth chart at the field corner position. C.J. Jones, who missed most of the 2011 season after suffering a knee injury in the Eagles’ game against Central Florida, is also listed at the position.

The school also announced that senior co-captain Chris Pantale underwent surgery on a broken bone in his right foot on Monday. Pantale, the Eagle with the most starting experience entering the season (38 career starts), is expected to miss around eight weeks.

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

BC TE Pantale out with broken bone in foot

August, 10, 2012
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NEWTON, Mass. -- Frank Spaziani brought a fungo bat to his media day news conference on Friday, the better to handle any off-speed offerings from the press corps.

But the bat couldn’t help him fend off the first curveball his program’s faced so far in fall camp, which is barely a week old.

Asked if he expected senior tight end Chris Pantale, the Eagles’ most experienced player with 38 starts under his belt entering the 2012 season, to play a larger role in the offense, the fourth-year head coach delivered some bad news.

“Chris, and you guys probably don’t know about this yet, injured himself yesterday,” Spaziani said. “He broke a bone in his foot and we’re still not quite sure how long this is gonna impact [him], but it’s significant time.

“I don’t want to put a time on it, but it’s significant.”

Spaziani wasn’t sure which foot the tight end injured, but said he thought it was the right.

Pantale had to come out of practice on Thursday, just three days after he was voted one of the team’s four captains (along with left tackle Emmett Cleary, defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey and safety Jim Noel) following the team’s first workout.

“Talking to him today, he injured it a couple days ago and it just flared up a little bit more in yesterday’s practice to the point where it really was bothering him,” Spaziani said. “He’s a tough kid, and he can push himself through a lot of stuff but he can’t push himself through a broken bone.”

The loss means that Mike Naples and Jarrett Darmstatter move up the depth chart at tight end. Spaziani said the team is moving redshirt offensive lineman Dave Bowen -- listed at 6-foot-7, 285 pounds -- to tight end, because Naples also has missed a couple of practices early on.

It’s likely that BC will make another move at the position, as well.

While the Pantale injury obviously is a setback, Spaziani was matter-of-fact about it.

“The system is flexible enough to move on,” he said. “That’s what happens in college football -- somebody gets injured and you move on. You do things a little bit different, that’s all. You have different packages.”

The fact Pantale had just been chosen as a co-captain speaks to the larger point: “One of the aspects, without belaboring [the point on] Chris, is that he’s one of our fifth-year seniors,” Spaziani said. “Leadership, that intangible in itself, is gonna be missed [with him not] being on the field.”

Then the coach tried his best to end on a good note.

“We have a tremendous attitude with our players right now,” he said. “You can feel the difference in the locker room. Now we’ve got a lot of work to do, a lot of hard work, before September 1st, and a lot of dog days, but right now we’re well on our way and we have to see how it all shakes out.”

Asked how the attitude was different from, say, last offseason, when the Eagles were coming off a five-game, regular-season-ending win streak, Spaziani clarified.

“Enthusiasm is contagious, and the lack of enthusiasm is contagious, also,” he said. “The point I’m trying to make is there is no lack of enthusiasm in [the] Yawkey [Center, the football program’s headquarters], on the first three floors of Yawkey and the people that are involved in producing on Saturdays. There’s enthusiasm there and it really hasn’t changed.

“It can be perceived that there might be a lack of enthusiasm, and there isn’t.”

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

BC signs 16-player recruiting class

February, 1, 2012
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NEWTON, Mass. -- Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani announced a 16-player Class of 2016 on Wednesday in a news conference at the Yawkey Center.

“Obviously it’s an important day for college football teams,” Spaziani said. “Significant. And you’ll find out in four or five years how important it was and how good it was. We’re excited today about our signees.”

There are eight offensive players and seven defensive players in the haul.

“There are few things that excite the fan base more than thinking about a blue-chip recruiting class and how it’s going to affect your football program,” he said. “And I can tell you this, we’re very excited about the 16 that we’ve signed. This is our third year of being in the program, having the full cycle of recruiting and evaluating and bringing young men in.”

According to the ESPN recruiting rankings, the Eagles’ class includes one four-star and seven three-star recruits. BC did not sign a player ranked in the ESPNU 150.

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

Kuechly continues to pile up tackles

November, 24, 2011
11/24/11
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NEWTON, Mass. -- If this is it, if Friday’s game against Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) is the last at Boston College for Luke Kuechly he will leave quite a mark on the history books.

He’s already the ACC’s career leader in tackles, with 523, and owns the top two single-season marks for tackles in the conference’s history (183 in 2010, 182 and counting in 2011).

That 183 mark also happens to be the school’s single-season record. So if he collects just two tackles on Friday -- a safe bet, considering his streak of 33 straight games with double-digit tackles is the best active streak in the nation -- he’ll break two records: his own single-season mark and the BC career tackles mark.

[+] EnlargeLuke Kuechly
Michael Tureski/Icon SMILuke Kuechly could be a top 15 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Stephen Boyd owns that one for a couple of more days, having piled up 524 stops from 1991 to 1994. But he knows the end of his stay at the top of that category in the BC books is near.

“I hear about it every day, someone usually sends me an email about it,” Boyd said in an email. “I think he's a great player and I bet he would give a lot of those tackles back to be playing in the ACC championship. I have never met him but I have seen him play. He does things you can't teach.”

Boyd, who played seven seasons for the Detroit Lions and made two Pro Bowls, now coaches football at Chaminade High School in Mineola, N.Y. The former Eagles linebacker said he’s very impressed that Kuechly will likely break the record in just his third season.

The only person who doesn’t sound impressed is Kuechly.

“I didn’t know a lot about it, and then just people started talking about it,” Kuechly said of the records. “So that’s when you become more familiar with it. It’s cool; somebody mentioned I got something last week. And it’s cool and stuff, but I just want to win. That’s what it comes down to, is winning.

“For me, that’s what makes football fun, is winning. That’s what makes competing fun, is winning. That’s what you do it for. Winning is pretty much everything for me.”

While Kuechly doesn’t like to talk about the records he’s set or those he may set, Boyd’s perspective allows him to talk about it freely.

“It means I had great players in front of me, next to me and behind me,” Boyd said of the record he’s held for 17 years. “I never thought about it because as a linebacker your job is to make tackles. I never thought about the ones I made, I usually concentrated and studied the ones I didn't make.

“We always worked on being great tacklers and getting better every week,” he said. “As a linebacker you have to find a way to get to the ball and make the play. Sometimes you have to throw your body around and you have play with reckless abandon. It’s not always going to be pretty but that's OK, as long as you get the guy down and you stop them, it doesn't matter.

“Having a total disregard for your body is the only way to play, that may sound barbaric but it's true,” he said. “Luke plays this way, that's why I like him.”

For his part, the finalist for the Nagurski, Lombardi and Butkus Awards said he’d almost rather not be on the field as much as he has been, accolades be damned.

“The less we’re on the field the better chance we have to win, the less we’re on the field the less opportunities there are for tackles,” he said. “That’s how it needs to be -- the defense is getting off the field and the offense is staying on the field.”

Kuechly’s been consistent in saying he hasn’t thought about what he’ll do after the season, whether he’ll return to BC for his senior season or declare early for the NFL draft, where he’s projected as a first-round pick.

“I’ll probably make some calls and ask some certain people,” he said before practice Tuesday. “But right now I’ll just see what happens with the whole thing. I don’t really have a plan, like ‘All right, this date I’ll be doing this, this date I’m doing this.’”

For now, he’s enjoying being a college kid.

“I think it’s good. I mean, what do we got to worry about? All we got to worry about is going to class and going to football. That’s really about it right now,” he said. “You’re with a bunch of guys your own age, all my best friends are on the team.

“Sometimes you hate it, sometimes you love it. School’s sometimes rough, I’m like ‘Why am I here?’ Then you go out and play and you’re with all your friends and it’s, ‘Oh, this is sweet.’”

He has at least one more game as an Eagle, and for now that’s what Kuechly’s focused on.

“I think it’s a big game,” he said. “This is gonna be the last thing that’s in our mouth for the offseason. It’s always good to win your last game and hopefully we can do that.”

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

Video: Can BC upset Irish?

November, 16, 2011
11/16/11
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Ryan Burr and Trevor Matich discuss Boston College's chances of upsetting Notre Dame on Saturday.

Kuechly finalist for awards

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
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Luke Kuechly is one of eight finalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and one of four finalists for the Rotary Lombardi Trophy.

He’s one of 12 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, which he was runner-up for as a sophomore, when he piled up 183 tackles to lead the nation and set a BC single-season record. And with 150 tackles so far as a junior, he needs just 39 more to break his own single-season record and to become BC’s all-time leading tackler.

Kuechly leads the nation in tackles, tackles per game (16.67) and consecutive games with double-digit stops (31).

Asked if the consistent, elite-level production was a surprise to him, BC head coach Frank Spaziani didn’t hesitate.

“It was early on to me,” Spaziani said. “I hate to say it’s become routine.”

It’s to the point that “When he makes a mistake, or when he doesn’t do something right and you have to give him a negative, it’s always kind of ‘Jeez, they fooled Luke!’” Spaziani said. “His problem is he’s trying to do too much and sometimes he isn’t doing what he’s supposed to be doing.”

NFL scouts have taken notice of Kuechly. The 6-foot-3, 237-pounder is No. 12 on ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s Big Board and No. 11 on Todd McShay’s Top 32.

And with the Eagles mired in a 2-7 season, the speculation has begun that this may be Kuechly’s last year in Chestnut Hill.

Before practice Wednesday, Kuechly was asked whether Saturday’s home game against NC State might be his last.

“I honestly haven’t thought about it at all,” he said. “People over the past week or so have brought it up, ‘What’s your plans?’ or whatever. We’ve got three games to play and that’s enough to worry about.

“We’ve got three great teams starting with NC State and if I start focusing on stuff that’s gonna be down the road, you’re gonna lose sight of the Wolfpack coming in and what we need to do to beat them.”

Speculation handled like a true pro.

BC's Finch ACC Player of the Week at RB

October, 31, 2011
10/31/11
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Two days after setting career highs in carries, yards, touchdowns and fumbles in a BC win over Maryland, Rolandan Finch was named the ACC Player of the Week at running back.

The sophomore, thrust into the role of leading back by injuries to Montel Harris and Andre Williams, carried the ball 39 times for 243 yards and two touchdowns to help the Eagles beat the Terps 28-17 in College Park, Md., for their first ACC win and second win of the season.

The 243 yards are third most and the 39 carries are fourth most in a single game in BC history. Finch became the first Eagles running back to amass 200 or more yards in a game since Harris set the single-game record with 256 against NC State in 2009.

In wet, slippery conditions Finch also fumbled twice, losing both.

Asked before practice Wednesday to describe Finch’s running style, BC head coach Frank Spaziani searched for a suitable comparison.

“You know, he’s not a bowling ball but he’s kind of a semi-bowling ball, if you will,” he said.

Then, after a beat, he said with a laugh: “Duckpin, a duckpin ball.”

“That’s the way he looks,” Spaziani said. “He’s compact, he’s got some power and he’s got some vision.”

Finch is a thick-set 5-foot-10 and 209 pounds. The man they call “Deuce” said before the Maryland game that facing the caliber defenses he did in his first two starts (against Clemson and Virginia Tech) would only help him down the road. That proved correct against Maryland.

The Eagles have a quick turnaround this week, as they will play host to Florida State on Thursday night (8 p.m., ESPN).

Can BC keep its bowl-eligibility hopes alive for another week? That may well depend on the team’s new leading rusher (with his big day Saturday, Finch leapfrogged Williams in yards this season and now leads 509-405) keeping the chains moving on the ground.

Of course, FSU is no Maryland. The Seminoles’ D leads the ACC in rushing defense (and total defense), giving up an average of 77 yards a game.

Fresh off their win in Maryland, the Eagles will be hoping their semi-bowling ball back keeps rolling on Thursday night.

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

Video: What's wrong with BC football?

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
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In the video above, College Football Live's Trevor Matich talks about what’s wrong with Boston College.

Video: Pierre-Louis and Kuechly after win

September, 25, 2011
9/25/11
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Kevin Pierre-Louis and Luke Kuechly talk following BC's 45-17 win over UMass.

Notes: BC's defense makes big plays

September, 24, 2011
9/24/11
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NEWTON, Mass. -- The Boston College defense had produced only two turnovers through its first three games. In the fourth game, the Eagles doubled their season output.

Hampton Hughes intercepted UMass quarterback Kellen Pagel on the first play from scrimmage Saturday, leading to a BC touchdown and setting the tone for the day.

“We actually drilled a play like that in practice on Thursday, where we simulated matching routes like that,” Hughes said. “And lucky for me first play they came out and ran a similar play like that, and I was able to read my keys and make a play on the ball.”

Hughes, a former preferred walk-on given a scholarship in the spring, was converted from wideout to safety in training camp when presumed starters Okechukwu Okoroha (dismissal) and Dominick LeGrande (transfer) left the team.

Asked what he thought his pick meant for the team, 0-3 coming into the game, Hughes didn’t hold back.

“It was huge,” he said. “And the best part about it was that the offense, they got the ball and they went right down and they scored a touchdown. We were up 7-0 right from the beginning. It was a huge momentum-builder.”

Steele Divitto also added an interception, while Kevin Pierre-Louis forced a fumble (which Nick Clancy scooped up and returned 16 yards for a touchdown) and returned a fumble (forced by Max Holloway) for a 96-yard score.

Pierre-Louis said when he looked up at the JumboTron over the opposite end zone he knew quickly he would take the fumble the distance.

“I saw a glimmer [of UMass players] in the beginning, and then once I saw my teammates I knew they had my back and no one was gonna touch me,” he said with a smile.

The sophomore linebacker said the defense’s goal was to hold UMass to 17 points or fewer; it did exactly that Saturday, and even outscored the Minutemen’s offense 14-10 (UMass also had a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown).

“Key word: confidence,” Pierre-Louis said when asked about what the fast start meant. “It’s gonna be a confidence booster going into next week. Letting us know that we’re still BC. We pride ourselves on tradition and we played a traditional Boston College game.”


Offensive fireworks

The 45 points BC scored was the most since a 52-20 home win over NC State in October 2009. While the defense contributed 14 of those points, the 31 points the offense scored still would’ve represented a season high (a touchdown shy of doubling the previous season high of 19, set in the Week 3 loss to Duke).

Chase Rettig finished 14-for-22 for 196 yards and three touchdowns, a new single-game high for the sophomore signal-caller. Two of those TDs went to Colin Larmond Jr., who caught six balls for 114 yards and the scores. It was the first multiple-touchdown game of his career.

Boston College also rushed 49 times for 193 yards and one score, with sophomore Andre Williams accounting for 20 of those carries and 95 of those yards.

Like a broken record

Another game, another double-digit tackle total for Luke Kuechly. The junior linebacker’s first tackle on the afternoon gave him 400 for his career; he’s the fifth Eagles player and the 32nd ACC player to reach that mark.

Kuechly finished with 11 tackles on the afternoon, extending his nation-best streak with 10 or more tackles to 26 games.

The player head coach Frank Spaziani loves to call “The Human Eraser” leads the nation in tackles per game. And it’s not really close. After Saturday’s game, Kuechly’s averaging 17.25 stops a game. Coming into Saturday’s action, the next highest average was 13 by Houston’s Marcus McGraw, according to cfbstats.com.

Coming and going

BC got a boost from the return of preseason ACC Player of the Year Montel Harris, but it was without regular starting left guard Nate Richman, who did not dress. Richman was replaced by Mark Spinney, who had missed the Duke game after suffering a knee injury against Central Florida.

The Richman injury meant two of the Eagles’ four captains were in jerseys and sweats for the coin toss, as Ifeanyi Momah is out for the year with an ACL tear.

Defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey, who hadn’t played since the first half of the season opener against Northwestern, also returned Saturday. The 6-foot-3, 302-pounder led the Eagles out of the tunnel before the game, didn’t start and played sparingly.

Video: Breaking down BC's win over UMass

September, 24, 2011
9/24/11
5:19
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In the video above, Dave Weekley and Rene Ingoglia break down the Eagles' 45-17 victory over the Minutemen.

Rapid Reaction: BC 45, UMass 17

September, 24, 2011
9/24/11
4:07
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NEWTON, Mass. -- Boston College got its first win in its fourth try, beating UMass 45-17.

What it means: Frank Spaziani & Co. are no longer winless. It’s a big weight off their shoulders, as they consistently said they believe the first win is the hardest one to get. Now, they have to hope they built some momentum they can carry forward into the rest of the season.

It can be argued, however, that the Eagles have already played the easy part of their schedule. Left on the docket are road trips to Clemson, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Notre Dame and Miami. The Eagles also have to play Florida State, though at least that game is in Alumni Stadium.

How it happened: The Eagles completely outclassed the Minutemen, their intrastate Football Championship Subdivision opponent.

The Eagles set a new season high for scoring with 24 points in the first half alone. The defense didn’t allow a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter (UMass’ only other TD came on a 102-yard kickoff return by Jesse Julmiste, who set a school record for return yards in the game), forced four turnovers (two interceptions, two forced fumbles) and nearly outscored UMass by itself (17-14).

After averaging 80.7 yards rushing in the first three games, the Eagles piled up 76 yards against UMass in just the first half. Chase Rettig threw one touchdown pass in the first three games; in the fourth game, he had three (setting a career high).

What comes next: The Eagles finish up a three-game homestand when they host Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are 2-1 and will come to Chestnut Hill rested and ready, after an early bye week.

Last time out, Wake Forest flattened Gardner-Webb 48-5.

BC won't look past UMass

September, 23, 2011
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NEWTON, Mass. -- Whenever an FBS team plays an FCS team, it's tempting to bill it as David versus Goliath. The little guy trying to knock off the big, bad bully.

That's not exactly the case here.

Yes, Boston College is in the Football Bowl Subdivision and on Saturday (1 p.m. ET, ESPN3) hosts UMass, which is in the Football Championship Subdivision. Yes, BC has beaten UMass six straight times, including a hard-fought 24-14 win with Matt Ryan at quarterback in 2007, leads the all-time series 18-5 and hasn't lost to the Minutemen since 1978.

But these Eagles are 0-3 and are averaging a paltry 13 points a game while allowing an average of 24.7. And these Minutemen are 2-0, are averaging a robust 30 points a game and next year will begin FBS play in the MAC.

So while the Minutemen may be stepping up in weight class when they take the field at Alumni Stadium this weekend, they're nobody's punching bag. This is a team, currently No. 19 in the FCS coaches' poll, that played Michigan tough on the road last season before falling 42-37.

To continue the boxing analogy, the Minutemen have proved they can punch above their weight.

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