BC's instinctive defense has eyes on the end zone

December, 3, 2008
12/03/08
3:34
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

When Boston College linebacker Robert Francois jumped to grab his fourth-quarter interception last weekend against Maryland, he only had one explanation for the game-changing 36-yard touchdown return.

"Instincts," Francois said, "just instincts."

Call it football IQ or whatever you want, the Eagles have the knack for scoring on defense, and it's a major reason why they're playing in the ACC title game for the second straight season. The Eagles have had five interception returns for touchdowns, and have also scored on a punt return, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt. BC leads the nation with eight non-offensive touchdowns and 25 interceptions.

"It's our goal every time to get a three-and-out, and we want points on the board as well," said linebacker Mark Herzlich, who has accounted for two interception returns for touchdowns this season. "There's something about a defense that can score, and consistently score. We've done that over the past couple of weeks. ... The pride is there. Every time we go on the field, it's not the offense messed up, or we made a bad play on special teams. It's another chance for us to go out there and show what we can do and make plays."

Jagodzinski said he has never seen a defense make so many game-changing plays and score as much has the Eagles have this season.

"No, no I haven't," he said. "I really haven't. But when you look through the years at Virginia Tech's defense, they've won a lot of ball games doing that, scoring defensive touchdowns and special teams touchdowns."

A special teams touchdown was critical in BC's 28-23 regular-season win over the Hokies on Oct. 18. Junior wide receiver Rich Gunnell returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown to help the Eagles overcome five turnovers and win. With Francois' interception return for a touchdown against Maryland last weekend, the Eagles extended their streak to seven games with a non-offensive touchdown, the longest streak in the nation.

It's only the second time in school history the program has recorded as many as eight non-offensive touchdowns. The last time was in 1999. Jagodzinski said he's not too concerned about his offense depending too heavily on the defense to score.

"We're trying to score every time we get it, but it's been great to have those defensive scores," he said. "It obviously makes a big difference in the outcome of the game. I'm really happy with the way our defense is playing right now. I think we're playing with a lot of confidence right now on that side of the football."

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