[Ed. note -- bumped from FanPosts]
It just wasn't the same without Mark.
Senior linebacker Mark Herzlich was sidelined for the entire 2009 season while fighting for his life during his battle with Ewing's Sarcoma. Yet nothing was going to keep Herzlich from being first out of the tunnel and playing in a regular-season game for the first time in 612 days.
Herzlich totaled five tackles in his highly anticipated return as Boston College overpowered FCS opponent Weber State 38-20 in the season opener for both teams at Alumni Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
"It was excitement," Herzlich said of his emotions prior to kickoff on Saturday. "I thought I might be nervous, but it was all about playing games. The emotion didn't stray at all from football, which I was a little surprised about but also happy about."
Even with all of the unknown and high expectations heading into his final season at BC, Herzlich said he slept like a baby the night before.
"It's weird, it was back in my comfort zone a little bit," said Herzlich. "I think I slept worse last year when I had to go out and watch the guys play and couldn't participate."
Weber State (0-1) won the coin toss and opted to defer to the second half, giving the Eagles' offense a chance to strike first.
However, sophomore quarterback Dave Shinskie (10-for-20, 185 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) did not start the 2010 campaign out on the right foot, lining up under the right guard by accident and causing a five-yard delay of game penalty before throwing an interception on his first pass attempt to senior linebacker Taylor Sedillo that set Weber State up with a first and 10 on the BC 17 yard line.
The Wildcats were able to turn the pick into three points as kicker Shaun McClain hit a 32-yard field goal, giving Weber State an early 3-0 lead with 13:15 left in the first quarter.
"I was looking in the box, how many guys were in there, and I wasn't really paying attention," said Shinskie."(There were) a lot of emotions going through my head, and I don't know what I was thinking, actually. I ended up throwing the ball and checking into a throw and not seeing the linebacker, and that's what happens when you don't see people you should."
"Settled down is a nice way to put it," Spaziani joked when asked about how Shinskie responded to his early blunders. "He lined up under the guard the first time then let the clock run down the first play and threw the interception the third play. He did settle down and was able to execute and do some things."
Boston College (1-0) responded with a seven-play, 60-yard drive that ended with Dave Shinskie's six-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Chris Pantale (2 catches, 19 yards) with 9:59 left in the first (Nate Freese PAT good).
During the drive, Shinskie connected with freshman receiver Jonathan Coleman (3 catches, 98 yards) on a 38-yard pass down the right sideline.
"Jonathan, I told him, all you've got to do is catch the ball," said Shinskie. "For his first game, I think he proved himself as a big time receiver this year and I'm going to go to him a lot. I'm glad he had the game he did."
After forcing a three-and-out, the Eagles put together another touchdown drive, going 77 yards on eight plays to notch the score on Shinskie's 17-yard pass to Ifeanyi Momah that gave them a 14-3 lead with 5:08 to go in the first.
"I think we had a lot of young guys step up," said Momah. "People just didn't know who are receivers were. I think we answered questions today."
Montel Harris (19 carries, 116 yards, 1 TD), who moved into ninth place on the Eagles all-time rushing list, gave Boston College its next touchdown on a four-yard rush up the middle with 13:55 left in the first half, giving the Eagles a 21-3 lead.
Freese tacked on three more with 7:36 before halftime, connecting on a 33-yard field goal to boost the Eagles lead to 24-3.
Weber State scored it's only touchdown with 3:40 to go in the half on quarterback Cameron Higgins (24-for-39, 242 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), firing a 24-yard pass to Shaydon Kehano (his first career catch) to cut the deficit to 24-10.
However, the Eagles got the score back before the half when backup quarterback Mike Marscovetra (2-for-3, 38 yards, 1 TD) threw his third career touchdown pass to running back Sterlin Phifer (his first career TD catch) with 1:18 left.
The Wildcats were able to silence Boston College's offensive attack early in the third quarter before McClain connected on a 26 yard field goal, cutting the deficit to 31-13.
Nevertheless, the Eagles didn't lose a step as cornerback DeLeon Gause intercepted Higgins and took it 66 yards to the house, rebuilding the lead to 38-13.
Weber State scored in garbage time with 0:19 left in the game on Josh Booker's four-yard touchdown run, but it wasn't enough as the Eagles sent the Wildcats packing.
"We accomplished what we set out to do and got the first win," said Spaziani. "That's the hardest one to get because you haven't done it, so this group was able to put it together and get it against a very well coached, athletic Weber team."
Even in victory, the Eagles still had their struggles, turning the ball over twice and failing to score in the fourth quarter.
"Obviously, there were a lot of mistakes," Spaziani said. "A lot of our youth, a lot of our depth issues were evident. But it was a good win. It was a good way to start and something to build on and go forward from there."
While the story of the game was Herzlich's return, it was sophomore linebacker Luke Kuechly that shined the brightest on the field, totaling a game-high 11 tackles (five unassisted).
Nontheless, Kuechly also thinks the Eagles' defense still has work to do.
"We still have a lot to prove," Kuechly said. "We need to work on our pass game. I was looking at (the stats) and they had quite a few passing yards. Another think we have to work on is our third-down efficiency. We had them third and long a couple times and we couldn't get them off the field and that's something we've got to work as we go down this year. That's one of the big things. If you let teams hang around on third down, that causes problems."
Boston College totaled 223 passing yards and 188 rushing yards on 33 carries while Weber State racked up 277 passing yards and rushed for 104 yards on 39 carries.
After opening the season with a victory, Boston College will host Kent State at Alumni Stadium next Saturday before opening their ACC schedule against No. 10 Virginia Tech.
Gethin Coolbaugh is a Sports Lexycaster at Lexy.com. Listen to his Boston College Football Audio Minute on Lexy.com for game previews and recaps, the weekly Eagles Notebook and interviews with Boston College radio commentators Jon Meterparel and Peter Cronan, as well as Boston Herald beat writer Steve Conroy and Boston Globe beat writer Mark Bladschun. Gethin can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at email@example.com. Visit Gethin’s website and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/gethincoolbaugh.