Last season was the epitome of a roller coaster season for Boston College. They started off strong with easy wins against the teams they should beat -- Weber State and Kent State -- then a long stretch of terrible football that was like one elongated kick to the gut. Losses to Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Maryland, Florida State, and N.C. State were very difficult to watch. Luckily BC's schedule lightened at the end of the year, with five straight wins against teams the Eagles had no business losing to. A loss to Nevada in the Kraft Hunger Bowl left many BC fans shaking their heads, because if they had any semblance of an offense the Eagles would have won the game easily.
Which brings us to this season. Scrolling through some of our reader comments here at BC Interruption, and you get a mixed bag regarding expectations for the 2011 season. Some think the three-year tailspin will continue, while eternal optimists like myself are giddy with excitement and believe that things will change. So this summer as you sit at the beach getting a tan, or camping in the White Mountains, here are some reasons to be excited about the 2011 BC Eagles:
1. A New Offensive Coordinator
Gary Tranquill is gone. I can't express how excited this makes me, but there is one other person at BC who will be even happier; Montel Harris. The hope is that Kevin Rogers will be bringing a scheme in that takes the pressure off of the running game, not run Harris ad nauseum, and will enable the offense to move the ball a little more effectively through the air. During the Spring Game he unveiled five wide sets, and sets with no running back, which is a far cry from the "take our RB and run it twice up the gut, and when that fails have Rettig heave one downfield" mentality of 2010. These new looks on the BC offensive game plan are definitely going to shake up our expectations, heck we might have gone from vanilla to french vanilla. Ooh lala how fancy.
2. Luke Kuechly
Is there a more important player on this team? Kuechly has put together two epic seasons at the Heights, amassing over 300 tackles and piling up awards and accolades. He has a superb nose for the ball, and is a sure tackler, but the one aspect many people are waiting for is the formation of pass rushing skills. BC's linebacking corp is certainly deep enough to be creative with their schemes, will Kuechly start attacking the pass this season? No matter how he is used, Kuechly's play is worth the watch, as he plays the linebacker position better than anyone else in college football.
3. The Maturation of Chase Rettig
Last year was not an easy year for the first year quarterback from California. He was thrown into an uncomfortable situation halfway through the season, and struggled. But he showed glimpses of maturity, that Uncle Dave never did. Rettig for all of his flaws "only" threw 9 interceptions in 9 games, which was a far better rate than Shinskie. Given the new OC, and a full arsenal of weapons, what improvements can we expect of Chase this season? He looked solid during the spring game, so big steps in the right direction isn't completely out of the question. And a BC team with a solid defense and a functional
4. Montel Harris's Senior Season
Over his first three years at the Heights, Harris has piled up 3600 yards and 27 TD's. This will be a big year for Harris, in terms of setting up himself up for post college play, and breaking all BC rushing stats (he only needs 126 more yards to break Derrick Knight's career milestone). Sharing the workload with Andre Williams might actually be beneficial for Harris, who might get less carries, but the wear and tear on his body will be less evident near the end of the season making his runs more efficient.
5. Contributions From Unlikely Sources
Seemingly every year BC has someone come out of the blue to be a major contributor on the team. Last year it was Alex Amidon and Bobby Swigert, relative unknowns, who as freshman led the team with receptions. This is something that should always get you excited. BC is a team that creates an environment that fosters this and it is nearly impossible to predict who that player will be. Will it be Mehdi Abdesmad, the freshman defensive end from Canada? Or will it be Hampton Hughes, a converted safety, who as a wide receiver caught a touchdown pass during the spring game. Most likely it will be someone else, and that's the fun of it -- watching a player go from below the radar to a star on the Heights.
6. Coach Spaz
For many of you, keeping your expectations low will be the easiest way to prevent another disappointing season from destroying your fall. But for others like me, you need to get excited, and you need a reason to believe that this is a team that will surprise everyone and do something special. So I ask you, the readers, what are you excited the most about for this upcoming season?