As we approach gameday, BC Interruption has been cranking out positional previews to help you get ready for the upcoming Boston College season. Earlier we covered the running backs, Chase Rettig and the quarterbacks, and yesterday the tight ends and wide receivers. Today we look at one of the most crucial element for last year's demise, the offensive line.
The biggest change on the offensive line, is the change in coaching. At the end of last spring Frank Spaziani transferred Sean Devine from offensive line coach to tight ends. In his place he brought in former Ohio State offensive coordinator and lover of the big hat, Jim Bollman--who will also be the "run game coordinator". Bollman has a lot of work to do as the offensive line looked something BC hockey fans would mock "WHOA SIEVE".
You had to feel for Chase Rettig in 2011. Not only did he have to adjust to a different offensive coordinator in the midst of a floundering season, but the offensive line was young and inexperienced. Gone was Anthony Castonzo, who was a rock at offensive tackle, and in were a smattering of veterans and underclassmen. The result was horrific. Just take a look at BC's game agasinst UCF. The Eagles allowed Chase Rettig to get sacked three times, were only able to manage 141 yards of total offense, all of this against a Conference USA defense that didn't make a bowl game. Rettig was lucky to make it through the season in one piece.
But around the Notre Dame game, the offensive line started to show a marked improvement. In the final two games the Eagles only allowed three sacks, and the positive correlation with their offensive output was apparent. Instead of scrambling and repeatedly getting pounded, Rettig seemed much more composed and did a much better job managing the ball. Just given that time, Rettig was able to make his reads, and produce much more accurate throws.
This year the Eagles have all the tools to have an effective offensive line. They are returning four starters, and their center Andy Gallik has game experience. Looking at the centerpiece of their line, you have to start with captain Emmett Cleary. He has the size and hands to be a very effective tackle, and he is crucial protecting Rettig's blind side. Having a cohesive line, will start with the senior.
The other tackle is John Wetzel, also a senior. Wetzel played the entire 2011 season, and finished the season strong with the Eagles. The two starting guards Ian White, and Bobby Vardaro were fresh on the scene last year, and experienced growing pains on the line. But again, that experience is crucial in the learning process, and with some solid coaching they too could see a positive progression in 2012.
BC has a lot of talent and depth on the bench as well. On the most recent two deep chart the Eagles have Aaron Kramer and Seth Betancourt listed, both played during the 2011 season. Having backups with game experience is huge because injuries are inevitable, especially on the offensive line. Also as backups the Eagles have Dan Lembke and Eddie Merideth, both red shirted freshman. If the Eagles really need to dig deep they also have Frank Taylor and Win Homer, both new recruits available. It will be interesting to see if Spaz redshirts those two this year, or if injury or poor play springs them into the starting lineup.
Offensive line play has to improve this year if BC wants to stand any chance of competing in the ACC. Chase Rettig spent far two much of last year either being pressured or flat on his back. He is going to need to feel more comfortable, confident and that all starts up front with his offensive line. Fortunately the Eagles have a new OL coach, and a year under their belt. This could be the year that O-Line U returns to the Heights.