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, tight ends and wide receivers, the much maligned offensive line, and the defensive line.
One of the biggest stories of the 2011 Boston College Eagles was the play of multi-award winning linebacker Luke Kuechly. Last year we watched in amazement as #40 roamed the field tackling anything and everything in his way. He was the lone start of last year's squad, and seemed to take over games all by himself. Kuechly wisely decided to leave BC after his junior year to test the NFL Draft, and was handsomely rewarded as the #9 pick selected by the Carolina Panthers. The question going into this year has to be, how will BC move on from arguably the best defender in the history of the school?
Let's just put it out there, there are no Luke Kuechly's on the roster this year. However there is a glutton of talent there, that as a unit should be able to be as productive as the 2011 unit. Moving forward starts with junior weak side linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis. Last year KPL was hampered with injuries, yet still finished the season second on the team in tackles, and complimented Kuechly nicely on the field. He is quick and instinctive, but is not a big hitter or pass rusher, and probably could benefit from a little extra meat on his bones. If he can stay healthy in 2012, Pierre-Louis could be as good as any linebacker in the ACC, which BC needs.
Around Pierre-Louis is a solid cast of characters in the linebacking corp. Starting at strong side linebacker is Steele Divitto, who along with having the best name on the Eagles, showed in 2011 that he deserved to be a starter. He led the Eagles with two sacks, was third on the team in tackles, and recorded an interception against UMass. Starting at middle linebacker is senior Nick Clancy. The senior played in nine games last season, but gained the starting position over Sean Duggan for his play during the summer. where he led all defenders with six tackles in the final scrimmage.
Boston College also has a solid rotation of backups that could immediately jump in and be effective if injury or poor play dictates it. One of the most surprising moves of the summer was Frank Spaziani choosing to use Sean Duggan as a backup. Duggan, who hails from Luke Kuechly's high school, had a very strong freshman campaign. He is the tallest of the BC linebackers, and brings good size, and can easily fill in either inside or outside in the 4-3 defense. This will make Duggan extremely valuable, giving the starters rest, and using him when injuries happen.
The Eagles also have a litany of unproven underclassmen that might be used this season. Tim Joy, played very well during the summer, quickly diagnosing running plays and blowing them up. Steven Daniels, fresh off a year at prep school was a subject of much praise from Frank Spaziani but was not put on the two deep for the opener against Miami. Nick Lifka could also see some playing time as well, and is listed on the two deep as the backup MLB.
In past years the linebacker position has been the power of the Boston College defense. This year I expect nothing different. True, Luke Kuechly's loss is immeasurable, but I feel confident in saying that the 2012 cast can perform at the same level as last years. Go Eagles.