CHESTNUT HILL MA - SEPTEMBER 04: Jim Noel #23 of the Boston College Eagles nearly intercepts a pass intended for Erik Walker #83 of the Weber State Wildcats on September 4 2010 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill Massachusetts. Boston College defeated Weber State 38-20. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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, offensive line, defensive line and yesterday the linebackers.
As we finish our look ahead, it's time to look at arguably one of Boston College's weakest areas, the secondary. Last year Boston College's passing defense was ranked 81st in the country, allowing 243.4 yards per game which was showcased in the Duke game when Sean Renfree threw for 384 yards against the Eagles. Much has been made on the blogs about the "Spaz cushion", where cornerbacks "give" wide receivers a seven-eight yard cushion, which many believe is the root of BC's defensive woes. I tend to disagree. With the right group up front, providing pressure, Spaz's cushion could in fact make a less talented group even more effective. Instead of getting torched by faster receivers, BC's corners have room to make a move on the ball, but they need the front seven to hurry the QB. That did not happen last year, and BC's secondary was exposed and played poorly.
Already depth has not been kind to the BC secondary in 2012. The Eagles are already starting off with three players either dinged up or out. Al Louis Jean, who was projected to be one of the starting corners, broke his foot during the summer and is expected to be out until at least October. Also on the list of walking wounded are Dominique Williams and C.J. Jones who both also missed most, or if not all of 2011 with injuries. Will they be playing soon? Due to their prior history a healthy skepticism about the contributions of any of these three has to be warranted at this point.
In terms of corners because of after ALJ there is only a pile of unproven underclassmen. Just look at the depth chart for Game 1 against Miami. The four players include Manny Asprilla, Bryce Jones, Sean Sylvia and Ameer Richardson who have played a combined 8 games at the corner. Jones and Richardson are unproven freshman, and Sylvia moved to corner after playing FS for most of 2012. Certainly the corners are a position of worry, and will be tested early and often by opposing offenses.
Jim Noel is most reliable defensive back for the Eagles. Not known as a ball hawk, Noel provides a physical presence in the secondary. He is also the lone upperclassmen in this group. Spenser Rositano played a solid strong safety in 2011, gaining the starting job after an injury to Noel. Both of these safeties are going to need to really step up and support the corners, because the Eagles lack a shutdown corner this year that could cover a star receiver one to one.
In terms of backups BC is bringing in Justin Simmons, who played both wide receiver and safety in high school, and Josh Keyes a heavy hitting converted linebacker. Of course both are unproven commodities at this point. Zach Wolfe and possibly Ted Davenport are the only other secondary players left on the roster.
Injuries have already taken a number on the secondary, but a few more injuries and BC will be scrambling to find someone to play corner and safety. During the spring game it got so bad that Spaz was playing walk on quarterback Shane Cranmore and a backup kicker in the secondary. Hopefully things won't get that bad for the Eagles this year, but injuries and poor recruiting have left BC in a precarious situation in the secondary. Cross your fingers things get better before they get worse.