Luke Kuechly became the school's all-time leading tackler and set an ACC single-season record for tackles in Boston College's 24-17 win over Miami. Kuechly changed the game in this one, finishing with 9 tackles (6 solo, 3 assists), 1 pass breakup and an interception returned for a touchdown. Though his consecutive game streak with double-digit tackles came to an end at 33 games, and he came up two short of tying the NCAA record for tackles in a season, Kuechly put in a strong performance that should help his resume for the national defensive awards he's up for early next month.
Boston College QB Chase Rettig turned in easily his best performance of the season, finishing 13-of-17 for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Rettig and Brock got the TEs very involved in the offense today and it paid off, with Chris Pantale finishing with four receptions for 70 yards and both the Eagles' offensive touchdowns.
The offensive line also played really well, having its way with the Miami defensive front and gashing the D for 158 yards between Rolandan Finch (22 carries for 96 yards), Andre Williams (13 carries for 52 yards) and Tahj Kimble (7 carries for 10 yards).
The 10 other defenders not named Luke Kuechly also played great this afternoon, picking off Miami QB Jacory Harris four times in the second half. Harris had only been intercepted five times this season coming into his final collegiate game. And while the Eagles D didn't record any sacks on the day, they did a good job of creating pressure and making Harris uncomfortable all day. Credit to DC Bill McGovern and the defense for putting together solid performances during the second half of the season.
Even the special teams unit played well. Playing in his final college game, Ryan Quigley downed five of six punts inside the 20 and gave the Canes extremely poor field position all game. Even the kickoff and punt returns were better than they have been most of the season, with Spiffy Evans returning 2 kickoffs for 38 yards and Swigert returning 2 punts for 22 yards.
Still, even with Rettig's career day, the O Lines dominance of the Miami front four and a solid performance in all three phases of the game, this game was much closer than it had to be.
Spaz / Brock's call to throw in Josh Bordner on a 4th and 1 at the Miami 14 could have been very costly for BC. Bordner was stuffed on 4th and 1 as the Eagles turned it over on downs, still down 14-10, when Spaz could have taken the points (and/or come up with a slightly more imaginative play call than a Bordner QB sneak).
Spaz's call to throw Bordner back in on 1st and goal from the Miami 2 yard line was equally maddening. After Rettig had marched the Eagles offense down the field for 50 yards, Spaz threw Bordner in for ... surprise! ... a QB sneak that was subsequently fumbled and recovered by Miami.
The Eagles then proceeded to sit on the lead as much as humanly possible in the fourth quarter up 10 after Kuechly's pick 6, daring the Hurricanes to make this one interesting. Boston College ended up putting together offensive drives of 1:32 (3 plays), 2:01 (3 plays), 2:40 (5 plays) and 2:27 (3 plays) over the game's final 13:27.
After a Jake Wieclaw 49-yard field goal made it 24-17 with 14 seconds to play, the Eagles special team unit batted the onsides kick out of bounds to preserve the win.
There were flashes of better things to come in this one. Rettig's career day throwing the ball, a return to the ball-hawking Boston College defenses that we've grown accustomed to over the years, a big day from Pantale and the Eagles receivers and a bruising run game led by the Eagles embattled offensive line. Still, for all the positives in this one, there were still a few reasons for concern.
Poor clock and in-game management continues to plague this team. Luckily, this is the most fixable of the Eagles issues (you would think, anyway). Two of the stars of the game -- LB Luke Kuechly and P Ryan Quigley -- may have (Kuechly) and just did (Quigley) played their final collegiate football games.
As for the coaching staff, I think Spaz is given 2012 to turn this thing around. That decision was probably made before this game. The team did play hard down the stretch. They played better and played as a team. At the beginning of the season, most fans expected the Eagles to struggle down the stretch, predicting a 2-2 or 1-3 record for BC in November. So I suppose you can say that Spaz, the coaching staff and this team met expectations for the month of November. They just failed to live up to the modest expectations set for them during the first two months of the season.
I don't think the Eagles keeping Spaz is the best decision for this program and this win is a prime example of my frustrations with this current coaching staff. This game should have been blown wide open early with the Eagles never looking back. As it turned out, we kept Miami in this one due to poor in-game coaching, clock management and offensive play-calling. Today we won in spite of coaching.
This program will also be home next month for the first time in well over a decade, and misses out on some valuable practice time that would have otherwise helped this team build towards 2012.
That said, I would not be surprised to see Spaz and the current coaching staff roaming the sidelines in 2012. However, with an equally brutal 2012 schedule that includes home dates with Clemson, Virginia Tech, Miami and Notre Dame, and road games at Northwestern, Florida State and Georgia Tech, we'll really see what Spaz and the coaching staff are made of. A similar 4-8 or 5-7 season where BC fails to qualify for a bowl for the second straight season will hopefully make it clear to everyone that this program needs to head in a different direction.
But for now, we wait for Gene DeFilippo to make the next move.
Regardless of who is coaching next season, congratulations to the seniors and to Luke Kuechly -- if this is your final game in the maroon and gold -- for going out on a positive note and for notching just the program's second win in Miami in program history (and first since the 55 Flood Tip).