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FOOTBALL: BC Has Hands Full With VT

Sports Editor

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

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Graham Beck / Heights Editor

Another week, another game. Except this time, Saturday’s game might be a little more emotional, as it marks the final one at Alumni Stadium in the 2012 Boston College football season.

For fifth-year offensive tackle Emmett Cleary, there’s too much preparation in store for this week in preparing for Virginia Tech to be worried about the emotions.

“In one sense, we’re kind of too wrapped up in the day-to-day to really think about that,” Cleary said. “It’s just a big conference game against Virginia Tech, who’s an opponent we get up for every year. I’m sure [the emotions] might get to me on Saturday, but we’ll see.”

More than anything, Cleary said he and his classmates want to leave Alumni Stadium with one last win, especially after going through such a tough season.

“I think Saturday would be a lot more enjoyable if we got a win so [we could] leave Alumni with a good taste in our mouths,” said fifth-year tight end and captain Chris Pantale.

To get that win, the offense and defense are both going to have their hands full against the Hokies, who need a win to have any hope of extending its 19-year bowl streak.

Offensively, the Eagles received a spark last week from running back Deuce Finch, who returned to action for the first time since the third game of the season.

“It’s great for Deuce to get him back out there,” Pantale said. “He’s been through a lot this season, so to have him back and make an impact was huge—not only for him, but also for us on the offense. We finally got something going with the running game a little bit.”

“It was really nice to have him back in the huddle,” said quarterback Chase Rettig. “It was a spark plug—all the guys on the sideline were going crazy. He’s a good back and I’m looking forward to the next two games with him and seeing what he can do since we haven’t had him for most of the season.”

The offensive line will have to be on top of its game against Virginia Tech, as the Hokies usually bring heavy pressure with the blitz. Rettig found himself hitting the turf more often on Saturday against Notre Dame, but his offensive line knows that can’t happen again.

“That’s the number one thing we don’t want happening—when we see Chase on the ground,” said center Andy Gallik. “Sometimes there will be a late blitz we don’t see or it doesn’t get called out or recognized in time. It’s just the last-second type deals we’re not recognizing.”

On the other side of the ball, the defense is looking to improve on third down scenarios, which has been a major problem all year. Against Notre Dame, the Eagles allowed the Irish to convert on their first 10 third-down opportunities.

“It is frustrating,” said middle linebacker Sean Duggan, who stepped into the first team role when Nick Clancy went down with a concussion against Notre Dame. “I think our problem was we gave up too many yards on first down, so it’d be second and three or second and four. And then we’d stuff them there, it’d be third down and two or third down and one, and that’s hard to get off the field against any team.”

This week, the team has been practicing its third-down drills as always, and defensive coordinator Bill McGovern continues to preach the idea that third down starts on first down.

BC will also be facing Logan Thomas, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound dual-threat quarterback. The junior has thrown for 14 touchdowns in addition to running for seven.

“Thankfully, I guess you could say, this year we’ve played a lot of athletic quarterbacks,” Duggan said. “Everett Golson last week, Kain Colter from Northwestern … I feel like every week we play a quarterback that has the ability to run and pass.

“Logan Thomas is a different kind of monster. When he runs the ball, he’s not really looking to avoid hits—he’ll lower his shoulder and hit you. As a defense, we have to keep him in the pocket and force him to beat us with his arm and then rally to the pass and try to defend that as best we can.”

It’s one final game, the last 60 minutes at Alumni Stadium for 16 seniors on Saturday. A loss would put one last dagger in a forgettable season. A win would mean everything.

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