FOOTBALL: Rested Eagles Ready For Cat Fight
A Healthy Swigert May Spark Offense
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Fresh off its bye week, Boston College is hoping not to repeat history Saturday at home against No. 17 Clemson. In each of the last two seasons the Eagles have dropped their games following a bye. So what will change this time around?
BC’s leading receiver from last year, Bobby Swigert, will be taking the field for the first time this season on Saturday. The junior wideout was quarterback Chase Rettig’s favorite target last year, and he’s glad to have him back.
“I’ve missed him,” Rettig said. “It feels like we just picked up where we left off [last season]. With the whole offensive scheme that’s changed, he’s one of those veteran guys than already understands everything.”
Swigert put up 44 receptions and 470 yards in 2011, and seemingly made a clutch reception on every important Eagles’ drive. He was BC’s own Wes Welker. But he had to wait to make an impact this season after going down with a knee injury.
He’s finally healthy again, and combining Swigert with an already formidable attack could be just what the offense needs to edge Clemson in a potential high-scoring affair on Saturday.
“I’ve been really antsy to get back on the field,” Swigert said. “We haven’t thrown the ball this well since I’ve been here—we’ve had a lot of big plays this year, which is a lot different. It’s exciting to get back on the field with this new offense and see what I can add.”
Swigert will have a different role than he was used to with the offense the past two seasons.
“I’m playing more outside this week instead of the slot, which is different for me,” said Swigert. “Mentally, I went over the playbook—I’d sit in my room and write the plays over and over again in my head so it’d be second nature. It’s a lot different than when you break the huddle.”
Regardless of the outcome on Saturday, BC’s performance against Clemson will mark a turning point in its season.
Win, and the Eagles return to .500, claim a victory over a top-ranked opponent, and energize both themselves and their fans—both of whom would love to see the Eagles return to the postseason after having missed a bowl last season for the first time in 12 years.
Lose, and the Eagles will be looking at a 1-3 start, with only a few games left on the schedule that seem winnable.
The players know that getting back to the .500 mark on Saturday is important.
“We don’t want to start any [losing] streaks,” said middle linebacker Nick Clancy. “If we were to lose this game, it’d be two losses in a row. There’s always a sense of urgency coming off a loss. If we can go into Army 2-2, we’ll have good momentum and positive things will happen.”
The outcome will be decided by the Eagles’ offensive performance. BC has to expect that Clemson will score. Any team that puts up 37 points like the Tigers did against the vaunted Florida State defense—a squad that had allowed three points total in their first three games—will find the end zone frequently. It’s up to BC’s offense to keep pace for the game to be close.
The passing game is there, as Rettig is maturing with each and every snap. He may not be Matt Ryan just yet, but Rettig leads the ACC with 317 passing yards per game, and his production has jumped substantially with new offensive coordinator Doug Martin at the helm. Yet Rettig still has the right mindset with regard to his personal stats.
“No one cares if you’re the leading ACC passing team,” Rettig said. “If you’re not winning, it doesn’t matter.”
It’s the running game that needs work. The Eagles rushed for a paltry 25 yards against Northwestern. It’s the reason the offense scored just 13 points despite 291 passing yards from Rettig. Left tackle Emmett Cleary knows running the ball will be key.
“We need to be able to run the ball in this game,” Cleary said. “[This past week] we got our fundamentals back, and worked on the little things, as opposed to doing strictly scheme. Everyone’s reset in their good habits going into this game.”
BC needs a magnificent game from Rettig and his receivers to get the W on Saturday. The Eagles can’t survive with a mediocre rushing attack. While they’ll certainly lose if they rush for under 25 yards again, it’s highly unlikely they’ll average 1.1 yards a carry for any game in the foreseeable future. It’s a subpar performance from their star QB that they can’t afford.
Rettig threw for 440 yards against Miami but it wasn’t enough. After that game, Rettig rehashed a number of his mistakes and said that BC should have scored 50.
For the Eagles to win on Saturday, that assertion may have to come through. If there was ever a time to put up the half-century mark in points, a home game against a top ranked opponent would be it.