Point/Counterpoint: Will Football Have A Winning Season In 2012?
Point: Eagles Have Reasons To Remain Optimistic
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
At a glance, the Boston College football team seems to find itself in a rather unenviable position. Coming off of a season in which they went a dismal 4-8 and fell far short of appearing in a 13th straight bowl game, the Eagles find themselves entering the 2012 campaign with arguably more obstacles than any other season in recent memory. Head coach Frank Spaziani’s squad not only faces a daunting schedule with four ranked opponents, but is also resigned to watching last year’s best player now patrol linebacker for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Throw in the fact that BC has yet to find a definitive answer on defense while admittedly depending on perfect play from an otherwise unproven quarterback, and it looks like the fight song should be replaced by a 12 week-long funeral dirge.
And for all these reasons, BC football will enjoy a winning season in 2012.
Take a poll of 10 Superfans on campus, and probably 11 of them will be quick to call that prediction ridiculous, if not absolutely insane. Yet the truth is that for every void the Eagles will encounter this year, there will be an opportunity for a timely emergence.
The team’s success ultimately begins with a breakout performance from under center, and junior quarterback Chase Rettig is more than ready to rise to the occasion. After struggling through a sophomore season plagued by inconsistency and grounded by conservative play-calling, the Eagles’ starter looks poised to make the transition from a serviceable player to an elite ACC quarterback–a luxury that BC hasn’t enjoyed since the Matt Ryan era. If Rettig’s numbers through the first two games of 2012 are any indication of his potential, then Superfans have a lot to be fired up over. The California native has already thrown for 660 yards and five touchdown passes thus far, thriving in Doug Martin’s liberated system and utilizing his relatively young receiving corps as a weapon against opposing defenses. Add on the solid presence in the backfield consisting of Deuce Finch, Andre Williams, and Tahj Kimble, and the Eagles’ offense might be its greatest asset.
Then there’s the giant elephant in the room that must be addressed if BC has any legitimate shot at more wins than losses: the defense. When the Eagles lost Butkus Award-winner Luke Kuechly to the NFL Draft last April, they also saw 15.9 tackles per game and a menacing presence against opposing offenses pack their bags with him. Yet Kuechly’s exit has set the stage for the emergence of a defensive force anchored by junior linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis. Although the BC D struggled to contain Miami in week one, it came out firing on all cylinders against Maine and held the visiting Black Bears to a mere 3 points. Linebackers Steele Divitto and Nick Clancy, who now find themselves as a couple of the team’s most vital playmakers, realize that more well-rounded efforts like the one on Saturday will be crucial as the Eagles move forward.
While BC’s internal progress on both sides of the ball justifies a prediction for the team’s first winning season since 2010, some external factors may play right into the Eagles’ wings. A schedule featuring several ranked teams—including a National Title contender in Florida State—might seem to be a downfall, but take a closer look. At least two of BC’s remaining matchups against ACC rivals appear to be winnable, namely Maryland and NC State, both of which BC defeated last year despite its monumental struggles. Imagine what Doug Martin’s offense, with a revitalized Chase Rettig, would do to a Terrapins defense that surrendered 28 points to the Eagles in 2011. Factor in non-conference games against Army and Northwestern along with the inevitable upset against an archrival (Notre Dame, watch your back), and it doesn’t seem unrealistic to envision the Eagles soaring above .500 by season’s end.
If the old adage of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” contains any truth, BC has a golden opportunity to persevere and write a new chapter in its storied football history. Though Superfans may have excuses to view this team through a cynical and skeptical lens, the Eagles will once again provide a reason to see the glass half full.