Amid the heartbreak and frustration that came with Boston College’s 20-19 loss at home this weekend to Duke, one player had another outstanding day on his way to becoming one of the best at his position in school history.
Junior linebacker Luke Kuechly set a new career high in tackles with 23, 17 of which were solo. The player with the next-most tackles from either team had 11. Kuechly registered 11 in the first half alone. He also pushed his streak of consecutive games with at least 10 tackles to 25, which remains the longest current streak in college football.
The combination of BC’s soft zone coverage and Duke’s tendency to throw bubble screens to wideouts and checkdowns to tailbacks meant that Kuechly was constantly running sideline to sideline trying to hold Duke’s players to minimal yards after the catch.
Although BC’s run defense was pummeled in the first two games on 99 carries for a total of 512 yards, Duke ran the ball just 26 times for 86 yards. Duke’s focus on the aerial attack instead was evident throughout, as the Blue Devils finished with 55 total attempts through the air, of which they connected on 43.
Kuechly did not record any fumble recoveries or interceptions in the game, as the ball bounced just out of his reach several times. Kuechly’s leadership skills were evident not just on the field, but also off it in the form of support for his kicker, Nate Freese, who missed a 23-yard field goal that would’ve given the Eagles a 22-20 lead with 43 seconds left in the game.
“I trust [Freese] on every kick,” he said. “No matter what the situation is, he’s going to put it through a great percentage of the time. If [the kick] is there again, I’m going to let him kick it again.”
Offense comes up short in Brock’s debut
Tight ends coach Dave Brock got his first crack at the offensive coordinator role this weekend as Kevin Rogers remains on a leave of absence. While the team did manage to score 19 points in the first half, the offense was completely ineffective in the second half and wasn’t able to add onto their total.
The Eagles finished with 328 total yards, 220 of which came in the first half. The play selection slightly favored the passing game with 34 passes for 247 yards and 25 rushing plays for 81 yards.
“I thought the play calling was good, and I felt comfortable,” quarterback Chase Rettig said. “When I got out there, it was like I was seeing the scout team.”
The pass protection did improve, giving up only one sack compared to the seven the line surrendered in the first two games.
The offense managed only 17 first downs in the game, with just six coming in the second half. Rettig completed 52 percent of his passes to eight different receivers, but struggled to connect on throws of 10 or more yards. ♦
Welles Crowther honored
The family of former BC student and lacrosse player Welles Crowther was honored on the field between the first and second quarter. BC fans gave a standing ovation to the family whose son died after saving many lives in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In commemoration of Crowther’s heroic efforts on that day, BC distributed approximately 6,000 red bandanas to students, since he always carried one of his own everywhere he went, including the World Trade Center.
Crowther’s family helped hand out the bandanas before the game.
Odds and ends
Defensive back Jim Noel recorded his first interception of the season on a pass that bounced off a Duke receiver inside the red zone. Noel gained possession and got one foot inbounds just before his momentum carried him onto the sideline.
BC’s linebackers turned in a total of 44 tackles in the game. Kuechly lead the team with 23 while Kevin Pierre-Louis and Steele Divitto each broke into double digits having 11 and 10, respectively.
Tahj Kimble got into the end zone for the first time in his BC career on a 31-yard screen pass in the first quarter.