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BC Accepts Bid To Emerald Bowl Vs. USC

12.06.09 at 6:08 pm ET
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What does an 8-4 record and a second-place finish in the ACC Atlantic earn you? A trip to San Francisco for a date with perennial Pac-10 powerhouse the University of Southern California. The Emerald Bowl at AT&T Park will be held on Dec. 26 at 8 p.m. EST and will be shown on ESPN.

After BC failed to make it to a third straight ACC championship game, many pundits figured that San Francisco would be the likely destination for the Eagles and first-year head coach Frank Spaziani. BC was not going to go to Nashville for the Music City Bowl after going last year, and the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., will probably extend and invitation to the University of North Carolina.

It creates an interesting matchup as USC is a perennial title contender, though the Trojans had an off year and accepted the non-BCS bowl berth. Its coach, Pete Carroll, is no stranger to New England denizens after being the coach of the Patriots from 1997-99.

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Kuechly, Castonzo Named First Team All-ACC

12.01.09 at 5:28 pm ET
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Boston College freshman linebacker Luke Kuechly and junior offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo were named to the All-ACC first team on Monday. BC also added a pair of players — sophomore running back Montel Harris and senior center Matt Tennant — as second teams. Here is the press release from the Boston College Media Relations department:

Boston College junior offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo and freshman linebacker Luke Kuechly were named to the All-ACC first team, the league announced today. Senior center Matt Tennant and sophomore running back Montel Harris were named to the second team.

Kuechly ranks second in the nation in solo tackles (81) and total tackles (142) and has recorded 10 or more tackles in each of the last eight games. Castonzo was an All-ACC second team selection last year as a sophomore.

Senior wide receiver Rich Gunnell, junior offensive guard Thomas Claiborne and sophomore punter Ryan Quigley were honorable mention selections.

In addition to Castonzo, the rest of the All-ACC first-team offense included QB Josh Nesbitt (Georgia Tech), RB Jonathan Dwyer (Georgia Tech), RB Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), WR Demaryius Thomas (Georgia Tech), WR Donovan Varner (Duke), TE George Bryan (NC State), TE Michael Palmer (Clemson), OT Jason Fox (Miami), OG Rodney Hudson (Florida State), OG Cord Howard (Georgia Tech), C Sean Bedford (Georgia Tech), K Matt Waldron (Virginia Tech), K Matt Bosher (Miami) and specialist CJ Spiller (Clemson).

In addition to Kuechly, the first-team defense includes DE Derrick Morgan (Georgia Tech), DE Robert Quinn (North Carolina), DT Nate Collins (Virginia), DT Allen Bailey (Miami), LB Cody Grimm (Virginia Tech), LB Quan Sturdivant (North Carolina), LB Alex Wujciak (Maryland), CB Kendric Burney (North Carolina), CB Brandon Harris (Miami), S DeAndre McDaniel (Clemson), S Deunta Williams (North Carolina) and P Brent Bowden (Virginia Tech).

Read More: Anthony Castonzo, Luke Kuechy,

Luke Kuechly Named ACC Defensive Rookie Of The Year

12.01.09 at 2:21 pm ET
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Boston College freshman linebacker Luke Kuechly has been named the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year. Here is the press release from BC media relations:

Boston College Media Relations

December 1, 2009

Kuechly Named ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year

Boston College freshman linebacker Luke Kuechly has been named Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Rookie of the Year for 2009 in voting by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

Although Kuechly’€™s name wasn’€™t bandied about the water cooler in August ‘€“ the recruit database and one website suggested he was no better than the 49th-rated linebacker in the Class of 2009 nationwide – the 6-3, 225-pound true freshman from Cincinnati is averaging 11.83 total tackles per game. That’€™s the highest average by any rookie since theNCAA began tracking tackles in 2003.

Kuechly has led several important defensive stands that have made the difference in another successful BC season.

‘€¢ In an eventual 28-21 win over Florida State on Oct. 3, Kuechly was in on three straight goal-line stops of the Seminoles’€™ Lonnie Pryor in a vital second-quarter sequence.

‘€¢ Protecting a 16-10 lead at Maryland this past Saturday, Kuechly halted Terrapin quarterback Jamarr Robinson on a fourth-and-inches sneak. The Eagles converted the change of possession into a field goal and an ultimately unbeatable nine-point lead.

‘€¢ Kuechly completed the Eagles’€™ 31-3 win over Central Michigan on Oct. 31 when he intercepted Ryan Radcliff’s pass and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown. BC held LeFevour, who went 33-of-46 for-328 yards in an earlier win over Michigan State , to 152 yards.

In all, Kuechly has made 10 or more tackles in eight straight games. He leads the ACC in tackles per game and is second nationally to New Mexico linebacker Carmen Messina (13.50).

Kuechly, one of seven players receiving votes for Defensive Rookie of the Year, was the choice on 29 of the 40 ballots.

The Eagles, picked to finish last in the ACC’€™s Atlantic Division, claimed second with a 5-3 league record. Their defense stands 21st nationally in yardage allowed and 20th in points allowed.

BC is the only one of the Atlantic Division’€™s six programs to win five or more ACC games in all five years of divisional play.

Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams was named ACC Offensive and overall Rookie of the Year.

Update: Correction – Kuechly intercepted Ryan Radcliff’s pass and returned it for a touchdown, not Dan LeFevour.

Read More: Boston College, luke kuechly,

Eagles Win in a Nail-Biter

11.29.09 at 1:47 am ET
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At halftime, with the Boston College basketball team’s lead sitting at 11, it appeared as if the Eagles had figured out the Providence press and were going to roll to an easy win.

Oh, how quickly things can change.

With just under five minutes remaining, BC’€™s lead had slimmed all the way down to one, the Friars mounting a furious charge. After Joe Trapani hit one of his two free throws, Providence took the lead on a 3-pointer by Sharaud Curry, who came out sizzling in the second half. After trading baskets and turnovers for the final four minutes, BC was able to take a lead on a three-point play by Josh Southern (11 points). Two more Biko Paris free throws after a BC steal put the Eagles up by three, which proved just enough when Curry came up just short on a game-tying attempt from beyond the arc. Trapani then hit his final two free throws to bring home the win for the Eagles, 82-77.

It was a game that at one point looked like a runaway win. But after a furious comeback by the Friars, the Eagles were once again tested by a late run from an opponent that refused to go away. Unlike its previous loss at the hands of Northern Iowa, Boston College managed to hold on and come out on the winning end.

‘€œWe’€™re very fortunate to win,’€ BC coach Al Skinner said. ‘€œIt shows a certain amount of mental toughness, and it was nice to see, because we had enough excuses not to win the basketball game.’€

Here are three things we learned from the escape act:

TRAPANI IS A TOUGH HOMBRE

After being bedridden for the past three days, the 6-foot-8 junior surprised even his coach Saturday night, coming out and dropping 19 points in the BC victory. Though the forward struggled at times, it was his efforts in the final minutes that proved key in what turned out to be a very close win.

‘€œHe was in bed all day,’€ Skinner said of Trapani, who came down with three rebounds and scored five points in the last five minutes of the game. ‘€œFor him to come out and give an effort like that, just shows a lot of toughness on his part.’€

Skinner went on to explain that even he wasn’€™t sure Trapani would be able to total 31 minutes on the night with his illness.

But Trapani’€™s performance, especially during the second half of a game that turned into a nail-biter, earned notice as evidence of a player who will do what is necessary to contribute in key moments. Even after being in bed for the past three days, Trapani was still able to turn it on when the Eagles needed it the most.

BC REFUSED TO BE PRESSED

Every now and then, Providence’€™s full-court press looked as if it was giving the Eagles some issues. But that wasn’€™t very often.

For the better part of the game, the Eagles were able to exploit the Friars’ constant ball pressure and turn it into easy baskets in the paint for both Southern and Trapani.

After Providence totaled a season-high 19 steals in a victory over Vermont last week, it was obvious the Friars would be rushing hard at the BC ball handlers. But the Eagles only turned the ball over a total of 10 times during the game, proving that their discipline and court vision came through under duress.

‘€œ[The key to beating the press was] just not letting them rush us, and slowing down to our pace’€ said junior forward Corey Raji, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Eagles. ‘€œOnce we were down, we had to fight back and stay together. I felt we handled their pressure very well.’€

Even though the Friars made a comeback in the second half, it’€™s important to note that it wasn’€™t because of the full-court pressure. Instead, it was simply a matter of a team that launches about 30 treys a game getting hot at some point.

Despite the fact that the game was close in the end, Boston College can take consolation in the fact that it remained disciplined with the press throughout, exploiting the weakness that such a defense reveals under the opposing basket.

REGGIE JACKSON CAN STIR THE DRINK

There are times during the game when BC guard Reggie Jackson elevates his play. But then, there are also times where he gets caught up in the emotions of the game, and his play seems to suffer.

For most of Saturday night’€™s game, Jackson handled himself very well, dominating the offensive boards as well as the defensive end. After Raji’€™s hot start (12 points, 9 boards in the first 10 minutes), it was Jackson who turned out to be the Eagles’ main source of offense throughout the night, reeling in 12 rebounds and scoring a team-leading 20 points.

But his defense may have been even more important than his offensive output. For most of the night, Jackson was guarding Marshon Brooks, who was shut down for the better part of the game (3 points, 2 fouls at halftime). Brooks heated up towards the end of the game, ending with 16 points, though it was still a far cry from the 24 that he posted in Providence’€™s win over UVM last week ‘€” a testament to Jackson’€™s defensive abilities.

‘€œSince we got back from the Virgin Islands, it’€™s been defense,’€ Jackson said. ‘€œScouting, watching film, figuring out how we’€™re going to defend teams this year.’€

Nobody has ever questioned Jackson’€™s raw ability, and the Eagles will be looking for similar high-output efforts throughout the season from him. His development bears monitoring, because as Skinner said himself before the season even started, the sophomore has a lot to learn.

Even so, he appears to be evolving into a key player on both sides of the ball for Boston College.

Read More: al skinner, joe trapani, providence, reggie jackson

Five Things We Learned: Stand And Salute

11.28.09 at 10:56 pm ET
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There have been a variety of themes for Boston College this year: 25-year old Dave Shinskie’s erratic performances, sophomore running back Montel Harris’s efficiency, freshman linebacker Luke Kuechly’s rise to dominance and the ability of the defense to come up with the big stop at just the right time to nail down a victory.

All those themes were revisted on Saturday as Boston College hung on for a 19-17 victory against Maryland in its regular season finale in College Park, Md. (Recap.) But no moment was bigger than Kuechly and the Big Stop.

The Terrapins, who held tough the entire game despite being outplayed on both sides of the ball, needed a sustained drive late in the fourth quarter to take the lead for the first time since they held a 3-0 advantage following the initial drive of the game. So, on fourth-and-1 from its own 30-yard line with a little less than five minutes remaining, Maryland — trailing 16-10 at the time — decided to go for it. Quarterback Jamarr Robinson took the handoff and tried to jump the pile . . . only to be met by Kuechly.

The stud freshman anticipated the play from the beginning. He snuck up to the line of scrimmage from his Will linebacker position, and when Robinson went low into the pile Kuechly went high. The result? No gain, BC ball in Terrapin territory.

Four plays and two yards later, senior place kicker Steve Aponavicius hit his fourth field goal of the game, a 42-yard boot that turned out to be the difference.

This was not exactly Bill Belichick going for it on fourth-and-2 from the Indianapolis 28-yard line a couple weeks ago. Maryland, which struggled to sustain drives all day, needed to gain momentum if it had a chance to continue its comeback. But, as it has against Clemson, Wake Forest, Florida State and Notre Dame, the BC defense put the clamps down at precisely the right moment.

Good thing.

Maryland took the next possession and went into its desperation two-minute drill, moving down the field with an efficiency it had not shown all game. The result was a 28-yard touchdown strike from Robinson to Torrey Smith, the best Terrapins player, that gave the denizens of College Park hope that, for the first time all season, Maryland could complete a comeback against an ACC foe (the Terps lost five games this season decided by less than seven points).

The ensuing on-side kick landed safely in the hands of Eagles sophomore wide receiver Colin Larmond Jr., and BC was able to run out the clock to put an exclamation point on a somewhat surprising eight-win regular season.

The eight wins are a tribute to the senior leadership of the team and head coach Frank Spaziani keeping the squad together in a season that seemed lost before it started. But, as we learned today and so many times all season, one defensive stop is sometimes all that is needed.

Here are the four other things we learned from the Eagles’ regular season finale:

The Offense’s Best Road Performance of the Year Wasn’t One to Write Home About

At the beginning of the game it look like BC would finally win a game going away on the road, something it has not accomplished all season. Shinskie hit Larmond on an eight-yard crossing route that enabled the speedy receiver to turn the corner on senior cornerback Anthony Wiseman and race 66 yards to the end zone to give the Eagles a 7-3 lead.

On the next drive, it looked like BC would stuff one in for another touchdown, but Maryland was able to hold Harris  in the red zone to force the first of Aponavicius’ four field goals.

That kick started a theme for the Eagles. Every time they got close to the goal line thereafter, visions of seven points evaporated into three. In the Eagles’ initial drive of the second half, they pushed the ball to the Terrapin 5-yard line. Harris carried twice for a loss of a yard before Shinskie was sacked by Deege Gait (and lost a fumble that was recovered by offensive lineman Mark Spinney). Aponavicius came in for the 31-yard field goal, but he pushed it right for his first, and only, miss of the entire year.

Given the inability to punch the ball over the goal line, turnovers proved the ultimate difference on the day. The Eagles did not make any.

That was a departure from every other road game the team has played this season. Clemson, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame all took advantage of BC turnovers to beat the Eagles, and even Virginia was able to intercept Shinskie a couple times two weeks ago in a loss. This time around Shinskie and company were able to hold onto the ball and not give Maryland any extra opportunities to get back in the game.

Where Have You Been Damik Scafe?

A big problem for BC all season has been putting pressure on the quarterback. Part of the problem has been injuries on the defensive line, with junior Scafe hampered through the middle of the season along with junior Alex Albright.

Scafe made his presence known in this one with two sacks as well as an assist on a couple of tackles for losses. Partnering with him was junior Brad Newman, whose high motor play has been overlooked all season. On one series of plays late in the second quarter, Scafe sacked Robinson on second down and Newman caught the quarterback trying to sneak for a first down at the line for no gain, forcing Maryland to punt. The Eagles were able to take the ball down the field for another field goal as time expired in the half.

The story on the Eagles defense this year has been all about Kuechly and senior strong safety Marcellus Bowman, but today the defensive line stepped up to make some plays that helped BC win the game.

Montel Harris Goes For Triple Digits . . . Again

This particular story line never seems to get old. Harris was once again the man, carrying the ball a season-high 41 times for 142 yards and adding a 30-yard catch into the mix. Harris kept the ball in the hands of the BC offense, which controlled the clock to the tune of 34:53 time of possession.

The offensive line, which worked much of the game without starting sophomore left guard Nathan Richman, kept the lanes clear for the shifty running back to keep the ball moving forward. There were a couple of times through the game that the unit stalled out on Harris, leading to his relatively mediocre 3.5 yards per carry, but a team has to have a good offensive line playing reasonably well if it is going to hand the ball to its feature back 41 times. That total tied a school record, previously achieved by Fred Willis in 1970 against Pittsburgh.

The 142 yards gave Harris 1,365 for the season, extending the school sophomore record that he set last week against North Carolina and giving him 465 yards than he had as a freshman.

The good news is that Harris got through the season without injury. Since fellow sophomore running back Josh Haden decided to transfer, the Eagles have leaned hard on Harris. The team will probably have some more depth in whatever bowl game it plays, as true freshman Rolandan Finch will presumably be over his case of mono by then.

Shinskie Stable

There have been times this year that it seemed that Shinskie psyched himself out to the point of making bad decisions with the football or just making horrible throws that left his receivers open to big hits.

Shinskie was able to stay out of his own way in this game, going 14-for-23 for 227 yards. It was not the most prolific game of his young career, but in some ways it may have been the most rewarding. He was able to put aside the dismal performance against North Carolina and come back to lead the offense to a good win that caps off a a successful eight-win season on The Heights.

Read More: Brad Newman, Damik Scafe, dave shinskie, luke kuechly

Nothing Cooking In Third

11.28.09 at 5:55 pm ET
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If you were once a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video games you might recall the the villain in the series, Shredder, would say “tonight I dine on turtle soup.” Boston College is attempting to turn the Terrapins to soup but the progress has gone in fits and starts. No team scored in the third quarter, trading punts and stalled drives along the way.

It looked at one point that the Eagles would get on the board with another Steve Aponavicius field goal, but the fifth year senior kicker missed his first of the season from 30 yards at the 7:59 mark (one of the rules of sport — a sure fire way to jinx a kicker is to mention that he has had a perfect season, as was mentioned in the last post).

On the positive side, junior defensive tackle Damik Scafe, who has been on and off the injured list this year, has played his best game of the season thus far. He has two sacks as well as assisting on a few tackles for loss.

Read More: Damik Scafe, Steve Aponavicius,

BC Maintains Edge At Half

11.28.09 at 5:06 pm ET
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The Eagles are leading at the half in a road game for one of the first times all season as they take a 16-10 advantage to the locker room in College Park, Maryland.

The 16 points are the most for BC in a half for a road game all season and matches the season-high for a game it had against Notre Dame. A pair of Steve Aponavicius field goals (36 and 23 yards) are the difference so far with the last coming as time expired in the half. Aponavicius is the only kicker in the FBS who is perfect this year (38/38 PAT, 12/12 field goals). Montel Harris is, as usual, leading the offensive charge as he already has 21 carries for 93 yards along with a 30-yard catch.

Quarterback Dave Shinskie has had a decent half, going 8 for 14 for 160 yards.

Maryland tied the score early in the second quarter with a 6-yard rush touchdown but the offense has been shut down by the Eagles defense since. Sophomore quarterback JaMarr Robinson was sacked twice in a row in the second quarter, by Damik Scafe and Brad Newman, respectively.

Read More: montel harris, Steve Aponavicius,

Eagles Offense Shows Up Early

11.28.09 at 4:19 pm ET
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The road has not been a good place for the BC offense this year but it looks like today might be different. The first quarter in Maryland saw BC score twice — a 66-yard touchdown pass from David Shinskie to Colin Larmond, Jr. and an 18-yard field goal from Steve Aponavicius.

The Larmond touchdown was a short cross route over the middle that the speedy sophomore broke to the outside and down the sideline all the way to pay dirt. Aponavicius’s field goal was the result of a 10-play, 54-yard drive that stalled on the goal line.

Start of the second quarter. BC 10 Maryland 3.

Read More: Colin Larmond, dave shinskie,

Spaziani Building A House Of Bricks

11.28.09 at 11:14 am ET
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If you are a Boston College football diehard there is a fair chance that, at the start of the semester, you had a pit in your stomach the size of a grapefruit. Where was this team? A new had coach, a plethora of young quarterbacks, none of whom had ever thrown a pass in major college football, a defense that was missing its best player and a linebacking corps that was starting three players who had never played at their particular positions.

No wonder BC was voted to finish near the bottom of the conference. The preseason polls predicted that the only team the Eagles would be better than was perennial conference doormat Duke (who has also surprised this year, by the way). The foundation of the program looked like it was in shambles.

Time to rebuild.

Or was it?

“It is like the three little pigs, right?” Head coach Frank Spaziani said. “You got the straw house, the sticks and the bricks. We are trying to build the brick house to have something good. We are on the right track for the big picture. Certainly it helps to have some victories, but we are on the right track.”

This afternoon BC travels to College Park, Maryland looking for win No. 8 against the Terrapins. Ask just about anybody outside of Chestnut Hill if the Eagles were going to be an eight win team in 2009 and they would have given you a sideways look, muttered something about being delusional and walked away. Yet, here BC stands, another solid season with a better outlook for next year.

“We have brick plans, that is what we got to do . . . This game is a big game. It is an important game. It is the last game in the body of work and once we are all done we will reflect on it,” Spaziani said. “We’ve always felt that we could win every game, always.”

“When I took over it was what it was . . . In August we had to work through our problems. Who is going to take the snaps? Who is going to play linebacker? How were we to know in August that [Luke] Kuechly would arrive? Take him out of the equation. That was like ‘puff,’ a gift for you,” Spaziani said.

In retrospect, perhaps too much was made about the player losses the Eagles suffered. The previous foundation had been eroded, from Brian Toal to Mark Herzlich to Matt Ryan and Dominique Davis (to name a few on an impressive list of who is no longer on the field). BC could still put out an above average to pretty good offensive line, it had two running backs in Montel Harris and Josh Haden that could pound the ball and a few rising players on defense with something to prove. Outside of Kuechly, the next biggest surprise on the team is probably strong safety Marcellus Bowman, a backup free safety for three years before stepping to the strong side this year and playing well.

There was some foundation from which to build.

“It is not like we are Coastal Carolina here, building from scratch,” Spaziani said. “We didn’t have to build a program. The program was here. We just had some issues to deal with and that is what we are trying to do. We are trying to get to the point where the issues are normal that are inherent to running a football team. We don’t want to have the problems of no linebackers, no quarterbacks, not enough linemen, it could go on and on.”

“We had quarterbacks who didn’t know what they were doing and quarterbacks on defense who didn’t know what they were doing. Hopefully that is behind us. If it isn’t then we have one of those little straw houses,” Spaziani said.

The final step for BC in the regular season is to go south one final time and hammer the nail on the foundation. An eight win season would be a significant punctuation for this Eagles team and a tribute to the seniors who have have helped keep the foundation strong in this transitional year. Next year looks promising as BC can plug Herzlich back into the linebacking corps with Kuechly, get a backup running back healthy to support Harris (Rolandan Finch is primed for that duty but has missed the last month of the season with mono) and a year of growth for oft-erratic quarterback Dave Shinskie.

First things first. Maryland awaits BC with kickoff coming at 3:30 p.m. Stay tuned to The BC Blog all day for updates on how the final test of plays out.

Read More: Boston College, frank spaziani,

Ex-BC assistant Bible has leukemia

11.24.09 at 11:37 am ET
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Former Boston College assistant football coach Dana Bible, who followed Tom O’Brien to North Carolina State in 2007, has been diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia and won’t coach in Saturday’s season finale against No. 23 North Carolina, according to the school.

Bible, 56, coached with the Eagles from 1999-2006, serving as offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and wide receivers coach. He hold the same titles with NC State.

Read the full story here.

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