Five Things We Learned: Rettig can’t take flight
|10.03.10 at 12:57 am ET|
CHESTNUT HILL — This is not – by any stretch of the imagination – the way Chase Rettig had it planned in his mind this week.
Boston College and Notre Dame kicked off the 20th chapter of the “Holy War” rivalry with plenty of storylines for both teams. But there was none greater for BC fans than the anticipated debut of true freshman quarterback Chase Rettig for the Eagles.
Rettig’s debut was cut short near the end of the first half with an ankle injury that had him leave the field for the rest of the game. Prior to the injury, the Eagles had shown signs of life but an early Notre Dame lead and a putrid second half led to a 31-13 defeat at the hands of the Fighting Irish.
Rettig beat out sophomore Mike Marscovetra for the start after coach Frank Spaziani decided the offense needed a change from quarterback Dave Shinskie. The BC coaching staff had originally intended to redshirt the touted quarterback but early struggles from Shinskie prompted Spaziani to change his plans after a 19-0 shutout at the hands of Virginia Tech.
The Eagles looked stunned out of the gate after the Fighting Irish, led by quarterback Dayne Crist, jumped to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Notre Dame returned the kickoff to midfield on the opening kickoff and four plays later Crist ran the ball for a 7-yard touchdown.
The Eagles were unable to respond in their first three drives after Rettig was unable to complete a pass on his first four attempts. Notre Dame proceeded to score on two of their next three possessions to bring the score to 21-0 with just over two minutes left in the first quarter. Crist threw two touchdowns to Kyle Rudolf and Theo Riddick in addition to his scramble score.
After failing to reach a first down on their first three possessions, BC scored when Rettig completed a 58-yard touchdown strike to freshman receiver Bobby Swigert, the team’s longest pass of the season. On Notre Dame’s next drive, sophomore Luke Kuechly recovered a Cierre Wood fumble in Irish territory at the 45-yard line.
Suddenly, Boston College had some desperately-needed life. The Eagles failed to reach the end zone but freshman kicker Nate Freese drilled an impressive 49-yard field goal to cut the Irish lead to 21-10. Freese’s field goal was BC’s longest since a Sando Sciortino 49-yard kick in 2002. However, an ankle injury to Rettig forced the BC offense to substitute Marscovetra early halfway through the second quarter. Rettig’s return to the field remained questionable for the rest of the first half after going 5-for-10 attempts with 72 yards and a touchdown.
Irish running back Armando Allen’s fumble on the next drive was recovered by BC safety Dominick LeGrande to the ND 13-yard line but Marscovetra was unable to move the ball for the Eagles, resulting in Freese’s 25-yard field goal. Thanks to a suddenly resolved defense and a deep pass by Rettig, the Eagles reduced their deficit to 21-13. Neither team reached the end zone for the rest of the half but Notre Dame struck back with a 37-yard field goal from David Ruffer to give the Irish the halftime lead of 24-13.
The second half began with the announcement that Rettig would not return to play for the Eagles. With Marscovetra at the helm, the offense was not able to replicate any success to the tune of zero points in the second half. Notre Dame scored their fourth touchdown on Armando Allen’s two-yard run that put the Fighting Irish up 31-13.
Allen’s score proved to be the last points of the game with neither team scoring in the fourth quarter. For the second straight game, Boston College failed to score any points in the second half while trailing. The crowd of 44,500 in Alumni Stadium left disappointed after the Eagles’ second straight loss, both to rivals ND and Virginia Tech.
Decisions to be made on quarterbacks following injury
Players, fans, and coaches left the game wondering what could have been if the debut of Chase Rettig had not been cut short in the first half. After struggling to communicate and connect with his receivers, Rettig settle down and showed promise at quarterback for the Eagles. Rettig showed comfort in the pocket and was even willing to scramble when the talented Irish defense applied pressure. Most importantly, Rettig avoided double coverage and refused to give the ND defense a chance to create turnovers. After the game the X-ray of the left ankle of Rettig was ruled negative but was sprained.
“I’m pretty sure I was leaving the pocket and I did a spin move back and I think a defender that was trailing me just slid into my ankle. So I sprained my ankle. We’ll know more tomorrow,” said Rettig as he described his injury.
The decision will have to be made if Rettig will be able to return in the future or if the BC coaching staff will seek a medical redshirt for the freshman quarterback.
Marscovetra’s performance showed why Rettig took over the starting job in their week long competition to replace Dave Shinskie. Marscovetra looked completely out of sync with the offense and was unable to lead BC to a single score in the second half. The sophomore quarterback finished with 22-for-37 attempts with 193 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions. Bobby Swigert had a game high 137 yards on 7 receptions including BC’s only touchdown of their past two games. Turnovers, penalties, decision making, and play calling were once again problems for the Eagles offense. Eagles fans should be disappointed that the offense continued to struggle without much improvement after failing to score a point last Saturday.
Numerous passes were dropped by the young receiving core of the BC offense and running back Montel Harris was unable to break free from the Irish defense. Harris had 15 rushes for 28 yards and was consistently stopped at the line of scrimmage as Brian Kelly and the ND coaching staff was able to focus on preventing the elusive junior from finding open field.
“There are certain things that we have to be able to do. We have to be able to run the ball,” said Spaziani. “We left a lot of plays out there. We dropped a few passes that would have helped. We can’t go back and keep throwing the ball all over the place.”
BC defense exposed early by Fighting Irish
After giving up no more than 20 points in any of their first three games, the BC defense gave up 21 points to the Fighting Irish in the first quarter. Dayne Crist exposed the defense for 203 yards, two passing touchdowns, and one rushing score. Brian Kelly’s offensive game plan took advantage of open spaces over the middle of the field and simply gained more points than the Eagles offense was capable of scoring. Junior defensive back Donnie Fletcher was able to come up with Crist’s only interception in the second half but the Eagles were unable to take advantage.
Armando Allen found multiple holes in the BC offense to the tune of 90 yards on 19 carries including his 2-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The talented linebacker corps of the Eagles was unable to close the gaps quick enough to stop Allen or reach Crist, coming up with only one sack.
“I don’t think it’s as much as what they’re doing to us as what we’re doing to ourselves,” said Luke Kuechly. “We came out flat. They start rolling like that and getting down in the red zone and there’s not much you can do. We had good play calls we just couldn’t execute on defense.”
Kuechly extended his nation-leading streak of double-digit tackles to 13 with a 14 tackle performance against the Irish. Senior defensive tackle Damik Scafe forced two fumbles, resulting in six points for BC in the first half. Senior linebacker Mark Herzlich recorded only two tackles in the game in his return to the Holy War after missing last season’s contest while battling Ewing’s Sarcoma.
Notre Dame’s offense was one of the most talented units that the Eagles defense will face this season but the result was disheartening considering the weight placed on the defense’s shoulders by the team’s offensive struggles. After another week of offensive futility, it is clear that the burden placed on Kuechly, Herzlich, and the rest of the defense is as heavy as ever.
Notre Dame regains control of Holy War
Boston College entered the twentieth edition of the Holy War with a chance to tie the series against the Fighting Irish. The Holy War highlights the matchup between the only two Catholic universities that play in the FBS. The winner of the game is awarded two trophies each year, the Frank Leahy Memorial Bown and the Ireland Trophy. The Eagles had won the previous six contests dating back to a 21-17 victory in Alumni Stadium on Oct. 27, 2001. After their second straight defeat to ND, Boston College now trails 9-11 in the series that dates back to 1975.
Irish coach Brian Kelly won his first meeting of the rivalry while Frank Spaziani moves to 0-2 in his tenure as head coach of the Eagles. Officials from both schools agreed in June to an extension that will face the programs off six more times through 2019. The next meeting will take place next year in South Bend where the Irish won last year’s matchup 20-16.
Eagles struggling at wrong time
The Eagles finished their four-game home stand to begin the season at 2-2. BC’s two victories were against Weber State and Kent State but they have struggled mightily against athletic teams like Virginia Tech and ND. BC should have finished no less than 3-1 to start the season in Alumni Stadium. The next five games on the Boston College schedule are against opposing ACC Atlantic division teams. This means one thing: the Eagles must get their team together.
BC will travel to face a talented NC State team next Saturday. NC State (4-1, 1-1 ACC) had been ranked #23 until losing to Virginia Tech 41-30 Saturday. The Eagles must find a way to win against Atlantic foes in order to have a hope at turning the corner on their early struggles. Three of their next five games will be away from the friendly confines of Alumni Stadium, where BC has traditionally thrived. However, the two straight BC losses have been the first time that they have lost consecutive games at home since 2003.