For the last few weeks I have been thinking about how I would write the preview for this weekend’s home opener against the Weber State Wildcats. It isn’t that the game lacks a story line, it’s that everyone knows the storyline: the return of Mark Herzlich. Sidelined in 2009 by Ewings Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year has, rightfully so, been in the headlights of the national media since the tragic news of his diagnosis. As inspirational as his story has been, though, there is not much more that I can add. His story, regardless of whether he returns to his 2008 form, belongs in a script, with Saturday being the climax. While Herzlich is undoubtedly going to be the headline act on Saturday, the game will also be a great opportunity for fans (and coaches) to get a look at the issues of depth at running back and wide receiver, and the quarterback competition.
The Opponent – Eagle Bites
Weber State University is located in Ogden, Utah.
The Wildcats of Weber State University finished the 2009 season 7-5 (6-2 in conference play), putting them third in the Big Sky conference.
The Wildcats will be led in 2010 by senior quarterback Cameron Higgins, who as a sophomore broke the Big Sky single-season record for passing yards with 4,477 yards. Higgins was also named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year in that same season.
What to watch for on Saturday:
Who will emerge behind Montel Harris?
With sophomore running back Rolandon Finch out for the season with a torn ACL, the Eagles are without depth and experience behind junior Montel Harris. While Harris will take the bulk of the carries in 2010, it is important for the Eagles to find someone to take some of the carries. Sophomore Sterlin Phifer has been Harris’ back up this spring and summer, but thus far he has not shown that he is a legitimate back up. The “cupcake” portion of the schedule will give BC a perfect opportunity to give time to Phifer, and freshmen Andre Williams and Tahj Kimble, in hopes that one separates himself from the pack
Who will step up at receiver?
The Eagles received the worst news of the season thus far when Colin Larmond Jr., BC’s top returning receiver, hurt his knee sidelining him for the entire season. Even with Larmond the Eagles were thin at receiver, but without him, the issue becomes Boston College’s biggest. Sophomore Clyde Lee is expected to start, but beyond that, playing time is up for grabs. While BC will most likely not throw the ball a lot over the course of the game, there will still be a good opportunity for a receiver to separate himself from the pack. Keep an eye on senior Billy Flutie, junior Ifeanyi Momah, or freshmen Shakim Phillips and Bobby Swigert.
How will Spaziani distribute playing time at quarterback?
Even though head coach Frank Spaziani has announced that sophomore quarterback Dave Shinskie will be the starter, I find it hard to believe that the competition is over after sophomore Mike Marscovetra outperformed Shinskie in each of the summer and spring scrimmages. While no final decision will be made after an outing against Weber State, how Spaziani splits the time among the quarterbacks will reveal how solid the coaching staff is on Shinskie as the starter.
Players to watch for:
Bobby Swigert, Freshman WR
Swigert did not arrive at Boston College as the most highly touted of the 2009 recruiting class. That title goes to Shakim Phillips. However, Swigert has produced consistently in each of the summer scrimmages, establishing himself as an extremely accurate-route runner. Being a former quarterback, he also possesses a more complex understanding of the offense (think of New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman, who played quarterback at Kent State). With his skill set and production over the summer, Swigert has positioned himself to receive playing time, and potentially even start at the slot receiver position.
Andre Williams, Freshman RB
Of the three potential running backs to back up Montel Harris, Andre Williams is perhaps the most intriguing. At 6’0, 216 lbs, Williams possesses the necessary size to be a running back at this level, and after being clocked running a 10.7 second 100m, he is certainly fast enough. While Phifer has been solid, his performance has left the door open for someone to grab some playing time. Williams has had solid performances all summer, and will certainly have an opportunity to prove himself against Weber State.
Dave Shinskie, Sophomore QB
Even though I am not certain that Shinskie will start for the Eagles throughout the season, it certainly is his job to lose after Spaziani announced that he is the starter against Weber State. The Eagles will not be forced to throw a lot against the Wildcats, but when they do, Shinskie has to look sharp. He will undoubtedly be given a lot of time, and his receivers will be able to create more separation than they will against an opponent such as Virginia Tech. How he performs this Saturday will not be enough to for Spaziani to demote him, but if he looks flat and Marscovetra is sharp, he could certainly lose some ground.
Boston College is simply the better team. Add on the dramatic return of senior linebacker Mark Herzlich, which will undoubtedly have the entire team pumped up, and there is no way that the Eagles do not walk away from the game without a W. This, for lack of a better term, is a glorified scrimmage for the Eagles. The results should not be used to gauge the success (or failure) of the entire season, but rather the game should be an opportunity to get a look at depth, and the younger segment of the team. With more players than usual getting playing time, Spaziani and co. are looking for players to step up and claim the last few spots on the 2-deep. With that said, I see the Eagles winning 45-7 in a easy decision over the Wildcats of Weber State.
About the Author
Written by Ian Boynton
Student at Boston College. Avid fan of St. Louis Rams, Boston Red Sox, as well as all Boston College Sports.