The biggest question looming after Boston College defeated Weber State 38-20 is what fans can, or should, take away from the game. Prior to the game, I had predicted that the Eagles would cruise to a 45-7 victory. While the Wildcats never seriously threatened, Weber State certainly had Eagles fans forgetting that the Wildcats are a member of the Big Sky conference, and not the ACC. In all fairness, Weber State quarterback, senior Cameron Higgins did show Saturday that he is a very good college quarterback, which should come to no surprise after being named the Big Sky Conference player of the year in 2008. Nonetheless, the Eagles were simply not as dominant as they should have been. But should fans worry?
As I wrote in my preview, Saturday was, in essence, a glorified scrimmage. One has to assume that head coach Frank Spaziani did not open up the playbook, and ran a simplified, “vanilla”, defense, not exposing many of the blitz packages and more complex elements. However, the individual play of several elements, even in such a muted game, was uninspiring.
At the top of the list of questionable play has to be sophomore quarterback Dave Shinskie. In my season preview I wrote that if Boston College wins 10 games, Dave Shinskie would have to show the marked improvement that coaches have been talking about. After starting against Weber State, I am still waiting. On the first play of the game, the Eagles were charged with a delay of game. On the second play of the game, Shinskie threw an interception on an ill-advised pass intended for junior Ifeanyi Momah. While Shinskie did recover, ending the day with two touchdowns and 185 yards (on top of another interception), I was never comfortable watching him. Even when he did complete passes, I got the sense that he simply does not have the poise or the natural instincts that a quarterback must possess at this level, a feeling which, last year, was dismissed by his long absence from football. Furthermore, many of his 10 completions were due good plays on the end of the receiver (kudos to Jonathan Coleman on an outstanding day with 3 receptions for 98 yards). It is probably best to say that while Shinskie got the job done, he did not make it look pretty, and against better opponents, a similar performance will most likely not produce a win. The Eagles will also not have to about junior running back Montel Harris, who averaged 6.1 yards per carry, accumulating 115 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Sterlin Phifer also played well, running for 48 yards on 7 carries.
Defensively the Eagles also struggled. While Spaziani has always instilled a “bend but don’t break” defense, the Eagles D bent more than it should have. Weber State quarterback Cameron Higgins deserves credit for his performance, but the Eagles made it easier for him than it should have been. Consistently, the Eagles were finding it hard to put pressure on the quarterback, and if not for the questionable hands of senior receiver Mike Phillips, the unspectacular play of the cornerbacks would have been more visible. On a positive note, it was great to see senior Mark Herzlich return, and even though he may not look up to his 2008 form yet, he will undoubtedly have a large impact on the team’s performance this year. Sophomore phenom Luke Kuechly and freshman Kevin Pierre-Louis also played well, solidifying my belief that this season’s linebacker corps’ may be the best in recent memory.
I return to the initial question though – should fans be worried about some of the questionable play? The answer, from my perspective, has to be no. As I mentioned, the Eagles may not have even flipped to the second page of the playbook, and even though Weber State was able to gain yards, Boston College rotated personnel heavily, trying out different packages and combinations. The first games for most teams are “cupcake” games, despite this, though; the play is generally not as crisp as it should be (see 4th ranked Florida only defeating Miami-OH 34-12). Until the Eagles play Virginia Tech two weeks from now, there will be no telling what this team is, or isn’t capable of. As I have expressed many times already, Shinskie’s leash is continuing to get shorter, and if he does play poorly against Kent State this week, then Spaziani has no option but to seriously consider starting sophomore Mike Marscovetra for the rest of the season. But none of that will be decided now, and most likely not after the game against Kent State, another opponent the Eagles should beat without too much drama. So, for those who were a bit distressed (like the loud fan behind me at the game), take a deep breath, because the biggest message to take away from Saturday is simple: football is back. Finally.
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.