Loss leaves Eagles in a sad state
Three-game skid first since 1998
RALEIGH, N.C. — Buckle your seat belts, Boston College fans. The trip into the abyss of college football — mediocrity — is not quite over.
The Eagles must hit the road again next week to play Florida State, which like the North Carolina State team BC faced yesterday at Carter-Finley Stadium has visions of competing for the Atlantic Division title in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
And like two weeks ago against Virginia Tech and last week against Notre Dame, the ride yesterday was neither comfortable nor smooth.
Facing former coach Tom O’Brien, who was looking for his first win over the program he had guided for 10 years, BC was beaten early and often by the Wolfpack in a 44-17 loss that left the Eagles struggling for good things to say.
The good news?
No serious injuries were reported.
The bad news?
Where do you want to start?
The loss dropped BC to 2-3, 0-2 in the ACC, the first time the Eagles have dipped below .500 overall through as many as five games since 1998, which was also the last time prior to yesterday that BC lost three straight.
The lack of productivity at quarterback, which led to the benching of starter Dave Shinskie before last week’s game against Notre Dame in favor of freshman Chase Rettig, was evident again yesterday as Shinskie, who regained the job after Rettig twisted his left ankle against the Fighting Irish, fizzled again.
“We came into the game with high hopes,’’ said Shinskie, who completed just 7 of 24 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown, but also threw two interceptions (one returned for a TD) and was sacked twice. “They were ready for everything we threw them. It seemed like they knew every play we were running.’’
The player of the game on a warm afternoon was N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson, who completed 38 of 51 passes for 328 yards and three scores.
“We knew they wanted to get the ball into the hands of their best player, and that’s Russell,’’ said BC linebacker Mark Herzlich, who played with a cast on his left hand after breaking some bones during practice last week.
Wilson also ran the ball (14 carries, 45 yards) and by the end of the first half the Eagles trailed, 27-10. The half consisted of a series of BC breakdowns on offense, defense, and even special teams, as State’s D.J. Green recovered a blocked Ryan Quigley punt in the end zone for an early 10-0 lead.
It got worse instead of better for the Eagles, culminating in the third quarter when C.J. Wilson picked off a Shinskie pass and returned it 28 yards for a TD that increased the lead to 34-10.
The Wolfpack (5-1, 2-1) did what they wanted, when they wanted, leaving the Eagles to search for positives to focus on before facing Florida State.
“There were a handful,’’ said BC coach Frank Spaziani, who hopes that Rettig’s ankle is well enough to allow him to return to practice this week. “We certainly had too many errors to overcome. We’re not in position to overcome an interception return for a TD and a blocked punt for a TD. We need to play better than that.’’
It might take the Eagles a few days to regroup. “These are troubled times, I’d be lying if I said otherwise,’’ said BC safety Wes Davis. “I’d be lying if I said the guys were not going to fight.
“During these times, all you can do is minimize your goals and maximize your potential. ‘’
Tackle Anthony Castonzo, part of a BC offensive line that has underachieved, acknowledged the frustration level is rising.
“Three in a row. I’ve never been part of that here. No one has,’’ he said. “We need to get things turned around. We didn’t execute as well as we can. We should have played better. It’s extremely important to realize that and to realize what our identity is. We need to get back to how we know we can play.’’
How the Eagles are playing right now is not very well. Not offensively, not defensively, not in any facet, which is why for the first time since O’Brien was in the second year of rebuilding the program, the Eagles are dealing with a three-game losing streak.
And unless they do some things better next week in Tallahassee, Fla., it will get worse before it gets better.