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BC must eliminate the lapses

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / September 5, 2011

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Throughout training camp, whenever Boston College football coach Frank Spaziani was asked about his team, he would talk of progress, but he would couch that by saying, “We’re very thin and very fragile.’’

Spaziani’s point was clear. The Eagles had talent among the starters, but there was almost no margin for error behind them.

Saturday, the Eagles were given a reality check that proved Spaziani’s point.

With fill-ins along the defensive line and in the secondary, Northwestern’s offense took apart the Eagles’ defense in a frustrating 24-17 BC home loss. The Eagles allowed 424 total yards of offense, including a staggering 227 yards rushing, a dreadful number for a team that led the country in rushing defense a year ago.

The even worse news for the Eagles is that Central Florida, which they face in Orlando Saturday night, piled up 560 yards in total offense in a 62-0 romp over Charleston Southern, including 316 yards rushing.

Charleston Southern was no more than a controlled scrimmage for Central Florida, but unless Spaziani can fix the holes in the BC defense, particularly along the line, the prospects of success are not good.

Yesterday, after digesting what he saw on tape several times, Spaziani explained how the Eagles would try to make things better.

“It was a winnable game,’’ he said. “We were sloppy and made too many mental errors, but that can be corrected.’’

Spaziani said some of the mental breakdowns could be attributed to youth or inexperience. Three members of the starting defensive backfield - Jim Noel, Hampton Hughes, and Al Louis-Jean - were either in new positions or making their first career starts. The line also had a mixture of youth and inexperience that led to breakdowns.

Those breakdowns were part of the reason linebackers Luke Kuechly (18 tackles) and Kevin Pierre-Louis (16) had such busy afternoons. “That means a lot of people are getting through the line,’’ said Spaziani.

Offensively, there were also mental lapses.

“A couple of routes run wrong, somebody missed a block,’’ said Spaziani. “It’s one thing to get beat physically. But we had some mental errors. The good thing is that it can be corrected.’’

The worry lines on Spaziani’s face no doubt will increase this week - or until he sees a change in the defensive posture the Eagles take.

“The things that happened for the most part should be corrected this week,’’ he said.

There were no major injuries from the game . . . Players had a light workout and looked at film yesterday, will have today off, and resume practice tomorrow, which is also the first day of school. Spaziani already has conceded that that will be a factor in his players’ concentration.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com.