Eagles are adjusting attitude on the fly
Call it opening day.
Call it a fresh start.
Call it a must-win situation for the Boston College football team.
Frank Spaziani’s Eagles bring an 0-2 record to today’s meeting with Duke at Alumni Stadium. The losses to Northwestern and Central Florida hurt and will continue to hurt, especially if the Eagles get to the end of the regular season and need a sixth win to keep their bowl streak alive.
But the Eagles are carrying an attitude that their season begins today.
Beat Duke (0-2) before FCS opponent Massachusetts visits next weekend. Win that one, and a winnable home game against Wake Forest follows. And as fast as you can say 3-2, the season can turn positive.
“It’s a must-win game for us,’’ said center Andy Gallik, who is filling in for injured starter Mark Spinney (leg). “We have to get that first win. It’s not the way we wanted to start, but if we can win the ACC, it can make up for the two losses.’’
The Eagles are a long way from that goal, and defeating Duke is no guarantee.
With an offense led by quarterback Sean Renfree, a running game led by Juwan Thompson (5.4 yards per carry) and Desmond Scott (7.3 yards per carry), and the innovative offensive skills of coach David Cutcliffe, the Blue Devils must be regarded with caution.
In many ways, Cutcliffe sounds like Spaziani in pointing out the mistakes that have hurt his team this season.
“I think the thing we need to do is point out solutions,’’ said Cutcliffe. “So we’re not just sitting still, hoping we play better. I don’t want to be that kind of coach. We have a lot of things written down that we think are solutions. We should be a much better football team when we kick off in Chestnut Hill.’’
The Eagles have heard criticism as well.
“People see us now and they think we’re not a good team,’’ said cornerback Jim Noel, who is starting in place of C.J. Jones. “But I think we’ll prove a lot of people wrong.’’
It has been anything but a quiet week at The Heights, following the mantra that Spaziani has used throughout the season, “Expect the unexpected.’’ The offense will have to adjust without coordinator Kevin Rogers, who is on a health-related leave of absence. Tight ends coach Dave Brock is the interim OC.
Playing at home should give BC an edge. But the Blue Devils have veteran leadership on both sides of the ball. It might not be all that easy for the Eagles if there are any residual effects from last week’s 30-3 loss to Central Florida.
“I’ve noticed an increased sense of urgency in this team as they have gotten better,’’ said Spaziani. “Attitude is altitude. As a coach you are always concerned about the mental health of your team. The things we need to improve on are getting consistency in certain areas, getting the right people out there. But the attitude is good. We have the right kind of kids.’’
Spaziani tries to look at the big picture each week while focusing on the game at hand. Losing Rogers contributed to the turbulence of an 0-2 start.
“The resiliency of this place is that we’ve gone through a lot over the years and still maintained a level of excellence,’’ said Spaziani.
“We’re working through the problems and laying the foundation. We’re going [upward]. There has been a lot of stuff that has happened. Is it better if it’s smoother and [with] less stuff? It runs in cycles. If it doesn’t kill you, you will be better off. I’d like everything to be running smooth, we’d be better off. But with what has happened, it’s more challenging.
“Winning helps. Nothing good comes from a loss. But things happen as you go through life and you have to deal with it. We have to prepare ourselves for it. We have to get ready for situations that you can’t predict.’’
Spaziani said that although there may be a sense of urgency, there is no panic.
“There’s a big difference,’’ he said. “You have to believe that if you do certain things, it will happen. We are preaching excellence. Success and excellence are two different things.’’
The Eagles are striving for both and desperately need a win today to get started in that direction.
Mark Blaudschun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.