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On College Football

BC could be seeing better times

By Marl Blaudschun
September 26, 2011

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There are signs that things are getting better for the Boston College football team.

Go beyond the temporary euphoria created by Saturday’s 45-17 home win over the University of Massachusetts. Despite the Eagles’ 0-3 start, they were expected to beat the Minutemen, who are transitioning to the Bowl Subdivision level.

What is different this morning for coach Frank Spaziani’s team is that the Eagles did what the coaches wanted them to do against UMass.

There was no greater example than the first play of the game, on which free safety Hampton Hughes picked off a Kellen Pagel pass. No big deal, right? Perhaps. But Hughes, who was just awarded a scholarship in the spring, said he had seen the same play, the same situation, in practice Thursday.

BC is still 1-3 and hosts what traditionally has been a tough opponent in Wake Forest Saturday, and then is on the road against the current powers in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Clemson and Virginia Tech.

“The problems are still there,’’ said Spaziani. “We have to manage our way through them. The kids will keep working.’’

The key word there is “kids’’.

For a variety of reasons, BC has had to dip deep into its talent pool and use players Spaziani would have liked to have brought along more slowly.

But going 0-3 changed that. Injuries changed that. Which is why players such as defensive back Spenser Rositano (7 tackles) and linebacker Sean Duggan (7 tackles), are moving up rapidly on the depth chart. Both are true freshmen. Linebacker Steele Divitto (8 tackles) is only a sophomore.

Offensively, quarterback Chase Rettig is a sophomore, but is picking up experience quickly. Two of the three top running backs, Andre Williams (sophomore) and Tajh Kimble (redshirt freshman), are still taking baby steps in development under harsh conditions.

The other good news Saturday was that senior running back Montel Harris made an appearance. Although 27 yards on nine carries doesn’t sound like much, it was a start, which is important for Harris, who is coming off two surgical procedures on his left knee.

“I have to get myself back into game shape,’’ said Harris. “Seeing my team [in danger of falling] to 0-4 and seeing how we responded so well, it just meant a lot to me to be out with my teammates again.’’

The news was not good on offensive cocaptain Nate Richman, a senior offensive guard, who did not dress Saturday because of continuing back problems.

“It’s a major concern,’’ said Spaziani. “We can’t count on him and we have to move along like he’s not going to be around.’’

Just missed it The Big East can’t seem to do many things right these days. But when the officials miss a call on an extra-point attempt?

When Syracuse’s Ross Krautman kicked an extra point that put the host Orange ahead, 30-27, with 2:07 left in the fourth quarter, Toledo head man Tim Beckman was told by his coaches in the press box that the ball never went between the uprights. The play was reviewed, but went in the Orange’s favor.

When Toledo’s next possession resulted in a field goal on the last play of regulation, it didn’t send them to victory - instead, it led to a crushing 33-30 overtime loss.

Big East coordinator of officials Terry McAulay released a statement saying the replay officials made the wrong call.

“After studying the videos . . . we have concluded that the ruling on the field that the kick passed between the uprights was incorrect, and that the replay official made an error in failing to reverse that ruling,’’ the statement said. “We are confident that our officiating staff will learn from this situation in order to prevent a reoccurrence.’’

Tiger pause Louisiana State’s defense is still good, but Tigers coach Les Miles will have something to get after his team about after a 47-21 win at West Virginia Saturday night. The Tigers had allowed only 480 passing yards in their first three victories, but West Virginia’s Geno Smith passed for 463 . . . The Southeastern Conference once again looks much the best with Alabama, LSU, and Florida taking steps forward each week. Alabama took care of Arkansas Saturday, 38-14. Next up for the Tide is a trip to The Swamp to meet Florida, which rolled over Kentucky, 48-10. It was the 25th straight time Kentucky lost to the Gators.

Going in reverse Not the best weekend for the Atlantic Coast Conference, which was strutting only a week ago after Miami and Clemson won high-profile games against Ohio State and Auburn, respectively. North Carolina State was pounded by Cincinnati, 44-14, Thursday night, and Maryland was zapped, 38-7, by Temple, which was thrown out of the Big East a decade ago. Miami came up flat against Kansas State, losing, 28-24, when the Wildcats stopped Jacory Harris’s fourth-down run at the goal line with 49 seconds left . . . Florida State must be wondering what’s going on after Clemson gave the Seminoles their second straight loss, 35-30. Granted, losing to Oklahoma and Clemson is not all that unexpected, but the Seminoles’ climb into the Top 10 neighborhood is in wait-until-next-season mode . . . Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III turned some heads with a spectacular performance in the Bears’ 50-48 opening-game upset of Texas Christian. Baylor is still unbeaten (3-0) after overwhelming Rice, 56-31, and Griffin (5 TD passes) is still hot. He has thrown one more TD pass (13) than incompletions (12) this season . . . BC’s win made Oregon State (0-3) the only team from a Bowl Championship Series conference still looking for its first win of the season . . . Michigan is 4-0, Rich Rodriguez bashers. But beware, Michigan started 5-0 last season and finished with a 7-5 record.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com; material from the Associated Press was used in this report.