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On college football

BC isn't really that far off

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / October 14, 2011

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The record - 1-5 - suggests it is a bad team, or a team having a bad season. Boston College has spent its bye week regrouping, refocusing on the task at hand, which is finding a way to win a football game. It will get harder before it gets easier because the Eagles will have to travel to Virginia Tech next week when they resume their season.

“Well, we’ve done a lot of self-evaluation here as the season has been going on and certainly this off week, and we have a lot of guys making progress, we really do,’’ said coach Frank Spaziani. “We need to get ourselves consistently lined up with the same people, and our young guys will get better, and we’ll make some improvement.

“We’ve certainly got a long way to go to close that gap to get some W’s, but we’re making improvement. We’re getting better, and if we can get ourselves healthy and get the same guys out there practicing every week, they will get better that way, and once again, it’s not an excuse, it’s just that’s the fundamentals of football.’’

But it’s more than that. It’s a matter of luck, in some cases. Of the five losses, only last week’s 36-14 setback at Clemson seems to be off the charts in terms of an obtainable victory. The Eagles fell behind, 17-0, in the first quarter and were in constant catch-up mode.

But look at the other four losses:

Wake Forest 27, BC 19 After falling behind, 24-9, going into the fourth quarter, BC had changed the momentum. The Eagles closed the gap to 24-19 with six minutes remaining and had Wake in a third-and-15 situation on its 15. Quarterback Tanner Price connects on what looks like a “throw it and hope’’ pass to Chris Givens for 44 yards. The drive led to a field goal.

Who knows what would have happened if Wake had been forced to punt? One play.

Duke 20, BC 19 With 43 seconds left, a 23-yard field goal attempt by BC’s Nate Freese hits the left upright.

Nuff said. One play.

Central Florida 30, BC 3 A rout? Yes, but at the end of the third quarter, it was only 9-3. BC drives to the Central Florida 33 on the first possession of the second half and has third and 1. Two plays - a keeper by quarterback Chase Rettig and a dive by running back Andre Williams - produce zero yards.

If BC makes the first down and goes in for the score, it’s a 10-9 lead and a much different game. Even a field goal makes it 9-6. One play.

Northwestern 24, BC 17 In the final minute, BC reaches the Northwestern 19. A false start puts the Eagles back to the 24 and knocks off 10 seconds (which they could have used). On the next play, Rettig is forced out of the pocket and tackled as the game ends.

Avoid the penalty, get the extra seconds, who knows?

One play.

This is not to suggest that were it not for those plays, the Eagles would be 5-1. But it does not stretch the limits of reality to think they could have won any of those games.

Yes, the Eagles are banged up (no Montel Harris, no Kaleb Ramsey for the remainder of the season). Yes, they are inexperienced. Yes, they will continue to make mistakes as they mature.

And yes, the offense (especially on a 1-5 team) needs to open things up and take some chances. Last week’s opening sequence - three straight dives into the line after starting with good field position (BC 34) - was puzzling, to say the least.

Realistically, BC probably will be a 3-9 team. But until the L’s are in the books, the memory of last year’s 5-0 finish (after a 2-5 start) still lingers, as it should.

Right now, BC is not a great team, or even a good team. But it isn’t bad, either.

The Eagles are just playing that way in the wrong situations at the wrong times.

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

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