|FRANK SPAZIANI Back in game mode|
A refresher for Eagles
The Boston College football team is putting its game face back on after a week to ponder a season that has gotten off to a staggering 1-5 start. With a meeting in Blacksburg, Va., Saturday against defending Atlantic Coast Champion Virginia Tech, it will be an immediate life-in-the-fast-lane experience for coach Frank Spaziani’s team.
“We had a week off and we feel somewhat rejuvenated,’’ said Spaziani, who used the time to get back to basics with a team that is still very young and inexperienced (freshmen or sophomores listed in 28 of the first 44 places on the depth chart). “We needed time to get some guys rested. The first part of practices [in the off week] were strictly fundamentals. Now we’re in a game mode.’’
Virginia Tech (6-1, 1-1) is in its typical game mode, with only a 23-3 home loss against the ACC hot team du jour, Clemson, blemishing its record.
While Spaziani didn’t sell the second half of the season to his team as if it were restarting the season at 0-0, he did make the point that the Eagles could build momentum much the way last year’s team did, finishing with five straight victories after a 2-5 start.
Yesterday, the Eagles were buying that sales pitch, to a degree.
“I feel almost brand new,’’ said defensive end Max Holloway. “Our coaches want to get it in our heads that this is a new half, a new beginning. We want to come out and forget what has happened in the past and just try hard to get the W’s the way we are supposed to, the way we are used to doing.’’
Holloway, who has been one of the constants on a defensive line plagued by injuries, said last year is a motivational tool.
“That’s in the back of my mind,’’ he said. “We can do it. We’re all still thinking bowl games. It’s not like we’re going to pack it in. That’s the last thing we do at BC.’’
Wide receiver Bobby Swigert, who has become quarterback Chase Rettig’s favorite target, said the break helped physically and mentally.
“I don’t think anybody’s legs have felt like this since around camp time,’’ said Swigert, who leads the Eagles with 30 receptions. “You get your legs back under you. It’s great to rejuvenate for the second half of the season.
“We’re looking at this as a new season. We win this game, we’re 2-5 and it’s like last year and we can turn it around. We’re looking at it like it’s a brand new season and hope we can get after it and get on a roll, which would be great.’’
The burden will be on the defense, which will try to prevent Virginia Tech from taking control early - especially if the BC offense sputters again.
“I think for a lot of guys it was a week where we could recover physically as well as mentally,’’ said middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. “It’s the second half of the season, so we have an opportunity to improve just like last year when we were 2-5. We just need to get some wins. We realize the only option is to win.’’
Spaziani said the Eagles are healthier than they have been for some time on the offensive line. “Everybody has been practicing the past few weeks, and you can see the difference,’’ said Spaziani . . . The coach also conceded that yesterday’s practice conditions - in a driving rain - were “a hindrance.’’
Mark Blaudschun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.