A shared experience for BC, Maryland
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Boston College football coach Frank Spaziani had done all of the X’s and O’s magic he could each week, and five out of six times the Eagles had come up short.
Last week, with BC a 21-point underdog at Virginia Tech, Spaziani tried something different. He knew his team was struggling with many issues, and needed a power boost coming out of the locker room.
“It was quite a speech, one of his best ever,’’ said one veteran BC player. “It got us all fired up.’’
And it worked, to a point. BC scored a touchdown on its opening possession for only the second time this season, and forced Virginia Tech to go three and out on its first two possessions.
At the half, BC led, 7-6. Maybe this would be the turning point of a dreadful season. It wasn’t. Virginia Tech responded in the second half, and BC made the crucial mistakes that have plagued it all season as the Hokies posted a 30-14 victory.
Spaziani’s Eagles will take on Maryland this afternoon at Byrd Stadium. The Eagles are again underdogs - although only by 7 1/2 points this time - against a similarly young and banged-up Terrapins squad. Like BC (1-6, 0-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), Maryland (2-5, 1-3) is close to being officially out of bowl contention.
For first-year Maryland coach Randy Edsall, it is a case of deja vu at a different school in a different league.
“In a lot of ways, this is like my first year at UConn,’’ said Edsall, who took the Huskies from a fledgling Bowl Subdivision team to the Fiesta Bowl last season. “We have to put in a system and make it work.’’
Spaziani is in his third year at BC, and like the Terrapins, the Eagles are inexperienced almost everywhere.
“We have overcome this stuff in the past,’’ said Spaziani. “We just don’t have the [veteran] guys stacked up. Now the guys next in line are all raw recruits, as opposed to guys who have been around and play faster and understand what you are trying to do.
“When we had the problem with injuries last year, we had guys like [senior defensive back] Chris Fox and [senior receiver] Ryan Lindsey. We didn’t have to go into the freshman bag. We had some guys who had been around for five years and had something to fall back on and had some ability.’’
Spaziani could point to injuries that have decimated the defensive line and disrupted the offensive line.
“I’m reluctant to talk about it because it sounds like you are making excuses,’’ he said. “You have to do what you have to do and move on. That’s the only way to approach it.’’
The Eagles have shown flashes throughout the season, but not done it for a complete game.
Those thoughts are echoed by Edsall, whose team opened the season with a win over Miami, but has not beaten an FBS team since. BC’s only win is against UMass, a Championship Subdivision team.
“We are a young team,’’ said Edsall. “We have not been as consistent as we need to be for 60 minutes.’’
Maryland might employ two quarterbacks - C.J. Brown and Danny O’Brien, last year’s ACC offensive rookie of the year - while BC will again rely on the developing running skills of sophomore Rolandan Finch.
The losses have increased the frustration level in the BC locker room, as well as in the coaches’ room. Spaziani knows the only real remedy is a win.
Whether the Eagles can pull it off remains an iffy proposition.
Mark Blaudschun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.