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B.C.’s Game of Musical Chairs

Shinskie's sophomore season has seen him struggle.

It was once a two-man competition. Then the coaching staff named a starter. Then it again became a two-man competition. Then a three-man competition. Then, once again, a starter was named, only to be sidelined with an ankle injury. After this long, painful game of musical chairs, we’re back to a three-man competition — though Frank Spaziani has named a starter for Saturday’s game against Florida State. Boston College’s quarterback situation is in shambles; unless the Eagles can solve this conundrum, we might see a rare sight in Chestnut Hill: a B.C. team that failed to live up to expectations, let alone exceed them.

Are you with me so far? Dave Shinskie, the 2009 starter, entered the fall battling sophomore Mike Marscovetra to retain his starting role. Neither set the world afire, to be honest, though it was believed that Shinskie would only improve upon his solid debut season. As a 25-year old freshman in 2009, Shinskie threw for 2,049 yards with 15 touchdowns — not great, but an intriguing first-year performance.

It was no surprise, therefore, that Shinskie came out on top: Marscovetra was the clear runner-up, and a logical pick to assume a starting job should Shinskie scuffle. That’s exactly what has occurred, unfortunately. Shinskie has been very disappointing, to say the least — inaccurate, above all else, but also squeamish in the pocket and susceptible to an intimidating pass rush, an overall letdown when taking into account his growing experience under center.

It’s not always the worst thing in the world to have your starting quarterback — the one who came out fall camp atop the depth chart — struggle in September: it’s not the best thing, of course, but it’s a survivable offense. Oftentimes, an early change under center can provide a boost to an anemic offensive attack — just not in B.C.’s case.

Marscovetra was just as inept as Shinskie, albeit in a smaller sample size. Marscovetra completed a higher percentage of his attempts — 58.6 to Shinskie’s 47.9 — but didn’t do much with the added completions; neither quarterback averaged more than 6.4 yards per attempt. Neither total ranks among the top 80 quarterbacks in the country; neither total is good enough, obviously.

Which brings us to Chase Rettig — the freshman. The true freshman, in fact, one who started in the Oct. 2  game at Notre Dame before a sprained ankle ended his afternoon in the second quarter. The Eagles think highly of Rettig, though it is worth noting that the freshman was headed for a redshirt campaign before B.C. encountered such struggles at the position.

Spaziani and the B.C. coaching staff have also announced that Rettig will return to the starting lineup — if his ankle is ready to go — on Saturday, when the Eagles head to Tallahassee to take on the Seminoles. It seems that Rettig will be ready to go; he was back on the playing field on Monday, even if slowed a bit by his injury.

The big worry is how the freshman will handle both the difficult road environment — not to mention the idea that his team might need Rettig to throw, bringing them back into a potentially one-sided game. This spells trouble for the Eagles, though it’s an issue that might be ameliorated by a consistent ground game: move the chains on the ground, control the clock, keep the explosive F.S.U. offense along the sidelines.

That would be nice, right? Don’t count on it happening — shockingly, B.C. is one of the least productive rushing teams in the country, ranking 111th nationally in averaging only 89.8 yards per game. It wasn’t so supposed to be this way, not with the return of junior Montel Harris; he rushed for almost 1,500 yards a year ago.

Who gets the blame? Is it the offensive line, which has performed well below expectations? The quarterback position? Both factors have played a sizable role in B.C.’s disappointing start. The hope is this: the Eagles get back to competency in the passing game, with Rettig giving the offense far more consistency than each of the two sophomores; the offensive line responds, developing a rhythm both on the ground and in pass protection; and the running game begins to assert itself.

Of course, that doesn’t address the lack of depth and experience at wide receiver. Nor the issues on defense. In fact, solving the quarterback quandary might just be the first of many steps B.C. must take to challenge F.S.U. for the Atlantic division crown. It’s still a start, an integral conundrum to address — and one B.C. cannot afford to ignore any longer. Let’s hope that Rettig is ready for the challenge.

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  1. FSU has already faced two talented freshmen quarterbacks this year (BYU & Wake) and demolished them, allowing just 312 yards on 101 plays (3.1 per play!). FSU knocked out one of those QBs. In a typical 70-play game, that’s only 216 yards of offense allowed.

  2. 31southst says:

    While BC’s quarterbacks have been terrible (Rettig aside), OC Gary Tranquil is just as guilty. It’s clear the game has passed him by (if he ever was any good).

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