College Football Preview: Duke vs. Boston College
Published 12:00 am Friday, September 16, 2011
BOSTON ó The non-conference schedule has been rough for Boston College and Duke. When they meet in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener on Saturday, each will be looking to improve on an 0-2 start.
“We’re all hungry searching for that first win, and we know they will be also,” Duke running back Jay Hollingsworth said. “It’s just going in who wants it more. I believe we do.
“It’s also not just a want-to. You have to work for it. They’re not just going to hand it to us. So we’re going in hungry, starving for our first win.”
Duke lost at home to both Richmond, 23-21, of the Football Championship Subdivision and No. 6 Stanford, 44-14. BC fell at home to Northwestern, 24-17, and then on the road, 30-3 to Central Florida, and now has to recover to make it to a bowl game for the 13th consecutive year.
“You start out 0-3, it’s tough,” Eagles linebacker Luke Kuechly said. “It’s important for us to get out and prove to ourselves that we are capable of winning a game. I’m fully confident we are capable. We just have to put things together. I think in the first two games we saw glimpses of who we can be and who we want to be.”
BC is 0-2 for the first time since 1994 and hasn’t been 0-3 since 1991, the first of former coach Tom Coughlin’s three seasons in Chestnut Hill. But the Eagles have an opportunity on Saturday, when they put their 101st-ranked offense (out of 120 schools) up against Duke’s 81st-ranked defense in the country.
On the other hand, Duke is 84th in total offense, and BC is 95th in total defense.
The Eagles rallied for five consecutive wins at the end of the 2010 season to get to the Fight Hunger Bowl, which they lost to Nevada, 20-13. One of those wins was a 21-16 decision over the Blue Devils at Duke.
With BC again expected to be missing running back Montel Harris (knee surgery), the play of the two starting quarterbacks could determine what happens in this game. Neither Sean Renfree, Duke’s all-time leading percentage thrower, nor BC’s Chase Rettig has thrown a touchdown pass this season.
Renfree hasn’t been intercepted, while Rettig has been picked off three times.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe thinks Renfree, who was 42 of 60 for 380 yards in the first two games, is not playing as freely as he did last year, when he threw 14 touchdown passes. He thinks the redshirt junior is thinking too much and trying not to “let his teammates down” with mistakes. That fear could come from the 17 interceptions he threw last season.
The BC defense has struggled in two weeks against mobile quarterbacks. This week, they face one known for his arm.
Rettig has opened his first full season as a college starter 34 of 67 for 421 yards. But 375 of those yards came in the opener, a game BC almost rallied to win. Under pressure behind an injury-plagued offensive line, though, he struggled last week.
Then, during the week, offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers took a medical leave of absence after only two games.
The Eagles come into this game with a depth chart that has seven names on it that weren’t there last week, with starting center Mark Spinney (leg) joining the growing list of injuries. Twenty-nine of the 44 players on the two-deep chart are underclassman and there’s only one senior among the starting 22.