Matt Ryan and Chase Rettig had dinner on the Boston College campus last winter.
No big deal there right? Just two QBs–BC past and BC present–talking not only football, but also life as college students, something that Ryan, who now collects a nice take home paycheck as the starting QB for the Atlanta Falcons, has not been since 2007.
“One of the things that Matt told me,” said Rettig on Thursday as he closed in on the start of another summer training camp with the Eagles, ‘”was to have some fun.”
When you are the QB of a team that finished 4-8 last season, fun is a relative term.
When your two-year statistical total as the Eagles’ starting QB includes 16 TD passes and 19 interceptions, fun is sometimes hard to find on a Saturday afternoon or evening.
Make no mistake, Rettig wants to have fun. But he also wants to win, which he figures will be more than fun.
I’m rooting for Chase Rettig to have fun this season. So is BC coach Frank Spaziani, whose head-coaching career at The Heights could very well depend on just how much fun Rettig and the Eagles have, beginning with their season-opener against Miami on Sept. 1 at Alumni Stadium.
Rettig has his critics, who suggest–many do more than that–that he never will be the quarterback that Spaziani had hoped he would be when he came across the country from Southern California two and a half years ago.
But he’s not the same kid who was thrust into the starting role on national television against Notre Dame two Septembers ago and asked to grow up with on the job training.
Rettig has done that–slowly and sometimes painfully. He has had also had to endure changes in the offense created by five different offensive coordinators since he arrived.
“”My freshman year, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Rettig, who has matured into a fairly confident QB. “We had some rough times at the start, but we pulled it together and went to a bowl game. There were a lot of close games that we won.”
Good quarterbacks are supposed to help their teams win close games. Last year that didn’t happen very often, if at all.
“”Last year we lost a lot more close games than we won,” said Rettig. “But this year I expect that to be different. This year we are more mature. I think we have the right guys in place.”
Such chatter is what you would expect from any QB, any leader, and make no mistake this is now Rettig’s team to lead and to QB.
“You never make excuses,” said Rettig, in looking back at last season in which the Eagles’ lost by 7 to Northwestern, by a point to Duke and by eight points to Wake Forest, all in September which basically sent them off on a journey which led to BC’s worst record in 16 seasons. “We had injuries and at times we came out flat.
“This offense (run by new offensive coordinator Doug Martin) I don’t see how that can happen. It doesn’t allow it to happen since we come out full speed all the time.”
Faster, simpler, better is what Martin wants the Eagles to be when they play. So does Rettig, who was taking courses all summer in order to keep up a schedule that will allow him to graduate in December of 2013.
Rettig felt some pressure in the spring from QB Josh Bordner, but appears to have fought off the challenge. He wants to kick it up another notch this season. “I have talent, ”he says, not making it sound like he is bragging. “But you have to make that talent work. You have to work at it.”
It is the reason he has spent all but four days this summer at BC, taking classes, working out and getting prepared for the season. “The life of the student-athlete,” he said laughing. “I know I have two more years to do what I know I can do.”
What Rettig can do and what he needs to do is have a great, not a good year. He needs to come out and be the Chase Rettig who can scramble out of danger and make a game-changing play.
He has done that in the past, but they have been only moments, not momentum changers.
I like Chase Rettig, always have, especially after his freshman season when he emerged from a personality that had him looking down at his feet instead of in your eyes when he talked to you.
He is a good kid, and a decent quarterback. He wants to be more than that. Maybe he can be.
And maybe then, the words of Matt Ryan and boys and QB’s just having fun, will take on real meaning.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.