BC report: When will BC again become OLine U?

The question has been asked before and will be asked again–many times, including at media day on Friday.

When will Boston College, a school that had developed a reputation for turning out NFL linemen the way Penn State used to turn out QBs and USC turned out TBS, become OLine U?

More specifically and more importantly for everyone at BC involved with the football program, when will the Eagles re-establish themselves as an offensive team that can control the line of scrimmage and in many cases the outcome of the game?

That ability was a key factor in BC’s run of bowl teams that came to a crashing end with last year’s 4-8 tumble, snapping a post-season streak that began in 1999.

Maybe this year.

The Eagles will put on their pads for the first time on Friday afternoon, but a quick helmet only glance at the OLine during workouts revealed a difference. They are bigger, they are quicker and they may very well be better.

The O Line that the Miami defense will see in the season opener on Sept 1 averages 306 pounds per man.

The O Line that the Miami defense will see in the season opener on Sept. 1 is an average of 6-foot-5 inches.

The O line that Miami defense will see in the season opener on Sept. 1 has a combined total of 44 games last season.

It is a veteran group. It is a confident group, being taught by a new offensive line coach Jim Bolllman, who brings 36 years of coaching experience and a national championship ring (from Ohio State) with him.

The leader of this pack is 6-foot-7 inch, 313-pound senior Emmett Cleary. Cleary is a blue-collar kid from the Chicago area, who carries that mentality with him to work. And yes, it is more like a job for Cleary since he already has his degree (a B.S. in biology) from BC and will be taking postgraduate courses at night, but majoring in football during the day.

Cleary has moved from right tackle to left tackle–the traditional offensive line anchor spot–this season.

He looks at the past and sees the future, which he says is bright. “There is as much young talent in this program as there has ever been,” said Cleary. “Last year was a symptom of not having enough veterans. The character of this team, of our locker is blue collar, a bunch of hard working tough guys. That’s what attracted me to BC.”

It hasn’t been the smoothest of rides. Cleary says he has been through 5 offensive coordinators in five years and four different types of offenses. “But football is still football,” he said. “”It was tough a year ago because we lost so many games. It was heart breaking because we felt that any one play could have changed the outcome of about four or five games. It was frustrating.”

The offense has been a work in progress or retreat since Matt Ryan left the Heights in 2007.  A quick study of the ground production over that period shows the trend, peaking at 166 yards per game (18 rushing TDs) in 2008 and dropping to a mere 130 yards a game and only 12 rushing TDs last season.

The offensive line was a mishmash combination because of injuries and other ailments that caused BC coach Frank Spazini to mix and match each week. There were times when Spaziani had his starters set on Tuesday and had to change it the next day because an O lineman came onto the practice field with a red cross jersey instead of shoulder pads–and this happened without a practice in between.

There are no guarantees that this year will be better until the Eagles prove they are better–on the field and along the offensive line–with production, which means yards gained, TDs and wins.

Cleary, like his teammates has heard the chatter of Spaziani being on the hot seat.  “A media invention,” he says. “If we win 9 games, he will be Coach of the Year and all that crap will go way. Coach Spaz is our coach and he is the right guy for the job.”

If BC wins 9 games, Spaziani will be coach of the year.

And BC will once again be OLine U.

© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.

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