Quarterback Still in Doubt But Eagle Offense Ready to Soar

September 02, 2009 - 4:27 pm

CHESTNUT HILL '€“ One of the best lines from the 1995 movie Four Rooms comes in the fourth of the four rooms when Quentin Tarantino's character says "those who make declarative statements are more likely to look foolish in retrospect."

Not that Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani fears to look foolish, it is just that when it comes to his quarterback situation, he deigns to make any declarative statements.

With Saturday's season opener against Northeastern looming, Spaziani has yet to name his starter and there is a good probability that we will not know until the first snap is taken.

In the conversation are three very different types freshman: 25 year old former minor league baseball player David Shinskie, redshirt freshman Justin Tuggle and true freshman Mike Marscovetra. Shinskie has complicated the discussion from last week (when it looked like a Tuggle versus Codi Boek battle) by coming back from a cracked rib to practice this week. He has been taking reps in practice along with Tuggle.

"We're still deciphering it. Hopefully Uncle Dave (Shinskie) will be out here practicing again and he can get a good practice in and it will be Tuggle and Uncle Dave and Marscovetra third," Spaziani said. "Now, who's going to start the game? One of those three guys is."

The guess is that Tuggle and Shinskie will both play significant amounts against Northeastern as the coaching staff looks to separate the two on the depth chart.

"We've scrimmaged and now we put guys in the game. We hoped that they would have separated themselves but that hasn't happened. So now the next place to separate themselves is on the field," Spaziani said.

Shinskie told reporters today that his side is "still a little tender" but that he is ready to go. When asked if was pushing himself for the opener he offered and enthusiastic yes.

"Oh my god. I had to do it, I don'€™t care what kind of pain I was in. If I had to take six ibproufen instead of four, I was going to do it. Even my highschool coach called me up and told me '€˜get out there.'€™ So, it was very important, you know, just to be able to stand on the sidelines, you know," Shinskie said. "Just to be out there is something that I really want to do."

 Outside the quandary at quarterback, there is a buzz around the Citadel on Chestnut Hill. The offense, now with a solidified depth chart at every other position, is excited to get the ball rolling. Spaziani seamed pleased with the progress they have made during the last week.

"They're making progress every day. Offense is doing really well. They've got to be ready to go and they will be ready to go. Now, are they going to be as good as they're going to be? No," Spaziani said. "They've got a ways to go but obviously we get a quarterback that we're solidified in that position, that'll help."

 With the dynamic sophomore duo of Montel Harris and Josh Haden at running back and captain wide receiver Rich Gunnell poised for a big senior season, there is reason for excitement. But the real reason for the buzz is the fact that the Eagles are returning four of their five juggernauts on the offensive line and the fifth (red-shirt freshman Emmett Cleary) is a titan at 6-foot 7-inches and 297 pounds. Boston College has a history of good offensive linemen and the beasts in the trenches are throwing around the "O-Line U" tag line to help describe this years bunch.

"What people are kind of expecting, kind of saying -- O-Line U. A lot of people are starting to say this is turning back into O-Line U. With the four returning starters that we do have, just with the size up front, being able to move people around up front, goes back to the old offenses, just the old offensive scheme, being able to move the ball around the field," Junior right guard Thomas Claiborne said.

Claiborne, like some of his offensive teammates, exuded confidence, flashing sneaky smiles at the thought of pummeling opposing defenses. Tuggle, for one, shares this sentiment.

"The guys in front of you are veterans, they'€™ve been around and they help you out as much as they can. And they'€™re the solid O-Line U. Everyone knows about them all around the country, it'€™s good to know that you got five guys in front of you who are ready to protect you each and every play," Tuggle said.

Joining Claiborne and left guard Cleary are two All-ACC Preseason Team members are junior left tackle Anthony Costonzo and senior center Matt Tennant. Hulking junior Rich Lapham, all 322 pounds of him, mans the right tackle position. There is a lot of size and experience to like.

"So, it helps," Spaziani said. "The more experience you have the better off you are because you can't coach experience."

Harris's eyes lit up when talking about the big boys in front of him. 

'€œReal confident. A lot of offensive line coming back from last year, we are able to relax more and be comfortable on the field, so, it should be fun this year,'€ Harris said. '€œThomas Claiborne. Every play before he tells me to follow behind him cause he'€™s going to throw me a block.'€

So, with the bedrock offensive line and talent at running back, it is understandable that Spaziani does not seem too worried about who will start at quarterback against Northeastern, a team not normally known for its football prowess (2-10, 1-7 in CAA play last year).

"The reason it's vague (the quarterback position) is because we don't have one. We don't have one yet so it doesn't make a difference in my mind. I know everybody wants it, who is it, make a decision. It it was going to make a big difference we would make a decision but it's not going to make a difference," Spaziani said.

With two games against lesser out of conference opponents at home to start the season (Northeastern then Kent State on September 12th) Spaziani has time to sort things out under center, whichever flavor of freshman he decides to go with.