One game down, 11 to go. Boston College defeated Weber State today in what appeared to be more of a glorified scrimmage than an actual athletic contest.
Despite Weber being ranked 24th in the Championship Sub-division preseason poll, the size mismatch on the line made the BC victory all but a certainty.
So what do we take away from today's game? Which players stepped up and impressed on opening day? What holes need to be plugged? Read on for all that and more...
The first thing I noticed in today's game was the play of quarterback Dave Shinskie. Shinskie's line read 10-of-20 for 187 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
On the surface, that's a very reasonable start, but Shinskie did not look like a quarterback capable of leading an ACC contender.
The game began with quite an inauspicious start. On the first play, Shinskie gathered his teammates for a huddle on the sideline before running out onto the field.
While the play clock was dwindling down, Shinskie barked out audibles as the clock ticked down to zero. Five yard loss, repeat first down.
The next play? Even worse. Shinskie mistakenly lined up behind the right guard before realizing his mistake and taking his place behind the center.
Shinskie took the snap, and immediately threw an interception to a linebacker standing four yards in front of him.
Shinskie found himself with plenty of time in the pocket, yet failed to top the 200-yard mark against a weak opponent.
Often times, the 26-year old would buy time by rolling out of the pocket, wait for a lineman to apply pressure, and force the ball into a covered receiver.
While he may have gotten away with that today, better competition would eat him alive.
The success of this Eagles team hinges on whether or not Shinskie can overcome his poor decision-making ability.
Do I think he can do it? Well, much like this senior citizen's underwear...depends.
It would be unfair to place the blame for this anemic aerial assault solely on Shinskie, as he does not have the best receivers to work with.
Many of his receivers failed to create separation with their defenders despite a terrific size advantage. Most disappointing was Ifeanyi Momah.
Momah did haul in an 18-yard touchdown, although it was his only catch of the day. Despite his 6'6 size, Momah failed to use his body to create space between himself and the defender.
Moreover, Momah's burst off the line left a lot to be desired.
But his worst play of the game? During the first half, the Weber State corners were playing bump and run at the line of scrimmage. BC called for a run play to Montel Harris.
Harris burst up the middle before cutting outside towards the left sideline. Momah was closely engaged with his defender, yet barely managed to get a hand on the cornerback.
It was an easy opportunity to seal the outside, and Harris would have likely carried the ball 70 yards for a touchdown. Instead? A nice 20-yard run and a first down.
The Eagles called the perfect play for the perfect situation, and Momah's lack of either effort or football IQ cost his team 50 yards. Highly disappointing.
The breakout receiving star of the game was redshirt freshman Johnathan Coleman.
The Bronx-born receiver caught three balls for 98 yards including a beautiful 43-yard catch-and-run effort. Coleman showed a nice initial burst with a few decent moves thrown in.
At 6'4, Coleman has ideal size for the position and may end up being an integral player in the passing game.
Worth noting was the absence of freshman receiver Shakim Phillips. The 6'2 receiver from New Jersey did not play due to a pulled hamstring.
If Phillips misses a few more games, the probability that he earns a redshirt skyrockets.
Montel Harris was Saturday's most valuable player, rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, while adding three receptions for 31 yards.
While Harris sat for a majority of the fourth quarter, I have to say these results are somewhat mundane.
Boston College had such a vast size differential on the line, that a 200-yard day would not have been surprising.
It is difficult to knock a player who surpasses the century mark, but this was a chance for Harris to dominate: to show that his goal of 2,000 yards wasn't just a pipe dream. In that regard, MH2 failed.
On the plus side, redshirt freshman and former Landstown High School (VA) star Sterlin Phifer had a nice debut.
Phifer and quarterback Mike Marscovetra spelled starters Montel Harris and Dave Shinskie in the second quarter and led a 5-play, 63-yard touchdown drive, culminating in a 22 yard TD reception for Phifer.
Phifer finished with seven carries for 48 yards and showed he could be valuable as a change of pace back for Montel Harris.
At 5'10 and 213 pounds, it will be interesting to see if Phifer steals away goal-line opportunities in the future.
Weber State may have hung 20 points on the Eagles, but that number isn't fully representative of the team's defense today.
Weber State recorded a field goal on their first possession, but that was a result of Shinskie's interception inside the 20-yard line.
The Wildcats also tallied a touchdown in the fourth quarter after Boston College had removed their first-team defense.
Overall, this was another classic example of the Eagle's "bend but don't break" defense.
Weber State's Cameron Higgins had an impressive showing, completing 24-of-39 passes for 242 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but was allowed to throw the underneath route all day.
Most of the day, the Eagles struggled to apply pressure with their front four, yet continued to drop their linebackers back in coverage.
In fact, on the day Weber State's longest completion was only 26 yards.
If you can live with a defense that allows space in the flat, then you have to consider BC's effort a success.
Their defense may not always be pretty to watch, but they get the job done.
Now the story line that everybody was following was the return of Mark Herzlich.
The senior linebacker's return after beating Ewing's Sarcoma (and to a lesser extent, battling through a foot injury), may be the most inspiring story line during this 2010 college football season.
Fans were given towels reading, “Beat Cancer” with Herzlich's name and number imprinted.
Herzlich was greeted with the loudest applause during the pre-game player announcements, and was awarded the player of the game award.
As far as his actual performance? Herzlich was in and out of the game, still not at peak condition. After his prolonged absence from the game, Herzlich did look somewhat slow.
On one particular play, this was readily apparent. Herzlich looked to be playing man-to-man on the slot receiver when he fell into zone coverage.
Herz dropped his coverage off the receiver and stepped up to cover the back running the underneath route.
Despite Herzlich's intuition, he was late on the play and settled for a tackle rather than an interception.
Obviously this is to be expected, and I don't doubt that a player with Herzlich's dedication and motivation will rebound.
His work ethic seems unparalleled and I'm sure in a few games time, Herzlich will be on the field for every down.
Typically when a division 1-AA team passes for nearly 300 yards, you start perspiring. Despite Weber State's 286 passing yards, I am not sweating.
Quarterback Cameron Higgins made tough throws all game, and the yardage is based more on his own talents than any shortcomings with the BC secondary.
Other than a blown coverage on an incompletion (I believe it was safety Dominick LeGrande not reacting to a ball thrown over his head), the BC secondary didn't allow any big-play opportunities.
And that is the defensive philosophy; you can take an inch, but you have to earn a mile.
The defensive star of the game? That would be senior cornerback DeLeon Gause.
DLG had the game's big play when he intercepted a Higgins pass and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter.
I realize this game was really just a tune-up, but early indications are quite positive for the special teams crew.
DeLeon Gause and Chris Fox were in charge of both kick and punt returns, although neither showed anything spectacular today.
However, the kicking game was quite impressive. Ryan Quigley averaged 57 yards on two punts including a 71 yarder that pinned the Weber State offense inside the five yard line.
The debut of redshirt freshman Nate Freese also went harmoniously.
Freese was 5-for-5 on extra points and successfully kicked his first career field goal: a 33-yarder against the wind.
Overall there was not too much to take away from this game. We learned that Mark Herzlich was healthy enough to play, and in fact recorded a few tackles.
We learned that Dave Shinskie has not improved despite the words of coach Frank Spaziani.
We also saw the emergence of two new offensive weapons in Sterlin Phifer and Johnathan Coleman.
It was a less than impressive win given the competition, but at the end of the season, a win is a win.
And I'll take this one.