At one point, the string of injuries Boston College saw throughout the preseason started to seem cruel. Al Louis-Jean broke his foot just days after Chris Pantale broke his foot. Tahj Kimble bruised his leg days after Rolandan Finch sprained his left foot.
On the sideline, coach Frank Spaziani was taking precautions just to make sure he didn’t lose any more bodies. On the field, players were trying to make sense of so many players falling.
“You shake your head in disbelief,” said defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey, who spent the offseason strengthening after missing last season with his own foot injury. “It’s just unusual.”
The Eagles will go into their season opener against Miami Saturday with a midseason injury report. Louis-Jean, tight ends Pantale and Mike Naples (back), receiver Bobby Swigert (knee), guard Harris Williams (foot), and defensive back CJ Jones (knee) are all out for the opener.
Spaziani has been encouraged by the way players stepped into new roles during the preseason.
“It’s definitely been strange,” said linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis. “We’re still grinding through. We’re still pushing through. We realize it happened, and guys are just going to have to step up.”
Defensive back Dominique Williams and Finch were both listed as probable, though Spaziani said Finch’s availability will likely be limited.
“I think he’s physically going to be all right, he’s just a little rusty,” Spaziani said.
“Even if he’s perfect today, I can’t see him carrying the ball 30, 40 times like that. I don’t see him jumping up into that. I think more he’s going to be there as a little safety net for us and we’ll use him as we see fit.”
More often than not, the lists of coaches on the hot seat going into the season include Spaziani, who is 19-19 in his three-year tenure as head coach (not counting a 2006 win as interim head coach) and is coming of a 4-8 season, the program’s worst season in 13 years.
“It could be debilitating I think if you pay attention too much to it and dwell on it,” Spaziani said. “You’re a human being, you don’t like to hear that right? But the perception is reality of what’s happening and the only way to change perception is how? Change the facts. And the only facts that we have here to change is ‘W’ and ‘L’. Change the ‘Ws’ and ‘Ls’ and life will go on.”
Players who have heard the rumblings brushed them off, saying that if they win, Spaziani’s seat will instantly cool.
“If we win nine games, he’ll be coach of the year and this will all be forgotten,” said captain Emmett Cleary.
At halftime, BC will retire the jersey of former running back and Brockton native Lou Montgomery, the first black player in program history. Montgomery, who was a major contributor to the Eagles teams that went to the 1940 Cotton Bowl and the 1941 Sugar Bowl, wasn’t allowed by the team to play in either of the games because of his race. He died in 1993, but was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 1997. He will have family on hand to celebrate the posthumous honor. Spaziani said he may tell Montgomery’s story to the team as they prepare for the opener . . . The team will also honor former linebacker Frank Chamberlain, who was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer. The most lasting memory of Chamberlain’s time at The Heights was his game-saving tackle in a 24-23 win over Syracuse in 1999. “We were just looking at the highlight,” Spaziani said. “There were a lot of people jumping up and down that day.”