Notebook: Linebacker Writing Luke’s Gospel Of Defense

 

After recording 21 tackles against the Duke Blue Devils, the accolades are starting to pour in for Luke Kuechly. Following his impressive Week 11 performance, Kuechly was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week and was named a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award given to the Football Writers Association of America’s most outstanding defensive player.

“It’s phenomenal to watch him,” said senior linebacker Mike Morrissey. “He’s done a great job last year and this year. This year his game has more of an attacking sense. It’s not like he is some physically phenomenal specimen – he’s just a great athlete and a smart football player who is always around the ball. His motor never stops.”

Kuechly’s day against Duke was one for the record books, as he added two pass breakups, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery to go along with his career-high 21 tackles. The 21 tackles also tied him with two others for the most in an NCAA game this season. Kuechly had previously recorded 20 tackles against NC State on Oct. 9, which makes him the only player in NCAA FBS to record two separate 20-tackle games this season. He has now amassed 146 tackles on the season, which leads the country and ranks seventh for a single season in Boston College history.

Kuechly has been the anchor for a defense that appears to be hitting its stride at the perfect time. Since the fourth quarter of the Maryland game, the Eagles defense has only allowed a single touchdown, which occurred on a trick play in the Wake Forest game. The defensive unit has totaled six interceptions, four sacks, and has only allowed 161 rushing yards in the last three contests.

Herzlich back to form

After missing last year while battling Ewing’s sarcoma, Mark Herlizch knew it would take time for him to regain the form he was at during the 2008 season, when he won ACC Defensive Player of the Year, but he feels he might now finally be getting back to that level. The road back certainly wasn’t made any smoother by a broken foot in training camp, and a recent hand injury that forces him to wear a bulky cast while playing linebacker. The cast seems to hinder some of his more athletic talents that were displayed by game-changing interceptions during that 2008 season, but the hardest part for Herzlich might have been just getting used to running with the extra weight on one side.

“I feel like I’m getting faster and stronger out there,” Herzlich said. “[With the cast] you have to be even more squared up and in the right position. If you are a little off on your angle, you can’t really grab and help with it, so I have to be more focused with where I place myself on the field.”

Herzlich has averaged just over six tackles in his last four games, as his abilities seem to be catching up with his nose for the ball. The senior linebacker will be playing his final home game in front of a crowd that has embraced him since the moment he first applied the black face paint.

Rettig Settling In

It appears that the BC coaching staff is starting to remove the kid gloves when handling the play calling for freshman quarterback Chase Rettig. Against Duke, Rettig completed 12 passes on 24 attempts and had multiple opportunities to look down the field for developing targets Ifeanyi Momah and Bobby Swigert.

The increased passing attack has taken the burden off running back Montel Harris, who saw his carries decrease from 36 in the Wake Forest game to just 23 in the Duke contest. Rettig’s poise has allowed him to provide stability to an offense that was just recently in complete disarray, and his progression has the Eagles on the verge of heading to their 12th straight bowl game.