101 Days of BC Football: Offensive Line Unit Preview


Boston College football is a team with a reputation, at least when it comes to the offensive line. For years and years, BC has been called “O-Line U” for its ability to produce capable NFL draft picks from its front five. Last year, this group hit a bump in the road, but can they rebound in 2012?

Boston College Offensive Line, 2012

Jim Bollman

Current depth chart
Left tackle
Emmett Cleary, senior [starter]
Dan Lembke, redshirt freshman

Left guard
Bobby Vardaro, sophomore [starter]
Aaron Kramer, sophomore

Ian White, senior [starter]
Andy Gallik, sophomore

Right guard
Harris Williams, sophomore [starter]
Liam Porter, redshirt freshman

Right tackle
John Wetzel, senior [starter]
Dave Bowen, redshirt freshman*

Seth Betancourt, sophomore, OT
Jim Cashman, freshman, OL
Paul Gaughan, redshirt freshman, C
Win Homer, freshman, OL
Eddie Meredith, redshirt freshman, OL
Victor Nelson, redshirt freshman, OL
Frank Taylor, freshman, OL

*Reportedly moving to tight end in the absence of Chris Pantale and Mike Naples

There is some young talent on the up and up, but one thing you’ll notice right away is that BC is not teeming with experience at all on this line. There are three seniors and every other young man is an underclassman. With the number of times the word “freshman” appears, you’d think it was BC basketball roster from last year if you didn’t look closely enough. The lack of experienced depth going to be part of the challenge faced by Jim Bollman and Doug Martin in turning this unit around.

At this school, we are used to the offensive line being a strength, but in 2011, it was a weakness. They didn’t win enough battles and were hit-or-miss blockers, and though many BC fans might think that the running game was a strength with Rolandan Finch and Andre Williams, in the context of the conference and nation at large, it wasn’t. Boston College had only the 8th-most prolific run offense in the ACC and was 82nd in the country, and that’s for a team that ran on 437 plays (and passed on 324).

The line last season did not have the worst numbers in the world in terms of keeping Chase Rettig from being sacked, but Eagles fans remember a number of sequences against ACC opponents where Rettig didn’t ultimately get sacked but still ran for his life. They’ve got to stand up to pressure better than they did in 2011, and to help remedy this, Bollman has switched Emmett Cleary and John Wetzel to opposite sides of the line, putting Cleary on Rettig’s blind side, and for now has plugged in Ian White as the new center to replace Mark Spinney.

When you’ve got a team-wide shortage of depth (almost everywhere, anyway), the problem is that you’re just a few injuries away from being in trouble. BC has already had three guys get hurt, and chances are others will follow throughout the course of the season. Whether there are injuries or not, someone will have to step up here. This unit will ultimately decide if BC gets back into a mediocre bowl game or has a season as bad or worse than last year. The Eagles will go precisely nowhere if the offensive line can’t deliver, and what we know right now is that they’ve got work to do. As a result of the depth issues, last year’s disappointing results, and a few below-average scrimmage performances, I can say I am concerned.