Eagles try to fly right

QB Rettig has been sharper as practice takes on an edge

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / August 31, 2011

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It is different.

Summer is over.

So is training camp.

It is game week.

Everything is crisper, carrying more of a sense of urgency as Boston College prepares for Saturday’s opening game against Northwestern.

The practices have more meaning. The drills have more of a purpose.

It is apparent on defense, where the Eagles must readjust to new looks on the line and secondary.

It is apparent on offense, where the line is reconfigured with new faces.

But nowhere is it more important than at quarterback.

It is his team now, no question.

And Chase Rettig knows it.

He also showed it in the way he went about his business yesterday as the Eagles put their game plan in for Northwestern.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 212-pound quarterback is not a “rah rah’’ type leader, going from player to player, pounding shoulder pads and leading charges onto the field. That is not his style.

“I prefer to lead by example,’’ he said.

Certainly, his work through the preseason suggests he is doing a very good job of that. Through the first three scrimmages, Rettig was razor-sharp, taking apart what has generally been a solid defensive unit.

“I have a different mind-set,’’ said Rettig, who last year was unsure whether coach Frank Spaziani would red-shirt him.

But by the third game of the season, against Notre Dame, Rettig was not only playing, he was the starter. It was a year of on-the-job training.

“When you play the position I do, you want to be accountable to your teammates,’’ said Rettig. “You want to take command in the huddle. You want to show them that when things aren’t going right, you can pick them up.

“It’s a lot of leading by example when you play quarterback. But it’s also vocalization, talking to the guys who look for the quarterback to step up.’’

Also different this year is that the offense is in a state of flux. The line is changing, and the receiving corps gets back Colin Larmond Jr., who missed last season with an injury. Running back Montel Harris is a natural leader, but he will be sidelined for at least two games as he recovers from arthroscopic surgery on his knee.

Which brings us back to Rettig. Offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers, who replaced Gary Tranquill this season, sees the same swagger in his quarterback that Tranquill noticed right away.

But now there is more than swagger. There is experience. There is an aura of confidence that Rettig carries with him.

“It’s his job,’’ said Spaziani. “We know who the No. 1 QB is, which wasn’t the case the last few years going into the season.’’

Who will start at QB for Northwestern, the highly touted Dan Persa or backup Kain Colter? Persa is coming off a torn Achilles’ tendon and slowly has worked his way back into game shape. Persa told reporters this week he is sore but ready to go. Coach Pat Fitzgerald told reporters, “You guys will find out when the ball goes in the air.’’ . . . Northwestern will be without strong-side linebacker Collin Ellis, who broke his thumb in practice last week . . . The BC depth chart had one minor surprise: offensive guard Nate Richman (back) is listed behind John Wetzel at left tackle, while Andy Gallik will start at center in place of Mark Spinney. Spaziani’s logic was simple. Richman has missed most of training camp and remains iffy for Saturday. By working at left tackle instead of left guard, he can get reps without disrupting the continuity that is building with Spinney at guard. If he can play, he might start at tackle. Things still could change.

Steele Divitto will start at strong outside linebacker . . . Former walk-on wide receiver Hampton Hughes is listed as the starting free safety . . . Running back Andre Williams was at practice yesterday and showed no effects from an ankle sprain he suffered last week . . . Donnie Fletcher is listed as the starting field cornerback but he did not participate in practice yesterday because of a lingering back injury. If Fletcher can’t go, freshman Al Louis-Jean will get the start . . . Harris was working out yesterday, without pads, and is on track to return for the third game.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at