November 21, 2007

Larkin: BC is about TEAM

If you want something explained regarding this Boston College football team, you might want to ask Nick Larkin to explain it for you.

Meeting with the media Wednesday as the Eagles prepare for Saturday's game against Miami, Larkin was asked about the rash of injuries on the BC defense.

Basically, Larkin feels it's the type of athlete they recruit at The Heights that allows a team to lose as many players as this one has lost - and still go to the ACC title game.

Read on:

"Like our coaches say, football players, they don't win championships. Football players go to All-Star Games and they get individual awards," Larkin said. "The football TEAMS are the ones that go to championships. In the five years that I've been here, I look at the way BC recruits and I think a lot of other schools, the mindset in recruiting is that 'let me find the 22 best high school football players - let me find the best talent that they have out there; or, the kids that have the most potential talent-wise. Let me get all them on one team and the I'm going to coach them to play as a team and to play and have a hard-working mindset and have a tough-guy mentality and make them love the game.' What BC does is, they say, 'Where are the guys that are talented enough but they have a hard-working attitude and they play as a team and they love the game of football?'

"See, I think their philosophy is: if you take a kid, it's easier to take a kid who has a hard-working attitude and who loves the game of football and plays as a team and make them a great player, than it is to take a great player and make them hard-working and make them play as a team and make them focus."

Jamie Silva was in the room at the time. A perfect example?

"Exactly," Larkin said. "People had him as a two-star on Rivals or whatever. I could go down the line with everybody and say that coming out of high school, as far as talent and potential? You'd say, like, 'I don't really know.' And now they're great players. Why? Because they had that to begin with. When you come to a school and you're a prima donna - or maybe you're not a prima donna but you have a lot of talent and you don't have that hard-working attitude? That's hard to teach. But if you take a kid that already has that? They're going to do everything they can to become that type of player.

"I was a fifth-string defensive end when I came here. I thought I'd never see the field, but three people got hurt, one person got moved and another person graduated and I walked into the position. I didn't come in as a blue chip. Take all the guys in my class and even the class before - none of us were blue chip but I think when the coaches watched the tape they said, 'This guy loves football, he works hard and he plays as a team (guy) - he's a team player."

He apologized for the "long-winded answer," but made all kinds of sense.

"That's why we've been able to have so much success, because maybe on another team where all of your talent leaves you then you lose because that's what your system is based on - it's based on talent," he said. "Getting talent to come to your school and making that talent (into) a team. When your system is based on taking kids that are already hard-working and have character and then making them talented … then, when your talented guys go down, your other guys are going to step up and they're going to play that same position."

Reminded BC tends to get smarter athletes, Larkin again said, "Exactly - but, again, that goes back to the kids that they look for."

Larkin was stunned to hear Matt Ryan wasn't one of the three finalists for the O'Brien Award as the nation's top quarterback, something he hadn't heard. "I can't believe that, no," he said. "In my mind, he is without question one of the three best quarterbacks in the country."

Ryan, as you might have expected, downplayed the whole thing. This has never been about him. This is about his team, which, to a man, talks about the importance of winning this game Saturday.

Even if this wasn't Miami, which BC hasn't beaten since less than a month before Silva was born, this would be a big game - a Senior Day game that can give the Eagles a 10th win in the regular season for the second time in the history of the program. And don't think the BC kids don't want to keep Miami from becoming bowl eligible. This is a huge game for these kids, and the feeling here is that they win it, maybe even going away.

The question remained - how many BC kids can actually show up and play? Jo-Lonn Dunbar stopped by and said he was basically in the same physical shape as he was in this time last week. Word came out that Gosder Cherilus wasn't practicing and … well, you know the rest of the list. Larkin's words make sense - and we again salute Frank Spaziani for keeping the defensive group together - Ryan talking Wednesday about how nifty it was for the battered defense to hold a good Clemson offense, which had been on a roll, down.

Silva is excited to be going to Orlando for the Home Depot Awards Show (Ryan tipped his cap to his teammate) and says he's taking his parents with him - and that he's going to do something with his hair - "some deep conditionings," he said.

Hours later, he was in the crowd at the basketball win over URI, with Ryan doing a halftime spot with Ted and Bill - on a broadcast which wasn't even on live. That was one of two sad things at yesterday's game, which happened to be Al Skinner's 200th win as the BC coach. No live radio. Amazing. The other thing was the virtual 50-50 split in the crowd, with the Rhody folks making a lot of noise. The students were home for the holiday and too many others decided not to show.

This BC hoop team is young and will make all kinds of mistakes. They made them Wednesday and still won. Every win will be precious in what should be an NIT hunt, but know this, that was no pushover the Eagles beat. This was a good win against a good team.

Happy Turkey Day to all, even to those who think of me as one!


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