Wednesday, August 8, 2012


...wait, that came out wrong.

Look, you can't swing at a BC 2012 fall preview and miss a mention of Luke Kuechly. He was the face, the soul and, well, obviously the body of the team. Top ten draft pick, record setter and so much more.

The reason Luke recorded as many tackles as he did was because he was damn good. Let's not forget that for a second. But let's also not forget that BC's defense was called on to do a hell of a lot last year, and Luke was on the field quite a bit.

But, let's look at one such comment, from SI's Holly Anderson:

Last year: The perpetual All-American linebacker led the nation in tackles, averaging a head-turning 15.92 stops per game. The next closest defender, Akron’s Brian Wagner, averaged 13.36. The next closest guy on Kuechly’s own team, Kevin Pierre-Louis, recorded a little more than eight per game. In related news, Luke Kuechly had to be on the field a lot.
This year: Kuechly’s apparent replacement, Sean Duggan, attended the same high school as his predecessor, and started three games last season at weakside linebacker. Thinking about Boston College football makes us sad. Can we go back to asking Frank Spaziani about the Red Sox instead?

The name of the piece that's from? "Ten teams with huge holes to fill in 2012".

So Luke may have been responsible for two of our four wins last year (NC State, where he made nine consecutive tackles in the fourth, and Miami). And yes, at MIKE, that's pretty ridiculous for a defensive player to be that involved. Replacing an All-American is never easy.

Except calling this a huge hole is painfully unfair. Here's why:

  1. Luke was damn good (I'm going to keep saying that so I don't get destroyed), but Luke was in a position for a lot of extra tackles because of (a) the time the defense was on the field and (b) the injuries on the D-line last year that shouldn't have let as many guys through to the second line.
  2. The defense is still going to be rough this year, but it's not going to be because of Luke's absence. The linebackers are probably still the best and deepest part of the entire defensive side of the ball, and KPL will do just fine as the new leader back there and potentially average 10 tackles per game, not to mention Duggan looks like he can grow into something solid as well.
  3. BC may have won two of its four victories by way of defense last year, but how many games did it lose because of defense last year. On top of that, how many games did it lose because of defense in the front seven? The pressure for the team to win games is still very much on the offense, and then to not lose in the secondary and in special teams. I wish we had the luxury to nitpick the linebackers.
I wish Luke was still in Maroon and Gold, he was an amazing player. The idea that it's even possible to fill the hole he left is ridiculous, but the idea that it's a necessity in order for success is the myth.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, it's very easy to look at his stats and think about how he won't be there this season. However, I do disagree with reason 1b.

    A bad defensive line should have an opposite effect on a middle linebacker. It means that there will be more linemen coming to block him, because there will be 1 d-lineman on 1 o-lineman, as opposed to a d-lineman requiring at least a combo block (where the o-line starts as a double team and then breaking off) or a full-on double team. By your logic, Luke was actually fending off more blockers to make more tackles, making his accomplishments even more impressive.

    For a basis of comparison, take Kaleb Ramsey, who led the d-line in 2010 with 39 tackles, appearing in 11 games. He was injured in 2011 and received a medical redshirt. He made about 3.5 tackles per game, as the LEADING d-lineman. It's safe to assume that the tackles a better d-line makes would not significantly subtract from Kuechly's numbers. In fact, if you subtract 2 a game and give them to Ramsey, he still has 8 more tackles than Curnelius Arnick, the nation's second place tackler last season.

    We all know "he was damn good," but there is a reason he broke his own record for tackles in a season. If every team with an abysmal offense and poor d-line resulted in stats like Luke's, we wouldn't be having this conversation.