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Matt Gamber | Thursday, September 30, 2010

While it was reported Wednesday that freshman Chase Rettig won the starting quarterback battle for Saturday night’s game, Eagles coach Frank Spaziani maintained in a phone conference the same day that no decision had been made.

When one reporter began a question that assumed Rettig would be the starter, Spaziani cut him off, saying, “That hasn’t been announced. We don’t know who we’re going with yet.”

He later added: “I know this, on Saturday night at 8 p.m., we’ll have one of those guys out there. That’s the timetable.”

Following a 19-0 home loss to conference foe Virginia Tech last Saturday, Spaziani announced he would bench returning starter Dave Shinskie, who threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and was sacked twice in the defeat. Shinskie was pulled in the second half in favor of Mike Marscovetra, who completed 5-of-7 pass attempts for 50 yards, but was sacked four times and fumbled twice.

“We’ve made the change because we weren’t satisfied with the production we were getting at that position,” Spaziani said. “So we decided to go in a little different direction here, and what we’re expecting is winning performance.”

Though signs may point to Rettig getting the call Saturday night, Irish coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday that regardless of who takes the Eagles’ snaps from center, the Notre Dame defense will be prepared to defend Boston College’s offense.

“Well, I still think you’re going to go with the concepts that are part of your offensive scheme, because you don’t want to reteach everybody else as well,” Kelly said. “You’re kind of getting the quarterback up to snuff, but you’re not going to go far from what you do.”

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Rettig arrived at Boston College from San Clemente, Calif., in the spring semester. While he was expected to be the Eagles’ quarterback of the future, it seems the future will arrive early for the freshman, who has yet to see a college snap.

Still, Kelly said Wednesday, the Irish staff has seen a bit of Rettig — albeit from a slightly unconventional vantage point.

“We’ve watched some high school film on him,” Kelly said Wednesday. “He’s like the other quarterbacks. He’s tall, he’s got a strong arm, he’s got escapability.”

If the Eagles get their way, their offensive success will likely have less to do with the quarterback’s ability to throw the ball than to turn and feed running back Montel Harris, who has amassed 306 yards rushing and 4.6 yards per carry through three games. A junior, Harris rushed for 1,457 yards last year after recording 900 yards on the ground as a freshman.

The Irish hope to duplicate their success in halting Harris, who managed only 38 yards rushing on 22 carries in Notre Dame’s 20-16 victory over Boston College last season. In that game, the Irish committed to stopping Harris and allowed almost 300 yards passing, albeit intercepting Shinskie three times in the process.

“Harris is going to be featured quite a bit,” Kelly said Tuesday. “They’ve got a big, physical offensive line. They’ve got receivers that, in one-on-one matchups, can go up and get the football. So it’s not hard to connect the dots from that standpoint.”