Official Site of the Boston College Eagles


Ask The Coach!

Nov. 5, 1999

Boston College Head Football Coach Tom O'Brien answers questions from fans submitted via the "Ask the Coach" feature on

Question 1 (from Martin Kane, Marion, Mass.): Why do you pull Tim Hasselbeck for a series each game and insert Brian St. Pierre?

Tom O'Brien: The reason is to give Brian experience. I'm concerned with the fact that, if you get to a situation in a football game, and it's the end of the game, somewhere in the fourth quarter, and your starting quarterback goes down, we would not have a player who has been in the game and has any game experience. In that case, I think it's impossible to ask him to win a football game for you. We try to get our backup quarterback in the game for a series or two, every game, in the second quarter. Brian St. Pierre is a good player, and he deserves to play. We probably never would have won the Pittsburgh game if Brian hadn't been able to start and play as well as he did until he got hurt in the third quarter. I think you need two players at every position, and quarterback is no exception.

Question 2 (from Peter Jengo, Gardner, Mass.): Since opposing teams are looking to pass on us, are you planning any changes in your schemes to stop them? How can we fans help the program?

Tom O'Brien: It's a little bit of a change this year, Peter. The last two years we've had trouble stopping the run, so we've put a lot of emphasis on that, and we're doing a better job of it. When people ask me why we don't run more, I say that when there's too many people in the box, we throw the ball. Some of those things have happened to us. It becomes a guessing game with our defensive coordinator as to what defense to play to help stop the run and the pass. One thing we've been able to do well the last couple of weeks is contain the ball. We haven't given up the deep ball since the Pittsburgh game. That's a point of emphasis for us, because in my last two years here we gave up too many deep balls. I want to keep the ball in front of us and tackle it. We've gotten very stingy in the red zone and haven't given up scores. We're bending but we're not breaking.

The fans can help our program by not being negative. They can show up early and not leave until the game is over. Sometimes it seems like they complain about everything. I think if we get there early, stay late, and have a positive attitude, and back the team through thick and thin, it will be a big help to us. It doesn't do the kids any good when they're getting booed, or yelled at, or complained about. For their mental state, to go out there and play as hard as they have to play for 60 minutes to win the football game, they need positive support.

Question 3 (from Paul Basile, Seattle, Wash.): How can BC come so close in the fourth quarter in so many games? Can you talk about your team playing hard for four full quarters?

Tom O'Brien: I think we've come close because we are playing hard. We try to get ourselves into a position to win. What happens is that, when you get to that point in the game, somebody has to make a play to win the game. The last couple of years, we've lost three heartbreakers at home in the final minutes. We lost to Navy and Notre Dame last year, and then Miami this year. But this year, we won the Baylor game, we went to Navy and won that game, the Pittsburgh game went down to the wire, and the Syracuse game went down to the wire. So that makes four we've won this year in the closing minutes. We came into this year talking about our mental toughness, our will to win, hanging in there and playing 60 minutes, and not looking at the scoreboard. I think we've done that. Right now, if you just take this season, that's four victories to one that have gone to the end of the game and we've come out on top.

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