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Eagles 'O' gets big boost from new additions

Jack Hall, father of BC player Ty Hall, is hard to miss at games.
Jack Hall, father of BC player Ty Hall, is hard to miss at games.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

Keeping the Brigham Young University Cougars out of the end zone was clearly the key to Boston College's win Saturday, but it helped greatly to have one offensive star in the line-up who is taking on new duties and another who is resuming his old duties.

Eagles senior receiver Will Blackmon was playing on the offensive side of the ball for the first time after spending the past three seasons solely at cornerback. He also returned kicks and was in at cornerback on about a dozen plays.

Quarterback Quinton Porter, a fifth-year senior, was back in the lineup for the first time since a hand injury sidelined him late in the 2003 season. He redshirted last season, after starting 10 games in 2003, and said he feels much more refreshed heading into his final year.

"I was having so much more fun today than I was having in 2003. I just feel like I'm a lot more mature out there," Porter said. "I've had such a good spring and such a good camp that I'm really optimistic."

Porter, one of 33 quarterbacks on the preseason watch list for the Davey O'Brien award, had a career-best day in his return to the Eagles lineup. He completed 27 of 35 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns. Both TD tosses were to tight end Chris Miller.

"He's throwing the ball well," Eagles coach Tom O'Brien said. "If we can continue to protect him he'll only get better. If Quinton can continue to sustain what he did today then it's obviously going to be the right thing for us."

Blackmon's debut at receiver wasn't too shabby in itself. He caught a team-high eight passes for 100 yards, with a long of 25 yards.

"It was fun out there getting the ball and making some plays," Blackmon said in assessing his first outing on offense.

With Blackmon's quickness and speed he's more of a threat to break loose for the big gain after he catches the ball — an element the Eagles were missing the past two years.

"He gives us first down opportunities if we can just get the ball in his hands," O'Brien said. "And I think he'll be a better down-field receiver as we go along."

Porter also loves having that deep-pass and quick-strike weapon in the Eagles' arsenal.

"We didn't have much of that two years ago so it's definitely a dimension that helps us," he said.

Blackmon's specialty, however, is kick returns. He's the school's all-time leader in kick-off return yardage and is not far behind in punt returns. He had one kick-off return Saturday for 16 yards and one punt return for 24 yards. He admits that he's expected to be the Eagles' big-play man this season.

"I don't think I'm out there for show. I don't think I'm out there as a decoy. I think they're looking for big things from me," he said.

B.C. NOTEBOOK: Boston College's fast-start numbers over the past four seasons indicated BYU was in trouble when the Eagles finished both the first quarter and first half in the lead. The Eagles are now 24-3 in those four years when they've led after one period. They're 27-2 in the same time period when leading at half . . . Even the Boston media were mumbling following the spot on John Beck's critical fourth-down run in the second quarter that was placed short of a first down. Most on press row felt the spot was at least a yard shy of where it should have been . . . For the second straight year tight end Chris Miller has caught the Eagles' first touchdown of the season . . . Saturday's game was the first ever in Utah for Boston College, and the players said they were in awe of the mountains and fresh mountain air. "When I first looked out my hotel window I thought the mountains were clouds. I've never seen any mountains this high," said quarterback Quinton Porter. "The altitude didn't affect me. In fact, I think this is the freshest air I've ever breathed," Eagles receiver Will Blackmon said.