Nose tackles are seldom noticed but command a lot of attention.
Boston College nose tackle Cam Horsley understands the importance of the position in the Eagles’ front seven even though his work can go largely unrecognized. Horsley’s reward for doing this thankless task are the statistical windfalls enjoyed by the guys that have his back.
When linebackers Vinny DePalma and Kam Arnold and strong safety John Pupel record double-digit tackles, it’s because Horsley is dealing with a center-guard double-teams at the point of attack.
“It is underappreciated but if I’m one on one blocked, I’ll try and get off the block and make a play,” said Horsley. “If I’m double teamed, I’m eating up an extra blocker to make sure our linebackers are free.
“It is definitely an unselfish position, but I try for production and make plays and stuff like that.”
Horsley’s production is the one thing that has not gone unnoticed. The 6-3, 315-pound, senior from Riverton, N.J., is fifth on the team with 37 tackles with three tackles for a loss and a sack.
“He gets double-teamed a lot,” said BC head coach Jeff Hafley. “Imagine having 600-plus pounds on you play after play and sometimes his job is to hold the double team so the backers are free to the ball.
“It is a very unselfish low glory position and I mean you get beat up in there. Imagine playing in a game for 50 plays and having the guard and center driving you back on every other play. That is why he is the unsung hero. You don’t get to see him do much and he does just as much as any one else on our defense.”
Horsley is not only doing this arduous job well, but he’s been doing it for a long time. Horsley will play in his 47th game and make his 35th start when the BC (6-5, 3-4) hosts the Miami Hurricanes (6-5, 2-5) in an ACC partnership matchup on Friday (noon) at Alumni Stadium. Horsley is on the books for 59 solo tackles, 60 assisted tackles with 11.5 TFL’s and three sacks.
“He is so consistent and so reliable and he does such a good job in the middle,” said Hafley. “He just gives you everything that he has and it is really awesome to see.”
BC tailback Kye Robichaux doesn’t need a GPS navigator to find his way into opposing secondaries.
“I always learned growing up that you get the most yards going north to south,” said Robichaux. “I have tried to implement that into my game and if that’s my strong suit then I am going to use that to the best of my ability.
“I have tied to hone that and whatever else they need me to do, I’m going to do it.”
Robichaux is a 6-0, 216-pound, junior transfer from Western Kentucky that has gravitated from fourth on the depth chart to featured ball carrier. Robichaux rushed for 118 yards on 24 carries in the Eagles 24-16 loss at Pittsburgh on Thursday night, his second game that crossed the century mark this season. His high water mark this season was in the Eagles’ 38-23 win at Georgia Tech, where he recorded 165 rushing yards and 219 all-purpose yards. The ACC’s blue-ribbon panel named Robichaux the league’s running back of the week.
Robichaux has the capabilities to be an every down back, but Hafley like to use sophomore Alex Broome on third down. The trio of Robichaux, Broome and quarterback Thomas Castellanos combined with a stout offensive line has made the Eagles the No. 2 rushing offense in the ACC averaging 198.9 yards per game.
“Our running game has been better and it really started with the relationship between the running back room and the O-line,” said Robichaux.
The BC defensive backfield has been hit with a series of setbacks that came into play in consecutive losses to Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh.
The Eagles faced the Panthers without their best cover corner Elijah Jones, who left the team for personal reasons, and free safety Cole Batson, who was out with an injury.
“We are pretty banged up now,” said Hafley. “Cole Batson missed the game so we played a bunch of guys at free safety and we are bouncing guys at the nickel position.”