BOSTON (AP) — It's a rematch, nine months in the making.
After playing each other in their last game last year, Boston College and Miami will open this year the same way: head-to-head, this time in Chestnut Hill, an odd scheduling quirk that is forcing both coaches to remember their disappointing 2011 seasons.
"Last year is last year," said BC coach Frank Spaziani, whose team won the finale in Miami, 24-17. "It's totally different circumstances, totally different mindset by both teams. So once again, we're happy to have that victory, but there's little that can be gleaned from it."
His counterpart, Al Golden, can only hope so.
Miami went 6-6 last season (3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), finishing with the loss to BC and then sitting out the bowls because of university-imposed sanctions from an improper benefits scandal. It was BC's second consecutive win over the Hurricanes, and its first against them in Miami since Doug Flutie's desperation pass in 1984.
"Last year obviously was a big transition for them, all the circumstances swirling around everything that was going on down there," Spaziani said. "They've had time to settle in a little bit. They understand their roles now, what they're doing, where they're going. I think they'll be a lot different football team and program."
A strong recruiting class gives Miami a chance to rebound quickly in Golden's second year, and Golden said quarterback Stephen Morris has improved since last year, too.
Morris, a junior, started the opener last year but then threw just nine passes in the next 11 games. Golden said he is "light-years better" in confidence and execution.
"He has led in every aspect you have to lead in: Summer conditioning, film study, post-practice perspective," Golden said. "He's done it by example. It's given him a little more of a foundation or platform to stand on and lead. He's our unquestioned leader right now."
BC may still be looking for leadership after the graduation of linebacker Luke Kuechly, who was the nation's leading tackler before being selected in the first round of the NFL draft (No. 9 overall) by the Carolina Panthers.
At least Spaziani could prepare for that.
The loss of Chris Pantale was completely unexpected.