Freshman punter Johnny Ayers took Francois Brochu's snap from three-yards deep in his own end zone, and the ball glanced off his hands, hitting him directly in the chest and falling to the turf. The snap was on the money, for a change, so what happened?
"There was an 11th guy running onto the field," said Ayers on Wednesday afternoon. "I looked up for a split-second and the ball shot right through my hands. It was an amateur rookie mistake on my part."
Last season BC fans expected the worst when the punting unit took the field as the Eagles were without stellar long-snapper Francois Brochu because of an injury, and every long snap was an adventure.
With Brochu back, however, this one was all on the punter.
"It went right through my hands and hit me right in the sternum," said Ayers. "I don't even know how to explain it, it's not something I like running back through my head- it's something I wish hadn't happened for our team's sake."
Fortunately for Ayers his mistake only cost the Eagles two points, and it occurred in the first minute of the game- not the 60th.
"I'm glad I got that one out of the way," said the freshman from Oakton, VA. "And I'm glad Coach O'Brien gave me the chance to start right away."
Boston College's punter from a season ago- Jeff Gomulinski- was dismissed from the team during the Spring. That left the Eagles without any returning experience at the punter position, and it was only natural for Ayers to feel some first-game jitters.
Despite the nerves, the rookie was glad to get the first one overwith.
"It was nice to play," said Ayers. "It probably would have been rougher if we opened at the 'Big House' or at OSU.
Regardless of his inauspicious beginning, Ayers managed to average 41.8 yards on six kicks. Overall, he was pleased with his performance and gave credit to BC's coverage unit.
"I got some good rolls," said Ayers. "I didn't hit the ball as well as I wanted to. But we had a great cover team, so they ended up having to fair-catch a lot of balls- that really helps the average and net average."
Now that Johnny Ayers' first college game is out of the way, it is worth mentioning that the confident freshman played some quarterback in high school. Is a fake punt something that the Eagles have been working on?
"I sure hope so," said Ayers. "All my friends and family back home are waiting for it. We have a couple of things ‘in the woodwork'; I'd love to do more than just punt out there. If it works for our team and there's a situation where it can be done it'd be great."
"I know a lot of the BC fans would love to see that happen."
For now, most BC fans will settle for a 41.8-yard average and no heart palpatations when the punting unit takes the field. Hopefully Ayers can help with both of these things.
Michael Chevallier is the publisher of EagleInsider.com. He can be reached at EagleInsiderGuru@aol.com.