"In the last two years, you've been sacked--"
"A lot," Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig shot in while at ACC Media Days, smiling wryly before turning to answer another question that was asked simultaneously.
A lot is right: to be exact 60 times in the last two years and 36 times last year alone. At 6-foot-3 and a little over 200 pounds, the senior quarterback become very familiar with different ways to heal an aching body in between games. And yes, he's even learned to take a sack.
"As bad as this sounds, there's an art to being sacked and there's an art to being hit. You can't fight it. You've got to let it happen," Rettig said. "I'm sure there were times when I was younger that I could have changed a protection or slid the protection one year or taken guys in different directions so that the chances for me getting sacked would've been a lot fewer. Now, I understand that."
Rettig has had a career characterized by bad timing, bad breaks and, frankly, bad personnel surrounding him. He's not asking anyone to feel sorry for him, certainly. But considering the trajectory his career has taken since he arrived on campus in the fall of 2010, it's hard not to.
A highly-touted recruit out of California, he chose Boston College over Tennessee and USC, following in the footsteps of Matt Ryan (whose final season was 2007).
Four games into his freshman season in 2010, he was thrust into action against Notre Dame. He hurt his ankle and would miss the next game, but he started the final eight games of the season and helped lead BC to a 5-3 record in that stretch.
The Eagles are 6-18 since (including a woeful 2-10 last year), and Rettig has had four brand-new offensive coordinators in two years. He started with Gary Tranquill in 2010, then Kevin Rogers in 2011, who had to leave mid-year. Dave Brock took over on an interim basis, and Doug Martin was hired before last season -- which would be head coach Frank Spaziani's last. New head coach Steve Addazio brought in Rettig's fifth coordinator in his BC career, Ryan Day.
"Ideally, five offensive coordinators in three and a half years isn't the best situation, especially when you start as a true freshman," Rettig said. "I have a different perspective for the game. I'm 21 years old. I feel like I'm a professional."
So each year he's had a new coordinator, he's thrown himself full-force into learning the new scheme, whatever it is, trying to make the best of it. He tries not to look around college football and wonder how much different his situation would be if he'd had the same kind of continuity others have.
"It's just kind of like, Oh, man.' I don't not like learning a new system, but you want to have some consistency as a quarterback," Rettig said. "Some of these guys stay in the same offense for five years and have a redshirt year to learn it before they even burn the shirt. But I guess more power to me in the future."
It's even harder not to envy other quarterbacks when at ACC Media Days. Rettig was asked about quite a few non-BC-related topics: other ACC quarterbacks, Tajh Boyd, whether he envies quarterbacks that run a hurry-up offense, Clemson, whether or not college athletes should be paid, Clemson, even his little brother Hayden (who's a freshman quarterback at LSU).
Rettig still has every playbook, which he says would probably be about 1,000 pages. Or an entire pine tree's worth of plays, most of which he doesn't need to know anymore. When Rogers was his offensive coordinator in 2011, he brought the Minnesota Vikings' playbook with him. No, literally -- he just changed the NFL logo to "ACC" and replaced "Vikings" logos with BC's.
That was probably Rettig's most awkward transition, he said. As an example of a play he had to memorize, Rettig said: "West Right Slot Fake 94 T.O. Naked Y Back Z Jack Slide". He had to remember that and recite it to Rogers during the first practice, and he was having trouble.
"If you're not familiar with the plays, you can't remember everything because you're not familiar with it. It wasn't embarrassing, but I said, OK Chase, you've got to approach this way differently now.' And that's kind of the mindset I've had ever since," Rettig said.
He's coming off of his best season yardage-wise last year -- 3,055 yards -- but he had 17 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, and the offense wasn't consistent. Still, he's going to have arguably the best collection of skill players around him that he's had in awhile, including breakout wide receiver Alex Amidon (1,210 yards last year).
"I hope so. I hope we score a lot more points, a lot more touchdowns," he said. "I think it'll be more balanced. Last year, we kind of came out throwing the ball everywhere. It was really fun for me. No coach had really allowed me to do that really, or we hadn't had the skill players to do that. We did it last year and it worked out really well, but we kind of got away from running the football. This year, we want to have a running game and we want to have a passing game."
Rettig knows he's not the quarterback of the future in terms of what Day wants to do offensively, using a dual-threat quarterback.
"I can't believe a lot of people don't think I can be a dual-threat quarterback," Rettig joked. But he and Day have an understanding, and Day is going to tailor the system around Rettig's strengths as much as possible.
"It's almost like an audible just for this year, just for me to -- some under center and some in the shotgun, some of the things we've been successful with, (Day is) going to use this year," Rettig said. "Then when he gets his guys that he's recruiting coming in, he'll be able to run those types of offenses."
Addazio's recruiting class next year is ranked in the 20's, and it looks like BC could be on the rise again. There's at least a lot of enthusiasm surrounding it now, which is a refreshing change. And naturally, Rettig won't be around for any of it. He'll just be the guy who was under center (or in the shotgun, or both, depending on which coordinator he was on) when BC was terrible.
Unless he and the BC offense can make something happen this year. But Rettig is not going to worry about things that he can't control. "I want to make the decisions that are going to help all of us out as a whole to win football games because last year, I had my statistical year. I got to throw the ball a bunch," Rettig said.
"I just want to have a good ratio of touchdowns to interceptions this year, take control of the football and win football games and win games in the fourth quarter. I want to be able to put the offense on my back when I have to late in games and try to win some football games this year."