NEWTON, Mass. -- Dave Shinskie has spent nearly his entire career at Boston College competing for the starting quarterback job.
The sophomore's trajectory at BC is more complicated than any love triangle on any daytime soap -- as evidenced by the fact that the Eagles' quarterback situation is murkier than ever going into Saturday's game at NC State (noon ET on ESPN3.com).
"I'm always confident," Shinskie said. "I'm a confident player. I might not make the best reads but I make plays. I make things happen. This competition is good for the team and the offense. We'll see what happens. I'm not sure who's going to start this week. All I can do is keep fighting for the job and see what comes up."
After enrolling in BC in July 2009, the 26-year-old former minor league baseball player was in a four-man competition for the starting job. He split time with Justin Tuggle during the first three games of last season, then was handed the keys to the offense and led the Eagles to an 8-4 record with 2,049 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Tuggle transferred, and Shinskie was named the starter going into camp this August.
But Shinskie was benched during a 19-0 loss to Virginia Tech on Sept. 25 after completing 11 of 25 passes for 130 yards and two interceptions. Sophomore Mike Marscovetra replaced Shinskie in the third quarter against Virginia Tech. Struggling to move the offense, Marscovetra completed five of seven passes for 50 yards.
Last week, heading into the Notre Dame game, news leaked that the Eagles planned to give freshman phenom Chase Rettig his first career start.
Rettig did start but was replaced by Marscovertra after getting knocked out of an embarrassing 31-13 loss to the Irish with an ankle injury.
And while Marscovertra and Shinskie split reps Tuesday, Rettig unexpectedly returned to practice Wednesday despite sporting a protective boot on his sprained left ankle.
"I'll probably get limited reps," Rettig said before Wednesday's practice. "I just have to get the feel back and see how I can do out there. I hope I can play. Sunday from today was a huge jump. I feel I made a lot of progress. I feel like it's possible I could play on Saturday."
Going into this season, BC touted the fact that, unlike his first season, Shinskie had all spring and summer to prepare. The Eagles also touted how they could, for the first time since Matt Ryan's departure to the NFL, truly look to the quarterback for leadership.
The QB shuffle has shattered all that.
"That is a setback, but I think we can handle it," said Marscovertra, who finished 22-of-37 for 193 yards with two interceptions against Notre Dame. "Obviously, the quarterback has to be a leader. I don't think there's too much pressure on the quarterback to be an emerging leader because we have other guys."
If anyone is talking like a leader, it's Rettig. Well, at least he's talking like he'll be playing Saturday.
"We just need to come out and execute our plays, play with swagger and play with some confidence," said Rettig, who was 5-for-10 for 72 yards against Notre Dame, including his first career TD toss. "I know I'm hungry because it was a tough loss last week, and we're looking forward to getting out there and playing BC football."
As for Shinskie, if the writing really is on the wall, he knows how to handle it.
"I've gotten disappointed in my life before," he said. "I've been told, 'You don't have a job,' when I was released from baseball. This was nothing compared to that. Basically, all this was was a wakeup call to Dave Shinskie that you gotta go out and work harder in practice, fix what you have to fix and do what you have to do to get back in the starting role."
Justin A. Rice is a contributor to ESPNBoston.com.