Spring football is not for the fans. It is an important time for reevaluation within a program. After a successful first season for Steve Addazio, though one that unfortunately culminated in a painful defeat in the Advocare V100 Bowl, this spring is indeed a time for reevaluation of the Boston College football team. Many fans, including myself, left the spring game last Saturday unimpressed with what they saw; however, I hope these fans come to the same realization I did: This is just the first step in a long journey for this team.
The identity of this team is still an unknown. Last year, Addazio inherited a depth chart chock-full of his predecessor’s (Frank Spaziani) recruits. But now, for the first time in my BC career, there will be a different quarterback under the spotlight and relative unknowns at most other major positions. Chase Rettig, Andre Williams, Alex Amidon, and Kevin Pierre-Louis are all gone; there is no face of this team, no battle-tested upperclassman we can fall back on. This year, we will truly see what Addazio, and his recruits, are made of.
The spring game was just a taste of what is to come, and while there was no standout player or big play to get people out of their seats, there was indeed intensity on both sides of the ball. Both teams wanted to win. It is inspiring to see the offense and the defense go at each other intensely, but the fact remains that there are question marks all over the field—most importantly at quarterback.
Saturday was the first chance for BC fans to get a glimpse at early enrollee Darius Wade. Wade is a highly touted recruit out of Middletown, Delaware with a dual-threat ability that makes him a legitimate option in both the running and passing game. Wade, however, never quite seemed to settle in on Saturday, completing seven passes for 82 yards. He looked tight, and the no-contact-on-the-quarterback rule held back his abilities to make plays with his feet. In the end, it was Florida transfer Tyler Murphy who separated himself as the favorite for the starting job.
Murphy threw for 78 yards and, similar to Wade, struggled to extend plays because of the contact rules. It is clear that the offense is heading in a completely different direction from what we have seen in the past few years. Without the workhorse, Williams, in the backfield and neither Wade nor Murphy being true pocket passers, like Rettig was, the offense will have to spread the field and use the quarterbacks’ mobility to its advantage. The most alarming aspect of the offense and, perhaps, why the quarterbacks struggled to move the offense down the field was the lack of any depth in the receiving corps.
Redshirt freshman Charlie Callinan was the bright spot amongst the field of relative unknowns. He hauled in seven receptions for 98 yards, including a beautiful one-handed grab late in the game. At 6’4’, Callinan indeed has the size to be a threat come next season, but the speed we came to be familiar with from Amidon was nowhere to be found in Callinan. Other than Callinan, we can only hope that one of the football players set to enroll in the fall will emerge as a legitimate option in the passing game.
Though it is certainly the biggest hole to fill, the running back position seems to carry the least amount of worry on the offensive side. Rising sophomore Myles Willis looked like a young Andre. He has clearly put on weight since last season, without sacrificing the speed that made him such a threat to opposing defenses. Also, his role on the offense seems to have evolved from a third-down, receiving back to more of an every-down back like Andre. Willis took a bulk of the carries and ran for 75 yards.
After him, another rising sophomore, Tyler Rouse, looking like a bowling ball at a height of 5’9’and a weight of 192 lbs., had a solid game, running for 68 yards. The backfield will only get deeper in the fall when Jonathan Hillman and Marcus Outlow join Willis and Rouse. The competition should drive the running backs to be very productive. Along with a mobile quarterback, the offense could become very dynamic in its sets.
On the other side of the ball, things were less clear. The defense lost two leaders in linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis and defensive end Kasim Edebali to graduation—and the next leader has yet to emerge. Rising senior linebacker Sean Duggan recorded eight tackles (including one for loss) and a pass breakup. The linebacking corps still awaits the arrival of No. 20 ranked overall inside linebacker, Connor Strachan, out of Wellesley, Mass., who seems poised to make an immediate impact.
Overall, the offense showed a lot potential and will show even more with certain impact players coming to BC for the upcoming season; however, at best, the defense seemed shaky. The line does not have many players with significant experience under their belts, while the secondary is returning almost all the members of a unit that just could not figure it out last year. Hopefully, both units will grow over the summer and find their groove in the time before the upcoming season.
Coach Addazio did not show much emotion during the game. He quietly stood in the backfield, behind the quarterbacks as they failed to master the read option or complete many deep passes. Whether it was a quiet confidence or hushed worry remains a mystery. Addazio proved he could impact a program in his first year on the Heights, but this year will be a completely different type of test. This truly is his team, his recruits, and his school. Can he mold a young team into his ideal vision of hard work and accountability? Will we be ready for UMass on August 30th? The spring game gave us an indication of what we could be, but only the real season can show us what we will be.
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