There’s nothing like a split personality to a football team.
If the cries for change and dramatic renovation permeated the Boston College offense this offseason, equally loud calls for continuity and lineage steeped the defense. After finishing as arguably the best unit in the country, there is, after all, no reason to reinvent the wheel or recreate fire.
Steve Addazio feels the same way.
“People ask me all the time, ‘Are you going to be a new scheme of defense?’” he said during the ACC media kickoff yesterday. “No, we’re going to be in the Boston College defense. When I came to Boston College, I wanted our defense to be attack style. It was the spearhead of our team. I wanted to be a penetrating defense that created negative yardage plays. I wanted to be as aggressive as we possibly could be. That’s not going to change.”
An attacking defense is exactly what the Eagles received. Six players had 10 or more tackles for loss. Of those six, half return to a defense that ranked at or near the top in every major category.
“We have several guys on defense, starting up front with Truman Gutapfel, Kevin Kavalec, who have a wealth of experience on the defensive front,” said Addazio. “Harold Landry is coming back, Zach Allen. At the linebackers, we have Ty Schwab. We have Connor Strachan who was a starter last year who will take the spot Steven Daniels had a Mike linebacker. He’s an elite player with elite speed.”
There is one major change which prompted the concern in scheme. Coordinator Don Brown, widely considered the architect of the defensive unit from a year ago, is gone, off to the University of Michigan to coach under Jim Harbaugh. In his spot now stands Jim Reid, an old football coach with a wealth of knowledge and connection to the smash-mouth, aggressively old-school style of play on the table in New England.
There will be several other new coaches as well, including Paul Pasqualoni, a former assistant in the NFL and head coach at both Syracuse and UConn.
“We return a very talented defense, full of passion,” said Addazio. “We have a new coordinator in Jim Reid. We have new coaches on defense in Paul Pasqualoni, Anthony Campanile, and Al Washington on defense. There’s a great energy and atmosphere. These are guys that are unselfish, committed to one thing: winning.
“Our scheme won’t change, terminology won’t change,” said Addazio. “The level of players we have on defense won’t change. We recruited to it, have been committed to it putting our best players starting with defense.”
Last season, the numbers stood as a stark dominant figure. The Eagles ranked first in total defense, fourth in scoring defense, second in rushing defense, and fifth in team passing efficiency defense. They also ranked first in tackles for loss.
“It starts with the philosophy of the program, which is physicality and toughness,” said Addazio. “Our defense gets to work against our offense every day, which is a power, run game offense. They don’t just see no spread, up-tempo. They see an offense that will run downhill at them. They will see an offense that will run spread offense at them. It helps really develop our defense.
“As I said earlier, with Jim Reid and Paul Pasqualoni, I can shut the door,” he said later. “I always know I’m getting a great answer. You’re talking about a guy that just got done coaching JJ Watt at the Houston Texans (Pasqualoni was the defensive line coach in Houston last season) and now he’s coaching our defensive line and our pass-rush. When I tell you he’s the best football coach I’ve ever been around, I’m telling you that, and I think I’ve been around some pretty darn good ones.”