The Boston College Eagles football team wrapped up its spring practice with a morning session scrimmage game this weekend. The scrimmage, held outdoors in the snow, highlighted some offense-vs-defense matchups interspersed with positional drills.
The offense scored 21 points during the 45-minute scrimmage, including touchdown runs by Tyler Rouse and Myles Willis and a passing touchdown by redshirt freshman Troy Flutie to rising junior tight end Cameron Croteau. Defensively, Isaac Yiadom took back an interception of Darius Wade 65 yards, and Justin Simmons had seven tackles. Sophomore defensive lineman Harold Landry had a sack, while Connor Strachan and Jimmy Martin added three tackles apiece for the linebacking corps.
Some observations based on the release from the BC athletics department:
- I like playing outside in the snow. During the whole Deflategate crap thing that took place before the Super Bowl, we heard the Patriots talk about how complaining about the balls in practice usually results in the coaching staff making them more slick, more tacky, more disgusting. Regardless of your opinion of that, there's one main takeaway: the worse the conditions, the better the training.
If the team can perform well outdoors in awful weather such as a downpouring snow, then they're likely to play well when it's 70 degrees and sunny or in the crisp fall air when it's incredibly dry out. Being able to practice in the snow—and show off in the snow—allows for the team to really display its abilities.
- I know someone is going to say it, so let me be the first. Troy Flutie went 3-for-6 for 24 yards and a touchdown. Darius Wade went 6-for-13 for 45 yards and an interception that was returned for a touchdown. This isn't mentioned to start a quarterback discussion because I really don't think there's going to be a QB controversy come the fall, but I do it just to get it out there. Yes, Flutie played well. Yes, Wade had a couple of issues. Let's just leave it for what it is. Elijah Robinson also saw action, so I'll say this about the quarterback situation: whoever winds up as the starter in the fall will be the guy that will earn the spot.
- I'm more encouraged by this stat: eight different receivers caught passes. We all know that the Addazio offense is tight end heavy and relies mostly on the running game, but being able to open up the playbook a little bit is going to be paramount to success this year. I've said that before and I'll say it a few more hundred times.
I'll say it, however, through the understanding that the Eagles are not (REPEAT: NOT) going to be hucka-chucka football. Tyler Murphy was a very good quarterback with the ball in his hands and was very dynamic at making plays, but he made some really bad decisions in throwing the ball. He was inhibited by the fact that his receivers failed to get open in the routes designed for them, and when they were open, he struggled to hit them in stride.
BC's passing game is going to be aided by a continuance of the playbook. Wade and Flutie are both one year into learning the offense, and they're able to help new receivers who haven't been sullied by several different offensive sets. That BC is moving forward and adding new elements to what was a stripped down version of the offense Addazio wanted to run is encouraging. I'm interested to see how the dynamic works in, especially with the conversion of Crimmins to tight end.
- Croteau's touchdown catch in that situation tells me this: the tight end is going to be a factor moving forward much in the way it was for Addazio at Florida. At Florida, Addazio utilized an H-back position for either a tight end or a wide receiver. With the Gators, it was originally Percy Harvin (a wide receiver who became more of a flex running back), then Aaron Hernandez (a tight-end who was catching the ball after lining up behind the offensive line but not as a fullback). That flexibility is going to open things up if Croteau or Crimmins or anyone else can be a flight-style tight end.
- The defense has the chance to be putting something really special on the field. Simmons is developing into "the next one" in terms of the defensive backfield. After Manny Asprilla graduated, you have to ask yourself who would be the guy who could get out into the backfield and make plays. Seven tackles and a couple of pass deflections should tell us all to keep an eye on him in the fall when the team reconvenes.
- We were all high on Harold Landry when he played last year. Hopefully he becomes a monster on the defensive line over the course of the year and really has a breakout season. Five tackles and a sack is going to force people to look at him more, which should open up opportunities for the rest of the defense.
- I would be really encouraged if the linebackers became tackle machines. One of my biggest complaints from the last year was the weakness on the edges. We know whoever's playing middle linebacker is going to be just fine in the defensive scheme, but if anyone can lock down the edges, it'll take away those gashing runs or intermediate passing routes. To do that, you need to have two decent speed backers: enter Strachan and Martin, who both had good showings.
- This is spring practice, so anything that happens here needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Remember that not all the freshmen are on campus, and inevitably, there's going to be some mistakes made. What the team looks like by the fall may be completely different than this weekend. What the team looks like by midseason will be even more different still. As Steve Addazio pointed out himself, 58 players are going to be first or second year players. Gear up for a roller coaster ride.