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Defensive Coordinator Don Brown on the youth of the defense...
You have to put the time in, pay the dues and face adversity. You have to be put in tough situations and respond in those situations. When you can develop confidence in those situations and experiences, we hope that can spread to the rest of the unit. We are so young. I happened to look up yesterday and we have four freshmen in the secondary. That's kind of interesting. I'm not concerned about their athleticism but I am concerned - because you are trying to get them to understand concepts and all the wrinkles that we do. So it's a challenge.
One of the common trends of the preseason is a "concern" over the team's youth. Steve Addazio talked about it, and now we're hearing about it from Don Brown.
Making the jump from high school to college defenses, in terms of complexities of scheme, is like night and day. If you think about high school offenses, they're usually entirely one dimensional. If a school has a good quarterback, they're running the spread. If a schools has kids who can run, they're running the option. If you're a defensive player, you either need to be able to cover or be able to tackle. You can rely solely on athleticism. In college, there's so many more complexities because of an opposing scheme.
Any time you have young kids, there are going to be mistakes. Mistakes are fine; habits are not. BC doesn't have the luxury of time, so as athletic as this team might be, the coaches need to dismantle those habits and institute better habits. That's a process that's much more accelerated than it may be at another school. I don't know about you, but I find this fascinating.
More on this at another time.
Don Brown on the growth of the defensive line...
That's been an area of great growth for us and in recruiting we have been trying to find the types of guys that can really help us. We have [graduate transfer] Evan Kelly, who is going to be a thumper for us. [Freshman] Ray Smith is going to be a good player inside. They are good football players, especially in those pass rush situations.
I don't think I'm high enough on Evan Kelly. He's listed at 6'1", 285 pounds. That's a comparable size to interior defensive linemen like Joe Vellano from Maryland - undersized interior defensive linemen who have incredible quickness and ability to get into the backfield. As a sophomore, Vellano had 63 tackles and five sacks. As a junior, he had 94 tackles. As a senior, the number dipped back down to 61 tackles, but recorded a career high six sacks and a career high 14 tackles for loss.
Calling Kelly a "thumper" gets me excited to see him play. He's the type of guy who is going to either occupy space or blast through the offensive line. Lining up with the defensive line depth BC has, there is the possibility someone comes in and puts up monster numbers. If nothing else, he can occupy space in that interior defensive line to let a linebacker or blitzing safety just blast on through.
I wasn't that high on Kelly, but the more and more I hear about him, the more excited I'm getting.
Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch on the running backs...
Due to the physical style of offense, depth and durability at running back is important. Keeping the backs fresh throughout the game and season is important. Our offensive unit will be looking to the running backs to carry the load early in the season in order to help the passing game.
Translation: we're going to get a heavy dose of running backs while helping Darius Wade through game situations. Again, I've said this before - anyone who expects passing for passing's sake and 25-30 passing attempts per game is going to be sorely disappointed. Wade is a better passer, but chemistry and precision takes time to develop. BC is going to rely on its bread and butter to remain a smash mouth football team.
And besides that, with the versatility of the running back position, why wouldn't they? They are incredibly deep in the running game, with budding superstar Jon Hilliman and versatile everything back Myles Willis. Marcus Outlow is really a name to watch this year. I'm incredibly high on him, and I believe there could be a coming of the "Shake Era."
I honestly think the majority of us are embracing the Eagles identity as a run-first team, whether it be lining up with two or three tight ends, an H-back, spread option - whatever the situation. Hearing them talk about development of the passing game is exciting simply because we all can see the seeds of development and the progress already made in that regard.
Fitch on the passing game...
Passing game takes timing. Offensive line, quarterbacks, and wide receivers - all take time to build chemistry. Through four days of camp, there have been flashes good things. Now we are looking to get better every day.
Transation: it's a work in progress. Again, I think we all trust the process.
Running backs coach Al Washington on comparing Jon Hilliman to Andre Williams
As long as he continues to develop his fundamentals and body, no reason to think he can't reach the standard Andre set. They are both big backs who have speed. You either have it or you don't. Jon has rare speed for his size. The sky is the limit for him. He is our leader in the running backs unit.
This season may actually redefine what it means to be a "Hilla-MAN" before it's all set and done.
Side bar - is there a coach any of us like more than Al Washington? I sometimes think he's the dudest dude that ever duded.