Spring Recap With Coach Spaziani

Spring ball is over and it is now time for the coaches to review what they saw and begin to put together a team for the 2009 season. Head Coach Frank Spaziani sat down with Eagle Insider's Diana Nearhos to talk about the spring and the upcoming season.

Boston College football seems to always exceed expectations. Two years ago, no one really expected the Eagles to be ranked in the top ten and have a Heisman candidate quarterback. Last year, fans thought the team would sink without their star, but instead they returned to the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. What will the Eagles be able to do this year?

This year's team has many young and inexperienced players. The offense experienced a big shake-up last year and will continue largely the same, except for the play caller. The defense however, will feature many new starters, some who have not even touched the ball in a game.

"We still have a lot of inexperience on offense," said Frank Spaziani. "It is going to have to be more of a total football game."

The Eagles will feel the loss of graduated seniors on both sides of the ball. Tight end Ryan Purvis and wide receiver Brandon Robinson contributed greatly to the passing game last year.

The most obvious hole is that left by defensive tackles BJ Raji, who was drafted ninth overall by the Green Bay Packers, and Ron Brace, who was selected by the New England Patriots in the second round. Linebackers Brian Toal, and Robert Francois have also graduated, in addition to Kevin Akins and Paul Anderson from the secondary.

"Every year in college you have to replace players and other players have to pick up for the players you have lost," said Spaziani.

The biggest concern right now seems to be quarterback. Sophomore Dominique Davis, who started the final few games of the 2008 season, redshirt freshman Justin Tuggle and junior Codi Boek are competing for the job, but there is no clear front runner.

"Right now it is a work in progress," said Spaziani. "On September 5, we will have a quarterback taking the snap, who that is we do not know right now."

Davis totaled 38 completions in 82 attempts for 332 yards and four interceptions in the three spring scrimmages. Tuggle completed 12-of-22 passing attempts for 102 yards and one interception in the scrimmages. Boek contributed 16 completions of 33 attempts for 203 yards and two touchdowns in the three contests.

Spaziani appears to have it under control and is able to joke about the quarterback selection process. "Maybe we will hold an online poll."

Despite the loss of Robinson, the wide receivers remaining have all had game experience. Seniors Rich Gunnell, Justin Jarvis, and Clarence Megwa, who will return from the broken leg he suffered against Clemson, and juniors Billy Flutie and Ifeanyi Momah to provide "an adequate receiving corps for what we need them to do," according to Spaziani.

Sophomores Josh Haden and Montel Harris and senior Jeff Smith, who has battled head injuries, will continue to share the rushing duties. The three were used and contributed pretty much equally in the scrimmages.

"They're going to have to continue on the pace they did last year and continue to improve. We obviously have a very inexperienced quarterback, so we will have to rely on them to help us manage the offense," said Spaziani.

Despite the losses, the defense looks strong. Senior linebackers Mark Herzlich and Mike McLaughlin remain to lead the team. Herzlich, who has been named to the Lott Trophy watch list, contributed nine tackles, one for a loss, and three pass breakups in the Spring Game.

"If he stays healthy, I don't see any reason why he can't be as productive," said Spaziani of Herzlich.

Herzlich and McLaughlin will be joined by redshirt freshmen Nick Clancy (nine tackles in the spring game) and Alexander DiSanzo (seven tackles).

Last year's young secondary has gained valuable experience going into this year, though they will feel the losses of Anderson and Akins. Sophomore cornerback Donnie Fletcher recorded eight tackles and two pass breakups in the Spring Game. Junior free safety Wes Davis was named the recipient of the Jay McGillis Memorial Scholarship, awarded to a deserving defensive player.

"There's one thing you can't teach and that is experience, and those guys now have it. A lot of their production [last year] was helped by the front seven and the pass rush. Now, they have to play better to make up for that," said Spaziani.

Kicking has been rather variable for the Eagles over the past few years. This year, it seems to have settled in a bit. Senior kicker Steve Aponavicius made his only field goal attempt of the spring scrimmages from 37 yards.

"Steve is back , he's been kicking better this spring. We have a great freshman coming in. Ryan is kicking better. Need to be less up and down in kicking," said Spaziani.

Only time will tell exactly how the Eagles will fare. They open the season at home against Northeastern University on September 5. Parent's Weekend, September 26, will feature a contest against Wake Forest, marking the first ACC opponent on Parent's Weekend. The non-ACC schedule highlight will be the game at Notre Dame on October 24.


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