As the ACC‘s spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing the big storylines for each of the league’s 14 (15, in this case) teams. Check back on weekdays for what to look out for during your school’s spring practices and spring game.
Team: Boston College Eagles
Spring Practice Start Date: February 28
Spring Game Date:
April 13 April 20 (updated to reflect newly announced date)
The Eagles are undergoing a complete overhaul this offseason now that Frank Spaziani’s reign of terror is finally over. Head coach Steve Addazio brings a new intensity into spring practice, and by all accounts, he’ll be looking for “his guys” early, to see which players are set to help him rebuild this program from the depths of 2012′s 2-10 finish.
Offensively, there’s hope for continuity as former wide receivers coach Ryan Day takes over to run a group that only scored 19.8 points per game last year. Whether or not he can harness quarterback Chase Rettig‘s skillset into wins, however, will be his biggest test as part of his new role. Rettig and his connection to receiver Alex Amidon were the only positives for the struggling offensive unit. In order to fix things going forward, he’ll have to identify some new leaders along the line (perhaps Dan Lembke and/or Aaron Kramer at the tackle spots?) and establish a running game to take some pressure off Rettig. Last year’s backfield was among the worst in the country, and those same players — mainly Andre Williams and Rolandon Finch — are back again for 2013. With former offensive coordinator Doug Martin and his pass-happy (to a fault) system out of the fold, there’s at least hope for some balanced play-calling this season.
Beyond senior linebacker Nick Clancy, the BC defense was pretty raw last season; a big part of why they finished so poorly in total defense (102nd in the FBS). With that transition year under their belts, however, there’s a huge chance for improvement this spring, heading into the fall. Veterans like linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis are now being called upon to lead, and must do so quickly this spring to sort out such a young group of players. Looking at last year’s depth chart, six starters were either freshman or sophomores, meaning there’s plenty left to figure out, and ample opportunity for players to rise and fall. Of particular interest (to your author, anyway) is whether we’ll start to see an emergence from current freshman free safety Justin Simmons. While he could use some time in the weight room (just 175 pounds on a 6’3″ frame), Simmons was still an active tackler last year, and heavily involved in the passing game. If Boston College is going to alter the perception of the current roster, he’s a main piece of that puzzle, and will obviously benefit from a better pass-rush (which, in and of itself, deserves its own post).
In his first spring at the Heights, Addazio inherits a struggling, yet young program eager to start winning games again. There’s plenty of work to be done, but based on his time at Temple, his enthusiasm and can-do ethic are infectious and could translate to some big gains over the next month or so. Despite low roster turnover, the book on this team is far from written right now, which makes for an exciting spring season.