CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Boston College enters the 2014 football season with some major holes to fill, starting with replacing the school’s all-time leading rusher, Andre Williams.
Williams, the 2013 Doak Walker Award winner, carried the offensive load last season, gaining 2,177 yards on the ground with 18 touchdowns. The Eagles also won’t have four-year starting quarterback Chase Rettig or all-time receiving leader Alex Amidon. They won’t even have kicker/punter Nate Freese, the school’s all-time scoring leader.
What they will have is a new cast of weapons at the disposal of second-year coach Steve Addazio, who is tasked with trying to restore football success at The Heights.
One year after leading BC to a 7-6 record and its first bowl game since 2010, Addazio is excited for the young players who will begin to take over the program.
“You can come in and prop things up quickly, but the building of the infrastructure of taking a program over, it just takes time,” Addazio said Thursday at BC’s media day. “We’re in that process, and I’m really excited about it. I’m excited about the players we have.”
The young man entrusted with leading the program’s offense will be Tyler Murphy, a fifth-year transfer quarterback from the University of Florida via Wethersfield, Conn. Murphy had been recruited by Addazio four years ago when the 55-year-old coach was at Florida. Murphy finally has his chance to take over as a starting quarterback in college football.
“Tyler had been in many of the styles and concepts we’re running in the pass and run game before,” Addazio said, referring to Murphy’s time at Florida. “This was a great fit for him. He wanted to come, he wanted the chance to run the reins of his own program. This made total sense.”
Murphy completed 60.5 percent of his passes in limited time last season for the Gators, throwing for 1,216 yards and six touchdowns with five interceptions. His dual-threat ability both passing and running adds a dimension to the Eagles’ offense that wasn’t present last season.
“I’m not going out there trying to force big plays,” Murphy said. “We have a young group that’s very skilled, and it’s my job to get the ball to those who can make plays. Whatever’s necessary for the team to win, I’ll do.”
Among the young playmakers Murphy has to work with are two sophomore running backs, Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse. Willis and Rouse will help alleviate some of the pain from losing Williams, who finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting last season.
Murphy’s offensive line is filled with experienced talent, and coaches have challenged them with becoming “the best offensive line in college football,” according to the Eagles’ field general.
On the other side of the ball, BC is full of experienced playmakers, especially in the secondary.
Graduate students Ty-Meer Brown and Dominique Williams, senior Manuel Asprilla, and juniors Justin Simmons and Bryce Jones figure to lead the secondary, who some believe could be the most successful group on the team.
“We’ve already played together for awhile,” Asprilla said. “We trust in each other and believe in each other’s capabilities. We’re not out there making rookie mistakes. We’re out there doing things to show different looks you wouldn’t see from a freshman class.”
Addazio still emphasizes the team’s need to be better in the trenches, stopping the run on defense and running the ball effectively on offense. Setting the tempo with good tackling and solid blocking, he says, will be key in the team’s success.
“That’s our stick, man, we have to be able to do that,” Addazio said. “We’ve got to be able to roll down the hill with a fullback and an LB and hit ‘em in the chin.”
Some other notes from BC’s media day:
— Addazio emphasized quality over quantity, saying he only has 78 or 79 healthy bodies on the team. He’s considering shortening practice in an effort to keep players more energized for live play at the end of each session, which he considers the most important part of camp for the young roster.
— Willis has impressed coaches and teammates by coming into camp a stout 203 pounds in an effort to ready himself to carry the backfield load.
— Willis and Rouse carried the ball with the first team Thursday, running various misdirections and option plays with Murphy.
— Junior wide receiver Harrison Jackson won’t be ready for the Aug. 30 season opener against UMass. Senior defensive lineman Mehdi Abdesmad, though, is a “full go,” Addazio says, and will play in Saturday’s first scrimmage.
Photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images