Boston College Springs into Football at the Jay McGillis Memorial Scrimmage
By tommyballgame, on assignment to bceaglesfootball.com from www.bchoop.com.
The Eagles are flying high this spring. Thankfully, things have come a long way from the first year of Tom O'Brien's reign at the Heights - gone are the days of the offensive line wearing yellow shirts so they could play for both teams because there wasn't enough depth to field 2 full squads. The questions of the day were about players fighting over starting spots; about seeing who was where on the 2 and 3 deep roster; and who might get moved to a new position. Not all the questions were answered, but there are many reasons to look forward to fall in Alumni Stadium.
Replacing an All-American is never easy, but BC has the tools to prevent a drop off at tailback. The Eagles ran a mix of single back and FB/HB sets with both quarterbacks. Derrick Knight was the "starter", if it is fair to say that in a spring game, with the 1st team offense and QB Brian St. Pierre. Knight had 118 all purpose yards, carrying 15 times for 59 yards including a 10 yard touchdown, showing the speed you'd expect from seeing him last season. To this observer, he was BC's best receiver out of the backfield, with 6 catches for 59 yards, though many of those yards were in the final drive versus a prevent type offense. Running Back Horace Dodd, a transfer from Penn St, had the size, speed and power to make you think Will Green had decided to suit up one more time. Dodd rushed 13 times for 73 yards, including a 1 yard TD plunge. The other positive in the backfield was sophomore Brandon Brokaw, who had 68 yards on 15 carries and hit the line without hesitation. Tailback is set to be a battle for playing time through the fall drills. Expect Tom O'Brien to follow his past habits and split the reps between the backs. Also following suit, Knight has seniority and will probably start. But if he is injured, there won't be a drop off with either Dodd or Brokaw.
At Quarterback, Brian St. Pierre showed poise and experience, cycling through receivers, making good choices and throwing the ball out of bounds when needed. St. Pierre completed 20 of 41 passes for 272 yards, including a 26 yard TD to senior Shaun Toof and a 67 yard bomb to Keith Hemmings. At the end of the first half, he put together a 4 pass, 80 yard drive with Knight, Jamal Burke and a 36 yard completion to Toof all to set up the Toof TD pass. St. Pierre did throw 2 picks, but one was off a rebound when the WR couldn't come up with the pass, and the other was the last second heave as time expired. He had the long pass of the day, a 67 yard bomb to Keith Hemmings where Hemmings made a nice adjustment to the ball and was able to take on good yards after the catch. The Saint didn't have "happy feet", and he did have good velocity, to the point where a few of his passes to the outlet out of the backfield were too fast for them to catch. He did a nice job finding the open man, working the sidelines and the outlet receivers, and avoiding long attempts up the middle for the most part.
Quinton Porter led the other squad, completing 8 of 11 passes for 156 yards with 2 picks and a 60 yard bomb to Joel Hazard. Porter also rushed for 27 yards including a 4 yard TD. Porter had good velocity on the ball, and appeared to have the speed to be able to run the option more effectively than St. Pierre. Another BC fan disagreed on his performance. I thought he looked to one receiver and if he was covered, he looked to duck and run, which was understandable after having 2 passes picked off by Larry Lester. My compatriot thought he did a good job distributing the ball around the field. We both agreed he showed foot speed and arm strength. The pass of the day was his "on the money" fly pattern to Joel Hazard which became a catch and run 60 yard TD. Definite improvement from his game appearances early last season.
The surprise of the QB race was the non-appearance of Eric Boatwright, who did not play at QB and if he took snaps on defense at another position, I missed it. So one of the questions of the game - what position will Boatwright play? - went unanswered. By all accounts, he is too good an athlete not to play somewhere on the field for BC.
The player exceeding my expectations was sophomore Joel Hazard. Hazard's size concerned me when he first lined up wide right, but his speed made me a believer! He scored a 60 yard TD on a straight go pattern on the right sideline. He caught the ball cleanly, tiptoed for 3 steps to stay inbounds, and then turned on the jets right into the paint. His other key play which didn't make the box score was a TD he scored on an end around, which was called back due to a penalty, but the rushing TD was evidence that he has the speed to get separation and make the play.
The not-so-hot news of the day would be the kicking game. BC had a tough time on kick blocking, with multiple blocked and tipped field goals and extra points, including a blocked field goal and a blocked PAT by Ralph Parent. The other negative was that there were too many offsides calls, but that is a discipline issue which can be overcome with practice and patience.
The player of the game in my opinion was DB Larry Lester, who had a 56 yard interception return for a TD, another pick and recovered a fumble off a punt return. Honorary mention for Player of the Game would go to QB Brian St. Pierre, receiver Joel Hazard and DT Doug Goodwin for his knack for getting into the backfield and blowing up running plays. The surprise of the day was that 6-1 Freshman Tony Gonzalez lined up at DB instead of WR.
All in all, a great day at the Heights. BC did a nice job with the Family Day events before the game for the kids, as well as setting up the autograph session on the field after the game. The offense looked strong, and carried the play in the first half. The defense stepped up and adjusted in the 2nd half. But most importantly, there is depth at all the key positions, and with few exceptions, players will be challenged for snaps during the Fall. GO EAGLES!
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