Boston College Jay McGillis Memorial Spring Game
April 22, 2017
HEAD COACH STEVE ADDAZIO
STEVE ADDAZIO: Just great to come out of there healthy. It was great, and had a little fun at the end. We started mixing and matching jerseys so much, just wouldn’t let the other team score and let them kick it and wanted everybody to feel great about what they were doing. I couldn’t keep track of who was on what team anymore by the end, so I thought it was a good way to close it out. Moved the ball around a little bit, did some good things on defense, and guys played hard throughout the first half, did some good game mechanics and operation, closed off spring, just had a really fantastic, positive spring. Got a lot of work done all spring long and really like the work ethic of this football team, like the direction of the football team, like the attitude, passion for the game. It’s a great group of guys we have here right now, and really looking forward to a tremendous off-season and getting ready for the year.
Q. Just talk about targeting the running backs and tight ends, especially early.
STEVE ADDAZIO: We just wanted to get the ball to the tight ends, throw the ball around a little bit. We did a lot of different stuff today. You probably saw that, one back, two back, empty, and just did a lot of different stuff. You know, that eclectic, sprinkling the ball around, something we really wanted to get done, and I thought we did. Moved the ball pretty well around the field.
I think we’re pretty excited about what we’ve got. We actually had two good hard practice days this week, which is a little uncharacteristic. We had that time off at Easter, so we came back and had two really hard practices on Tuesday and Thursday and got a lot done there, as well, so it was pretty productive.
Q. Can you just talk about how far Sweeney has come from last year?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I mean, I thought Tom took a big jump last year in his productivity, and then again for us this spring took another step forward, which was really great. I think we have a really strong unit there, and obviously we’re missing Chris Garrison right now and Jake Burt, both out. They’ll add back into this mix, as well, so that’s a pretty strong, balanced unit of guys with a lot of depth. So, that’s a good thing, because we’re going to — you know, we play with at least two about every snap, and they can block and they can catch and they can do a lot of things. It’s good.
Q. Of the quarterbacks today, who stood out to you?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I thought kind of like the whole spring, I thought that they both had a pretty consistent spring. Like everything else, certain days, certain guys perform a little better, but I thought they’ve all done a good job. I thought Darius (Wade) moved the ball up and down the field pretty well today. But you can see the ability to throw the ball with these guys is pretty good, and both of them had a really great spring and have been very, very productive. I was excited to see those guys making some plays.
You know, I think we had a couple of fade balls that we probably didn’t give enough opportunities for those guys to catch the balls down the sidelines there, and that’s something we definitely need to work on are those deep balls. There was a lot of productivity by the quarterbacks, and it was good.
Q. Elijah Johnson and (indiscernible). What players do you see stepping up in those roles?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I mean, you’ve got Kevin Bletzer and Sharrieff Grice playing that outside backer spot, and Sharrieff has been out for a couple weeks, a week, and he didn’t play today, so Kevin Bletzer is getting a lot of those reps, and of course we have a pretty deep, talented linebacker corps, so that’s not to say that we also don’t have depth from within the interior corps. They all run really, really well. In the back end, Lukas Denis and Mehdi El Attrach have been getting a lot of work next to Will Harris at safety. Very, very talented. I think our back end is going to be really good. Kamrin Moore was out this spring, so coming back from an injury, but he’s good. He’s actually cleared now, and we’ve got experience back there, and I think this is a really good group.
We lost a really good player, but I really think we have really good players back there. We lost a really good player in Matt, but I think the linebacker corps is pretty deep because we actually — I think the biggest concern I have is the depth interiorly up front. I’ve said that before. I’d say that’s what we’ve got to really develop some really young guys right there. But some of those young guys have shown some real promise, but that would be where — right now today I would say the depth piece of that is something we can — we didn’t play Ray Smith today, but the depth piece of it interiorly, we’ve got to develop the young guys.
STEVE ADDAZIO: That’s part of what we do. We’re going to put the ball down the field, and both those guys can throw that ball down the field, and they’ve thrown it well all spring. Like I said, I think today, I think a couple of those deep fade balls, we kind of threw them out of bounds a little bit, which really all spring we’ve been pretty good with that. So today we didn’t connect on as many as I thought we would I would like to see us connect on. But we’ve been good with that. Those guys are accurate, accurate throwers.
You know, we’ve got to keep working and keep dishing the ball around and keep balancing it out. But I thought there was a lot going on the field today in terms of styles of throws and runs. Pretty good.
STEVE ADDAZIO: They do. They both do. And we didn’t work this — we did more this spring than we’ve ever done just in terms of we did a lot. A lot of different things, like I said, from one back, two back to empty to throw to run to play action, you know, we just did a lot more. I thought that was — that’s a reflection of having more depth, more guys, quarterback play, et cetera. So I thought we saw a lot of that today, which was good. We ran — each offense had to run 50 plays — well, just about 50 plays in a half, which is a fair amount, you know? And then once we were in the second half I reduced the quarter length and the running time, and I just kind of said, you know what, I’ve seen enough. I mean, like I said, we did a lot of plays on Thursday, just a couple days ago. I felt like that was enough.
And at the end of the day, you’re trying to get most — real setting, kind of in the stadium and everything and trying to get some of that work done, but the body of work for the spring I thought was fantastic. And we made it a fun deal. We purposely didn’t want to be like tackling out there. That’s always hard to officiate and it’s hard to determine when a guy is really stopped and when he’s not, and being on the goal line is really hard. But that’s fine. It’s all part of it. Big picture, it’s all big picture.
Q. Talk about the punt return. Is it Thadd Smith on the other side ^ check?
STEVE ADDAZIO: It was Hamp (Cheevers) and Taj Torres, and of course we had Davon Jones and Mike Walker. Mike has been out for spring. Davon has taken a bunch. We didn’t have him take any today. And Jeff Smith. Jeff and Davon didn’t do any punt return activity today. Taj and Hamp did today, and Taj took a lot of the kickoff returns today, but certainly Mike Walker and ham also are guys that have the ability to return.
And what we did with punt today was all fair catch, no return. And on kickoff return, what I told everybody was just kind of thud and set the ball where I wanted to. It was just about getting a couple of full-speed reps, right. Kind of choked that off after a while because it just becomes a lot of running. Punt covers and kickoffs and you’ve got the teams split up like that, it becomes a little bit a lot of running when you’re running as many plays as we’re running, too. I just thought that I’d seen enough of that activity for today, so I kind of stopped that there for a bit once I felt like we had it.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, yeah, we’ve got some real — we have a lot of — we’ve got some really fast, explosive guys. We have a lot of speed. And Taj is a legitimate bona fide sprinter. Mike Walker we all know is extremely fast. Jeff Smith is probably the fastest guy on the team. We have speed. So miles did a great job, but Mike (Walker) the year before did a phenomenal job. So we’re going to have some veteran leadership.
The punt return, you know, I thought Tyler (Rouse) did an exceptional job last year, and while we feel we’re very talented, no one really has any live experience in that, but these are the guys that — I thought it was great today to see some of that. We had one inside the 10 that should have been fielded, and good learning experience, and that’s what happens sometimes. A little bit more of a kind of game-like, competitive — maybe not making as good a decision when you don’t have a ton of experience there, so I thought that was good that that showed up, and we’ll coach about that a little bit.
STEVE ADDAZIO: It was all right. We call it two step, which means that the other side is not coming live because that’s such a hard thing. It’s a high injury rate deal when guys are on guys’ legs, so we call it two step. So you know, there’s not really — you don’t really feel a rush, so it’s hard to evaluate that. So it was okay, you know. I’d put it okay. I don’t know that really today was a fair assessment of the competitive nature of that, you know, because I still think it matters when you’re going live, you can really feel penetration, feel rush, feel pressure, and I think it has a little more effect. I just at the end tried to fire one off at the end there just to let those guys yell at each other a little bit, so it was pretty fun out there. I think that fell short or something. That was on the 35, I think. I had it on the 35, so that’s a pretty long field goal right there. It was accurate, but it was short. I was worried what was going to happen there.
Q. Three backs reached the end zone today. Do you plan in the future to have one feature back or maybe split up the carries more?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I mean, I’m not going to split them up that much. Jon Hilliman had a phenomenal, phenomenal spring. I mean, he had the best spring he’s had since he’s been here. They all did a great job. Davon had a lot of productivity, Rich Wilson, and then the young Travis (Levy). I mean, he’s (indiscernible). We need them all. What you learn in this conference is you need all those backs, you know, but to play all of them like equally or something like that, I wouldn’t say that would be our intent. But it’ll work itself out. In the course of a game, you need to play with a few, not necessarily equally distributed, but you need a few. But in the course of a season, I mean, you know, it’s a rough game, rough conference. Those guys get dinged up and really quickly. We’ve all seen it over the years. All of a sudden there’s years when you don’t have much, then the next year, next thing you know you’ve got two out or something. It just happens so fast on you. But I think it’s encouraging that we lost two really great guys, but we were able to have — I think you can get a good look at some guys that can be very productive.
SENIOR DE HAROLD LANDRY
- How do you feel as a whole with the outside line?
HAROLD LANDRY: I think we’re all pretty confident. We all put in a lot of work, speaking specifically about the D-line. It was definitely a hard-working spring for us, knowing Coach Pasqualoni, every day is a grind. But we’re really confident. We definitely still have depth. We lost Kev and Truman, but we’ve got a lot of depth on the edge. A big year for Noa. He spent a lot of work this spring, I’m really proud of him, but I think yeah, overall, we’re in pretty good shape for the season.Q.What are some of the major adjustments you guys had to make defensively?
HAROLD LANDRY: This spring?Q. Spring, correct.
HAROLD LANDRY: I mean, I don’t think we made a lot of adjustments. I think it’s more so the coaches really zoned in on our fundamentals and our technique and getting back to that. After the long season, you can get pretty sloppy with it, and just this whole spring, we’ve just been focused on developing everybody individually, making them a better player. I think that’s what the spring is about, just becoming a better player, not so much focused on the scheme of things but more so about just making everybody better, and I think that’s what we did.Q. Obviously you mentioned a couple young guys stepping up and maturing, but how has (indiscernible)?
HAROLD LANDRY: I mean, it’s been tough. You can see that throughout the spring. We don’t really have everybody on the one defense like in there. I mean, so it’s tough. But I think everybody on the defense is confident in all the players that aren’t in and they’re going to be ready for the season. We’re confident in them that they’re going to have their stuff right, and we’re all just confident in each other. I think defensively we just have like this chemistry I feel like. I think we all feed off of each other, and I think once camp rolls around and we get the few that are out right now, we get that chemistry with them back, I think we’ll be pretty set for the season.
Q. There are some guys who (indiscernible) in the spring, a couple different guys who might have had the option of (indiscernible) feels like you’re out there kind of trying to make sure that you get as many reps as possible. How do you approach it?
HAROLD LANDRY: I mean, the coaches here have done a great job with me this spring. Obviously I’m not taking every single rep, but the thing is like if you just stop playing, you’re going to lose. Like you’re going to lose it. You can’t be worried about getting hurt. You’ve got to — obviously you’re not going to do nothing crazy at practice, but you still get work done, and I think I’ve gotten a lot of work done this spring. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
Q. Where is your mindset now as you’re entering your senior year? How are you feeling individually going towards the fall?
HAROLD LANDRY: I feel good. Healthy, thank God. I think heading into the season, I’m proving that I’m a first-round draft pick. I plan on proving that this season. We’ve got about three months after this to train, develop my body as much as possible, just keep working, and I think everything will fall into place.
JUNIOR DE ZACH ALLEN
- What were you able to see?
ZACH ALLEN: Yeah, I mean, just able to kind of like situation, kind of some short passes so you know that they’re going to get the ball out quick, and then you can also kind of read the sets and read the quarterback’s eyes. I was able to kind of mirror his throwing arm and just kind of get in the way, make him throw through a forest.Q.Talk about stopping the run.
ZACH ALLEN: Yeah, I mean, definitely. You’ve got to stop the run if you want to be able to do anything, get them into good 3rd down situations so you can rush the passer. That’s what we work on every day first thing is stopping the run. We’ve still got some work. It’s early. We’ve still got a few months before camp, but we’ll definitely — that’s a major emphasis for us, and we’ve got some guys coming along that are doing it like on the interior and on the outside.Q. Talk about the transition from high school to college.
ZACH ALLEN: Yeah, I mean, Connecticut football is a little bit different than ACC football, and this is the best conference. That’s why I chose Boston College. You get to play against the best every day, and you also get to come to a great institution that really values both academics and athletics. There’s a big difference with size and speed, but we’ve had great leaders, I went from Mehdi (Abdesmad) and (Connor) Wujciak to last year with Kevin (Kavelec) and Truman (Gutapfel) and now you’ve got Harold (Landry) and Noah (Merritt) and (Kevin) Cohee, and they’ve really kind of kept us on the straight — just the experience playing freshman and this year, you get used to it, and then also we’ve got some great offensive threats, so you get used to the speed and the size. It was a little bit difficult in the beginning, but kind of last spring, kind of started to click for me and some of the other guys like Ray (Smith) and Wyatt (Ray), so it definitely worked out well for us.Q. How confident are you guys in the D-line for this next year?
ZACH ALLEN: I mean, we’re always confident in ourselves. We know next guy up. We trust him to do his job, and we hold everybody to a high standard, so if somebody is not doing it, we definitely kind of bring him along and force him to get there because we depend on everybody. We’ve had the most depth we’ve had so far. We’ve got like 15 guys, I think, in the room right now, and we’ve got another three coming in. It’s been great. We’re pushing each other every day and kind of got to bring everyone along.
JUNIOR QB DARIUS WADE
DARIUS WADE: From my own personal preference I do love tight ends. Just like last year, he was a big target for me. He still is now. He’s done a great job. He’s continuing to improve. Great hands, big target, athletic, so I’m definitely a fan of throwing to him.
Q. Also, you were targeting the backs a little in this spring game. Talk about involving the backs in your offense.
DARIUS WADE: So pretty much Coach Loeffler emphasizes that the backs are huge, that check-downs are very important, that a lot of times quarterbacks have the trouble of once their first, second read aren’t there then just try and take off and run and throw it away, but just to let you know that your back is there, that we have some very athletic good backs, a good group of guys that can catch the ball, so we as a quarterback group have to trust in them to know that they can catch the ball if we need them to.
Q. In competition for quarterback, you’re the frontrunner, and you also have a teammate that’s still your teammate. How have you found that in the past and how do you find it now?
DARIUS WADE: It’s interesting, I think, to kind of, like you said, navigate. Pretty much the main thing is just worrying about yourself for the most part, worry about what you can control. A lot of times you start worrying about what they’re doing and then you kind of get sidetracked and you’re not focused on the most important thing, which is just improving yourself. The competition, that’s exactly what that does. It kind of forces you to really not be content and focus on every play and make sure that you know every play is important because you’re being evaluated, and that if you’re messing up and he isn’t that now you’re losing a leg in the competition. So it’s just kind of forcing you to really kind of worry about yourself but still know that we’re teammates, still give encouragement, still give wisdom and knowledge when they make mistakes and try and help them, continue to better themselves because at the end of the day, we’re a team. But just kind of worry about yourself and just kind of really putting your head to the stone, just making sure that you’re doing the best that you can do.
Q. A big part of the bowl game (indiscernible). How do you feel about how that’s come along?
DARIUS WADE: Yeah, so pretty much it’s definitely — like you said, it’s a lot. But that’s something that we’re all very capable of, highly capable of being able to do. We feel at Boston College we’re more intelligent than at some other places, so we feel like the workload isn’t anything too extreme. It’s just kind of the biggest thing is just the change in philosophy, just going from our typical just regular huddle, just kind of ground and pound, and now we’re doing this up-tempo thing that like you guys were able to see that in the bowl game, so just kind of happened that by the time we already had pretty much laid the foundation, so we’re just now building upon that and just trying to add more, which is definitely exciting. Like it’s a challenge but it’s definitely exciting.
Q. Did you have some of it in place already? I’m curious how much —
DARIUS WADE: All of it pretty much. Before we used to utilize kind of a more wristband, just kind of have the plays here, but now it’s all up here. Like you said, it’s a lot more workload but it’s something we know we can handle and we’re happy to do.
Q. Do you like the roll-out?
DARIUS WADE: Yeah, it’s just a good way just to kind of get people moving, get the defense moving because when you’re in no-huddle the biggest advantage you have is tiring out the defense and getting them moving sideline to sideline. That’s something that I loved doing in high school. I’ve done a good amount here, and like I said, whenever they call it, I’m happy.
REDSHIRT FRESHMAN QB ANTHONY BROWN
ANTHONY BROWN: Today it was a good experience having the stadium a little packed, going out there with my team, and trying to compete. It was a little rough, but there will be better days, but we’ll get through it.
Q. How are you navigating the quarterback competition?
ANTHONY BROWN: I try to look to him for advice sometimes. I also ask other people from back at home that have been in the same situation how they would handle this. As Darius (Wade) said, try to stay to yourself, try to make yourself better, don’t always worry about what he’s doing or what somebody else is doing because then it’ll cater to like your game. It’ll hinder your game. I’m just trying to grow up, in a sense, on the field.
Q. There were a couple of misses that just went off the fingertips. Talk about how much that’s a part of what you do.
ANTHONY BROWN: I have to work on my little long — I have to work on my long throws, accuracy. I mean, we have these three months to get it better and keep them working and just get the timing right. By the time camp rolls around, we should all be fine.
Q. Anthony, talk about running the spread offense.
ANTHONY BROWN: In what sense?
Q. It was just using you, the spread with Anthony.
ANTHONY BROWN: The spread offense is very unique. It gives you a chance to spread a defense out. You can either have the chance to ground and pound them with your running backs because we have that, we have three great running backs — well, actually four, Travis, Jon, Rich Wilson, and Davon, and then we have a plethora of receivers out there that can go and get the ball, and they’re out there doing their thing. So the spread offense is like very — it’s very good for us because as they said, we’re running a hurry-up offense to where we can tire out a defense. That’s our biggest thing right now, we’re trying to get conditioned for that, and we want to just keep it moving and keep it driving basically.
Q. In the bowl game (indiscernible) how much were you able to kind of be a part of (indiscernible) and carry it over into the spring and how has that helped you?
ANTHONY BROWN: During the bowl practices, me and Darius (Wade) took the majority of the reps, so it was like a back and forth thing. It was similar to the spring at the time, and it was a lot to take in. But we’re obviously getting better at it. We’re getting more knowledge of what we’re doing and how we’re supposed to be doing it and why we’re doing it. This spring was another stepping-stone for us, for us to get better and know our stuff, so I expect camp to be a really good one.
Q. How much have you built up confidence in the spring?
ANTHONY BROWN: Well, my confidence has raised to another level since the bowl practices, and I plan on it to continue. Like it just comes with time, but I’m trying to get it faster, if you understand what I’m saying.
Q. How was the speed of the game for you, seeing it? It’s different than practice.
ANTHONY BROWN: It was a little bit better — well, a little bit faster than practice. Not too much of a difference, because in practice, we practice at a very high level, so getting out there in the game style of play, it wasn’t much of a difference.