BC returned to Fish Field House for the third practice of preseason camp Saturday morning. The two-hour practice featured the Eagles in shoulder pads for the first time and the sounds of pads cracking again.
The first day in shoulder pads also gave Jeff Hafley and his coaching staff the chance to see the team in a more physical setting with another level of contact added with the pads coming on. With the new staff, the process of still learning what the players’ strengths and weaknesses are on the field is still coming into play. “No, not yet,” said Hafley. “That’s huge, just because you want to really find out what you’re good at. Then you can make your game plans awesome, you can really get good at that. And that’s going to take us some time. The spring would have been so important to really see what this team can handle mentally, what they can handle physically. For example, on defense, what coverages we’re really good at, what pressures we’re really good at, because then as you get closer to the season, you start to really know you shrink your package. It’s going to be so important in this camp we figure that out. And week one might look way different from week eight.”
One pleasant surprise for Hafley so far has been the conditioning level for the team coming into preseason camp and returning to Boston College. With a remote workout plan at home for the players established by strength and conditioning coach Phil Matusz, the Eagles were able to hit the ground running upon their return to campus.
“It (the players’ conditioning level) was better than I thought it would be,” Hafley said. “Again, a credit to our players, they somehow found a way whether it was in their backyard, in their basement, during one of the toughest times they’ve ever been able to go through, they were in better shape than I thought. Not nearly where they would have been if they were in our weight room and on the fields but they worked and that’s why we’re in position to actually practice like we are right now, so I appreciate them for that.”
Practice Notes: One thing that stands out when watching senior offensive lineman Zion Johnson, it is his athletic ability and position flexibility. The All-ACC offensive guard looks just as comfortable when shifted out to tackle and could play center if needed … offensive line coach Matt Applebaum has been able to rotate reps at practice with a couple of new faces up front as both junior Nate Emer and sophomore Finn Dirstine both were in with the first group at the same time Saturday for a few plays … speaking of Applebaum, he was the coach who recruited Zion Johnson to Davidson. The two are reunited again at Boston College … the defensive line was active in the early going in teamwork as senior Bryce Morais, senior TJ Rayam, and true freshman Cam Horsley all came up with stops behind the line of scrimmage … Rayam also caused the biggest reaction from his defensive teammates with an interception in the final period of practice … sophomore defensive end Shitta Sillah put a solid 20 pounds of weight on during the off-season and it shows. He had a would-be sack if the quarterbacks were live during Saturday’s practice … sophomore cornerback Jason Maitre finished with an interception and fumble recovery during team periods … sophomore quarterback Phil Jurkovec spread the ball around again to a multitude of receivers, including nice gains to junior tight end Hunter Long, junior wide receiver CJ Lewis, sophomore wide receiver Ethon Williams and the day’s biggest play, a 50-yard bomb to sophomore wide receiver Zay Flowers … junior linebacker Isaiah McDuffie looks to be all the way back from a knee injury suffered in 2018. He was flying all over the field on Saturday making plays … true freshman wide receiver Taji Johnson came down with a couple of nice receptions from Jurkovec, sophomore Matt Valecce, and redshirt freshman Daelen Menard … the Eagles return to the practice field on Sunday morning for the fourth practice of preseason camp.