FOOTBALL: Offensive Line Builds BC's Foundation
Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 22:04
Every house needs a solid foundation. As the Boston College football programs starts to rebuild its house, that foundation will be formed on the offensive line. Head coach Steve Addazio has spent his whole career specializing in the position, and along with offensive line coach Justin Frye, the two are working toward reestablishing a unit that has slipped in recent years.
That process starts not with technique, but with a mindset.
“We’re going to be a tough-ass, physical team, and that’s where we start,” Frye said. “We’re going to be able to run off the ball, we’re going to hit people, we’re going to knock people back, we’re going to protect the quarterback really well, and the focus for us is that it all runs through us. We can command the offense, drive the offense, when things are going downhill we can put our feet in the ground and respond and kind of put the team on our back.”
That wasn’t the case last season, when the offensive line struggled to protect quarterback Chase Rettig and create gaps for the running backs. The Eagles finished 10th in total offense among 12 ACC teams, and last in rushing offense with 90 yards per game. BC was one of only eight schools in Division I to average fewer than 100 yards rushing per game. The unit up front also allowed 36 sacks on Rettig, which ranked 10th in the conference.
Addazio has preached the importance of a balanced attack since he arrived in Chestnut Hill, and that balance can’t happen unless the offensive line can create rushing opportunities on first and second down to open up the play action.
“We’re more of a gap-scheme team now, which means we’re going to rock off the ball, double-team you, build a wall and knock you off the ball,” Addazio said. “We’re not a sideways kind of outfit.”
With spring practice over, Addazio and Frye both like the progress the offensive line has made so far.
“These guys are talented guys,” Addazio said. “If I don’t know anything, I know something about that spot. Those guys did a great job. They came a long way. They’ve got a long way to go to, but I like where we’re headed.”
“The biggest thing coming out [of spring practice] was that we found an identity of being a downhill, power run football team,” Frye said. “We know we can do that now. You can see it on the film now. So now we’ve got to hang our hat on that and everything that we’re doing from here on out is to add to that.”
Frye has worked with Addazio for most of his career, playing under him at Indiana and then serving as an assistant at Florida and Temple. With the Gators, Frye had the opportunity to work with NFL prospects like Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert, and Maurice Hurt.
“We had a lot of good football players down there,” Frye said. “Being able to see first round talent and draftable guys at such a young stage in my career was really beneficial to me. Now there’s a benchmark set. This is how these guys perform on and off the field. It’s a really good judge now that we’re recruiting guys and comparing them to people, I have the opportunity to say that this is the bar, and see where are they at now and how close can we get them.”
He’s using that experience with the Eagles now, and the tough mentality is starting to spread.
“We’ve got to continue to build the structure, and it’s just a mindset,” Frye said. “Now when guys we recruit come in, they’ve got to come in and say, ‘Oh wow, I’ve got to get on board with this, because this is the way. This is the unit. This is how they work and this is what they demand and I’ve got to get on board with that.’”
And the goal is that this toughness will carry into the fall when the real games start up.
“Teams are going to leave saying, ‘Damn, we were just in a fight right there.’ Win or lose they’re going to walk off the field saying that those guys came after us for four quarters.”
During spring practice, Frye would give his players two or three things to focus on each day, and then to add competition he’d give them a challenge.
“What’s the number?” Frye said. “How many guys are on the ground today?”
Frye calls them plus-blocks, or knockdowns, and he’ll be tracking them throughout the year. He doesn’t have any gimmicky rewards set up for those counts, though.
“I’m not into all that,” Frye said. “I like to win. Sundays are really good when you’ve come in and you’ve won, versus busting your hump and putting in all the work and getting on the bus or the plane and leaving knowing that you didn’t come away with a win. That’s the ultimate prize is feeling really good about yourself when you leave and going to hang with your friends or your family after the game knowing you just won a college football game, because they’re hard to win. They’re really, really hard to win.” n