The Deception Of Depth, And A Wide Gap Between ‘Ones’ & ‘Twos’

You could forgive Steve Addazio for getting a little repetitive. Ask him how practice is going, and, eventually, he’ll let out one large, relieved breath, throwing almost his whole upper body into it while he flashes a comforted smile and runs his hand across his head. Then you know that some combination of the words healthy, health, (the lack of) injury, or injuries is coming. See:

  • We got work done, some positive things happened, and the biggest positive is always no serious injuries, at least that I know of right now. (Aug. 10)
  • You just hope to God that you get a little luck in there too, not some bad luck. We couldn’t handle a rash of injuries, nor could we handle not being physical and tough. (Apr. 23)
  • But if we can manage to stay healthy with the development of our guys and the influx of some young players that can help us, I think good things can happen. (Apr. 26)
  • We also had a chance to walk off the field and walk out of the stadium, because we ended up having a day with the parents and the cookout, and we had a spring‑wrap up session. We walked out of there healthy and excited with a lot off energy and a lot of enthusiasm about Boston College. (April 26)

When Addazio or his assistants have called out “ones” during practices this preseason, the field is filled with either proven talent, solid production, or, at the very least, optimistic potential. Call out “twos” and things start getting uncertain.

Boston College has a reliable quarterback (Chase Rettig), that quarterback has a favorite, record-breaking target (Alex Amidon), and that target might get open more with a talented back (Andre Williams) hungry for carries, carries which he will be fed, setting up the pass. The five starters on the offensive line have improved the pass protection and are hoping to push to the second level in the run game.

There’s talent on the defensive line waiting to break through, the two biggest playmakers line up at the linebacker positions, and the starting secondary, especially players like Manny Asprilla and Bryce Jones, has taken steps forward in a new, aggressive system.

Look at this team’s “ones” and, while the talent may not stand out tremendously, there’s at least a competitive ACC roster. But football, more so than any other sport, isn’t about ones. Three or four weeks into the season it starts being about “twos” and then, sometimes, a month later it starts even being about “threes.” The success of the Eagles in 2013 will come down to how much those second and third string players are needed and how they perform more than anything else.

The inexperience behind the first-string players is striking. Here are the 2012 numbers for the returning, non-starters:

  • QBs behind Chase Rettig: 1-2, 7 yards,
  • RBs behind Andre Williams: 56 Att, 188 yards, 1 TD
  • WRs behind Alex Amidon*: 71 Rec, 687 yards, 4 TDs
  • OL behind first team: 3 combined starts
  • DL behind first team: 11 combined starts, 76 tackles, 2.5 sacks
  • LBs behind first team: 1 combined start, 72 tackles, 1 TFL
  • DBs behind first team: 9 combined starts, 82 tackles, 1 INT, 4 breakups

Health across the board is a pipe dream at this level in this sport. Five snaps into Saturday’s scrimmage two freshman running backs were dinged up. One, Myles Willis, walked off the field slowly on crutches. Linebacker Steele Divitto sat on the bench icing his knee a few snaps later. Some second and third string players walked around without pads or in red jerseys.

All of that is normal for this time of year. It happens, and luckily for the Eagles, none of these injuries were reported as serious ones. Every player that missed snaps is expected to be back out there soon, but more importantly it’s not even mid-August and these issues are already popping up. They always do.

So all Addazio can do is hold his breath, ask for a little luck, and hope that when a tackling day is finally over, he can say with one of those big relieved breaths that everybody walked off healthy.

“Always be thankful when you walk off that there’s no major problems,” Addazio said Saturday. “That’s how I look at things now. These days like these, I tell you what, all of my buddies, all of the head coaches out there that I talk to all the time, we’re always worrying about coming off the field on these tackle days and, where are we, you know?”

Right now, they’re exactly where they need to be, but when October hits and then November hits harder, the depth chart won’t be. Guys that are “twos” now are going to become “ones” out of necessity. That’s how the game works.

How many? It’s impossible to say.

At a certain point, if Addazio continues to recruit like he has with this 2014 class, that thought won’t be as frightening as it is now, but this fall it’s difficult to even talk about. The message is just hope, be cautious, hold your breath, and ask for a little luck from the football gods.

This team has come out and said it has only two goals. Win the opener, and become bowl eligible. It can hold its breath long enough to notch that first goal. That second one is either going to take a lot of luck, or a lot of “twos” that right now only look like question marks.

*Includes all receiving options, like RBs, TEs, etc.

Related: Kimble, Jackson Stand Out In First Scrimmage

Austin Tedesco built this website. Follow him on Twitter at @Tedescau.

August 10, 2013
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