Football, Featured Story

Wade, New Offensive Line Debut In Spring Scrimmage

The referee tossed his yellow flag in the air as the play clock struck zero on the Boston College offense and quarterback Darius Wade. Head coach Steve Addazio jumped from his post a few yards away to rip into his playcaller, ensuring it wouldn’t happen again.

Though the mood of BC’s spring scrimmage was generally upbeat and fun, Addazio took this moment to give Wade a stern lesson. With 58 first or second-year players on the roster, he’ll have to do a lot of that this upcoming season.

The storyline of BC’s annual spring scrimmage was the debut of many new starting players, given the departures of quarterback Tyler Murphy and the entire offensive line, among others.

The Eagles had a skeleton crew of an offensive line, with most of the new recruits replacing graduating seniors not enrolling until the fall semester. Sixth-year senior Harris Williams is still on the mend from an injury as well, and BC head coach Steve Addazio said the main reason for changing the format of the spring game was the lack of offensive lineman.

“How do you play a spring game with seven and a half lineman?” Addazio asked after the scrimmage, the half referring to the snap limit on senior Dave Bowen. “You gotta have 10 guys—it’s just as simple of that. Next year we’ll have it, but we don’t right now.”

Overall, the offensive line showed potential, but there were frequent lapses that left multiple defensive players with unabated paths to the quarterback. Addazio expects Bowen, Jon Baker, Frank Taylor, and Harris Williams to make up four-fifths of the offensive line, with a battle expected for the right tackle spot. Baker is the only non-senior in that group.

Despite the fact that none of those players started last year, they have each spent multiple years on the team, something that Bowen said will help in the beginning of the year.

“We got a lot of older guys coming back,” Taylor said, “and I think we can all step up and contribute to filling in the missing pieces.”

The other major loss for BC last season was the departure of Murphy, whose shoes are expected to be filled by Wade. The sophomore from Middletown, Del. has the wheels to break off a big run, but feels more comfortable throwing the ball—something Addazio was willing to let him do.

Wade had a strong presence in the pocket, hitting the target on his short throws. His accuracy struggled on deeper passes, but Saturday was Wade’s first game ever in the snow.

“Quarterbacks normally aren’t too fond of the snow, but it was definitely fun,” Wade said. “We were happy to just out there with each other on the last day of spring practice.”

Addazio commended Wade’s ability to throw the ball, saying that it will add another dimension to a BC offense that finished 124th in the country in passing yards last season.

“I’m really encouraged watching us throw the ball, even today in the snow,” Addazio said. “I really like seeing that and I’m excited about what it will bring to our system.”

Early in the season while he is still getting acclimated to the college game, Wade—when he is not running himself—will be able to count on on his four-headed monster in the backfield. The Eagles used a combination of running backs Jonathan Hilliman, Myles Willis, Tyler Rouse and Marcus Outlow last season, and each player is returning this upcoming year. Add in reverse specialist Sherman Alston into the mix, and Addazio will have plenty of options on the ground.

While committed to a balanced offense, Addazio said that he would do whatever it took to win—even if it meant running the ball on every play.

“If our strength on offense is in balance, we’ll play with balance,” Addazio says. “To me, it’s just about what you need to do to win. The rest of it doesn’t matter to me.”

On the other side of the ball, the defensive unit is suffering the loss of captain Dominique Williams and safety Sean Sylvia, but remains largely unchanged. Defensive back Justin Simmons noted that the defense has placed a high priority on speed this offseason, and it shows on the field.

“This defense in particular is the fastest we’ve had in a while,” Simmons said. “We focus on running to the football, crowding around the ball, and making sure we have all 11 heads to the football.”

Addazio also used the event as a platform to campaign for an indoor facility, highlighting Saturday as a the perfect opportunity to make use of such. This is the second time this week he has appealed to the media, mentioning the need for a permanent indoor facility to help with recruiting and also for dire weather conditions.

Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor

March 29, 2015