Boston College rode Andre Williams all the way to a 2,000-yard campaign and postseason berth in 2013, successfully going back to its roots as a smash-mouth, physically tough football team.
But the Eagles will most certainly have a different identity when the 2014 season rolls around. The power run game will still be there, but many more spread principles will be featured on offense because the Eagles will likely have a dual-threat quarterback under center.
Chase Rettig did an admirable job as the quarterback this past season despite being a less-than-ideal fit for what coach Steve Addazio likes to run. Rettig emerged as a leader, and the ability to run play-action helped keep opposing teams off balance. The spread, however, was almost completely ignored because Williams and the run game gave the Eagles the best chance to win every week.
Williams and Rettig are both gone now, opening up other possibilities for the offense. Addazio has always preferred a dual-threat quarterback to run his system, and now he has several on the roster: Florida transfer Tyler Murphy and early enrollee Darius Wade headline the group and will compete for the starting job, along with Josh Bordner and James Walsh.
“The ability to keep our power run offense but to be able to diversify a little bit and spread it out a little bit will be great for us,” Addazio said in a recent phone interview. “We’ll be a little different. It’s early right now, but there will be more diversity in terms of quarterback runs and tailback runs. We won’t have one guy getting 42 reps.
“While there will be some elements that will look similar, we might be more in the shotgun, we might be camouflaging and diversifying with the power run game with the option, there could be a tempo component. We’ll be gravitating a little more toward where I’d like to get to.”
Murphy is the only quarterback on the roster with extended game experience and was recruited to Florida by Addazio. He is familiar with the type of offense the Eagles want to try and run. But Wade, a three-star prospect out of Delaware, also provides tantalizing possibilities. Addazio described him as a “dynamic athlete,” a player with a strong arm who can also run and extend plays. The hope is for Wade to be able to contribute as a true freshman this fall.
Without Williams, Boston College will split the rushing load more evenly. Tahj Kimble is expected back after rehabbing a torn ACL, while Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse look to build off freshman seasons in which they spelled Williams.
Addazio also expects the offensive line to be as strong as it was this past season. The Eagles do have to replace both starting tackles, but getting Florida transfer Ian Silberman into the program will help.
The biggest concern moving forward is developing playmakers on the outside. Addazio hopes Bobby Swigert can fill the role Alex Amidon had in the offense, but Swigert is returning from a knee injury so his status remains up in the air.
“We’ve got to get better out on the edge in terms of blocking the perimeter, catching the ball, winning one-on-one matchups,” Addazio said. “That’s not a quick-fix area. We’ve got to recruit and build.”
Addazio already showed what he has the potential to build after an impressive first season. The Eagles might look a little different on offense next season, but that is a good thing. What you see in 2014 will be closer to the vision Addazio has for this group in the years to come.