Boston College gets things rolling Thursday, as the Eagles become the fifth ACC team to open up spring practice. Here are three questions facing Steve Addazio's crew as he starts Year 4 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
1. What will the QB room look like? To say BC's 2015 offense was bad would be an understatement, as the Eagles ranked 120th or worse among FBS teams in scoring and total offense. Part of that was youth, compounded by injury. But there will be no excuses this time around. Former Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler has come aboard, and he will have quarterback Darius Wade -- last year's original starter before a Week 3 ankle injury -- along with Kentucky graduate transfer Patrick Towles to work with.
Loeffler expects Wade to participate in most of the spring drills.
"He's healthy," Loeffler said. "He'll be able to, I believe, participate in all drills this spring. We might hold him out in a few things when it comes to contact, but for the most part he'll be ready to go. And it will be an important spring for him. He went from a guy who had the most experience at the position to the guy who, believe it or not, has the least -- just because they had to play so many other guys at the position last year because he was hurt so early. Obviously with the addition of Patrick Towles, Patrick's played a lot of good football in a really good conference. We're excited about this spring. We've got to find out who our top two, top three quarterbacks are. If we can by the end of spring, we will. If not, we'll wait and let the summer play out and let the fall play out."
2. Where does the defense go from here? The most disappointing part for BC about its play on offense last year was that it came at a time when the Eagles boasted the nation's top defense. But the Eagles said goodbye to standouts like Mehdi Abdesmad, Steven Daniels, Justin Simmons and Connor Wujciak. Perhaps as important, they said goodbye to coordinator Don Brown, who left for Michigan. In comes former Iowa linebackers coach Jim Reid, who had served as BC's coordinator once before, in 1994.
"When we were here in 1994 we put in a pressure front and we played that (at) every place, including the University of Iowa," Reid said. "So we're looking to kind of put in some new wrinkles and try to take advantage of the players that we have and the experience and speed. But to go directly to your question, it's a big challenge."
3. What kind of impact will the new coaches make? It's not just the two new coordinators. BC has five new assistants in all this year, including DBs coach Anthony Campanile, receivers coach Rich Gunnell and defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni, who has been among Addazio's biggest coaching mentors throughout his career. Perhaps fresh blood is a good thing following a 3-9 campaign, and this spring will be the time for coaches and players to adjust to all of the change around them.