Boston College receiver Alex Amidon was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for the Eagles last year. This fall, he is hoping to be part of a turnaround under first-year coach Steve Addazio and offensive coordinator Ryan Day. Last year, Amidon’s 1,210 yards receiving ranked second in the ACC, behind Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins. Amidon and Hopkins led all ACC receivers in 2012 with six 100-yard reception games each. I caught up with Amidon recently to get his take on the new offense and staff changes. Here are the highlights of our conversation:
Tell me how the new offense changes your role.
Alex Amidon: Well, I wouldn’t say it changes my role that much. The one thing I noticed about the offense is we’re really focusing on establishing the run game before the pass game, which is going to help the offense out a lot. Last year we couldn’t really run the ball that well, and that closed the play-action game, but I’d say I’m just out there trying to help move the chains on third downs. I think that would be my most significant role right now.
Does that concern you at all, that it’s going to be more geared towards the run game?
AA: No, not at all. It’s not like we’re not going to pass, it’s just, I would say if anything, us having the run game is going to help the pass game. I would definitely love to run the ball more than 20 times. Last year we were averaging around 20 carries a game, and if we could get to like 30 or something, that would help the pass game out a lot, in my opinion.
What do you think needs to improve offensively? We talked about the run game, but what have been some of the other priorities for you this spring?
AA: There were a lot of young guys coming out, and they’ve all been focusing on improving every day, getting down the completely new offense, trying to learn that. One thing around the whole team is mental and physical toughness. That’s something, along with tempo, but we’re not really working on that right now. Mental and physical toughness is something you don’t really need talent for -- I’m not saying we don’t have talent -- but anyone can have them, and if you have those two things, you can outmatch a team. Those two things have really been a focus for us.
How would you say the culture has changed under the new coaching staff?
AA: It is a lot different. There’s a new amount of energy in the program. That’s the one noticeable thing, a huge energy. Practices are high-energy practices, lots of competition, lots of competitive drills. The energy and competition are the two most noticeable differences.
How tough have the past two seasons been?
AA: They’ve been real bad. They’ve been tough. It’s just tough because we’re working year-round to win games, and when you don’t, it’s so disillusioning, all of the work you put in. It was tough last season, for sure.
Do you feel like things are going in the right direction now?
AA: I do. You can tell. The optimism people have, the energy we have. Coach Addazio is clearly addressing some of the problems we had in the past years, which has mainly been a lack of leadership, from the older class, which is now my class. That’s something you will see different, is people being held more accountable for what is going on.
What are some of the things you guys have done as some of the older players to try and establish that sense of leadership?
AA: Whether it comes from a quarterback calling out a receiver for dropping a ball in practice, or somebody missing their assignment, just a lot more accountability in that. And also off the field, we’ve been trying to establish more of a community-sense, which is something we haven’t really had in the past here. Both of those things, together, those are a great base for what we’re trying to accomplish.
How are you trying to do that off the field?
AA: Just sitting down with the receiver group, we’ll go out to dinner, Applebee’s, we’ll go there, or eat on campus together, or the offense will gather as a group. Just do something off the field that just gets us together in kind of a fun setting, a family-type setting.
Check back tomorrow for Part II of this conversation.