Spring practice is underway at Boston College. The Eagles held one practice just before spring break, then returned to the field Tuesday to resume workouts. I had a chance to catch up with veteran center Andy Gallik after practice to talk about goals for this upcoming season and how the Eagles are going to answer questions at running back and quarterback.
How are things different this spring in Year 2 under Steve Addazio?
Andy Gallik: Last spring, the big thing was understanding Coach Addazio’s philosophy as a whole for the team. This year, despite the many losses we had and being a younger unit, the guys that have been around have stepped up as leaders and it has been a little bit easier of a transition because we’ve already spent over a year in the offensive and defensive schemes that we’ve run. So it’s been a little bit easier transition than we had last springtime.
Have you stepped up more as a leader?
AG: I feel like it’s a role that I should take over as the center, being a fifth-year guy. I’ve played a lot of football since I’ve been here so I know what it takes to show up in practice and do everything the right way with working and fundamentals from period to period in practice because it transitions over to Saturdays when you’re playing in the games.
How do you duplicate the success you had running the ball last year without Andre Williams?
AG: We definitely have the same mentality of being a tough, physical unit, not just all around but especially up front on the offensive line. We return myself, Bobby Vardaro and Harris Williams and we also return Seth Betancourt at tackle, who has played a lot of ball since he’s been here as well. So even though we lost Andre, we do have a good stable of running backs ready to step in. Everybody knows the mentality we have as an offense, running downhill, being physical, being extremely tough. Everybody has the right mindset going into the spring again.
What was it like changing that mindset to being a physical, tough football team?
AG: The guys in my class when we were recruited, the offensive scheme we were in was centralized around being a tough and physical unit up front, but we got away from that the last couple years with the different offensive coordinators and the type of offense we ran. When Coach Addazio came in, it was something we had done before, but we got away from it a little bit. Coach Addazio not only stressed the toughness but bringing the techniques and really working the fine details of the work that we do.
You have to replace Chase Rettig at quarterback. Now you have players with a different skill set competing to win the starting job. What has that transition been like so far?
AG: It’s definitely a little different because I’ve been with Chase my whole career, but Tyler Murphy comes in from Florida, who has a lot of starting experience in a great conference. Darius Wade is a freshman who has a lot of ability, along with James Walsh. We’ve seen a different dynamic with guys who are more mobile and can run with it. It’s definitely interesting and really exciting to play in this offense now because we have more options to attack defenses.
What have you seen out of the three quarterbacks competing for the job so far during workouts?
AG: They’re all really extremely talented. When I first saw them throwing, we were working out on our own and I saw the arm strength in all these guys and how quick they are and I couldn’t believe all the options we have. So it’s going to be an interesting spring to see the competition grow between all the quarterbacks.
As the center, how is your role impacted with an open quarterback competition?
AG: It’s definitely a different transition working with different guys but in terms of snapping -- snapping stays the same. The competition, it’s not up to me. Everything I do as the center stays status quo but in terms of their playing styles, that’s out of my hands but the chemistry is something that’s going to have to be built throughout spring ball between each of the quarterbacks that I do work with.
What is the mentality among the players this spring, knowing you had success a year ago?
AG: Last year we felt like we fell a little bit short. We did make a bowl game and that was an amazing experience, but all of us wanted to win that bowl game. For us to lose, it left a sour taste in our mouth going into the offseason. Everybody is really hungry. We’re all aiming for an ACC championship, not just going to a bowl game. We want to raise the bar and improve on last year.