ACC: Andre Callender

Q&A with Jeff Jagodzinski

August, 20, 2008
8/20/08
2:43
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

 
 Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images
 Jeff Jagodzinski says some things are easier for him now that he has one year under his belt.

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- It is an absolutely perfect day here, about 77 degrees and sunny. I'm heading out to practice now, but first some excerpts from my interview with Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski Wednesday afternoon:

What have you learned about your team this summer?

JJ: They're a hard-working group of guys. They did everything I asked them to do. They stayed here both sessions of summer school. Our strength coach has put them through a workout like he's never put a team through before, just tougher, more demanding.

What was the biggest surprise of the summer, whether it was a player or a group that made significant progress?

JJ: Josh Haden did a really nice job this summer. Just being in the program since last January has really helped him. Actually, all of those guys that came in are going to have to contribute this year. They would've had a hard time doing it if they weren't here from last January.

Do you feel like your offense might be a little less one-dimensional because you're adding more of a mobile quarterback, more of a running game this year?

JJ: Let me point out something about our running game. Our short control passing game we consider runs here. Everybody was saying you didn't run the ball. Andre Callender had over 1,600 yards last year, total offense. He caught the ball ... every time he touched the ball he gained 10 yards. Now, do you want to hand it to him? Or do you want to throw it to him? That's our running game. I think that's skewed in the fact I'm not going to take it out of that quarterback's hands -- that would not be smart. But Andre still had close to 1,000 yards rushing last year. That was the best way we could use him last year.

Is Chris, though, a more mobile quarterback?

JJ: Oh yeah, we'll be able to use him in more play-action and movement type stuff more so than drop-back like we did last year, because that was not Matt's strength.

How much have you seen Chris develop as a leader, sort of taking ownership of this offense?

JJ: When you're never in that position, you can never blossom. [Offensive coordinator Steve] Logan and I were watching film the other day from his first spring scrimmage to where he is right now, it's night and day, just the way he takes command of the offense. Until you've done it, you haven't done it.

The same can be said, though, about his first season as starter, even though it's not like he hasn't played before.

JJ: He is a fifth-year freshman right now.

How much confidence do you have in that fifth-year freshman?

JJ: I've got as much confidence as I have in any starting quarterback. If he's your guy, he's your guy.

Is this an easier season for you because it's your second season?

JJ: As far as knowing what to expect it's a lot easier, and going through our guys knowing what I expect and how things are done the way I want the program to look, yeah, that was a lot easier. As a coach, it's a matter of getting the kids to buy into what you're doing and they did that early on last year and that's just continued.

How is the secondary looking?

JJ: To be honest with you, they are more athletically gifted than what we've had. As far as being football players, we're going to find out. But the guys that are taking Jamie Silva's spot are more athletically gifted than Jamie was. Jamie was an instinctive guy that made plays. We'll find out what these guys can do, [Marcellus] Bowman and Wes Davis.

Check back later for more on BC.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

When the Boston College defense works out separately from the offense and a player "messes up," defensive end Alex Albright said there's one thought:

"A lot of guys say, 'This is defense, we don't do that,'" said Albright, who led the team with 8.5 sacks last year. "We have so much expectation on ourselves that really we leave ourselves no room for error. We take that mentality that we have to carry the team to heart. That's something we really focus on a lot."

Eagles fans will be happy to hear it.

So much attention has been placed on what Boston College's offense doesn't have that it's talented defense might have been overlooked. Not only are the Eagles' front seven proven veterans, but they've also been given a boost by the return of defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who was academically ineligible last year, and Albright, who missed the last three games with a broken forearm.

"I can't even explain how much that helps," said strongside linebacker Mark Herzlich, who started all 14 games last season and will play his third linebacker position in as many seasons. "It's going to benefit our team exponentially. Having B.J. in there -- B.J. and Ron (Brace) in the middle is going to really change opposing offenses' attack. Those are two immovable men. They both weigh 340 pounds. To just run straight up the middle is going to be hard."

The one thing this defense needs to work on is its pass coverage. It's important to remember, though, that because the Eagles' run defense was so impressive (allowing an ACC-best 75.5 yards per game), teams were left with little alternative other than to throw the ball. Boston College was last in the league in pass defense, allowing 253.9 yards per game.

This is why the Eagles have been working on their pass coverage every day this summer.

And while they've been genuinely impressed by quarterback Chris Crane and freshman running back Josh Haden, these guys have no problem carrying the load until the offense works out its kinks.

"The offense is definitely coming together," said Herzlich, who was second on the team with 97 tackles last season and led with 12 tackles for loss. "It's coming together well and quicker than a lot of people thought it was. That's always a positive, but in order to set the tempo and set the attitude of the game, defense does need to set an example and go out on the field and do everything perfect. No errors."

That's not to say they haven't been wowed at times during the offseason by their teammates on the other side of the ball.

"In the past, when you're on a team and you get a stellar recruit, you're a little cautious when they first come in," Herzlich said. "You never know if the ratings are a fluke or what, but he came in and he has really proven himself this spring and winter. One thing I love about Josh, he's fast enough to get around the outside, and he's small, but once he gets off the line of scrimmage, he has a quick burst, which is something we haven't had -- that quick ability of a running back in the past couple of years. Andre (Callender) had flat-out speed and L.V. (Whitworth) was pretty powerful, but Josh has combined a little bit of both which is really nice to see."

Albright agreed.

"This kid has just explosive speed," he said. "He gets outside faster than anyone I've seen before. He's such a downhill quick runner. If he gets even the slightest hole, look out, because he's gone."

As for quarterback Chris Crane?

"If he was at another school he would have been playing," Albright said. "He is so fast and he has a heck of an arm. A lot of people will be surprised when we come out for Kent State."

Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesRex Brown/Getty Images
Clemson's James Davis (left) and C.J. Spiller (right) make up the ACC's top rushing combo.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Last week I started to check out the ACC position-by-position, starting with the quarterbacks.

Let's see who enters the fall with the best running game:

1. Clemson -- No question here. James Davis uses his strength to plow between tackles and is the ACC's leading returning rusher (81.8 yards per game) while C.J. Spiller's speed and elusiveness make these guys the total package.

2. NC State -- With Toney Baker, Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene returning, the Wolfpack might have the best depth. And at this position, you need it.

3. Virginia --While Cedric Peerman was injured, Mikell Simpson made a name for himself. (I watched him beat Maryland almost by himself: 119 yards rushing, 152 yards receiving). Together they can help ease the pressure off the Cavaliers' new quarterback.

4. Miami -- Graig Cooper led the Hurricanes' offense in the spring game with eight carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Javarris James (cousin of Edgerrin James) caught four passes for 60 yards and ran once for a 25-yard gain.

5. Wake Forest -- Last season, Josh Adams set the school record for the most rushing yards (953), rushing attempts (219), receptions (34), rushing touchdowns (11) and total touchdowns (12) by a redshirt freshman. His carries are sure to increase, and he enters the season as the league's second leading returning rusher.

6. Florida State -- The Seminoles will need more production out of senior Antone Smith, who had 817 yards last year on 191 carries. Once Preston Parker is done serving his two-game suspension, he could be another option. Having never played the position before, he took over for an injured Smith against Maryland last year and ran 51 yards on his first four carries, including an 18-yard touchdown run.

7. Georgia Tech -- Jonathan Dwyer averaged 5.3 yards per carry as a freshman and could be the B back in Paul Johnson's offense. Junior Jamaal Evans also has experience, as he played in 11 games. He and redshirt freshman Roddy Jones are listed as the two slot or A backs.

8. Duke -- Re'quan Boyette has led the Blue Devils in rushing the past two seasons. That experience alone puts him ahead of the final four.

9. North Carolina -- Greg Little should only improve upon his move from wide receiver to running back late last season. Ryan Houston and Devon Ramsay also had productive springs.

10. Maryland -- Morgan Green and Da'Rel Scott are talented but inexperienced. Green had three carries last season, Scott 14.

11. Virginia Tech -- Leading returning rusher Branden Ore was kicked off the team, and both of his backups (Kenny Lewis Jr. and Jahre Cheeseman) suffered serious injuries. Until we see who their playmaker will be, it's tough to have the Hokies higher. Dustin Pickle, Josh Oglesby and Darren Evans are all options.

12. Boston College -- Josh Haden was the only option here this spring, and so far, he's unproven. Replacing Andre Callender won't be easy.

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