ACC: Harris Williams



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Previewing the 2014 season for the Boston College Eagles:

Key returners: RB Myles Willis, WR Josh Bordner, LG Bobby Vardaro, C Andy Gallik, RG Harris Williams, DT Mehdi Abdesmad, LB Steven Daniels, LB Josh Keyes, CB Manuel Asprilla, CB Bryce Jones, S Dominique Williams

Key losses: QB Chase Rettig, RB Andre Williams, WR Alex Amidon, LT Matt Patchan, RT Ian White, DE Kasim Edebali, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Steele Divitto, K/P Nate Freese

Most important 2014 games: Sept. 5 vs. Pitt, Sept. 13 vs. USC, Nov. 1 at Virginia Tech, Nov. 22 at Florida State, Nov. 29 vs. Syracuse

[+] EnlargeSteve Addazio
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsSecond-year Boston College coach Steve Addazio is looking to build on a seven-win season in 2013.
Projected win percentage: 37.9 percent

Over/under Vegas odds: 5 wins

Instant impact newcomer: Florida transfer Tyler Murphy is the front-runner to start at quarterback, having been recruited to Gainesville back when Eagles coach Steve Addazio was an assistant there. Murphy started six games last year for the Gators, completing 60.5 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and five interceptions, adding 61 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.

High point from 2013: Pick any Andre Williams highlight and you'll find it easy to understand how the previously unsung running back bullied his way to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. Williams rushed for 2,177 yards and 18 touchdowns, finishing fourth in the Heisman voting. His 166 yards and two touchdowns in a Nov. 2 upset of Virginia Tech sparked a four-game winning streak for BC, helping the Eagles get to a bowl in Year 1 under Addazio.

Low point from 2013: A two-game slide to finish the season at 7-6 diminished some of the glow that had come from such a surprising run during BC's four-game winning streak earlier. The Eagles lost Williams in the regular-season finale at rival Syracuse, and lost the game 34-31 on a touchdown pass with six seconds left. Then Arizona routed BC 42-19 in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Murphy proves to be an efficient dual-threat quarterback, adding a dynamic to BC's offense that wasn't there last year. Willis leads a running back committee that, running behind a veteran line, is able to collectively make up for much of the production that went out the door when Williams left. A strong secondary offsets a mostly untested defensive front, and BC continues its ascent under Addazio, winning eight games and pulling several more upsets along the way.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: The offense struggles to find its identity without the machine-like Williams pushing it forward. Murphy and a green receiving corps have trouble meshing, the defense lacks punch up front and the Eagles fall back to a three- or four-win season, which is what many thought would happen last season.

They said it: "Really, the interest level now is about winning those games. It's really not about being close; that's not really what we're striving for here. Year 1 was about winning the opener, it was about getting bowl eligible. Now I think as the program moves on in Year 2, you want to get to Charlotte, and that's the next goal on the program's docket right now, is to get to Charlotte." -- Addazio, on BC's respectable 48-34 loss last season to eventual national champion Florida State

Q&A: BC center Andy Gallik

March, 11, 2014
3/11/14
2:00
PM ET
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.

[+] EnlargeAndy Gallik
Michael Tureski/Icon SMIAndy Gallik says the Eagles will remain a physical, run-first team, and he's excited about the competition at QB to replace Chase Rettig.
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.

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