ACC: James Walsh

Our series concludes today with Boston College, which is turning to several new faces who need to step up after a successful debut season under Steve Addazio.

Spotlight: QB Tyler Murphy

[+] EnlargeTyler Murphy
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertTyler Murphy started six games at Florida last season.
2013 summary: With Florida last season, Murphy played in nine games and started six, completing 60.5 percent of his passes for 1,216 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. He added 61 rushing yards and three more scores on the ground.

The skinny: The Eagles say goodbye to three-year starting quarterback Chase Rettig and in comes Murphy, who enrolled at Boston College early after graduating from Florida. Murphy will be immediately eligible for the 2014 season. Murphy is a much more ideal fit for the Eagles' offense as he is a true dual-threat quarterback who can help stretch the field. He was recruited to the Gators by Addazio when he was a UF assistant under Urban Meyer.

The Eagles have a crowded field vying for the starting spot, as they brought aboard early enrollee Darius Wade, a three-star prospect from Middletown (Del.) High, and also have returnee James Walsh. (Josh Bordner, Rettig's backup the last two seasons, moved to wide receiver.)

But Murphy entered spring practice Wednesday as the only quarterback among the group with game experience, and he has plenty of it. He was just 2-4 last year as a starter on an awful Gators team, but it's not like players transfer for their fifth and final seasons without the intent of getting significant playing time. (Nor do coaches take them for any other reason.) Murphy's seniority, coupled with his familiarity with Addazio and what the coach wants, makes him the guy to keep an eye on throughout the offseason. The Eagles must replace both tackles in front of him, too, so the more veteran savvy, the better for the future leader of the BC offense. It will likely be Murphy's job to lose.

Q&A: BC center Andy Gallik

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
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.
Setting up spring in the ACC Atlantic.

Boston College

Spring start: March 12

Spring game: April 12

What to watch:
  • Big shoes to fill: Steve Addazio helped BC make huge strides in 2013, but the task of keeping the momentum going gets much harder without star running back and Heisman finalist Andre Williams, who rushed for an NCAA-best 2,177 yards and 18 touchdowns. Tyler Rouse and Myles Willis will attempt to fill the vacancy this spring, and both have potential. Willis averaged nearly 6 yards per carry as Williams’ primary backup last year. The real intrigue might wait until fall, however, when four freshmen running backs arrive on campus.
  • Murphy makes the move: It’s an open competition at quarterback after Chase Rettig’s departure, but there’s no question the most intriguing player in the race is Florida transfer Tyler Murphy. The fifth-year senior worked with Addazio at Florida, and he’ll open the spring competing with redshirt freshman James Walsh and early enrollee Darius Wade. That’s a deep enough bench that BC didn’t worry about moving Josh Bordner, last year’s backup, to tight end. With both of last year’s starting tackles gone, too, Murphy’s experience could be even more important in determining the outcome of the QB battle.
  • Restocking the LBs: Even at its low points in recent years, Boston College managed to churn out plenty of talented linebackers, but the position gets a massive overhaul this year. First-team All-ACC star Kevin Pierre-Louis (108 tackles in 2013) is gone, as is Steele Divitto (112 tackles). That leaves junior Steven Daniels (88 tackles, 5 sacks) as the lone returning starter. Josh Keyes adds some experience, but it’ll be a group in transition this spring.
Clemson

Spring start: March 5

Spring game: April 12

What to watch:
  • Replacing Boyd: The talk of Clemson’s spring camp will no doubt surround the quarterbacks, as senior Cole Stoudt, sophomore Chad Kelly and early enrollee Deshaun Watson vie for the job. Stoudt’s experience makes him the early favorite, but it’s Watson, a dual-threat QB with immense talent, who could steal the show. Coach Dabo Swinney has already lauded Watson as perhaps the most talented quarterback Clemson has signed, so all eyes will be on the freshman to see if he can back up all that hype with a strong spring.
  • Skill-position shuffling: If the QB battle is the headliner, there are plenty of significant sideshows on offense this spring. Clemson waved goodbye to receivers Sammy Watkins (1,464 yards, 12 TDs) and Martavis Bryant (828 yards, 7 TDs) and tailback Roderick McDowell (1,025 yards, 5 TDs). That means a massive overhaul on offense, where there’s no clear-cut bell cow at running back (Zac Brooks and D.J. Howard return as potential options) and the receiving corps will be looking for some new top targets.
  • Dominance up front: On offense for Clemson, there’s plenty of concern for what the Tigers lost. On defense, however, the excitement is all about what they’re bringing back. Clemson’s defensive line, in particular, could be one of the nation’s best. When All-American Vic Beasley announced his return for his senior season, the Tigers knew they could have something special. Add sophomore lineman Shaq Lawson and senior Stephone Anthony at linebacker and Clemson has all the makings of a dominant pass rush.
Florida State

Spring start: March 19

Spring game: April 12

What to watch:
  • The running backs: After leading FSU in rushing three straight years, Devonta Freeman is gone. So, too, is James Wilder Jr. But the Seminoles enter spring with a quartet of intriguing options to replace their departed stars, led by Karlos Williams (730 yards, 11 TDs in 2013) and Dalvin Cook (No. 21 on the 2013 ESPN300). Mario Pender, who missed last year with academic issues, also figures to be in the mix.
  • The defensive front: There are a wealth of question marks here, both in terms of personnel and scheme. With Timmy Jernigan, Telvin Smith and Christian Jones gone, there are plenty of jobs up for grabs. The development of Mario Edwards Jr., Eddie Goldman and Terrance Smith will be key, but with Charles Kelly taking over the defense, it’s also still a bit unclear how much the scheme will deviate from what Jeremy Pruitt ran with so much success in 2013.
  • Jameis Winston’s swing: A year ago, the big question was who would win the QB battle. Now, Winston’s got a Heisman Trophy and will be a favorite to win it again in 2014. So the intrigue surrounding the FSU star QB is more on the baseball field, where once again, he’ll be splitting time this spring. Perhaps the bigger question is how the rest of the QB depth chart shakes out, with Sean Maguire the elder statesman and John Franklin III looking to make his move.
Louisville

Spring start: March 18

Spring game: April 11

What to watch:
  • Bobby’s back: After a seven-year hiatus that included an abrupt departure from the Atlanta Falcons and a damaging scandal at Arkansas, Bobby Petrino is back in charge at Louisville insisting he’s a changed man. Fans will be watching closely to see if he has changed his stripes away from the field, but also whether he can rekindle the same offensive fireworks he delivered in his first stint with the Cardinals.
  • Replacing Bridgewater: It’s an open QB battle, and for Petrino, it’s among the first chances he’ll have to see the players vying to replace departed star Teddy Bridgewater in action. Sophomore Will Gardner is perhaps the favorite, but he has just 12 career pass attempts. Redshirt freshman Kyle Bolin is close behind, while Reggie Bonnafon is set to arrive in the fall.
  • New look on D: Louisville finished the 2013 season ranked second nationally in scoring defense, trailing only national champion Florida State. But this spring, things will look a bit different for the Cardinals, as Todd Grantham takes over as the new defensive coordinator after being lured from Georgia. Grantham figures to bring a 3-4 scheme to Louisville, which will certainly shake things up a bit. Defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin missing the spring with a shoulder injury only clouds the situation further.
NC State

Spring start: March 4

Spring game: April 12

What to watch:
  • Brissett takes the reins: The sting of last year’s winless ACC season was barely in the rearview mirror before coach Dave Doeren named Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett his new starting quarterback. Brissett spent last year on the sideline, but apparently Doeren saw enough during practice to comfortably wave goodbye to Pete Thomas, who announced his transfer. There will be ample spotlight on Brissett this spring as he tries to revive the underperforming NC State passing game.
  • The new faces: If 2013 was about cleaning house, this spring begins the far more difficult project of rebuilding. For NC State, that means plenty of new faces, including a whopping seven early enrollees headlined by safety Germain Pratt. While there are ample holes for Doeren to fill in Year 2, these incoming freshmen could certainly push for starting jobs and bring an influx of depth that the Wolfpack sorely missed last year.
  • Shoring up the lines: NC State’s 2014 signing class included 11 offensive and defensive linemen, and that’s just the start of the overhaul at the line of scrimmage. Last season, the Wolfpack allowed the second most sacks in the ACC (35) on offense while its defensive front recorded the fewest sacks in the conference (20). That’s a formula for disaster, and Doeren understands NC State must get much better in the trenches. Brissett’s arrival at QB could help, but the bottom line is NC State needs to see improvement on both sides of the line, and it needs to start this spring.
Syracuse

Spring start: March 18

Spring game: April 19

What to watch:
  • Hunt’s next step: 2013 was a roller coaster season for Terrel Hunt. He lost the QB battle in fall camp, stepped in as starter after two weeks and was dominant, struggled badly through the midsection of the season, then closed strong with back-to-back come-from-behind wins. Now that he has experience, it will be interesting this spring to see how much he’s progressed. The talent is there, and spring practice should give Hunt a chance to refine it a bit more.
  • The defensive front: Syracuse finished its first ACC season ranked fourth in rushing defense and third in sacks despite myriad personnel issues entering the year, but more questions remain as the Orange look toward 2014. With star lineman Jay Bromley and veteran linebacker Marquis Spruill gone, the Orange are looking to fill sizable holes. Robert Welsh figures to be the anchor of the Syracuse pass rush, and the Orange could benefit from the return of Donnie Simmons, who missed 2013 with a knee injury.
  • Secondary concerns: Syracuse got a chance to learn what life was like without top cover corner Keon Lyn after the senior fractured his kneecap late last year, but while Brandon Reddish did an admirable job as his replacement, a whole new set of questions crops up in the secondary this spring. Syracuse figures to have openings at both corner and safety, and while Julian Whigham, Darius Kelly and Ritchy Desir offer options, there’s a lot to be decided on the practice field this spring.
Wake Forest

Spring start: March 25

Spring game: April 26

What to watch:
  • Clawson’s early impact: It’s been 14 years since Wake Forest opened a spring camp with someone other than Jim Grobe calling the shots, so there’s no question this will be an intriguing few weeks in Winston-Salem. Dave Clawson takes over after leading Bowling Green to a MAC championship, and he inherits a major rebuilding job. First up for the coach will likely be creating an offensive identity -- something Grobe couldn’t do in 2013.
  • Identifying some offense: If 2013 was an offensive slog for Wake Forest, 2014 threatens to be much, much worse. As bad as things got at times last year, the Deacons at least had veterans to rely on. This season, Wake’s leading passer (Tanner Price), rusher (Josh Harris), receiver (Michael Campanaro) and top tight end (Spencer Bishop) are all gone. On the plus side, plenty of younger players saw action in 2013. The job this spring is to figure out who can take a big step forward entering the 2014 campaign.
  • The defensive scheme: Wake appears to be moving away from the 3-4 that was a hallmark of recent seasons, as new coordinator Mike Elko tries to maximize the talent remaining on the roster. Without veteran lineman Nikita Whitlock, Wake’s defensive front will have a far different look in 2014, and this spring will largely be about Elko identifying playmakers and tweaking his system to fit their skill sets.
It is no secret that Boston College will have an open quarterback competition come spring. But in a surprising development, coach Steve Addazio said this week that backup Josh Bordner would not be a part of that race.

Addazio said Bordner would be trying out a move to receiver, while Florida transfer Tyler Murphy, freshman early enrollee Darius Wade and redshirt freshman James Walsh get the bulk of the reps at quarterback when spring practice begins next month. Bordner served as the backup quarterback to Chase Rettig the past two seasons. The move means that the Eagles will now have a new starting quarterback and a new backup quarterback in 2014.

"He's really tough, really smart, he's got unbelievable ball skills and hands, he can fill that hybrid receiver role a little bit," Addazio said. "He belongs on the football field. It's our job to find that right spot for him."

Bordner, at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, could present some matchup problems in his new role. Addazio said Bordner was completely on board with the move. In fact, Addazio said he thought about having Bordner play special teams last year, but he was too worried about potentially getting his backup quarterback hurt. In retrospect, Addazio believes it was a mistake to keep Bordner off the field because "he could have helped us."

"He doesn't want to carry a clipboard and stand on the sidelines," Addazio said. "He was like, 'Coach, I want to get on the field, and I want to play ball.'"

Wade and Murphy appear to be the top two contenders to win the starting job. Both are dual-threat quarterbacks who will give the Eagles the ability to run more spread option sets. Addazio said of them, "They’re both really athletic guys. Both run the ball well and throw the ball well and both have great arms. Tyler is an older guy, a fifth-year player, and Darius is a mid-semester senior. Both those guys are really super guys who have leadership qualities and are dynamic athletes."
Boston College rode Andre Williams all the way to a 2,000-yard campaign and postseason berth in 2013, successfully going back to its roots as a smash-mouth, physically tough football team.

But the Eagles will most certainly have a different identity when the 2014 season rolls around. The power run game will still be there, but many more spread principles will be featured on offense because the Eagles will likely have a dual-threat quarterback under center.

[+] EnlargeTyler Murphy
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertFormer Florida QB Tyler Murphy will be in the mix for BC's starting job this fall.
Chase Rettig did an admirable job as the quarterback this past season despite being a less-than-ideal fit for what coach Steve Addazio likes to run. Rettig emerged as a leader, and the ability to run play-action helped keep opposing teams off balance. The spread, however, was almost completely ignored because Williams and the run game gave the Eagles the best chance to win every week.

Williams and Rettig are both gone now, opening up other possibilities for the offense. Addazio has always preferred a dual-threat quarterback to run his system, and now he has several on the roster: Florida transfer Tyler Murphy and early enrollee Darius Wade headline the group and will compete for the starting job, along with Josh Bordner and James Walsh.

“The ability to keep our power run offense but to be able to diversify a little bit and spread it out a little bit will be great for us,” Addazio said in a recent phone interview. “We’ll be a little different. It’s early right now, but there will be more diversity in terms of quarterback runs and tailback runs. We won’t have one guy getting 42 reps.

“While there will be some elements that will look similar, we might be more in the shotgun, we might be camouflaging and diversifying with the power run game with the option, there could be a tempo component. We’ll be gravitating a little more toward where I’d like to get to.”

Murphy is the only quarterback on the roster with extended game experience and was recruited to Florida by Addazio. He is familiar with the type of offense the Eagles want to try and run. But Wade, a three-star prospect out of Delaware, also provides tantalizing possibilities. Addazio described him as a “dynamic athlete,” a player with a strong arm who can also run and extend plays. The hope is for Wade to be able to contribute as a true freshman this fall.

Without Williams, Boston College will split the rushing load more evenly. Tahj Kimble is expected back after rehabbing a torn ACL, while Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse look to build off freshman seasons in which they spelled Williams.

Addazio also expects the offensive line to be as strong as it was this past season. The Eagles do have to replace both starting tackles, but getting Florida transfer Ian Silberman into the program will help.

The biggest concern moving forward is developing playmakers on the outside. Addazio hopes Bobby Swigert can fill the role Alex Amidon had in the offense, but Swigert is returning from a knee injury so his status remains up in the air.

“We’ve got to get better out on the edge in terms of blocking the perimeter, catching the ball, winning one-on-one matchups,” Addazio said. “That’s not a quick-fix area. We’ve got to recruit and build.”

Addazio already showed what he has the potential to build after an impressive first season. The Eagles might look a little different on offense next season, but that is a good thing. What you see in 2014 will be closer to the vision Addazio has for this group in the years to come.
Former Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy has transferred to Boston College, with an eye toward winning the starting quarterback job come spring practice.

Murphy and former Florida offensive lineman Ian Silberman, also a fifth-year senior, are now enrolled at Boston College, the school announced Wednesday. Murphy and Silberman have ties to Boston College coach Steve Addazio, a former Florida assistant who recruited Murphy to play for the Gators.

Murphy announced his intentions to transfer from Florida after the regular season ended. He graduated in December and has one year of eligibility remaining for the Eagles, who need to find a replacement for three-year starting quarterback Chase Rettig.

Murphy started six games last season for the Gators after starter Jeff Driskel was lost for the season. He went 2-4 with 1,216 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions before missing the final three games of the season with a shoulder injury.

The addition of Murphy at least gives the Eagles an experienced quarterback on the roster, and his dual-threat ability is a much better fit for the power run/spread scheme they want to build their offense around. But he is not necessarily the automatic favorite to win the job. The spring competition should be intense between Murphy, Darius Wade, Josh Bordner and James Walsh.

BC also announced five freshmen -- Wade, offensive lineman Jon Baker, defensive back Allen Dawson, defensive end Harold Landry and defensive back Isaac Yiadom -- are enrolled.

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