Wednesday, October 24, 2012
BC amps up practice intensity
By Jack McCluskey
NEWTON, Mass. -- While perhaps not at the point where they will try anything, the 1-6 Eagles are certainly at the point where they need to try something different to snap out of the funk they're in and get their first ACC win.
So to amp up the atmosphere in practice, BC head coach Frank Spaziani has his first-team offense facing off with the first-team defense.
It's more of a training camp feel, and on Tuesday there were more than a few scuffles in the trenches.
Before practice Wednesday, more than a few players said they liked it that way.
BC coach Frank Spaziani hopes that a more competitive practice environment will translate into more victories on game day.
"I'm enjoying it," defensive end Kasim Edebali said. "It's much more intense than it used to be.
"I think we're gonna get better like that, and ultimately gonna get our first win."
Edebali paused after that statement, then realized he was shortchanging his team a little.
"Get our first ACC win," he corrected.
The Eagles' only win to date came Sept. 8 against FCS Maine. They have lost five straight since.
Linebacker Nick Clancy, who ranks third in the country with 12 tackles per game, said the changes in practice are a matter of more closely simulating game conditions.
"I think Coach Spaz just thinks that if we can practice against a fast-paced offense -- not to say, you know, our scout-team guys aren't giving us good looks -- but if we're playing the best offensive guys on our team I think that's gonna prepare us better for the game," he said.
It's not only the defensive players who enjoy a little more competition during the week, either.
"It, like, really steps the intensity up," wideout Alex Amidon said. "Going against the scout team, sometimes there's a little lull in practice when you do that. Definitely the competition goes up and the speed of practice goes up with [facing the first team]."
And while they still stop short of tackling, Amidon said there definitely is more "thudding up."
"The scouts kind of get told off if they hit us," he said. "But you know, first team versus first team there's a lot more contact."
Spaziani said, "We had to change practice a little bit, shake things up a little bit. It's something I've been wanting to do for the last month."
Because of the way things shook out, Spaziani didn't implement the change until this week. And he said he'll evaluate how effective it is and then determine whether or not to continue it the rest of the season.
One reason this strategy makes sense is sheer numbers, since injuries to veterans have forced freshmen and redshirt freshmen into the lineup and thereby thinned the reserve pool.
"I think it will be to our advantage," quarterback Chase Rettig said.
The Eagles (1-6, 0-4 ACC) host Maryland (4-3, 2-1) on Saturday (1 p.m. ET, ESPN3).
Happy to say goodbye to the option
The Eagles faced two offenses running the triple option in the past three games, coming away with losses against both Army and Georgia Tech.
They won't miss it the rest of the way.
"It's gonna be nice not to bang heads every single play," Clancy said. "Not having to face the dive, the quarterback and the pitch every play."
"Yes definitely," Edebali said when asked if he was happy to say goodbye to the unusual offense. "The triple option can be really frustrating at times, so I'm looking forward not to play them for the rest of the season."
When the Eagles take the field on Saturday, fans will get a much different visual than they're used to.
As part of the Under Armour Freedom program, which works to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project through auctions of game-used gear, the Eagles will be wearing special uniforms against the Terrapins.
Players modeled the custom-made jerseys, which feature a red-white-and-blue, American-flag theme on the numbers, shoulders, helmets, gloves and cleats, when they met with the media Wednesday.
All proceeds from the auctions go directly to the Wounded Warrior Project, according to an Under Armour release.
For its part, BC is happy to do whatever it can to honor those who serve.
"I think those people that serve our country, defend us, our rights that we have here, deserve our utmost respect," Spaziani said in his conference call Wednesday morning. "Any tribute we can pay to them, as small as it is, is well deserving."
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.