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Friday, April 5, 2013
Addazio looking for winning attitude

By Jack McCluskey

NEWTON, Mass. -- As far as Steve Addazio is concerned, there’s no room for “my bad” at Boston College.

The new coach of the Eagles, one of the last people off the Alumni Stadium field on Thursday after practice, said he’s encouraged with how the players have responded so far this spring. But he knows there’s a long, long way to go.

As the team went through scrimmage situations late in the day’s session, shadows creeping farther and farther across the turf, the energy level was noticeably different from years past. Players on the sidelines were shouting encouragement to teammates on the field. Coaches were shouting instructions and exhortations, and voicing their pleasure (or displeasure) with results as they happened.

“I think it’s important that there’s energy, that there’s passion, there’s energy and they’re holding each other accountable,” Addazio said afterward about the noise level. “There’s no such thing as my bad. You gotta count on the guy on your left and the guy on your right, and they’ve gotta perform, when their number’s called they’ve gotta get the job done.

“Not being able to just brush off, ‘Oh, yeah, I made a mistake.’ Well that’s not acceptable. Can’t have that. It’s a fine line in football. It’s creating that atmosphere, and putting that pressure on and finding out who can really make a play when the pressure’s really on.”

For a program coming off a 2-10 finish, changing the mindset is important. So far Addazio has been pleased with the players’ attitudes.

“It’s important,” he said of seeing the offense and defense competing as hard as they did Thursday. “We’re trying to reestablish [a mindset of] winning is all that matters and losing is not tolerable. You’ve gotta fight for every inch, for every win. And how hard it is, how fragile it is to win a major college football game.

“We have to get back into that mindset, because we’ve had two years when we have not been bowl eligible. This is all about changing that and establishing that atmosphere. This is just the start.”

Asked where the team is in the process of installing new offensive and defensive systems, Addazio said the focus this spring is more fundamental than that.

“We don’t really know exactly which system it’s gonna be,” the coach said. “We’re really hunting and pecking to find our identity right now. It’s hard to know [what system you’ll run] until you really see what you have and what you can do. I know we can run some power football.”

Addazio said the staff is still figuring out how best to deploy the personnel at its disposal.

“We’ve got a lot of ball left to go. This was practice seven,” he said with a short laugh. “We’ve got a long way to go. But I like the attitude, I like the effort, I like where we’re headed. I really do. I do. I’d like to get a little bit more explosive, make a few more plays. Although we made a few today, [Alex] Amidon had a few today.”

The last hour of practice was devoted to game situations, complete with officials and down-and-distance markers. In one sequence, Amidon caught a ball from the left slot and exploded up the left side for a touchdown.

His offensive teammates chased him, cheering, all the way to the end zone to celebrate the practice score.

And later, when Sean Sylvia delivered a hit that produced a loud “Pop” of pad-on-pad, it was the defense‘s turn to turn up the volume.

It’s instances like those that have Addazio excited. But the veteran coach isn’t getting ahead of himself.

“I’m realistic about where we are,” he said. “I know where we need to be, and we’re not there. But I like our effort. I like our willingness, I like our energy.

“I know where we are, though, we’ve got a long way to go,” he said, with another short laugh. “But I like the fact that we’re scratching and clawing to get there. And my experience is we’ll get there.

“I don’t have a time clock on it. We’ll just keep working, building this thing the right way: on a good foundation of physical toughness and accountability.”

There’s no more room for “my bad” in Chestnut Hill, and that can only be a good thing.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.