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April 13, 2012

Position Battles

Although the possible drama behind a quarterback controversy has caught steam lately, the most intriguing position battles leaving spring football for Boston College doesn't include the one under center. Josh Bordner likely won't get an opportunity to take over for Chase Rettig until a few games into the season if Rettig's performance isn't up to par. Rettig has too much experience against ACC foes to lose his job in the spring, and it would take a dramatic nosedive on his end to be replaced. Positions in the backfield, in the secondary and at wide receiver, though, remain up for grabs.

Junior Deuce Finch established himself as the primary running back by the end of spring practice, but his spot is not set in stone. Although Finch is the best runner of the BC backs, combining his power and speed with quality vision and an impressive ability to make cuts, he is fumble-prone and hasn't improved his grip on the ball much since last season. During spring practice and scrimmages he still displayed trouble keeping the ball high and tight, something the coaches are constantly trying to reinforce to Finch. With Finch's ball protection as a concern, sophomore Tahj Kimble and junior Andre Williams both have opportunities to take carries from him in the fall. Kimble suffered an injury early in the Spring Game, and Williams did not suit up for the contest. Both showed flashes of strong running last season and in practice during the spring which will get them opportunities to take over for Finch if fumbling continues to be an issue.

Rettig's favorite target, Bobby Swigert, was still recovering from injury during spring practice allowing other plays to step up at the wide receiver position. Colin Larmond Jr., the only proven deep threat for the Eagles, also struggled through injuries missing some practices and the Spring Game. Swigert and Larmond should lead the receiving corps next year, but their counterparts at the position will be determined this summer. Alex Amidon began to establish himself as another reliable slot receiver for BC towards the end of last season and continued that production in the spring. Mainly a special-teams player last year, sophomore Spiffy Evans also saw more time at wide receiver exhibiting some solid play. Originally recruited at a tight end, sophomore Brian Miller was listed as a WR on the spring depth chart but he is still working back from an injury that sidelined him last season. Junior Johnathan Coleman only had five receptions last year, but he could step up as a potential deep threat to compliment Larmond. True freshman Karim Zoungrana burned his defender twice in the spring game for big touchdowns, but both passes came from Bordner rather than Rettig. Zoungrana hardly got any reps with Rettig during the spring since he played on the second unit with Bordner. Rettig has a history of targeting specific receivers making it difficult for Zoungrana to establish himself unless he gets a chance to build that chemistry. Amidon, Evans, Miller, Coleman, and Zoungrana will all be competing this summer to join Swigert and Larmond as go-to receivers for Rettig when the season begins.

The secondary is also a big question for the Eagles coming out of spring ball. Sophomore C.J. Jones did not participate in practices, still sidelined after a season ending injury last year, giving classmate Al Louis-Jean an opportunity to step into the number on corner role. Jones and Louis-Jean will compete for the top spot at corner whenever Jones makes it back to the field. Jones ran for the first time since the injury on Thursday. The third spot at corner will be a battle between James McCaffrey, Manny Asprilla, and redshirt freshman Ameer Richardson. Richardson snagged two interceptions in the Spring Game, but also got burned a few times by receivers leading to wide open plays and one easy touchdown. McCaffrey also had an interception of his own at the Spring Game. Asprilla sat out spring ball with an injury, but will look to make a push at a starting job when he returns.

Both the offensive and defensive lines should find some stability this season as long as everyone stays healthy, and the linebackers will likely be a trio of Steele Divitto and Kevin Pierre-Louis on the outside with Sean Duggan replacing Luke Kuechly in the middle. As more players recover from injury and return to the field, this summer will show how the positions battles shake up and who will be starting for the Eagles when they take on Miami to open the season.


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