Here are some scattered notes from another day of Boston College football practice. The team rushed off the field quickly after ending practice 10 minutes early this morning. They've got practice again tomorrow before holding the second scrimmage on Saturday, likely in Alumni Stadium this time.
-There has been more installation of the offense this week to go along with the increased tackling portions of practice. Last week, quarterback Tyler Murphy said the offense needed to see what it's good at while figuring out its identity. Today he said the offense is starting to get a better grasp of itself, with the extra live-action helping that identity take shape. He didn't share what exactly that identity seems to be, but we'll get a better idea on Saturday.
-With Darius Wade back on the field after sitting out a few days because of a minor hamstring injury, Josh Bordner got to return to wide receiver and the offense looked a little more settled. The freshmen have been getting some much-needed experience with the first team, but they still get to learn from the players ahead of them. Murphy said the younger guys have done a great job of taking lessons from the film room and translating them onto the field. He praised their ability to take mental reps while watching the older players and asking lots of questions.
-Only a small portion of practice was open to the media, but freshman wide receiver Sherman Alston had easily his best play of the preseason practices that I've seen. He broke free for a 60-yard touchdown, cutting to the sideline and back to the middle of the field multiple times, making guys miss. This was a tackling portion of practice, but the defense could hardly even get a hand on the 5-foot-6 speedster. Look for Ryan Day to find ways to get Alston in space when the Eagles need a big play this season.
Gabriel McClary also had a nice catch in the slot that he converted into extra yardage. If he can pick up the offense quickly enough, he could be a weapon right away.
-I don't know if this was the first day that defensive lineman Mehdi Abdesmad has seen live-action against the offense with tackling, but it was the first time I've seen him out there. He moved around well and it was a great sign for his recovery from injury. There was no word on whether or not he'll see the field during the scrimmage on Saturday.
-Captains still haven't been named for either side of the ball. Kasim Edebali and Ian White weren't named until Aug. 24th last season, so this isn't abnormal, but it'll be interesting to see which players get the nod. Murphy talked today about his transition to becoming a more vocal leader.
"It's something I've really been trying to take pride in," he said. "It's tough to do and I think I'm making strides slowly. It's an exhausting thing-being a leader and pushing guys is a lot tougher than you think and I think I'm getting better at that. I'm not where I need to be, but I have a little time. I have to have some urgency and really get going."
Murphy has been direct and thoughtful in all of his media interactions so far, and the coaches and players have only had great things to say about him. If he does well against UMass, he should become a fan favorite pretty quickly.
Senior safety Dominique Williams also addressed his leadership role on the defense.
"It's kind of nerve-wracking," Williams said. "I'm more of a quiet guy, but I've got to take advantage of it. I've got to be able to do it because I was in their position five years ago. Maybe [former BC defensive backs] Wes Davis and DeLeon Gause didn't want to be leaders but they chose to do that and that's something that I'm taking advantage of this time to keep the Boston College tradition going."
The Eagles have a lot of seniors that lead by example, but there don't seem to be many guys who are naturally vocal with their leadership in a way that would transition easily captainship.
-Steven Daniels, who has been competing with Sean Duggan for the starting spot as the Mike linebacker, said that he doesn't think there are any established starters at linebacker yet and that they don't even have set positions. All of the linebackers have been practicing at the Sam, Mike, and Will, and Daniels said that their ability to be interchangeable helps strengthen that position group.
-Defensive coordinator Don Brown has done a great job of changing the mentality of the defense since he took over, and you can tell when you talk to the defensive players. Not only are they reluctant to talk about their own strengths, but they also rarely single out any individual player. Josh Keyes, Williams, Abdesmad, and Daniels all take pride in the defense being aggressive as a whole and causing havoc as a unit, repeating that they have confidence in any player to create chaos the necessary to pull off Brown's scheme. It doesn't make for the best quotes, but you can feel that it helps instill a lot of confidence in the players.
-Murphy knew that there were exactly 16 days until kickoff against UMass, and he can't wait.
"You kind of lose track at time at camp," he said. "Guys are definitely getting antsy and excited. Kind of sick of hitting each other. We want to see somebody else in a different color uniform."