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Eagles are young on defense

Posted by Mark Blaudschun, Globe Staff  August 27, 2008 04:38 PM

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On the surface, the attitude is one of confidence, of good, if not great expectations. And it may very well work out that way for coach Jeff Jagodzinski's Boston College Eagles as they prepare for their season opener against Kent State in Cleveland on Saturday.

The Eagles will open with a veteran-packed defense and an offense confident in the abilities of new starting quarterback Chris Crane to keep the momentum from last year's 11-3 season.

But depth may be an issue, at least in terms of experience. In the Eagles' two-deep roster sheet, 11 freshmen or redshirt freshmen are listed, including two true freshmen in running back Josh Haden and punter Ryan Quigley, who will be starting.

Look at the secondary and you will find three true freshmen in backup roles, which means one ankle sprain or pulled muscle away from being thrust into the starting line up.

Anyone nervous?

"I've adjusted very well,'' said freshman Issac Johnson, a converted running back out of Everett High who is No. 2 behind starting CB Roderick Rollins. "I played some cornerback in high school and when they recruited me, I was fine with that.''

Johnson who was recruited by Michigan, Notre Dame and Maryland, said the biggest adjustment he made was getting used to the additional speed he found in college.

Jagodzinski says he likes the talent he sees among his freshmen from Johnson to cornerback Donnie Fletcher to strong safety Dominick LeGrande to the three freshman who have moved into backup roles on the offensive line. "These guys are going to contribute,'' said Jagodzinski. "Right away. If you are ready to play, you are going to play.''

***

Eagles already have their game plan set for Kent State, with the first set of offensive plays already scripted. "I'm extremely comfortable with our offense,'' said Crane, who will make the second start of his career Saturday "I know our players and know what we are good at.''

***

Haircuts were the topic du jour. Linebacker Mark Herzlich went from dreadlocks to a buzz cut in one afternoon. "Decided to go short,'' said Herzlich with a laugh, acknowledging that his girlfriend preferred the short look. Offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo fine tuned his Mohawk cut. "He gave into peer pressure,'' said Crane with a laugh. "There were about 10 guys standing around when he was getting it cut... Defensive tackle B.J. Raji had a full-blown Afro.'' Raji, a projected first-round pick in next spring's NFL draft, also expects to take out an injury insurance policy in the next few days..Eagles will wrap things up with light workouts the next two days before flying to Cleveland Friday night for the game against Kent State in the second annual Patriot Bowl.... Linebacker Brian Toal is expected to be used again on goal line situations. "Count on it'' said Jagodzinski with a laugh. "I hope he scores 50 TDs this season. Toal has 13 career TDs at BC... Former BC punter Johnny Ayers, who is taking graduate course in finance at BC, was at practice this afternoon after spending part of his summer traveling in Europe. Ayers attended mini-camp with the Cincinnati Bengals last spring... Quigley is back with the group of kickers. "He never officially seceded,'' said kicker Billy Bennett, one of the group of eight BC players who are involved in the kicking duties for the Eagles. The pack has formed their own inner social circle called the KUnion or KSquad.

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