Spaziani springs team into action
Frank Spaziani kicked off his first spring football practice as Boston College's head coach Tuesday inside the bubble at Alumni Stadium. While many people celebrated St. Patrick's Day, Spaziani made sure his players weren't suffering aftereffects from the sobering news that the defense would be without injured middle linebacker Mike McLaughlin this spring.
McLaughlin, a 6-foot, 252-pounder from Woburn, was projected, along with outside linebacker Mark Herzlich, to be the senior stalwarts of a defense already looking to fill the holes left by the departures of B.J. Raji and Ron Brace. But McLaughlin ruptured his right Achilles' tendon during a recent workout.
"Not only are we going to miss his athletic ability, but we're going to miss his leadership, he was a vocal leader on the team," Spaziani said. "That's something you usually need with a young team in the spring. Somebody's going to get more work now."
Will Thompson, a 6-1, 235-pound sophomore from Jersey City, N.J., looks to be the prime candidate.
"When Mike went down, I had the same feeling when I got injured and found out how long I was going to be out," said junior free safety Wes Davis, who sat out the last 11 games of the 2007 season with a neck injury. "It was the same process I went through myself. The first day I was upset, but the next day I was like, 'OK, now what do I do?' That's where the team is.
"Will has been waiting his turn. He may not be Mike, but Will has been waiting his turn and he deserves to be out there just as much as anybody else does."
"There's a big question mark at quarterback," Spaziani said. "We have to come out of the spring and have at least a good handle on just exactly where we're at with that position."
Davis, a 6-4, 198-pounder from Lakeland, Fla., was thrown into the breach when starter Chris Crane suffered a broken collarbone in the penultimate game of the regular season at Wake Forest. He played in six games last season, started the last three, and completed 63 of 138 attempts for 741 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions. He rallied the Eagles to a 24-21 victory over the Demon Deacons and guided BC to a 28-21 triumph over Maryland before dropping his last two outings, against Virginia Tech (30-12) in the ACC championship game in Tampa, and Vanderbilt (16-14) in the Music City Bowl in Nashville.
Tuggle, a 6-3, 208-pound sophomore from Alpharetta, Ga., and the son of former NFL linebacker Jesse Tuggle, spent the majority of his time working with the scout squad as a redshirt freshman.
"I would say that it's wide open right now," Davis said of the quarterback competition. "Justin Tuggle is a very good player and a very good competitor and competition makes you better. I'm going to make him better and he's going to make me better and we're going to find out who comes out on top once spring's over."
But Spaziani indicated it wasn't going to be just a two-man race. Codi Boek, a 6-3, 221-pound junior who transferred last year from American River Junior College but was converted to fullback, will finally get his look at quarterback.
"You need to have a certain amount of depth at that position, so it was only logical that he go back there," said Spaziani."
"The object of spring is for each individual player to get better," Spaziani said. "That's the way I've learned it and it's still true. We're not playing any games, we're not competing against anybody. It's practice so that the players, individually, can get better and as they get better, the team, collectively, will get better."
Spaziani said defensive end Alex Albright (neck) would likely miss spring workouts. "He's fine, but they haven't given him the complete go," Spaziani said.
Starting center Matt Tennant will also sit out spring practice after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his elbow. "We'll have to put him on a pitch count in the fall," the coach quipped.