BC notebook

Backfield in motion - on defensive side

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / August 24, 2011

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He is part of the puzzle, and perhaps - sometime in the future - one of the key pieces. That, says Boston College football coach Frank Spaziani, is one of the good things about his defensive backfield. It is also one of the bad things, because Al Louis-Jean, who is in the mix at cornerback, is a true freshman whose learning curve has not climbed very much.

The 6-foot-2-inch, 183-pound Louis-Jean did not have to come far to reach his next level of play. He arrived at The Heights in January from Brockton High School, where he was an all-state defensive back and wide receiver.

“He looks good,’’ said Spaziani when asked for an assessment of Louis-Jean, who is listed at No. 2 on the depth chart behind Donnie Fletcher at the field corner spot. “He’s got the skill set you want. What he doesn’t have is the experience. Everything is a first time for Albert.’’

Spaziani is reshuffling a secondary that has been plagued by injuries and was jolted Monday when the coach announced that projected starting free safety Okechukwu Okoroha had been dismissed from the team.

Asked yesterday whether there was any wiggle room for Okoroha, who remains on scholarship and in school, Spaziani shook his head.

“You never say never,’’ he said. “But this is never.’’

Okoroha was not the only change. Fletcher remains questionable with a back problem, while freshman defensive back Spenser Rositano suffered a concussion and will be out several days.

“We’ve got options,’’ said Spaziani, who had Dominick LeGrande and former wide receiver Hampton Hughes work at free safety while Jimmy Noel and Sean Sylvia handled the strong safety slots. At corner, Louis-Jean and C.J. Jones probably will be the designated starters in today’s final scrimmage.

“Getting the reps has helped me a lot,’’ said Louis-Jean, who added that his early enrollment, which allowed him to get used to classes and go through spring practice, has sped up the learning process. “If I had just come in at the regular time, I wouldn’t have gotten the head start I’ve gotten.’’

Spaziani feels that when everyone returns to healthy status, his defensive concerns will ease.

“We’re loaded,’’ he said with a laugh.

Spaziani even eased off on his less-than-glowing assessment of the defense following Sunday’s scrimmage.

“Looking back at the scrimmage,’’ he said, “it wasn’t as bad. We still have a lot of work to do, but there is help on the horizon.’’

Williams hopeful Running back Andre Williams, who sprained his right ankle in Sunday’s scrimmage, will be out the rest of this week, but he and Spaziani are hoping he will be cleared to play in the opener against Northwestern Sept. 3. “There is a difference of opinion on that,’’ said Spaziani. “I’m counting on him being there.’’ Williams, who was walking without a limp yesterday, said he felt the same way. “It’s a minor sprain,’’ he said. “I can’t imagine not playing.’’ . . . Spaziani is more concerned about the health of defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey (shoulder) and left guard Nate Richman (back). Both seem iffy for Northwestern. If Richman can’t go, center Mark Spinney will move into the starting left guard slot, while Andy Gallik will handle the chores at center . . . The final scrimmage of training camp will be this afternoon . . . The players will have a light practice tomorrow, then take the rest of the day off as they move into their dorm rooms and apartments . . . Game preparation for Northwestern will start Friday.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at