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Spaziani tries redrawing the line

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / September 8, 2011

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Lose a game, and coaches will look for ways to fix what went wrong. Lose a game you felt you should have won, and coaches will look for ways to do things better.

Which is part of the reason why Boston College offensive lineman Nathan Richman was back at left guard with the first team yesterday at practice and Mark Spinney, who started at left guard in Saturday’s 24-17 loss to Northwestern, was back at center.

Those moves were matters of choice after coach Frank Spaziani and his staff evaluated what would work best against Central Florida Saturday night.

One move dictated by necessity was the elevation of sophomore wide receiver Johnathan Coleman to a starting role following the season-ending injury to Ifeanyi Momah, who tore the ACL in his left knee in the fourth quarter against Northwestern.

For Richman, a 6-foot-6-inch, 298-pound senior, it was a return to more familiar territory. A nagging back strain had made his practice time in training camp sporadic at best, so Spaziani, looking for some continuity along a line that needed to be restructured, moved Spinney from center to guard and allowed Richman to work his way back into playing shape at left tackle. Andy Gallik moved into the starting slot at center.

Although the offense produced 479 yards, the new-look line had its breakdowns in the red zone and at times seemed ineffective in producing consistent movement.

Spaziani hopes the reconfiguration, with players back in their original spots, might result in better production.

“I didn’t see that [move to tackle] coming,’’ said Richman, who took half the snaps at left tackle against Northwestern. “I had to dust a little rust off. But I’m much more comfortable at guard. The mistakes we made were very correctable.’’

“He showed us the ability to get seven or eight days of practice in and he played a game,’’ said Spaziani. “So we went back to the original plan.’’

Coleman, who had a limited role in the offense last season (14 catches in 12 games), will move into the receiver mix with Bobby Swigert and Colin Larmond Jr.

“It’s unfortunate how it happened,’’ said Coleman. “But I am excited.’’

“He’s got a lot of athletic skills,’’ said Spaziani. “He has all the physical skills. And he had a wonderful preseason.’’

Coleman feels the Eagles need to increase the tempo on offense.

“I felt that we were satisfied with just getting into the red zone,’’ he said. “I personally feel we need to have more of a want to score, instead of being satisfied with being in the red zone.’’

One player who was not satisfied at all after the loss to Northwestern was kicker Nate Freese, who missed field goal attempts of 31 and 40 yards.

“I took it as I could have had the win for us,’’ said Freese. “I didn’t do what I needed to do.’’

Wet workout The Eagles practiced yesterday despite a steady rain . . . Running back Montel Harris (knee) has returned to practice and is on track to return for the Duke game Sept. 16, although Spaziani said there is an outside possibility he could play against Central Florida . . . Defensive linemen Kaleb Ramsey and Dominic Appiah and tight end Mike Naples did not practice yesterday because of medical reasons.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at