Football Hosts Media Day, Open Practice
Aug. 10, 2012
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - Day five of Boston College's preseason training camp included the team's first practice in full pads. Friday's practice was preceded by the program's annual media day.
Head Coach Frank Spaziani
"I would also like to thank you all for coming. And I would also like to thank Jerry [York] for coming. I know it's golf season, so that's important to him. We're excited about the year. It starts with the new stadium, the new turf, and the new brick. We've got a tremendous attitude in the players. In the winter we had a great attitude. In spring practice we had a great attitude. Summer workouts, too. We're into our fifth day of practice; first real day, in pads. So we are well on our way in getting ready for Miami. We have a great staff. The players have adapted really to the new coaches and the new systems, on offense and defense. We're excited to get started. Without further ado, I'll start the questions. Now, I have this [baseball] bat here. This is for batting practice. Now, in batting practice, you know how the pitchers are, right? Right down the middle, nice and easy; you can hit them. Forkballs - no. And definitely no curveballs. So let's get started."
With the way that things have gone in the past couple of years, do you feel that this is a defining year for your program and for your tenure?
Well, let me say this. The trend, with wins and losses, is very obvious to everybody. The program is going north, not south. There are a lot of situations that have occurred, we're not going to revisit history, I understand where we're at and I understand we want to win. That's what we want to do. The players understand that and we know where we have to go.
As a coach, do you like that test [playing Miami] right out of the blocks?
Someone told me about this, I heard this last year, something about playing bad teams early is that they don't know they're bad. Early in the year, nobody knows who is any good. It takes five, six, or seven games before things start to settle out. As far as opening it up with a team of Miami's caliber - hey, listen, it's the same thing for them. They don't have any game ahead of time. So, we'll be able to find out where we're at. It's a long season, our players understand that and this is how we coach them. It will give us a good barometer real fast of where we're at and we're excited about it. We have a good chance to get everybody's attention.
What's Brian Miller's status?
Brian Miller, for those of you who don't know, Brian was hurt in his senior year before he came in [to BC]. It was a very severe knee injury. Brian is a tremendous athlete and a very tough football player, but he did have a pretty severe injury and had a lot of metal put in. He's come back, he's worked hard, and he's having some flare-ups on it. We used him in the spring, but right now he hasn't been able to start practicing due to some medical issues. But they told me today that he'll be back out there and we're hoping that he'll be ready for the first game. He certainly can help us, if he's healthy.
Is Kaleb Ramsey back to where he was at this time two years ago?
[Kaleb] Ramsey has had a little setback, physically, and in the first couple of days that he practiced. He's had a great offseason and he seems to be back to where he was at. Kaleb is a very good football player. His career has been handicapped a little bit by injuries. When he is healthy, he's as good of a football player as we have had at that position, so we're hoping that he'll be ready by September first.
What have you seen from Chase [Rettig] so far, throughout a couple of practices, that is different from last year?
First of all, I think that Chase has adapted really well to Coach [Doug] Martin. He has two years under his belt and twenty-some-odd games that he's started. So he has that experience. He likes everything we're doing and he gets along really well with Doug. Doug is extremely high on Chase's progression since he got here in the spring. We're happy with where he's at. He's making good decisions. As I've said all along, we think he has the physical skills and we think we have things in place for him to excel. It's a nice platform for him, so now it's just a matter of us doing it.
Is Kevin Pierre-Louis filling the defensive leadership role that Luke [Kuechly] vacated?
KP has, in the first four days of practice here, he looks like a better football player than he was last year. And he was pretty good last year. We need him to play well. He has a lot of intangibles and he's fast, strong, a good football player. We need him to make some progress in his game, just like we need a lot of guys to step up on defense to offset the production that Luke gave us.
How much does it mean to a team to have a quarterback with a few years of experience under his belt?
At all positions, experience is the only thing that you can't teach. You only get it one way, by playing. And certainly, the quarterback, with a lot of decision making and a lot of responsibility, mentally as well as physically, I don't think you can put a value on experience. You've seen him mature. He has confidence and an understanding of what's going on. When you're defending a team and you start looking at different players, the first one you look at on the opposition is the quarterback and what kind of decision making they have and what other skills they have. We feel like we have a good one there, but we'll find out quickly.
What's your biggest area of concern going into the season?
We've addressed a lot of them, in a lot of areas. Receiver-wise, we have some depth there. Offensive line, we've addressed that over the last couple of years. We've talked about the quarterback situation, of course we have Josh Bordner back there, too. Our running back situation is, well, we feel like we have three quality backs. If people stay healthy, we should be good physically on offense. Defensively, we've addressed a lot of issues over there. We feel we have some depth in the secondary and we feel we have some quality linebackers. One of the major concerns, as always on defense, starts up front with the defensive line. It's time for some of those guys who have been in the program for a year, we're going to need them to play well. So, defensive line, which has been a little anemic last year and we're not used to that, has to play better. Also, we may need to have a little different scheme there and coach it a little differently.
You mentioned Josh Bordner. Physically, he has some similarities to Tim Tebow, so is there any chance of seeing him in a non-quarterback situation where you have him on the field with Chase at the same time?
Yeah, there's always a chance of that. When we brought Josh in, and I've said this before, he was more of a developmental quarterback. He has a lot of skills and he has gotten better also. We feel good about where he's at. He has a lot of strides to make still and he hasn't played as much, but he gives us a whole different dimension. Our offense is what it is. We'll find out more after our scrimmage on Saturday, but that's always in the works.
Do you foresee Chris Pantale taking on a bigger role in the offense this year?
You guys probably don't know about this, but he injured himself yesterday. He injured his foot, he broke a bone in his foot. We're still not quite sure how long it's going to impact him. It's significant time. I just got the information this morning after he had the x-ray. I don't want to put a time frame on it. Chris is one of our tougher football players and when I watched it on tape last night and it's hard for me to understand what would correlate to, on what I watched, what would cause that injury. In talking to him today he injured it a couple of days ago and it flared up a bit more yesterday to the point where it was really bothering him. He's a tough kid and he pushes himself through a lot, but he can't push himself through a broken bone. I believe it is in his right foot.
Who's the next player behind Pantale at tight end?
[Jarrett] Darmstatter, [Mike] Naples, and we moved, a couple of days ago, because Naples missed a day or so, we moved Dave Bowen to tight end. That's one of the things we haven't had in a couple of years, we've got some bigger guys. We'll make another move here, but the system is flexible enough to move on. That's what happens, though, in college football. Somebody gets injured and you move on. We'll have different packages and stuff. One of the aspects here, not to belabor the point, but Chris is one of our fifth year seniors in leadership and that intangible, in itself, is going to be missed on the field. When I was at the Naval Academy, and we've adopted this here, `Yes, sir. No, sir. No excuse, sir. I'll find out, sir,' and that's the way you have to approach things. Every team is going to have problems and injuries and you have to deal with them and that's the excitement of college football and that's the way sports work. I want to reiterate again: we have a tremendous attitude with our players right now. You can feel the difference in the locker room, there's carry over from the winter. They understand that we have a lot of work, a lot of hard work, to do before September first, a lot of dog days. But right now we're well on our way.
How different is that attitude from two seasons ago?
I should clarify that. Sixteen years I've been here and our guys have always shown up to work. That's one of the things that hit me when I first got here to Boston College. That's the type of player we attract here. Our guys always show up, no matter what the record is. Enthusiasm is contagious and a lack of enthusiasm is also contagious. There is no lack of enthusiasm in Yawkey, on the first three floors of Yawkey, with the people that are involved in producing on Saturdays. That's my point - there's enthusiasm there and it really hasn't changed, but it can be perceived that there may be a lack of enthusiasm when there isn't.
Offensive Coordinator Doug Martin
General Impressions of the Offense:
"I'm really pleased with our wide receiver corps. Coming out of spring I thought that was one of the things I had some concerns about - our depth and playmaking ability, but after seeing a lot of the young kids, like Johnathan Colemanhas really stepped up, having [Bobby] Swigert back out there, who I didn't have in the spring, is definitely a plus. I think we're probably going to put five maybe six guys that can really help us there. I think our offensive line has gelled together really well. I think we're going to be really good up front. I like where Chase [Rettig] is and [Josh] Bordner right now. I think both of those guys can make plays for us and win games. I think we've got three really good running backs--we've got to keep those guys healthy. Obviously with Chris's [Pantale] injury now we've got some problems there at tight end, but we'll adjust, be a little bit more multiple there. But I like where our offense is. I think we can be an explosive offense. I think we can be a consistent offense. I think we can be very productive.
On the team's offensive style and system:
"We're very multiple. We're a multiple one back offense. We can give people two tight ends, we can give people one tight end, and we move those guys all around. The benefit of that is when we have an injury, like with Chris [Pantale], we can move people around. We can shift and motion to get people where we want and to get the matchups we want. What we want to do is put stress on the defense. We do that in a couple of ways. Number one is with our tempo. We want to be really fast out of the huddle - line up, snap the ball, make the defense line up, use shifts and motions to take recognition away from the defense. We want to be really multiple with what we're doing in terms of shifts and motions, and how we're running our plays. Then we want to be really balanced. We want to be able to run the ball. We want to be able to throw the ball. We want to be able to beat people doing either one."
On the other offensive coaches:
"Jim [Bollman] has been great to work with. Obviously he's got a lot of experiences there from Ohio State, they were really good. He's an excellent offensive line coach. He's had to learn a new system too, with what we're doing here, and he's been great. He and I work really well together - as do all of our offensive coaches. I love our offensive room because there are no egos. We're just all in there having a good time coaching. We really enjoy each other, and that makes it a lot of fun to come to work."
Comparisons to Steve Logan's offense (2007-08) at BC:
"Obviously having Matt Ryan makes a big difference, but Steve's a great mentor of mine. I really cut my teeth offensively with Steve, and what I've learned about coaching quarterbacks I've taken from him. He and I are really close. He's been one of my best friends. In fact, we vacationed together this summer. I just think the world of him, and he's a great coach. The offense is a little bit different in that we're probably a little more multiple. We're probably a little more play-action based than what Steve was with Matt Ryan, but there is some carry over terminology wise. Even some of the players that were here with Steve that I still have, like Colin Larmond and those guys, they remember some of the terminology so it made things a little bit easier when they came here."
On the quarterbacks:
"I think Chase [Rettig] has a chance to be as good a quarterback as there is in this conference. I really do. I think he's got the physical ability. One of the benefits he has is he's had to learn a couple of different offensive systems. You know, that's a negative but the positive of it is he's had to mentally grow faster than most quarterbacks because he has had to learn so much offense. I think he's really comfortable. Ours is a little more simple than what he's been dealing with so I think he feels a lot more comfortable. Ours is a quarterback offense. How we go is how he's going to go. He's got a lot of controls at the line of scrimmage to do different things for us, and I'm just really excited about where we can go with him. I think the key is consistency. I think in the past he's had good games, but it's about having good game after good game after good game. That's what makes the Matt Ryan's of the world so effective. Then I think Josh Bordner is another guy we can win football games with. He's big, he's strong. Josh is a guy who I think has just scratched the surface of where he's going to be. We're still in the developmental stages with him as far as some fundamentals and things like that, but again he's a really bright young man, works really hard. I think we can win games with him. We've got other guys. Dave Shinskie has won eight games in a season here for Boston College so there's another guy that I enjoy working with. Mike Marscovetrais another guy that I think has a lot of abilities, just waiting his time. There's a lot of depth at the quarterback position."
Defensive Coordinator Bill McGovern
You have recruited and coached some great linebackers over the years, what are your initial impressions of this group?
"I'm excited about the young group, they seem like they have good awareness and thus far haven't been overwhelmed at this point which a lot of guys tend to be when they first come in. They have made mistakes and they know there are things to improve on but I think it's something that those guys are excited about and I'm looking forward to working with them over the next few years."
What is it about Kevin Pierre-Louis that really stands out to you?
"What you have seen with Kevin is how he has progressed and matured as a player. He understands the game a little more, he's seeing it quicker, and the leadership out on the field with his practice habits sets a great example for the younger guys. It's important because he is locked in with what we want to accomplish and he gives 110 percent all the time."
How big of a boost to the defensive line with the return of Kaleb Ramsey be?
"Kaleb is a big talent, there's no doubt about it, and we are excited to get him back on the field and show everyone what he can do."
Has there been a point of emphasis on the pass rush so far in camp?
"It's been early in camp and we haven't really put the pads on yet so we haven't emphasized putting a heavy pass rush. It's something we definitely acknowledge and plan on working on very soon. First scrimmage coming up tomorrow, how complicated will things get out there? We want to find out who can play. We're not trying to see how many mental mistakes we can make but we want to gauge which guys are making plays and making sure everyone knows where they should be lined up. That's basically what we try to do during the first scrimmage."
Video Interviews with the student-athletes: