April 11, 2008

First scrimmage brings injury

The BC football team held their first scrimmage of the spring Thursday at Alumni Stadium and offensive guard Thomas Claiborne was carted off the field. Not exactly the way the Eagles coaching staff wanted to start things off.

Before we dive into details, let's first go over how it's played, as it's not like a normal football game.

Who Plays: The 1st string offense goes against the 1st string defense, and the 2nd string offense goes against the 2nd string defense

Time Limits: The game is not timed. Each "string" gets 12 snaps and then switches off with the other "string"

Kickoff and Punts: None. Therefore, each series of 12 snaps starts off on a specific spot on the field. Those pre-assigned spots for the offense are- Own 20, Own 35, 50, Opponents 35, and Opponents 5

Other Quirks: There are downs just like a real game. Since there are no punts, when 4th down comes up the offense "resets". It becomes 1st down again, and the offense restarts at the pre-assigned yard spot for that series of 12 snaps.

Quarterback Protection: None, they are fair game.

All in all, there were many positives that came out of the scrimmage. However, there was one major concern that came out of the game, as projected starting guard Thomas Claiborne needed to get carted off of the field midway through the scrimmage. At this time, the extent of the injury is unknown. The only thing confirmed is it was a lower body injury, likely an ankle, and not as serious as first thought.

Also, redshirt freshman Dominick Magazu left the game as well with an apparent wrist injury.

Quarterbacks - Chris Crane led the 1st team offense and didn't disappoint. Crane threw for 132 yards on 12-of-23 passing, which included a 19 yard TD pass to Billy Flutie. The TD pass was Crane's prettiest throw of the day, as he placed the pass perfectly just over the defender, hitting Flutie in stride in the end zone.

Dominique Davis led the 2nd string offense and also performed well. The best asset of Davis seemed to be his scrambling ability. There were at least two occasions where a play broke down, and the QB was able to scramble for positive yardage. The offense ran a few option plays when Davis was in which was interesting.

Chris Johnson received the 3rd most playing time and was good and bad. Johnson connected on the nicest play of the day when he threw a 40+ yard bomb to Ifeanyi Momah. Johnson placed the pass at the perfect height for Momah to out jump CB Roderick Rollins and haul in the pass. On the other end of the spectrum, Johnson has a fumble and an INT.

Codi Boek suited up and saw limited playing time. He mostly saw action inside the 5-yard line and was used on rollout passes.

Running Backs - When BC fans see Josh Haden in person they will not be disappointed. The best way to explain it is he has a Barry Sanders "wow" factor to him. Now, I'm not comparing his ability to Sanders, but you just get the feeling every time he touches the ball there's a chance something very good is going to happen. I think Haden put up the most exciting 20 yards on 10 carries I've seen in a while.

Fullback James McCluskey (13 carries for 48 yards) had a nice day rushing as well. There's no doubt he runs the ball with authority.

Dan Mulrooney (19 carries for 52 yards) showed potential, but needs to get more patient. One play in particular stood out when Mulrooney ran backwards to try and prevent a loss, and made the problem worse, as he got backed up further and ended up with a 12-yard loss.

Receivers - Chris Crane might have raised some eyebrows this week when he told EA that Ifeanyi Momah would be the biggest surprise this season. If you got to witness this scrimmage you'd know why. If you didn't know better, you would've thought Momah was the #1 receiver on the team. He made several nice catches in traffic, and seemed almost impossible for the defense to cover.

In addition, Justin Jarvis had a nice day overall as well. His most impressive play came on a 5-yard catch off of a crossing pattern that he took for an additional 15 yards, which included a broken tackle.

Offensive Line - The OL probably had the weakest days out of all of the positions, but that's to be expected this early in the season, especially with all of the inexperience.

The best part of the line came with their pass blocking, especially the 1st string. Crane had several occasions where he had ample time to throw the ball.

The same can't be said for run blocking. It was a tough day for the BC running game as there weren't many holes to run through most of the day.

Defensive Line - One of the big reasons for limited success on the ground was because of great play by the defensive line, particularly the 2nd string. Austin Giles and Jerry Willette, who saw plenty of game action last season, man the middle for the defensive 2nd string. I know a few ACC teams that wouldn't mind those guys starting on their defensive line, nevermind being backups. In addition on the 2nd string, Max Holloway really had an impressive day as well. The freshman recorded 2 sacks and a forced fumble.

On the 1st string, Alex Albright stood out, as e got close to sacking the QB on a few occasions, and started the scrimmage by registering a tackle on the 1st 3 plays of the game. Ron Brace and Damik Scafe were solid plugging holes all day.

Linebackers - Admittedly, I was running late to the scrimmage, so I didn't have time to print myself out a roster for myself. So, until I was able to track one down at Alumni I honestly couldn't remember who wore #53 for BC. Thus, I had all sorts of notes that said things like "great tackle by 53", or "good job sniffing out run by 53", you get the idea. So, I guess from that you know Mike Morrissey played really well.

Another strong performer was Brian Toal who looked as good as I can remember. Let's just say if he can stay healthy he'll be a lock for the All-ACC team this season.

Finally, I was encouraged by the play of Mike McLaughlin. The best way I can describe him is that he's a smart LB. He just seemed to know where the run was going a second before anyone else. I guess he kind of needs that quality being the team's starting MLB and all.

Secondary - The coaches have been impressed with true freshman Donnie Fletcher, and I can see why. Fletcher didn't get miss a beat all day, as I never saw him get beat on a play because he made a wrong step or misread a play. In
fact, he even grabbed an INT.

The other player in the secondary that stood out was Wes Davis, who made the best hit of the day laying out Mulrooney on a running play.

Special Teams - Steve Aponavicius and Billy Bennett saw limited action, really only getting to attempt extra points. The only noteworthy piece is Bennett had an XP blocked because of a low kick.

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