2008 Boston College Preview - Offense
Boston College TE Ryan Purvis
CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Boston College Eagle Offense
Preview 2008 - Offense
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need to know:
Who fills Ryan’s shoes? Although he’ll have to officially earn
the job first, senior Chris Crane is the heavy favorite to start
the opener. Surprisingly quick at 6-4 and 236 pounds, he has a
capable arm and two valuable seasons as Ryan’s understudy. The
Eagles don’t run as much as they did when O’Brien was around,
but they still like to occasionally pound the ball between the
tackles. Unfortunately, last season’s best rushers are gone, and
Jeff Smith and A.J. Brooks are unlikely to suit up for physical
and disciplinary reasons, respectively. Enter rookie Josh Haden,
who has the breakaway speed and clear path to win the job.
Taking the place of massive Gosder Cherilus at left tackle is
Anthony Castonzo, who started on the right side as a true
Passing: Chris Crane
2-4, 28 yds
Rushing: James McCluskey
174 carries, 791 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Rich Gunnell
64 catches, 931 yds, 7 TD
Star of the
offense: Junior WR Rich Gunnell
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Chris
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore LT Anthony Castonzo
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Ryan Purvis
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Purvis, 2) Gunnell, 3) Senior
WR Brandon Robinson
Strength of the offense: The receivers, the left side of
Weakness of the offense: Proven runners, inexperience at
Projected Starter: The Eagles’ first priority on offense
will be to replace Matt Ryan, the third overall selection in April’s NFL
Draft. Stepping to the forefront is senior Chris Crane, who built
some distance on the competition with a solid spring performance. Having
spent two seasons as Ryan’s caddy, he has a huge advantage in experience
and knowledge of the system. Crane is also 6-4 and 236 pounds with a
strong arm and unexpected mobility when he leaves the pocket. While he
doesn’t have much practical game experience, he won’t carry himself like
a rookie when Kent State visits Aug. 30.
Projected Top Reserve: Redshirt freshman Dominique Davis
has wasted little time becoming the future at the position for Boston
College. The first really good fit for what coordinator Steve Logan is
looking to do, he’s 6-4 and 187 pounds with the scrambling ability to
burn defenses in more than one way. Davis needs to polish up his
passing, but showed enough poise and growth in April to lock down the
No. 2 job.
Coming out of spring, junior Codi Boek was running a distant
third after failing to impress in his first appearances out of American
River (Calif.) College. Considered one of the best dual-threats from the
two-year schools, he was slow to adjust to the new offense, but could
make a move once he gets more comfortable in his surroundings.
Watch Out For ... Crane to perform like a seasoned veteran
in his only chance to lead the Eagles. He won’t be Ryan, but his
knowledge of the offense and overall skill set will be enough to bridge
the gap for one year while the young quarterbacks get up to speed.
Strength: Crane. After losing one of the best quarterbacks
in school history, it’s a luxury to have a veteran like Crane, a
fifth-year senior who won’t be rattled by replacing a player of Ryan’s
Weakness: Inexperience of the backups. Last year, the
Eagles had Crane on the bench as an insurance policy. This year, they
have Davis and Boek, neither of whom has taken a snap at this level.
Outlook: Forgetting where the bar was at last year, Boston
College should be fine at quarterback this fall. Crane throws a nice
ball on the intermediate routes and will surprise people with his
ability to tuck it and run. He might even exceed expectations and
attract some NFL attention with some help from a suspect group of backs
Projected Starters: Graduations, suspensions, and injuries
have cleaned out an Eagle backfield that was flush with veterans just
last year. How thin is the unit? True freshman Josh Haden has
already been slotted in as the program’s starting running back. He was a
blue-chip recruit and already took part in spring drills, but Jeff
Jagodzinski would have preferred a year as someone’s apprentice before
being thrust into this role. Plus, at only 5-8 and 190 pounds, he’s more
of an explosive all-purpose back who’d benefit from more time in the BC
weight training program.
After starting in his first season, sophomore James McCluskey is
the undisputed leader at fullback. More than just a meat-and-potatoes
lead blocker at 6-2 and 231 pounds, he was a reliable option in short
yardage, turning three of his eight carries into touchdowns.
Projected Top Reserves: At least for the time being,
Haden’s backup is 6-1, 197-pound sophomore Dan Mulrooney, a
converted free safety trying to find his way on to the field. A
no-nonsense, north-south runner, he exhibits a good feel for the game,
but isn’t the most fluid athlete and won’t jet past many defenders.
Watch Out For ... the arrival of the true freshmen.
Jagodzinski did very well at the position in the last recruiting cycle,
landing top prospects Montel Harris, Isaac Johnson, Eric
Reynolds, and Jerry Kelly to go along with Haden. Not
only will all four have a chance for immediate playing time, but
they’re being counted on to bolster depth that’s currently non-existent.
Strength: The future. Okay, so the running game will probably
sputter at times this fall as rookies dominate the carries. However,
within a year or two, BC will again have a deep and diverse stable of
backs to lean on.
Weakness: Experience. McCluskey is the only Eagle on the
roster with a carry, and he’s the fullback. The running game will be
erected on the backs of true freshmen, which is an instant recipe for
inconsistency and serious concerns regarding depth.
Outlook: Haden is an open field dynamo and exactly the
type of cutback runner who’ll excel in the zone blocking scheme. He’s
also a few months out of high school, however, and not someone who
should be getting 20 carries a game, so expect a few other rookies to
cut into his production.
Projected Starters: By the program’s modest standards, BC
is loaded with experienced receivers, welcoming back five of last year’s
top seven pass-catchers. Junior Rich Gunnell and senior
Brandon Robinson are coming off breakout years as the preferred wide
receiver targets of Matt Ryan. The 5-11, 206-pound Gunnell emerged as
the big-play guy, showing a knack for making clutch catches and getting
behind the secondary late in tight games. In his first season of
extensive action, he led all wideouts with 64 catches for 931 yards and
Robinson missed the spring to recover from offseason shoulder surgery,
but should be fine for the start of the season. Although the shoulder
nagged him at times last year, he still managed to catch 56 passes for
793 yards and five touchdowns. Even more impressive, the 5-10,
194-pounder had his three best games versus the quality defensive
backfields of Wake Forest, Florida State, and Georgia Tech.
As good as Gunnell and Robinson are, the tight end might be even better.
Senior Ryan Purvis has gotten more productive with each passing
season, peaking in 2007 with 54 receptions for 553 yards and four
touchdowns. Sure-handed and crisp in his routes, the First Team All-ACC
selection also has the 6-4, 261-pound frame to imitate a pulling guard
on running plays.
Projected Top Reserves: Although he didn’t start a game,
there were enough balls to go around for junior Clarence Megwa to
make 30 grabs for 353 yards and two touchdowns. One of the Eagles’ more
physical receivers, he’s 6-1 and 205 pounds with the speed to
periodically get behind the safety.
Junior Justin Jarvis is another super sub who began to emerge in
the passing game last season, catching 19 passes for 276 yards and a
couple of touchdowns. An enormous target at 6-5 and 195 pounds, his size
and ability to play above defenders compensates for a raw skill set and
the occasional dropped pass.
Redshirt freshman Lars Anderson is being groomed as the eventual
successor to Purvis at tight end. At 6-3 and 235 pounds, he has the
hands and athleticism of a wide receiver, but he needs to improve his
blocking and get-off before he can become a complete player.
Watch Out For ... Purvis to continue getting fed a steady
of passes. New quarterback Chris Crane’s strength is mid-range passes,
which happens to be where his tight end will be spending the majority of
Strength: Returning talent. The Eagles are bringing back
three players who caught at least 50 passes a year ago, uncommon depth
and production from a program that hasn’t had a wide receiver drafted
since Kelvin Martin was taken by Dallas in 1987.
Weakness: A true gamebreaker. While Gunnell and Robinson
have evolved into very nice receivers, neither will force defensive
coordinators back to the film room to stop him. BC has steady wide
receivers, but none who can be labeled spectacular.
Outlook: Sometimes, the best way to evaluate a receiving
corps is by determining whether it helps or hinders the play of the
quarterback. This group won’t be spectacular, but it’ll help Crane in
his first season as the starter, providing plenty of reliable hands and
a big play from Gunnell or Robinson every so often.
Projected Starters: While current Detroit Lion Gosder
Cherilus will certainly be missed, the line has three returning starters
and the makings of another solid unit. It all starts in the middle with
junior C Matt Tennant, a converted guard who performed well in
his first season at the pivot. While only 6-4 and 284 pounds, his size
and athletic ability have actually been good matches for the Eagles’
zone blocking scheme.
To the left of Tennant will be sophomore T Anthony Castonzo and
senior G Clif Ramsey, the unit’s other two returning starters.
Castonzo played well beyond expectations as a true freshman, starting
all 14 games at right tackle and quickly picking up his assignments.
Still too light at 6-7 and 272 pounds, he’ll be one of the ACC’s better
pass protectors once he adds more bulk.
The 6-6, 302-pound Ramsey made a positive first impression in his debut
as a full-timer. He started 13 games at guard, playing with a physical
mentality and showing an ability to get to get to the second level in a
hurry. He was a pleasant surprise who’ll only get better in his second
year in the lineup.
Massive sophomore Thomas Claiborne has found a home at right
guard, showing no signs in the spring that he’ll relinquish the top
spot. A converted defensive tackle with a nasty streak, he’s the
thickest of the offensive linemen at 6-3 and 330 pounds. His lack of
experience, however, could be a problem in the early going.
The closest competition is taking place at right tackle, where sophomore
Rich Lapham and junior Pat Sheil are going toe-to-toe. At
6-8 and 324 pounds, Lapham has the size and strength to be a monster in
the running game and an eventual pro prospect, but first he needs to
fend off Sheil and improve as a pass protector.
A top recruit from the Class of 2005, the 6-6, 283-pound Sheil has yet
to produce for the Eagles, rarely getting on the field in the last three
seasons. After failing to beat out then-freshman Castonzo in 2007, he’s
in danger of getting surpassed by a younger player for a second straight
Projected Top Reserves: Whoever loses in the battle between
Lapham and Sheil will still play a vital role in the tackle rotation
along with Nathan Richman. The 6-6, 274-pound redshirt freshman
has moved behind Castonzo at left tackle, showing early signs of the
agility and power that the coaching staff looks for in its blockers.
Depth and competition at guard will be provided by 6-6, 294-pound junior
Nick Rossi and 6-4, 280-pound redshirt freshman John Elliott.
Rossi brings experience and good size to the second unit, earning his
first letter and his most extensive action a year ago.
Elliott, coaches believe, could someday develop into one of the ACC’s
best drive blockers. A coveted recruit from last year, he plays with an
attitude, explodes off the snap, and has the long arms needed to stop
pass rushers in their tracks. It’s early, but he has the tools to be the
next in a long line of NFL-caliber guards to play at BC.
Watch Out For ... the line to be more comfortable in the
second year of the zone blocking scheme. Somewhat of an odd fit for the
previous generation of Boston College linemen, the last two recruiting
classes have been filled with blockers, such as Castonzo, Richman, and
Elliott, who mesh nicely with the system.
Strength: The left side. From Tennant out to Castonzo, the
Eagles have placed three of their best blockers on the left side of the
line. Castonzo will keep getting better and Tennant and Ramsey have
become fixtures of the front wall.
Weakness: Lack of a true anchor. Last year, the Eagles had
Cherilus, who would go on to be drafted No. 17 overall in April. This
year, however, BC doesn’t have a bona fide star, or even a sure-fire
all-conference selection, to build the line around.
Outlook: BC is rarely lacking in big, physical linemen who
hold up well at the point of attack. This season will be no different. A
year after leading the ACC in sacks allowed, the Eagles will again be
solid, but a little less spectacular now that Cherilus and Ryan Poles
are playing in the NFC North.