A cool, calm, and collected handoff to Myles Willis was the first action followers of the Boston College football team saw of 6-foot-2, 214-pound quarterback Tyler Murphy. While he tossed the ball out of bounds on his first passing attempt, the transfer was able to settle into the game when he found David Dudeck through the air. He then hit Drew Barksdale to move the chains, before scrambling for 16 yards on a 2nd and 20. Murphy had found his groove.
He looked like an experienced quarterback ready to lead an ACC offense. After coming out in white on the opening drive, he put on a protective black vest for the remainder of the exhibition.
Redshirt freshman James Walsh and early arrival Darius Wade switched off with him, but each struggled to move the offense down the field.
Murphy swung into full throttle when he took the offense over before the break. He rolled out to his right to find Charlie Callinan. His quick feet got him out of trouble in the pocket. His rhythm in place-the footwork he put on display in his time with the Gators-made him hard for the defense to contain. After finding Rouse on sidelines via a bootleg, Murphy snuck through the line of scrimmage for a large gain.
Gains like those were similar to the ones Wade had made in high school, though when he was put under center on Saturday, he was limited to handing the ball over to Rouse and Willis to start. During his first few looks into the secondary, he appeared tense and nervous. He was jammed up in the pocket and struggled to find space in which to throw. Wade nearly found Callinan on a play-action fake, but the outstretched arms of the redshirt freshman could not reel the ball into his grasp.
In both halves, Walsh was able to show off his athleticism. The redshirt freshman scrambled to the perimeter of the field to pick up first downs and found Callinan over the middle for a sizable completion. Head coach Steve Addazio wanted to use the spring game to experiment with his offense.
“We’re not doing everything we did,” Addazio said. “With how these spring games go right now, I wanted to let the young guys get out and see how these freshman quarterbacks played a little bit.”
He spread the team’s offense out in the scrimmage, putting each of his quarterbacks into situations with empty backfields. With Murphy, Walsh, and Wade being athletic, dual-threat quarterbacks, those five-receiver sets gave them time and space to hit a man downfield or scamper out of the pocket if the defense blanketed their options.
“You’ll see more of that,” Addazio said. “We wanted to work on that a bit today. We still have a strong power game that we didn’t need to run much here today. I wanted to see some of the other things today.”
Addazio established the Eagles as a smashmouth offense last season, primarily through Doak Walker Award downhill running back Andre Williams. Willis and Rouse have big shoes to fill come fall in the way of their mentor. The former of the backs totaled 75 yards on the ground, after returning the opening kickoff, relatively uncontested, for a touchdown from 95 yards.
“Both [Myles Willis] and Tyler Rouse had great springs,” Addazio said. “They did a lot of good things. They’re still young, and they still make mistakes, but they are really progressing. Those are two great guys that love football. They’ll both play. They aren’t the style of running back that Andre [Williams] was. You have to split them up. We have a few young guys, and I’m sure we will play three or four backs.”
Willis was able to match Rouse’s earlier, long-distance effort by breaking down the sideline when the offense was pinned against its end zone. While defensive back Bryce Jones was able to get an angle on the sophomore to catch him just before the 50-yard line, the explosive burst from Willis was one of the highlights of his day. He also turned the corner well in the second half to pick up a significant piece of yardage for the offense.
With the running backs kicking into gear, and Murphy sidelined after the brief halftime period, Wade and Walsh were handed the offensive reigns. Walsh seemed to play with a bit more freedom than his counterpart, who struggled to find his speed and quickness. Wade overthrew multiple receivers and found it difficult to be mobile under pressure. The true freshman struggled with the timing on his reads and was nearly picked off when he slung a pass by the head of tight end Michael Giacone before the junior could complete his curl route. Toward the end of the game, Callinan was able to bring in a pass from the freshman with one hand to pick up a solid chunk of yardage to add to the freshman’s 82-yard total.
Although it may not have been Wade or Walsh’s ideal introduction to play at Alumni Stadium, they were able to pick up experience, while Murphy got his bearings, which should bode well for the trio come the fall.