It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Steve Addazio smile.
Throughout a trying 2015 Boston College football season, the passionate head coach appeared beaten down by his offense’s woes, taking a hardened stance to defend his five-year process. But now, with last year’s disastrous 3-9 campaign behind him, Addazio was as bright and chipper as the sky on a beautiful spring day in Chestnut Hill. And he has his quarterbacks to thank for that.
Throughout his first few springs as skipper for the Eagles, the team has been hampered by a lack of depth and experience, especially on the lines, that have prevented a true intrasquad scrimmage. Now with his recruiting plan in full swing, Addazio at last put on a true rendition of the annual Jay McGillis Memorial Spring Football Game. BC plays the game in honor of McGillis, a former defensive back who died of leukemia in 1992. Every season, one defensive back earns a scholarship from the McGillis family—this year’s went to senior John Johnson during a pregame ceremony.
But even this one even came with a little twist. Instead of playing a regular game between the first- and second-teamers, Addazio allowed two of his injured senior captains—tight end Michael Giacone and defensive end Kevin Kavalec—to split up the two sides in a Pro Bowl-style draft, with one side in Maroon and the other in Gold/White. With four 10-minute quarters—the latter two with a running clock—Addazio’s goal was to allow the players to have a fun, relaxed atmosphere in the game.
Oh yeah, and they were going to throw the ball. A lot.
“We weren’t planning to do much in the run game,” Addazio said. “We wanted to just chuck it around out there.”
Clearly, that memo got to Patrick Towles and Darius Wade.
With Towles suited up in White (with black shorts, no less) and Wade in Maroon, the two went head-to-head. And as the game progressed, something emerged that was largely unexpected. It was the makings of a true, ol’ fashioned quarterback battle.
Many expected Towles, a graduate transfer from the University of Kentucky, to snatch the starting gig out of the hands of Wade. The now redshirt sophomore had been handed the starting spot last year, but a broken ankle in the season’s third week against Florida State sidelined him for the remainder of 2015.
From the get-go, Towles appeared prepared to let everyone know who was in charge. His first pass of the game came on a beautiful, 50+-yard spiral straight down the center of the field. It wasn’t caught, but man, did it look good.
“It felt good, it would’ve been a little bit better if he caught it, or if I threw it better, it was a little overthrown,” Towles said with a laugh on the first play.
BC’s official release has Towles coming in at completing 2-of-4 passes for five yards, though The Heights’ game score has him finishing with 5-of-14 for 48 yards, as well as a 10-yard rush. He showed a strong connection with Jeff Smith, who finished with four catches with 51 yards between Towles and freshman quarterback Anthony Brown. The rest of Towles’ receiving corps, however, caught a case of the yips and had trouble holding onto the ball.
“There were a couple of drops on that guy out there,” Addazio said with a chuckle.
Towles also lauded the scheme of offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. Many of the plays resemble what you might find in Addazio’s playbook, but Towles said that it’s a little more complex. According to Towles, Loeffler likes mixing in play-action passes and dropbacks while spreading the field with a mix of short, medium, and long passes. He believes it will prepare him for the next level and, hopefully, the NFL. For right now, it should give BC fans a lot of excitement.
“There’s going to be a lot of plays made in this stadium this year, I can tell you that,” Towles said.
Yet Wade looked even better. He finished 13-of-19 for 181 yards, his best performance as an Eagle thus far. He connected well with Tommy Sweeney (four catches for 57 yards) and Elijah Robinson (five catches for 55 yards). His most impressive play was a soaring, over-the-top 52-yard pass to Drew Barksdale.
In fairness, BC’s four best defensive backs—Johnson, Isaac Yiadom, Gabriel McClary, and Kamrin Moore—were on Wade’s team. Nevertheless, for the embattled quarterback, it was a day of positives.
“It feels great to get back out there,” Wade said. “I’ve definitely been looking forward to this.”
Now, with spring practices over and the summer ahead, we’ll simply have to wait and see how this quarterback battle turns out. Addazio wouldn’t make any commitments to Wade or Towles, yet noted that they’re pretty much taking all of the reps. Based on what he saw, he’s really excited for the next step.
“[Towles] chucked it, and Darius chucked it,” Addazio said. “That’s as good as I’ve seen those guys chuck it around out there.”
A lot of teams have problems when they have to decide between quarterbacks. Ohio State had trouble shuffling between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, and Notre Dame could see some issues if the team has to bench Deshone Kizer in favor of returning starter Malik Zaire.
But for an offense like BC had in 2015, having to pick between two quarterbacks who seem ready to break out isn’t such a bad problem to have.
Featured Image by Alec Greaney / Heights Editor