Despite the fact that football season is still over four months away, there may be a quarterback battle brewing in Chestnut Hill. With starter Anthony Brown still sidelined, the Jay McGillis Memorial Spring Game gave E.J. Perry and Matt McDonald a chance to prove they have what it takes to hold down the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. The two quarterbacks combined for four touchdown passes, with McDonald getting most of the attention after a three-score performance. The sophomore led Team Maroon to a 26-21 victory, and other Eagles skill players also turned heads throughout the scrimmage.
1) Elijah Robinson
Senior wide receiver Elijah Robinson made two of the biggest plays of the game, showing his athletic ability on a pair of deep balls—both of which required him to leave his feet. The first came on a throw from McDonald, a 25-yard sideline pass in which the senior leapt up and over cornerback Tate Haynes, contorting his body to face the ball, and nabbing it at its highest point. Robinson was able to keep his feet and then run in for the score for a 44-yard touchdown.
He managed to display sideline awareness in the second half as well, this time with Perry under center. What was definitely the best ball of the day from Perry was perhaps the best catch Robinson made as well. With both arms outstretched and two defenders surrounding him, Robinson dove head first for a 30-yard gain.
2) Andrew Strader
One player that has managed to fly under the radar, both figuratively and literally, is 5-foot-7 Andrew Strader. Saturday, that may have changed. The junior wideout/running back was the recipient of multiple passes from McDonald, catalyzing multiple Maroon Team drives on his own. After scoring the first touchdown of the game, Strader stepped back on the field and proceeded to catch back-to-back 15-yard crossing routes to bring the offense back on the opposing half.
Stader and Robinson could prove to be weapons on an offense that desperately needs a boost at the receiver position. Tight end Tommy Sweeney led the team in yards, catches, and touchdowns last year, and while he will likely accept the same accolades as a senior this year, surrounding Sweeney with vertical and underneath passing options will allow offensive coordinator Scott Loeffler to expand the playbook as the season approaches.
3) Freshman Defense
With Isaac Yiadom and Kamrin Moore now gone and searching for a home in the NFL, BC has found a need for cornerbacks in the starting rotation. Sure, Hamp Cheevers is prepared to lock down opponents on one side of the field throughout his final season, but what about the other half?
For this reason, it was refreshing to see a couple of redshirt freshmen defensive backs getting in on the action during the spring game. Jahmin Muse was the first one to make a play, intercepting Perry on the quarterback’s first pass attempt. Ben Stewart, too, was able to affect the ground game by attacking the middle of the field, in one instance making a strong solo tackle on Travis Levy in the second quarter.
1) Controlled Offense
At first it appeared as if everything was going to change. E.J. Perry had taken his third-consecutive drop back out of the shotgun to start the game, and it looked like BC was possibly going to implement the spread offensive attack to its game plan—a scheme that fans have been dreaming of.
In the end, though, it was merely a tease for the Eagles’ faithful. After Perry’s early pick, the quarterback was found under center before every snap over the next two quarters. Following the game, head coach Steve Addazio said the interception had nothing to do with the change in strategy, but regardless the decision was a letdown for those that believed an offensive transformation could be well in the works.
2) Defensive Pressure
Historically, BC has boasted one of the better offensive line groups in the country. In the spring game, however, it may have worked against them. Other than a Bryce Morais sack, there was very little pressure up front throughout the entire game—including the sack, I counted just four quarterback pressures over the course of 60 minutes.
Without a defensive line to worry about, Perry and McDonald weren’t exactly challenged at the line of scrimmage. They both made easy checkdown throws for most of the game, but may not have the same opportunities in a real-game scenario. Only six passes combined from the two quarterbacks traveled beyond 10 yards—resulting in four catches, an incompletion, and the game’s only interception. While these numbers are promising, they’re not exactly representative of what BC will be getting down the line, simply because they will receive more harassment in the trenches.
3) Kicking Game
After Team Maroon’s first score, Colton Lichtenberg stepped up to the plate. The senior kicker, from 19 yards away, shanked an extra point wide left of the uprights. While Lichtenberg would proceed to make his next five attempts, the first miss may foreshadow what’s to come this season.
The Georgia native made just 12-of-20 field goal attempts last season, including 2-of-5 in BC’s final five games. A special teams battle between Lichtenberg and incoming freshman John Tessitore may spark a fire under the butt of BC’s current starter, but one miss Saturday afternoon was enough to worry Eagles fans.
Featured Image by Tiger Tao / Heights Staff