CHESTNUT HILL — There's nothing wrong with waiting a bit for good news.
During Steve Addazio's press conference Monday afternoon, he almost let slip an accomplishment by John Phillips, who was named Atlantic Coast Conference co-Offensive Lineman of the Week.
"He will be later," BC Senior Associate AD of Communications Baum adeptly noted.
The league's weekly awards have to be announced by the conference first, so Baum saved a minor error from Addazio.
"I shouldn't have said that," Addazio said with a laugh. "Press the delete button. Delete, delete, delete. Jay Baum said that, not me"
A few hours later, though, it was official, some well-earned recognition for Phillips, now in his fifth year at The Heights.
In two games this season, Phillips has yet to allow a QB pressure and, according to the Eagles, has been BC’s top-graded offensive lineman.
"He's a guy who has come in here and paid his dues," Addazio said. "He redshirted, and he didn't really play. There were some, early on, 'Oh, is he really going to be a player?' Then, all of a sudden, in his redshirt junior year (2018), he gets on the field, has a really good year. And then he's off and running."
While there is always the warranted hype for players like redshirt freshman Tyler Vrabel, who is already starting at left tackle, Addazio considers that the outlier for the position.
"Honestly, (Phillips' acclimation is) the norm to me for a good offensive lineman," he said. "Develop, develop, and have a really good two-year career here.
"Sometimes it's three years, but everybody, this whole fast-paced deal now, everybody thinks that coming out of high school, you should be a true freshman. But John's done it the right way. John is having a great year, and will have a great opportunity to go on at the next level."
The offensive line as a whole has been dominant in its first two games. The Eagles have averaged 5.1 yards per rush and over 250 per game and allowed just three sacks.
Sure, some of that came against overmatched Richmond on Saturday, but the unit only allowed one sack on 27 Anthony Brown dropbacks against Virginia Tech and paved the way for a combined 119 yards on 25 carries from AJ Dillon and David Bailey that day.
The whole line has that more developmental feel now. Of the 11 players listed on the two-deep for Friday night's game against Kansas, seven are either in their third, fourth, or fifth year in the program, including the 6-foot-6, 305-pound Phillips.
It bodes well for the rest of the season, where the Eagles will square off against some of the best defensive lines in the country.
Which way, Zay?
With true freshman Zay Flowers becoming such a weapon both as a receiver and runner, his presence will start to force teams to pay extra attention to the speedster.
That type of chess piece can only help as Flowers would likely be an ACC Rookie of the Week at some point without the breakout performances of North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell.
If you commit two players to Flowers, which teams are going to have to start doing, there will simply be more space for others to operate.
"I think you need to be aware of where (Flowers) is on the field. As I said earlier, he's got electric speed," Addazio said. "Some guys are really fast. He's really fast, but he also is a tight turn guy, and he's got great ball skills. Our goal is to get him more and more involved in different facets of our game plan, and we're going to continue to push the envelope there because I think that he can be a game changer."
Here comes the Hat
Addazio butted heads with Kansas coach Les Miles when the latter was at LSU and the former was an assistant at Florida. The two programs are permanent SEC divisional crossover opponents.
"Oh, he had the fake on the field goal one year," Addazio said of the 2010 game where LSU rallied for a 33-29 win in Gainesville. "The ball got mishandled. I'll never forget watching on the sideline and it was on the ground. When it hit the ground, it could have gone this way or this way, and of course (LSU got the first down by inches). But (Miles always has) got 'trickeration' in his bag. That's one of his big things over the years. I think he's one of those guys that is going to take chances."
Fourth-down aggressiveness, trick plays, a high-worn hat, and the occasional snacking on grass before a big play earned Miles the "The Hat" or "The Mad Hatter" nickname when he was in Baton Rouge. Addazio appreciates that side of him.
"He makes college football fun in a lot of ways, not just with that, but just with personality and everything else," Addazio said. "He's been in a lot of big-time ballgames. Certainly one of the great coaches in the history of our game, no doubt about that now.
"He gets his teams ready to play. You always felt when you were playing LSU, man, they were ready to roll. They had some great players, super-talented players. He's got a personality with him. Whether you were playing them in the Swamp , or we played them at their place (Tiger Stadium, aka Death Valley) — which playing at their place is rough duty, really tough."
That tough road tradition includes LSU placing a live, caged Tiger by the entrance of the opposing team when it runs onto the field.
Addazio closed his remarks with a reference to that tactic: "Hold that Tiger."