CHESTNUT HILL — Most spring games have an element of awkwardness to them in terms of just how competitive the play will be. For Boston College's spring game Saturday, not all the tackling was live, and the team used a modified scoring system that pitted the Maroon team (offense) against the White team (defense).
The final score? Maroon 71, White 55.
OK, so there are a lot of things to fill in there, but overall, this was mostly a day where you got to see the depth at certain positions, because a lot of the front-line guys did not play or played very sparingly.
The one that revs the offense's engine, running back AJ Dillon, did not participate. Quarterback Anthony Brown only played two series, and completed 3-of-5 passes for 25 yards to go along with one rush for 10 yards.
Keep in mind, the stats are not as official as you'd see in a game, because with the "thud" rules on stopping ballcarriers, not everything was cut and dried in that regard.
Still, there were a few things that stood out.
Strong start, strong finish
Brown had a terrific spring, and even though it was just two series, the quarterback looked like he was in total command of the offense.
As we saw in a couple practices we viewed earlier, Brown's accuracy seems to have taken a step forward. Entering his third year as a starter, that leap is sort of expected at this point, and there has been no indication that it won't happen.
In other words, things are starting to click for him.
"It was a quick two series, and it was fun just being out there," Brown said. "Better atmosphere being outside, because we've been inside basically all spring. It was just . . . it was a good day. Probably one of the best turnouts I've seen at one of our spring games, and it really made me excited for the season, and I'm just ready to go."
Who's No. 2?
Right now, EJ Perry has the most experience out of any of the backup quarterbacks, but that competition for the next man in after Brown is ongoing.
Matt McDonald was the first quarterback on the field when Brown wasn't, and redshirt freshman Matt Valecce might have had the best day in that unit, completing 9-of-11 passes for 78 yards.
Perry has the best speed and running ability out of that group, but the depth chart is a lot more crowded behind Brown than it may seem.
The biggest and the baddest
Junior running back Travis Levy at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds did not get a ton of work, so the two who shined most at the position were David Bailey (6-1, 240) and Javian Dayne (6-0, 240).
Bailey rumbled for a 28-yard touchdown off left tackle where he showed some impressive burst..
"I've been working on my speed all summer and all spring ball," said Bailey, who finished with 91 yards on 12 carries. "(Head strength and conditioning coach Scott McLafferty) came in, made our guys powerful, and I've been working on my speed all spring ball. . . . And I've lost a little bit of weight this season."
Ten pounds, exactly, according to Bailey, who said he was at 250 last year and is down to 240 (the spring roster lists him at 245).
Dayne was impressive, too, piling up 102 yards on 21 attempts. Basically, if your fourth-string running back is as good as Dayne, consider your depth at the position pretty darn good.
A big focal point of the offseason is replacing what the Eagles lost on the defensive line. It is probably the most inexperienced unit on the team, and at times, the group had trouble both holding up in the run game and generating a pass rush Saturday.
According to coach Steve Addazio, that area will continue to be a point of emphasis.
"The obvious thing that we have to accelerate is the defensive front and ends," Addazio said. "Our depth, and we lost a couple of impact players there. We've got a bunch of guys that are working hard, and we've got to make up some ground there."
During his career at The Heights, Davon Jones has been moved around from linebacker to running back, back to linebacker, then back to running back, depending on when and where the Eagles need him.
For now, though, he looks settled for good at linebacker, and the group in general looks solid. Alongside players like John Lamot and Max Richardson, among others, Jones should have his best year as an Eagle.
"I think (the linebackers) had a solid spring," said Jones, a Worcester native who played his high school ball at St. John's of Shrewsbury. "Guys like John, Max, (Isaiah McDuffie), even though he's hurt, we're the older guys in the room, and we're just trying to take that leadership role and take the young guys along with us. As a unit, I think we're playing great ball right now."
If this spring is any indicator of how the 2019 recruiting class will turn out, the early returns are positive.
The true freshman who enrolled early are all promising. Although quarterback Sam Johnson only completed 2-of-7 passes for 25 yards, the speed of the game for a young quarterback to this level always takes time to adjust to.
However, the two others from that class that are already on campus both flashed Saturday. Wide receiver Ethon Williams made the catch of the day on a diving pass to the near sideline and finished with three grabs for 31 yards. Defensive lineman Izaiah Henderson lined up at both end and tackle, and the 6-5, 290-pounder looks further along than one would expect for someone that young.
"He's going to be a talent," Addazio said of Henderson. "He's going to be a real talent. He started coming on at the end of the spring. You can tell he's figuring it out. He'll be playing this year, and we're going to need him."