They Call It O-Line U
Yesterday, we took a look at Boston College’s dual-threat quarterback, Tyler Murphy. Today, we’ll be covering the guys in the trenches in front of him, protecting him when he’s passing, and clearing the way for his runs: the Boston College offensive line.
Similar to Penn State being nicknamed “Linebacker U” (yeah, we have no “culture of football”, right?), the unofficial moniker for Boston College is “O-Line U”. The Eagles have produced many excellent linemen who have gone on to enjoy great success in the pros. Those successes, of course, tend to attract topnotch recruits, and thus, the reputation is perpetuated.
I kind of want to be remembered as the class that brought back O-Line-U.”
—Bobby Vardaro, G
As I mentioned yesterday, this is a highly experienced unit with 124 combined career starts. Here’s who they are, the interior five starters, all graduate students at this point, from left to right:
LT – #67 Seth Betancourt (Sr.) – 6’6″, 300, from Riverside, N.J.
LG – #76 Bobby Vardaro (Sr.) – 6’5″, 306, from North Reading, Mass.
C – #59 Andy Gallik (Sr.) – 6’3″, 299, from Evergreen Park, Ill.
RG – #70 Aaron Kramer (Sr.) – 6’7″, 300, from Duxbury, Mass.
RT – #75 Ian Silberman (Sr.) – 6’5″, 293, from Orange Park, Fla. Transferred from Florida.
Then, there are a couple of junior tight ends:
TE-Y – #88 Michael Giacone (Jr.) – 6’5″, 262, from Jersey City, N.J.
TE-H – #81 Louie Addazio (Jr.), 6’3″, 248, from Gainesville, Fla. (Yeah, you guessed it!) Transferred from Syracuse.
That’s a whole lot of meat.
You just have to ask the USC defense if you want to know how good these guys are. They cleared the way for 452 rushing yards in the Eagles’ 37-31 upset of the Trojans on September 13, a serious trampling that hadn’t been experienced by USC in the past 35 years.
Still, head coach Steve Addazio thought they needed a certain je ne sais quoi at that point of the season:
This is a group that doesn’t have that throbbing heart, so to speak. They’re just five guys that played a bunch of ball, good guys, they have ability, but I think there needs to be some work there to pull that group together with a little more emotional presence.”
With Addazio, there’s always “more work to be done.” This was a mere three games into the season. As the season progressed, the Boston College offensive line has coalesced into a gritty unit.
Before the final game of the season, Addazio, as always, was quick to point out that much work remains to be done. But in a guarded comment, he allowed that all five Eagles who will leave the program after this season should take pride in what they’ve accomplished:
Faithfulness and loyalty will always be rewarded. These guys have been pretty loyal and pretty faithful to BC and to the program, and the reward for that is having an opportunity to play in two bowl games. To right the ship, if you will. To steady the program, to help it recruit and build for the future. To be able to walk out of here feeling like you were a part of the solution and a valued piece of the program.”
So they’re good, right, Steve? Or not? I can’t tell! (I think Steve must have learned how to say nothing in the course of a five-sentence paragraph from St. Joe or something.)
Yesterday, center and team captain Andy Gallik was named one of six finalists for the Rimington Award, and he is considered one of the top five center prospects heading into the NFL draft. The Rimington Trophy is presented annually to the best offensive lineman in college football. Gallik will be competing in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, on January 24, 2015.
Although the Eagles lost to #3 FSU late in the season, the game played in Tallahassee provides some clues about the Boston College offense. Similar to Penn State’s game with Ohio State, the Eagles and the Flaming Spear Planters were tied at 17 as the clocked ticked down toward the final seconds of the fourth quarter. However, unlike the Penn State game with the Schmuckeyes, a missed field goal by BC with 4:37 left on the clock gave Jameis Winston time to do what has become his customary thing. No, not stuffing king crab legs in his pants at Publix — stop that! He drove from his own 25 down to the BC 8 yard-line and called time-out with seven seconds left, resulting in a 26-yard chip-shot field goal, deflating BC’s bubble.
Against the mighty FSU defense (OK, not as mighty as the Nittany Lions, I’ll grant you), the Eagles rushed for 240 yards behind this Boston College offensive line. Freshmen Jon Hilliman and Marcus Outlow combined for 134 yards, and senior quarterback Tyler Murphy added another 48 of his own, including one touchdown run. The Eagles converted eight of fourteen third-down opportunities against the ‘Noles.
Regardless of the loss, it was a good performance of which we should take note. FSU’s rushing defense is not that great, granted, allowing 160 ypg versus Penn State’s 85. However, PSU has given up some big numbers against Ohio State and Michigan State; if you eliminate the cupcakes and look at conference games only, the defense allowed 107.5 ypg. So, this should be interesting.
The offensive line is coached by Justin Frye, who came from Temple with head coach Steve Addazio. He previously worked with Addazio as a player at Indiana, and as a coach at Florida. Under his tutelage, Temple’s offensive line supported the top rushing offense in what was then the Big East.
Frank Leonard, a 29-year veteran coach, is the tight end coach in his first season at BC. He, too, came from Temple, where he worked under Addazio.
This unit will be facing a gritty, experienced Penn State defensive front seven that take pride in their top ranking against the run. It is clear to this turkey that one key to enabling a Penn State win will be to stifle the Eagles’ rushing game. It’ll be strength against strength, and as I’ve said before, in such matchups it’s usually the defensive strength that wins out. That could be wishful thinking given the BC offensive line’s experience and bulk, but I’m still a believer in the PSU front seven.
So, that’s the Boston College offensive line. I’ll be back with more as we progress toward the Toilet Bowl on December 27.