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Eagles' challenge begins

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / March 25, 2008

Matt Ryan is gone. So, too, is the rest of Boston College's senior class, which last year helped produce a 10-3 record, the ACC's Atlantic Division title, and a Champs Sports Bowl win over Michigan State - the school's eighth straight bowl victory.

But spring practice begins today for the Eagles, and it continues through the annual Jay McGillis Memorial game April 26.

"I can't wait to get going again," said coach Jeff Jagodzinski. "This is my favorite time of the year. I don't have to worry about putting in game plans and stuff like that. We can just go out and see what we've got and work on the basics."

The big question is the replacement for Ryan, who could be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft next month. The leader in the clubhouse is Chris Crane, who served as Ryan's backup the last two seasons.

Jagodzinski is interested in seeing how the 6-foot-4-inch, 236-pound senior will perform.

"Chris Crane is an unknown," said Jagodzinski. "We're going to use the spring to see how he does things like take control of the huddle and run the offense."

The coach does expect his quarterback to be able to run.

"We are going to do some things differently," Jagodzinski said. "We're going to move more out of the pocket. And whether Chris can do that or someone else can, we'll have to find out. We have to see what Dominique Davis or Cody Boek can do.

"So it's going to be interesting."

With that statement, Jagodzinski gave a hint as to what the quarterback depth chart looks like, with Davis, a 6-4, 187-pound redshirt freshman, and the 6-3, 220-pound junior Boek the top contenders behind Crane.

Jagodzinski said a major change on the offensive line will be moving Anthony Castonzo from right tackle to left tackle.

"That was done the minute our bowl game ended," said Jagodzinski, who added that Rich Lapham probably will be his right tackle and Matt Tennant will be the center. "There's pretty good competition at guard."

With Andre Callender and L.V. Whitworth gone, the Eagles have to find new running backs, and right now freshman Josh Haden has the inside track on the starter's job.

Defensively, Jagodzinski has fewer concerns. Lineman B.J. Raji, who missed last season because of academic problems, and linebacker Brian Toal, who sat out last season recovering from shoulder surgery, will return. Raji, however, won't participate in spring drills as he recovers from hip surgery.

Jagodzinski must fill the gaping holes left by standout defenders Jo-Lonn Dunbar at linebacker and Jamie Silva at safety.

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