When first-year wide receivers coach Aaron Smith went to Johnathan Coleman and Spiffy Evans’s dorm room, he wanted to make sure he got his point across.
It had nothing to do with Evans’s shoe collection, which includes 600 pairs and is part of the reason the fashion-forward receiver got the nickname from his grandfather.
It had everything to do with their talents.
Teammates and coaches have marveled at Coleman’s leaping ability and athleticism. Senior receiver Colin Larmond believes Coleman could play Division 1 basketball.
Evans has had a thirst for special teams going back to high school in Florida, and the Eagles have longed for an explosive return man.
Coleman remembers Smith sitting in their room and telling them, “We’re supposed to be the guys that bring the energy, and that’s what we try to do every day.”
Coleman and Evans were the wild cards in Boston College’s 34-3 win over Maine on Saturday.
When Coleman faded to the back corner of the end zone, he knew defender Khari Al-Mateen (with a 3-inch height disadvantage) was helpless. So did Chase Rettig, who hit Coleman for the 9-yard second-quarter touchdown.
It was Coleman’s first touchdown at BC, the highlight of a three-catch, 51-yard day, and after he came down with it he raced to the BC sideline, too excited to notice anyone else.
“When he bolted away from me, I couldn’t catch him,” Evans said.
Evans’s day was just as explosive. He caught a 3-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, but truly left his mark with an 82-yard punt return for a score in the third quarter.
“Once I got my shoulder straight and into the pressure that was coming, it was over for them,” said Evans.
It marked the Eagles’ first punt return for a touchdown in nearly three years.
“We haven’t had the real dynamic returner in all the years that I’ve been here,” said coach Frank Spaziani. “So we just try to be fundamentally sound and catch the ball and get upfield. They outkicked their coverage and we got some blocks, and he did what he was supposed to do.”
After watching his team sabotage itself with fumbles against Miami in the opener, Spaziani made it clear that anyone who fumbles won’t play. On Saturday, Tahj Kimble fumbled at the goal line in the first quarter, and carried the ball just one time after that.
Kimble lost the ball diving for the end zone at the end of a 13-yard run on BC’s second possession. The ball bounced out of the end zone for a touchback, giving Maine possession.
It was second and 10 on the 14 at the time, but the play bailed out the Black Bears, and the Eagles again had found a way to shoot down a promising drive. It was the second time in two weeks that a big play ended with a black mark for Kimble. Against Miami, he caught a 24-yard pass and immediately coughed the ball up, killing a crucial possession.
“There’s a judgment factor in what he’s got to be doing there,” Spaziani said. “It wasn’t like he was trying to get the ball out and hit [the goal line]. You don’t need to be doing that. We need to be getting our shoulders square and running over people to get in the end zone, and if you’re on top of their body then you extend yourself. Once again, we’ve got to coach it better.”
On Rolandan Finch’s fumble later in the first quarter, he assumed he had stopped making forward progress and the play was dead, but there was never a whistle.
“He thought the play was over and he lost focus on the ball,” Spaziani said. “You don’t do that. That’s what happens. The ball comes out and you’re running over to the sideline looking at the scoreboard.”
Finch ran for a team-high 90 yards on 17 carries after sitting out the opener with a sprained left foot.
“Deuce is a good running back, except that he’s got Vaseline on that ball sometimes,” Spaziani said. “We’ll just keep trying to find different things for him to do other than hypnotize him.”
Taking some for the team
Rettig, who was sacked twice, had X-rays on his back following the game. He said there was lingering soreness from hits he took in the loss to Miami. “It’s fine,” Rettig said. “Last week, I took a few hits and it just carried over, but I’m fine. I feel good. I’m just going to do a good job getting in that ice tub this week and getting my body ready for Northwestern.” . . . Fullback Jake Sinkovec left in the third quarter to get X-rays on his right foot. After the game, Spaziani said Sinkovec, who didn’t show up on the stat sheet after having three receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown last week, was walking on crutches. “So, that’s never good,” Spaziani said . . . Running back Andre Williams played through an ankle injury, going to the sideline to get it taped after tweaking it in the second quarter . . . Celtics first-round pick Jared Sullinger watched most of the first half from the student section with Colin Larmond, who hurt his leg against Miami.
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.