THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

BC defense shows progress

Injuries continue to cause problems

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / August 22, 2011

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The rule of thumb in the first stages of football training camp is similar to that of spring training baseball, which Boston College coach Frank Spaziani, a Yankees fan - or at least a Derek Jeter fan - appreciates.

Spaziani, who has a long list of credentials coaching defense, always has been comfortable with the mantra that the defense is ahead of the offense early in camp in the same way pitchers are ahead of hitters at the start of spring.

After two scrimmages in which BC’s offense, led by sophomore quarterback Chase Rettig, basically took apart the defense, Spaziani was not the happiest of campers. He still isn’t.

But in yesterday’s third scrimmage, the defense showed signs that it is catching up. Although it was a patchwork unit because of injuries, and probably because Spaziani wanted to send messages to some of his players, the Eagles’ D held its own in a six-series situational scrimmage.

That was the good news. The bad news is the Eagles are down another running back, as sophomore Andre Williams went down early in the scrimmage with a sprained right ankle.

Williams, who had become the starter after Montel Harris was sidelined for a month following arthroscopic knee surgery Wednesday, had shown some early flash with 42 yards on seven carries, including a slashing 18-yard burst.

Spaziani was cautious about giving a prognosis on Williams.

“We’ll see tomorrow,’’ he said. “As long he doesn’t go square dancing tonight.’’

Spaziani remained concerned about his defense, which he continued to label as soft.

Part of the problem has been injuries, especially on the line, as starter Kaleb Ramsey and backups Bryan Murray and Kieran Borcich were out. Also missing was starting weakside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, who suffered a concussion in Wednesday’s scrimmage.

While Will Thompson moved into the starting spot, the linebacker who created the biggest stir was backup Nick Clancy, who had been battling Steele Divitto for the starting strongside spot.

Clancy moved to the weak side and went wild with five tackles, four for losses, as well as a pass deflection.

Spaziani also shook up his secondary, with starting safeties Dominick LeGrande and Okechukwu Okoroha being held out. Backup cornerback Jim Noel moved to a safety spot and drew the praise of Spaziani.

“I like Jim Noel,’’ he said. “Jimmy is a football player. He works hard. We need more Jimmy Noels.’’

Quarterback Josh Bordner participated in his first scrimmage of camp after having back problems.

Overall, Spaziani saw some progress.

“Offensively, I think we have made strides,’’ he said. “We’re throwing the ball better, catching the ball better. But I’m not sure if the combination of being a little soft on defense [contributes to the offense’s success].’’

When someone suggested that the defense had shown some teeth, Spaziani disagreed.

“Not the teeth that I want to see,’’ he said.

Rettig (11 of 22, 180 yards) wasn’t quite as sharp as in the first two scrimmages. But he did connect with wide receiver Alex Amidon (three catches, 91 yards) on a spectacular 44-yard TD pass . . . Sophomore Nate Freese showed his leg strength by booting a 52-yard field goal . . . The final scrimmage of camp is set for Wednesday afternoon . . . The status of guard Nathan Richman (back) continues to be iffy, and Spaziani said the team must move on for now. Center Mark Spinney will start at left guard and redshirt freshman Andy Gallik will move in at center.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com.