College Sports

Six takeaways for defense in BC spring football game

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Boston College quarterback Emmett Morehead said he put on 10 pounds and feels stronger, lighter on his feet, and more durable.

From an offensive perspective, competing in a spring game can be tricky. The playbook is limited, there’s little fluidity to drives, and skill players are stopped before they try to break tackles.

“You don’t want to show what you’re going to do next year,” Boston College quarterback Emmett Morehead said. “We’d rather err on the side of keeping our best plays and the density of our playbook hidden right now.”

The offense showed flashes in Saturday’s action, but the day largely belonged to the defense. Sophomore cornerback Amari Jackson intercepted two passes, CJ Clinkscales, Carter Davis, and Jamareeh Jones added one apiece, and Neto Okpala forced and recovered a fumble in one swoop.


The defense racked up six takeaways, powering the Maroon team to a 69-42 win over the Gold team at Alumni Stadium.

“Today was going to be vanilla,” Eagles coach Jeff Hafley said. “In my opinion, if the defense didn’t have a better day, knowing the limitations of what we were going to run on offense, then something’s wrong with the defense. I loved the fact that we took the ball away.”

Secondary has its way

Boston College finished 12th in the Atlantic Coast conference in both interceptions (seven) and sacks (27) last season.

With the caveat that no trend should carry too much weight in the spring game, this year’s secondary did appear to have an added bite.

Jackson, who broke up three passes last year, seems poised to take on an expanded role this season. He soared to snare a Morehead pass to the end zone in the first quarter, then snagged another pass near the sideline late in the half. Jackson even added a reception on offense, capped by a front-flip into the end zone for good measure.

Graduate student Elijah Jones, who led the ACC with 13 pass breakups last year, is back to anchor the unit.

“You saw how many times we got our hands on the ball today,” Jones said. “It was great.”

Newcomers show potential

Saturday was the first real glimpse into what many newcomers could offer in the fall.


Defensive backs Alex Washington (Harvard), Khari Johnson (Arkansas), and Victor Nelson (Long Island), plus defensive lineman George Rooks (Michigan), should contribute right away. Washington broke up a pass along the sideline and Rooks made his presence felt pressuring the quarterback.

On offense, linemen Kyle Hergel (Texas State) and Logan Taylor (Virginia) got the start alongside Ozzy Trapilo, Drew Kendall, and Jack Conley. Hergel and Taylor should complement Christian Mahogany and provide depth to a unit that struggled immensely last season, in part due to injuries.

Wide receiver Ryan O’Keefe (Central Florida) didn’t play, but the Eagles are encouraged by the fit. Hafley loves his team’s overall depth this season.

“There’s competition for jobs right now,” Hafley said. “I couldn’t tell you, at some positions, who the guy’s going to be. Last year at this time, it was like, ‘Who are we going to play there?’ Now it’s, ‘OK, who’s going to win the job?’”

Offense has its moments

While the offense wasn’t as consistent as it will need to be, it did show some promise.

Without NFL-bound star Zay Flowers, look for other receivers to step up and fuel a more balanced yet still dangerous unit. Expect O’Keefe, Joe Griffin Jr. (who didn’t play), Jaden Williams, Taji Johnson, Dino Tomlin, and Lewis Bond, among others, to contribute. Tight ends George Takacs and Jeremiah Franklin, and running backs Pat Garwo, Alex Broome, and Xavier Coleman, are also threats as pass-catchers.


Tomlin — with his father, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, in attendance — reeled in a 2-yard touchdown pass from Morehead. Charlie Gordinier hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Rueve, and Andre Hines chipped in an 8-yard TD run.

“We definitely could be a lot cleaner, but generally, we made enough plays,” Tomlin said.

Morehead said he put on 10 pounds and feels stronger, lighter on his feet, and more durable. He’s still the clear-cut starter, but freshman Jacobe Robinson is a name to monitor.

The 6-foot-2-inch, 225-pound prospect from Henderson, Texas, throws a slightly side-arm ball and plays with a noticeable flair. He took off for a big gain down the left sideline and also connected with several receivers on shorter passes.

“He’s a big man,” Hafley said. “I didn’t know he was that fast off of high school tape. I’m glad he’s with us.”


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