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March 17, 2009

Can BC keep competing despite changes?

Boston College begins spring practice after an unexpected coaching change, even if there's a familiar face in charge. Coach Jeff Jagodzinski was fired after interviewing with the New York Jets, and offensive coordinator Steve Logan, who interviewed for the BC's head-coach position, also left Chestnut Hill. In Jagodzinski's place is Frank Spaziani, who has been an assistant at Boston College for 12 seasons and defensive coordinator for a decade.

The biggest change will be with the offense. Jagodzinski, who was hired as offensive coordinator with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, embraced a wide-open offense. Gary Tranquill, 68, a former head coach at Navy and coordinator at Michigan State and North Carolina, could bring Boston College back to a conservative, grind-it-out scheme.

Here's a look at BC as it prepares to open spring practice.

Frank Spaziani takes over as BC coach after Jeff Jagodzinski was fired.
Coach: Frank Spaziani
Last season: 9-5, 5-3 ACC. Lost to Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl.
Spring dates: March 17-April 25
Offense (7): T Anthony Castonzo, G Thomas Claiborne, WR Rich Gunnell, RB Josh Haden, T Rich Lapham, FB James McCluskey, C Matt Tennant.
Defense (6): FS Wes Davis, CB DeLeon Gause, E Austin Giles, LB Mark Herzlich, LB Mike McLaughlin, E Jim Ramella.
Special teams (2): K Steve Aponavicius, P Ryan Quigley
Positions of strength

Boston College quietly has been one of the best defensive teams in the country over the past two seasons. Mark Herzlich, the ACC's defensive player of the year, returns after leading the nation's linebackers with six interceptions. With Mike McLaughlin also returning, BC returns its top two tacklers off a team that finished fifth in the nation in total defense and seventh in run defense. And part-time starter Roderick Rollins at cornerback and Wes Davis return to a BC secondary that was tied with Florida with 26 interceptions for the national lead. As usual, BC's offensive line should be a strength. Anthony Castonzo was a second-team All-ACC selection.

Help is needed

Perhaps quarterback Dominique Davis' trial by fire in the final four games will turn out to be a positive. Davis filled in for an injured Chris Crane as a redshirt freshman and showed he needed some polish as a passer. He completed only 45.2 percent of his passes in the final four games and threw four interceptions in the last two. BC is thin at defensive tackle after losing starters B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, both expected to be first-day picks in the NFL draft. Giles could move inside, and four-star freshman Dillon Quinn already has enrolled.

Keep an eye on

DE Alex Albright: Albright, a junior, had 8.5 sacks in 2007 but missed all but two games in '08 with a neck injury. He hasn't been healthy for a full season since his freshman year. His pass-rushing abilities would be a huge boost.

RB Josh Haden: A four-star prospect in 2008, Haden looked like he would be BC's freshman star. Instead, it was two-star running back Montel Harris. The two combined for 1,379 yards and six touchdowns. More from Haden would help the Eagles' quarterback situation.

WR Ifeanyi Momah: Momah, who is 6 feet 6 and 225 pounds, was a red zone specialist last season, catching three touchdown passes. His role could expand in his junior season.

His time is now

As stated earlier, Davis isn't the strongest incumbent quarterback. With a new offensive coordinator, both Davis and redshirt freshman Justin Tuggle start with a clean slate. A big spring by either would ease some of the concerns about the offense.

The buzz

BC has undergone quite a bit of turnover in recent seasons, first losing coach Tom O'Brien, then quarterback Matt Ryan and now Jagodzinski. Despite the changes, the Eagles keep competing in the ACC, winning consecutive division titles. During the spring, Boston College will need to fill some key holes on defense and improve in the offensive skill positions to continue to compete in the conference.

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.

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