Two-deep Breakdown: Defense

Toal

Youth will be served on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the secondary, where two true freshmen crack the two-deep and two more second-year players are still in competition for the starting safety spot opposite Jamie Silva.

Defense

Eight players on the defensive two-deep are freshmen. Three of those are true freshmen. I guess that's what you get when you lose six starters from a year ago and a would-be starter (Jim Ramella) goes out for the season. Not to say that the youngsters stepping in aren't talented, but it will probably be a little while before the defense learns to play as a unit.

The most curious mark on the depth-chart was a two-letter conjunction that is sure to raise a few eyebrows this week. Starting at strong safety, filling in for the injured Ryan Glasper, will be Paul Anderson…OR…Marty Bowman. At the beginning of camp it looked like Anderson had the job locked up. Anderson (a sophomore) had a year of experience on Bowman and was a first-team fixture during the first days of practice. Now, Bowman could start. Coach?

What a change a year makes. At this time last season, the left-defensive end spot was occupied by All-American, future-first-rounder Mathias Kiwanuka. This time around, a redshirt-freshman (Austin Giles) is starting and a true freshman (highly-touted Alex Albright) is backing him up. Two other redshirt-freshmen, Brady Smith (behind tackle Ron Brace) and Brendan Deska (behind right-end Nick Larkin), made the two-deep on the line.

There were no surprises at the linebacker position. Jolonn Dunbar (a newly elected captain as a junior), Tyronne Pruitt, and Brian Toal are set to start and Mike McLaughlin, Kevin Akins, and Robert Francois (respectively) will fill in.

The secondary, on the other hand, seems to be the least-solidified unit on the team. Besides the Anderson/Bowman confusion, two true freshmen (Roderick Rollins at corner and Wes Davis at free safety) will apparently play a significant role on Thursday. The Davis choice is to be expected, considering the injury to Glasper. Many people believed that Razzie Smith, who redshirted last year, would back up DeJuan Tribble at corner. But Smith, for whatever reason, didn't even have the spot before camp started (Brad Mueller did). That means either that Smith has yet to impress the coaching staff or that Rollins was so good this summer that he leap-frogged two elder teammates to earn second-string duty.

Special Teams

You can't carry two punters on the road, so it's unclear right now what Billy Flutie's role will be to start the year.

Just like that, 18-year old freshman Jeff Smith will be thrown right into the mix in his first-ever collegiate game. Heck, if the Eagles receive, he might even be the first player to touch the ball. Smith and his non-testosterone-aided (hopefully), track-star speed will be fielding kick-offs next to Tribble on Thursday. And if there is a lot of room to work with when the Chippewas are forced to punt, Smith might be the one catching it, because he's also the back-up punt-returner.

The Eagles had no idea who would play that role when they first starting practicing. Everyone from Ryan Lindsey to Brandon Robinson to Kevin Challenger to Clarence Megwa to Taylor Sele was tried out as a returner. But in the end, a true freshman won the job.

That's kind of the theme coming out of camp: If you got the talent - it doesn't matter how old you are - you'll play. That's not something BC fans are used to seeing, but that's the case for Thursday night.

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