Boston College linebacker Max Richardson will be the first to say he’s not a big reader, but he decided to become one this summer.
He wants to win more than seven games this season.
By becoming a reader, he hopes he will become a better leader on the football field. He has picked up book titles such as “Leadership 101” and “Ego is the Enemy.” Richardson also recently ordered a book titled “Leaders Eat Last.”
“[Reading] is something I have made part of my life,” Richardson said.
Richardson, a redshirt junior, is trying to do everything he can to help the Eagles improve on their three-season streak of seven-win seasons. In coach Steve Addazio’s six seasons, BC has finished with seven wins in all but one, a three-win season.
With fall camp underway Friday, it’s clear the Eagles know for the number of wins to change, changes have to be made.
“There is a small margin there when you talk about going from seven to nine [wins],” Addazio said.
There are the easier-to-see changes such as a new offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian and strength and conditioning coach Scott McLafferty. The defense will also automatically have many new faces with only four returning defensive starters.
Then there are the less obvious changes — the individual adjustments players have made to improve.
For graduate defensive lineman Tanner Karafa, that meant working on his pass rush on first and second down. Through watching video during the offseason, Karafa has discovered that he often stops his feet. He has also worked on what he called the shrug and release, a move in which he pushes the offensive lineman before he pulls the offensive lineman toward him to propel himself to the quarterback.
Redshirt junior quarterback Anthony Brown said he placed a special emphasis on vocal leadership. He is trying to display positive energy as much as he can.
Junior offensive lineman Ben Petrula’s word for his offseason would be extra — extra lifts, extra runs, and extra mental reps.
“I think it’s really just doing extra work all the time,” Petrula said. “Trying to get in and doing our regular workouts but also coming out with the younger guys, teaching them stuff. Coming out with the starting O-line and going through walkthroughs.”
There has been more walkthrough sessions as a unit this offseason, Petrula said. These additional reps will likely play a vital role in helping fix another area — execution.
Petrula, Karafa, and Brown all mentioned execution as the greatest issue when it comes to third downs, an area in which the defense can improve and the offense has a ways to go. The offense converted on 33.9 percent of third downs last season, ranked 114th among 129 FBS teams. The defense allowed opponents to convert on 37.4 percent of attempts, which ranked 49th.
“Third down overall, and third and medium on both sides of the ball for us, we feel like there is room to really grow there,” Addazio said. “And if we do, that’s where you can pick up those wins.”
In addition to execution, Addazio mentioned selecting the correct personnel for third down situations. Addazio rattled off an extensive list of players he is excited about heading into this season on both sides of the ball. He expects the offensive line to be better than last year. He also thinks offensive weapons Travis Levy and Ben Glines will provide “pop.” A healthy AJ Dillon at running back not only gives the Eagles a talented runner but an asset in the passing game, too.
Addazio, however, knows much of the offense’s third-down success will come down to quarterback play.
Last season, Brown passed for 2,121 yards, ranked ninth among Atlantic Coastal Conference quarterbacks. His 55.4 percent completion percentage placed him 10th out of 13, and his overall 134.8 quarterback rating ranked sixth.
“I think when you talk about in this conference on our side of the division, when you want to start moving up, your quarterback play has to be pretty elite,” Addazio said.
“I think the quarterback play, the third down on both sides of the ball, those are things that go hand in hand with sort of taking the next step.”