With Anthony Brown still being eased back into action as he returns from last season’s season-ending knee surgery, sophomore EJ Perry and redshirt freshman Matt McDonald took the lion’s share of the snaps under center Saturday in Boston College’s first scrimmage of camp.
The Eagles took roughly 70 reps of first-team offense. McDonald ran for a touchdown and had a deep hook up with receiver Jeff Smith. Perry threw a touchdown pass to Michael Walker.
Eagles coach Steve Addazio said the reps were important for the two young quarterbacks as Brown works his way back.
“Matt is highly accurate,” Addazio said. “Everybody has got unique skills. Matt’s unique skill is he can anticipate throws. He doesn’t have to see them open, he anticipates them and then he’s very accurate.
“EJ has got a tremendous arm and he’s got great athleticism. He, too, is starting to see the field. That’s encouraging, but there is a learning curve to both of them and they’re still in that learning curve.
“And Anthony is doing great. Anthony looks phenomenal in seven-ons and all the scout drills. We’re going to start to merge him back in here little by little next week so he’ll start to get more and more of this to get ready for the opener.”
Addazio was forced to burn Perry’s redshirt last season after Brown’s injury left the Eagles thin at quarterback. He took the field for one game against UConn at Fenway Park.
“It’s now my second go-around in camp,” Perry said. “I’ve had two springs and coach [Scot] Loeffler is really good at getting us ready. It felt really good today. There are a few little things we need to clean up with penalties and what not, but it felt good today.”
An emphasis for Perry was pace. The Eagles caught teams off guard last season with an up-tempo no-huddle offense and they intend to push the pace even more this season.
“The second I hand the ball off or throw the ball, find the hash, find the play, get up to the ball, and make sure everyone is set and run the play as fast as we can,” Perry said. “Yesterday, we had a bunch of great plays where the D-line wasn’t set. It’s really good to get that tempo going. We’ve got to do a better job than we did of that today.”
The one glaring issue for Addazio was the number of penalties his team racked up. A year ago, one of the Eagles strong suits was not beating themselves with flags.
“We had too many penalties out there today with the ones,” Addazio said. “The ones took 69 snaps today, which is about 10 shy of a game and we had 10 penalties out there. Last year, we were No. 2 in the country with four [penalties per game]. This is the first Saturday we’ve had the officials out here. We’ve got to come back in here and make more of an emphasis to clean up the silly penalties.”
Defensively, the Eagles got a lift from linebackers Max Richardson and Connor Strachan, who are both also returning from season-ending knee injuries. Richardson turned a tipped ball by Lukas Denis into an interception. Strachan said the play making in a game situation became infectious.
“I think it creates a good, competitive atmosphere where a lot of guys are making plays or are in position to make plays, so it kind of elevates everyone else,” Strachan said. “If Lukas gets a pick, I’m going for one. Or you see Wyatt [Ray] or Zach [Allen] come off the edge and get a sack, you’re trying to get one, too.
“With all these guys making plays, it just brings everyone else up. The standard for what’s acceptable on defense now is higher.”