Five years ago, Boston College offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian would have used his tight ends differently.
In his college stints as offensive coordinator at Central Michigan, Cincinnati, and Tennessee, he was often running an up-tempo, no-huddle spread scheme, often featuring a quarterback operating out of the shotgun with four wide-receiver sets.
Then, while serving as quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dirk Koetter changed his perspective on utilizing tight ends.
Bajakian spent 2015-18 working with Koetter, who first served as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator before he took over as head coach. Bajakian had a front-row seat as Koetter employed tight ends such as Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard in a strong passing offense.
“I always thought, in the back of my mind in my four years in Tampa, that if I had the opportunity to coordinate again at the college level, I would utilize an up-tempo scheme,” Bajakian said, “but I would be much more multiple in formations and personnel.”
He has that chance now at Boston College.
Head coach Steve Addazio made clear in the interview process that the Eagles wanted to utilize a deep tight end group, even with the departure of Tommy Sweeney, who was drafted by the Bills in the seventh round.
Boston College wants to be a “12” personnel offense, which means that a running back and two tight ends are on the field. That way, Addazio said, the Eagles can substitute less and keep the tempo at a faster pace.
“We have a fair number [of tight ends], and we need a fair number,” Addazio said. “When you are playing two on every snap, you probably need to have six, at least, that you feel can play in a game.”
Six of the top 12 pass-catchers in 2018 were tight ends, and five of them are returning. They will have to replace Sweeney’s production – 32 receptions, 348 yards, and three touchdowns — but Boston College still has experience at the position. Korab Idrizi, Hunter Long, Jake Burt, Ray Marten, and Chris Garrison combined for 33 receptions, 5 touchdowns, and 473 yards last season.
Idrizi was the most productive of the returnees, snagging 13 passes for 158 yards and one touchdown.
Voicing his support
Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan didn’t hesitate when asked Tuesday at Boston College’s media day about the bright spots he has seen on defense in practice.
“Outstanding coaching,” he said. “You should come to practice. The coaching is incredible.”
Although Sheridan was kidding, his defensive backs tend to agree.
Defensive backs Brandon Sebastian and Tate Haynes both said they have liked Sheridan in the defensive coordinator role.
“He’s got a lot of knowledge,” Haynes said. “It is nice sitting in the meeting room each day where he can coach each group. I think that’s pretty special for a defensive coordinator to do that outside of X’s and O’s.”
Sheridan coached linebackers last season for the Eagles and continues to do so, in addition to running the defense. Jim Reid, the previous defensive coordinator, stayed on staff as defensive ends coach. Sheridan commended Reid while at the lectern, citing the professionalism with which Reid has handled the transition.
Sheridan spent the previous 13 years coaching in the NFL. One of those stops included coaching linebackers on the Giants team that defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Get in line
Speaking of the NFL, Addazio is confident he has several offensive linemen who can play at the next level. Five or six, he figures.
“We are going to be good up front,” Addazio said.
And that is even after the Eagles lost Chris Lindstrom to the NFL this season after the Falcons drafted him 14th overall.
During the interview process, Bajakian thought Addazio was overselling the offensive line to try and recruit the offensive coordinator. The Eagles had just graduated three offensive linemen, after all.
“Sure enough, I get here and he is 100 percent right,” Bajakian said.