Boston College football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Eagles, best players and season prediction.
What You Need to Know About the Boston College Offense
The Eagle offense was fit for a gurney last year, averaging 10.6 points per FBS game. It was an untenable situation, but hope comes in the form of fresh leadership. The new coordinator is Scot Loeffler, a noted quarterback mentor who’ll operate a pro-style attack. And unlike his predecessor, Todd Fitch, Loeffler has options behind center.
Boston College is getting an instant upgrade at the most important position on the field, with the addition of Kentucky transfer Patrick Towles and the return to health of Darius Wade. Since no starter has been named, the pair will continue to duke it out in August.
The supporting cast, unfortunately, is mediocre when compared to the rest of the ACC. While there’s potential from a deep collection of backs, QB-turned-WR Jeff Smith and TE Tommy Sweeney, this squad is short on playmakers who can stretch a defense. Even worse, the line is so uncertain that it’s banking on an FCS transfer, Eastern Illinois import Jimmy Lowery, to help bolster the right side.
Biggest Key To The Boston College Offense
For Whom the Bell Towles. The Eagles will be much improved behind center following last season’s injury-marred disaster. But who’ll be the beneficiary, hard-throwing Kentucky transfer Patrick Towles or multi-dimensional southpaw Darius Wade, who missed most of 2015 to an ankle injury? The competitors are very different stylistically, the pocket passer versus the playmaker. Wade knows the program and the personnel, but Towles could wind up being the better fit for new coordinator Scot Loeffler’s pro-style approach.
What You Need to Know About the Boston College Defense
The Eagles were stifling last fall, a polar opposite reflection of an ineffective offense. Forget the ACC. BC ranked among the nation’s leaders in several categories, including scoring, run D, pass D and, of course, total defense. But after topping the FBS at just 254.3 yards allowed per game, the Eagles will need to bounce back from the usual departures that hit a successful unit.
Coordinator Don Brown is now in Ann Arbor, while standouts Steven Daniels, Justin Simmons, Connor Wujciak and Mehdi Abdesmad are trying to make NFL rosters. Still, there’s enough returning talent for the new coordinator, Jim Reid, to pick up where his predecessor left off.
Boston College will feature all-league contenders at each level, headlined by DE Harold Landry, linebackers Matt Milano and Connor Strachan and S John Johnson and CB Kamrin Moore. And there are risers, like S William Harris, DE Zach Allen and CB Isaac Yiadom, ready to fill openings.
The biggest concern this summer will be plugging holes right up the middle now that the rugged Daniels and Wujciak have exhausted their eligibility.
Biggest Key To The Boston College Defense
it ain’t broke. The Eagles took an underrated hit when successful coordinator Don Brown left the Heights for Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan staff. All things considered, Steve Addazio rebounded well by luring Jim Reid away from Iowa. A coaching guru of more than four decades, Reid has seen and done it all, and he realizes there’s no gain in messing with success. He’ll employ many of the same elements and philosophies that helped make Brown a hit, while looking for fresh ways to impact the integrity of the pocket.
Boston College Will Be Much Better If …
the O-line performs like Eagle units of yesteryear. There was a time not long ago that BC enjoyed a reputation for manufacturing blue-collar blocking groups that blew opponents off the ball and routinely sent graduates to the NFL. However, the Eagles have been forgettable of late and downright awful in 2015, one of the underlying causes of the offense’s slump. And now they’re retooling following the loss of three regulars, including James Hendren who was forced to retire. Any hopes for offensive progress goes out the window if the line remains a liability.
Best Offensive Player
Sophomore RB Jon Hilliman. Although an injury kept Hilliman from building on his strong debut as an Eagle, he’s the same back who brings an attitude to the ground game. And the same back who’ll fit nicely as the running half of the team’s new pro-style attack. To be fair, Hilliman has little competition for this placement, though he is a legitimate 1,000-yard if his fractured foot is fully healed and he gets enough touches in a crowded backfield.
Best Defensive Player
Senior LB Matt Milano. Milano is the kind of defender a staff simply turns loose and directs to hunt down the man with the ball. New coordinator Jim Reid is going to love his versatile senior tweener, who can be impactful filling running lanes, rushing the passer or dropping back into coverage. Milano is neither the biggest nor the fastest of the Eagle defenders, but he’s the guy who’ll diagnose plays and frequently be in the middle of the action.
Key Player to a Successful Season
Senior OT Jimmy Lowery. Lowery hasn’t even gotten to campus, yet he’ll play an integral role on the 2016 squad, an indication of the current state of affairs in the trenches. Boston College needs a fresh infusion of talent and a new course up front. Lowery comes by way of Eastern Illinois, a graduate transfer who earned All-Ohio Valley Conference last season. The hope is that he wastes little time pushing his new teammates this summer by locking down the right tackle job opposite enormous sophomore Aaron Monteiro.
The Season Will Be a Success If …
the Eagles get back to bowling. Anything less than an additional game in December will be a dramatic disappointment for the Addazio camp. Boston College has a much better situation at quarterback than it did after Darius Wade was hurt last September. And non-conference games with UMass, Wagner and Buffalo should put BC halfway to bowl eligibility even before factoring in ACC play. After going 3-9 in 2015, it’s not unrealistic for this team to double its win total, or even climb to 7-5.
Sept. 3 vs. Georgia Tech. The Eagles will carry an eight-game losing streak into the 2016 season. What better way to signal a fresh start than to open the new campaign with an ACC win across the Atlantic in Dublin, Ireland? If Boston College can snap the skid at the expense of the Yellow Jackets, it’ll provide an important kick in the pants to a program that’s undergone numerous staff and personnel changes since last year’s finale.
2015 Fun Stats
– Points per game: Boston College 17.1 – Opponents 15.2
– Rushing yards per game: 164.4 – Opponents 82.8
– Passing yards per game: Boston College 111.2 – Opponents 171.5