Preview 2017: Boston College Eagles
Previewing and looking ahead at the Boston College season – and what you need to know.
What You Need To Know About The Boston College Offense
Boston College is going up-tempo?
The ultimate grind it out, own the time of possession, rely on the defense, don’t turn the ball over team is going to try fixing the nation’s second-worst offense that averaged 293 yards and 20 points per game?
It started out in the bowl game win over Maryland, opening it up a bit and trying to get the offense moving a bit more. The Eagles won, but the results were mixed. They still held on to the ball for over 33 minutes, but the passing game didn’t exactly blow up.
Four starters are back on a young O line that came up with an okay year, but they’ve got to do more for a ground game that was functional, but needs to get more out of Jon Hillman and Davon Jones.
Can there be a passing game now? There’s a quarterback battle with Darius Wade and Anthony Brown, and they’ve got to start pushing the ball around and down the field a bit more.
With the top six receivers back, the woeful air attack can’t and isn’t going to be worse. BC Isn’t going to by Texas Tech now, but it won’t be stallball, either. But …
Biggest Key To The Boston College Offense
It all still works around the ground game. Or, at least there is a ground game. A killer in 2014, the Eagles cranked up over 3,300 yards with 31 touchdowns, averaging over five yards per pop.
It’s been a problem over the last two years, especially throughout last season against any team with a decent defensive front. Jon Hillman is a decent back, and the line is going to be a plus. Now the Eagles have to average more than 3.4 yards per carry.
What You Need To Know About The Boston College Defense
As always, the BC D had to carry the BC O. Nasty against the run, good enough against the pass, and amazing on third downs, the Eagles were able to overcome yet another rough year from the other side of the ball to finish ninth in the nation overall.
The offense is supposed to pick up more of the slack this year, but the defensive side should be up to its normal snuff again.
It starts with the return of Harold Landry on one end. He’s one of the nation’s best pass rushers, while Connor Strachan and the linebacking corps will be a killer again, even without Matt Milano around anymore on the strongside.
The secondary could stand to make more big plays, but it’s loaded with experience and upside, only losing safety John Johnson. The good-sized group of corners should be sneaky-good, but …
Biggest Key To The Boston College Defense
The pass defense has to show up against the good offenses. Oh sure, stopping a UConn here and a Buffalo there isn’t an issue, but Syracuse took target practice on the Eagle secondary, and Clemson, Louisville and Florida State had few issues.
Landry and the pass rush will do their part, but this isn’t a team built to come back if the defense melts when the big pass plays come. Last season, BC went 7-1 when allowing two touchdown passes or fewer, and 0-5 when giving up more. The 2014 early season game against USC was the last time the Eagles won when allowing more than two passing scores.
Boston College Will Be Far Better If …
The punting game works. Obviously, the biggest need is to change around the nation’s 127th-ranked offense that averaged under 300 yards per game and came up with 189 first downs, but that’s what the new style is for. However, the Eagles need help with the kicking game, too.
Mike Knoll had a rough year in terms of punting average, coming up with just 38 yards per boot. He put 18 inside the 20, but only eight of his 94 kicks were from beyond 50 yards. For a team that needs field position, and doesn’t have an offense that’s sure to blow up, the punting game needs to average far more than 35 net yards per kick.
Best Boston College Offensive Player
OG Chris Lindstrom, Jr. – It might not be all that exciting when your best player might just be a right guard, but he’s a good one. The 6-4, 298-pounder has the talent to get a long look by the pros, but he’s not quite big enough to be a top option. Even so, he’s a tough, physical grinder for the ground game and a line that gets back four starters.
2. QB Darius Wade, Jr.
3. RB Jon Hillman, Jr.
4. WR Michael Walker, Jr.
5. WR Jeff Smith, Jr.
Best Boston College Defensive Player
DE Harold Landry, Sr. – The 6-3, 250-pounder could’ve left early and probably been a first round draft pick, but instead, the lighting-quick pass rusher should be among the nation’s top forces for another strong BC D.
He came up with 51 tackles last season with 16.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss and a pick, spreading out the production over the season. Throw in the seven forced fumbles, and he was a wrecking crew – expect more of the same.
2. LB Connor Strachan, Sr.
3. LB Ty Schwab, Sr.
4. S Will Harris, Jr.
5. CB Kamrin Moore, Sr.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Darius Wade, Jr. – Or redshirt freshman Anthony Brown. Which one can run the ramped up offense and which one can handle the pressure of doing more with the nation’s second-worst attack?
Brown is a sharp, accurate passer who doesn’t make a whole slew of mistakes, while the 6-0, 211-pound Wade has the experience. Not a lot, but at least he threw 19 passes last year with a pick.
With Patrick Towles gone, someone has to produce and get this thing moving. Wade is the more ready-made option, but Brown will get plenty of chances to take over.
The Boston College Season Will Be A Success If …
It’s back to a bowl game. Sort of lost in the problems of 2015 was that BC went bowling in 2013 and 2014. Making it four in five years would be terrific, even if it’s a fight to get there.
With three 7-6 seasons in the last four, coming up with eight wins would be a plus. Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, Virginia and UConn need to be must-wins to get close, there have to be a few upsets, and …
Key Game To The Boston College Season
Sept. 9 vs. Wake Forest – There are certain 50/50 games the Eagles have to win to get to a bowl game. They’ll be good, but they’re probably not going to beat the Clemsons, Louisvilles and Florida States of the world, which means they have to beat the Wake Forests.
Last year, BC needed to beat the Demon Deacons in the regular season finale to get bowl eligible, and it worked, winning 17-14. This year, it’s the ACC opener.
2016 Boston College Fun Stats
– Punt Return Average: Boston College 12.3 yards – Opponents 5.0 yards
– Time of Possession: Boston College 33:28 – Opponents 26:32
– 1st Quarter Scoring: Opponents 98 – Boston College 43