No. 68 Boston College
Boston College is seeking a return to ACC relevance and job security for head coach Steve Addazio with one of the best defensive lines in college football, two promising quarterbacks and a new up-tempo offense that should improve an unexciting, unreliable attack.
2016 Record: 7-6 (2-6, ACC)
Boston College rebounded from a three-win 2015 campaign to win seven games and reach a bowl game in 2016 for the third time in four years. They did so, however, with six very unimpressive regular-season victories.
In wins over UMass, Wagner, Buffalo, North Carolina State, UConn and Wake Forest, the Eagles barely averaged 28 points. In their six losses, they didn't average 10 points — scored seven or fewer in three ACC losses.
Still, it was a step in the right direction after ending 2015 on a nine-game losing streak — particularly the 36-point performance in the 2016 Quick Lane Bowl — and delivered optimism for 2017 and beyond.
Head Coach: Steve Addazio Name (5th year, 24-27 overall)
Steve Addazio may have been out the door if he posted another three-win dud in 2016. Despite the win increase, the former Temple coach could still be on the hot seat with a new athletics director, former Ohio State deputy athletics director Martin Jarmond.
Addazio is 24-27 in four seasons, has never finished above third in the Atlantic and is just 10-22 in the conference.
Key Returning Offensive Players
Second-year quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler gave fans hope with an impressive showing in their bowl win over Maryland. Now he needs to pick the right quarterback to lead an up-tempo attack.
Junior Darius Wade attempted just 19 passes last year and has 69 for his career. However, he played well in the spring game, completing 16 of 27 passes for 194 yards while showing poise inside and outside the pocket.
“We did more this spring than we’ve ever done,” Addazio said of the revamped offense. “We did a lot of different things — from one-back to two-back to empty to throw to run to play-action. We just did a lot more. And I thought that’s a reflection of having more depth, more guys, quarterback play, etc. So I thought we saw a lot of that today."
If Wade holds off redshirt freshman Anthony Brown, he'll be working with a lot of experienced skill players. Leading rushers Jon Hilliman and Davon Jones are back, as are leading receivers Michael Walker and Jeff Smith — though junior tight end Tommy Sweeney might be the most important target for Wade.
But none of those skill players matter if Boston College doesn't get better play from an offensive line that has been downright terrible. Chris Lindstrom, Aaron Monteiro and Jon Baker must jump-start a rushing attack that averaged 3.4 yards per carry in 2016 and 3.9 in 2015.
Key Returning Defensive Players
Boston College ranked 10th nationally in turnovers gained (27), second in sacks per game (3.6) and seventh in rushing defense (108.5 yards per game). And though they lost two studs in linebacker Matt Milano and safety John Johnson, they'll be just as good in 2017.
Harold Landry would've been a likely second-day pick had he left early but is now playing for top-20 consideration as college football's best pass rusher. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound senior has 38 tackles for loss and 20 sacks the last two years. He had 7.5 sacks in their final four games, including three against Wake Forest.
“I think he’s just as good as [Von Miller and Vic Beasley],” said Duke associate defensive coordinator Ben Albert, who coached Landry at Boston College for two seasons. “Great pass-rushers show up on first-and-10 and at the end of halves and games. We saw that in Harold.
Leading tackler Connor Strachan is back at linebacker after a disruptive season (80 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks), as is fellow senior Ty Schwab.
The secondary, though talented and laced with veterans, is the biggest question mark. They were burned in losses to Clemson, Louisville and Florida State — who combined for 153 points. Senior Isaac Yiadom is a big-bodied (6-foot-1, 190 pounds), physical corner who led the team with 10 passes defended.
Notable Player Losses
LB Matt Milano, S John Johnson
Boston College can recover from losses at quarterback and the offensive line. But can they recover from the departures of NFL draft picks Matt Milano and John Johnson?
After two pedestrian seasons, Milano exploded as a junior in 2015 and developed into an elite player, registering 29.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks the last two seasons. Johnson, meanwhile, led the team with three interceptions and added nine passes defended.
Notable Player Additions
QB Anthony Brown, RB A.J. Dillon
Redshirt freshman Anthony Brown is battling Darius Wade for the starting job. The former three-star recruit is an electric dual-threat quarterback who split reps with Wade in the spring game. He started 4-for-15 for 34 yards but improved a little, going 6-for-12 the rest of the way, and wasn't shy about admitting mistakes.
“I have to work on my long-throw accuracy," he said. We have these three months to get better and keep working and just get the timing right. So by the time [fall] camp rolls around, we should all be fine.”
Steve Addazio hit the jackpot with A.J. Dillon. The true freshman running back from Connecticut picked Boston College over Michigan, Notre Dame and other big-time programs. The big, powerful runner is still low on the depth chart but it won't take long for him to make an impact.
The Eagles' brutal schedule does not feature any easy non-conference wins and losses could snowball if the offense doesn't deliver early.
|Friday, Sept. 1||at Northern Illinois|
|Saturday, Sept. 9||vs. Wake Forest|
|Saturday, Sept. 16||vs. Notre Dame|
|Saturday, Sept. 23||at Clemson|
|Saturday, Sept. 30||vs. Central Michigan|
|Saturday, Oct. 7||vs. Virginia Tech|
|Saturday, Oct. 14||at Louisville|
|Saturday, Oct. 21||at Virginia|
|Friday, Oct. 27||vs. Florida State|
|Saturday, Nov. 11||vs. North Carolina State|
|Saturday, Nov. 18||vs. UConn|
|Saturday, Nov. 25||at Syracuse|