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You can read the entire Boston College preview in Athlon Sports' 2012 ACC magazine, available for purchase now at the Athlon Sports store.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PRESEASON TOP 25
#86 Boston College
ACC Atlantic PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Frank Spaziani, 20-19 (3 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Doug Martin | DEF. COORDINATOR: Bill McGovern
Doug Martin is the fourth man to hold the position of offensive coordinator at Boston College in the last three seasons. Martin is a quarterback specialist, and his primary responsibility is to mold incumbent Chase Rettig into an upper-tier ACC field marshal. Rettig has a strong arm and a high football IQ, but he needs to refine his fundamentals and play with more consistency.
The running attack is a concern after the dismissal of tailback Montel Harris in the spring. The school’s all-time leading rusher (3,735 yards), Harris was kicked off the team “due to a repeated violation of team rules,” according to Spaziani. Now, Rolandan “Deuce” Finch becomes the featured back. Finch gained 705 yards on 157 carries in 11 games last season, getting the bulk of the first-team carries when Harris was out with his injury. Finch has had some issues with ball security and was benched after fumbling twice at bad times in the Eagles’ loss to Florida State. Andre Williams is another experienced running back who will now take on a larger role. He has 978 yards in two seasons.
Rettig also lacks a stretch-the-field receiver to create space over the middle for his sizable stable of possession receivers like Bobby Swigert, Colin Larmond Jr. and Alex Amidon. Return specialist Spiffy Evans could be the needed speed guy. Tight end Chris Pantale emerged as a reliable option late in the 2011 season.
BC touts itself as O-Line-U, and that is the strongest unit on the offense. Four of the five starters are back, and they are all good.
The Eagles’ moderately effective defense suffered an incalculable hit when two-time All-America middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (532 tackles) declared for the NFL Draft. The Eagles also lost undersized defensive end Max Holloway, an effective pass-rusher who inexplicably forfeited his fifth year of eligibility to enter the draft. On the plus side, defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey was grated a medical waiver for a fifth year. Gangly sophomore Brian Mihalik will replace Holloway on an undersized and vulnerable unit.
A freshman (Steven Daniels) and an untested sophomore (Sean Duggan) will compete to replace Kuechly, and the drop-off will be enormous. But linebacker remains the strength of the BC defense. Outside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis is the Eagles’ best defensive player with the leadership skills to assume Kuechly’s mantle. Rugged Steele Divitto developed into a reliable strong side outside backer with a lot of untapped upside.
The secondary took a bum rap on third-and-long because of BC’s lack of a sustained pass rush. The Eagles’ best cover corner, Donnie Fletcher, graduated, but BC will be hungry and aggressive in the secondary. Junior Al-Louis Jean Jr. will take Fletcher’s place, while Jim Noel and Sean Sylvia are high-functioning safeties.
Junior placekicker Nate Freese recovered from a bad start to become a reliable option. Freese nailed 10-of-16 attempts and was 5-of-7 from 40 yards or more. BC must replace punter Ryan Quigley, who averaged 38.5 yards on 69 punt attempts with none blocked. Quigley also handled the kickoff duties. Senior Gerald Levano will replace Quigley while Freese manages kickoffs.
Boston College coach Frank Spaziani won’t be collecting his mail on Chestnut Hill if the Eagles experience a repeat of last season, when BC endured its first losing campaign since 1998. Sitting out the postseason after a run of 12 straight bowl appearances was especially galling to the boosters, alumni and student body, who were clamoring in unison for the guillotine. They may get their wish after the 2012 season.