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COLLEGE FOOTBALL PRESEASON TOP 25
#84 Boston College
ACC Atlantic PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Steve Addazio, First Season | OFF. COORDINATOR: Ryan Day | DEF. COORDINATOR: Don Brown
First-year head coach Steve Addazio came to Chestnut Hill intent on installing a ball-control offense. But he inherited a pass-oriented attack that lacks a running back remotely capable of satisfying his primary philosophical edict.
Addazio is headstrong but smart enough to compromise on principle in the first semester of his organizational overhaul. Incumbent quarterback Chase Rettig started 12 games and emerged as one of the leading passers in the ACC despite a damaged tight end and the lack of a credible running game.
Rettig nearly doubled his output from his sophomore to junior seasons, but he begins the 2013 season under his fifth offensive coordinator (Ryan Day) in four years. Rettig completed 253-of-467 passes for 3,065 yards and 17 touchdowns with 13 interceptions.
“We really have got to be a more balanced team,” Rettig says. “We have to establish the run, and lot of guys that are quarterbacks and receivers don’t want to hear that. But if you can establish the run it opens so much in the play-action game.”
Senior Rolandan “Deuce” Finch, a talented but fumble-prone tailback, inexplicably quit the team after the first spring scrimmage. Andre Williams is an experienced and rugged downhill runner, while David Dudeck and Tahj Kimble are limited third down options.
Split end Alex Amidon emerged as a legitimate deep threat with deceptive speed, soft hands and a disciplined approach to route-running. Amidon set school records for receptions (78) and yards (1,210) in a season and finished 11th nationally with 100.8 yards per game.
BC has two quality guards and a serviceable center returning, but they must replace both tackles. Matt Patchan is a transfer from Florida who could replace Emmett Cleary on Rettig’s blind side.
Addazio’s signature hire was defensive coordinator Don Brown, who has built a sterling résumé as a head coach at Northeastern and UMass and a coordinator at Maryland and UConn. Brown took control of a fragmented collection of returning starters who were inept at containing the run, defending the pass, harassing the quarterback or exiting the field on third down.
Against ACC opponents, BC ranked 11th in scoring defense (34.5 ppg), ninth in total defense (465.8 ypg), 10th in rushing defense (188.4 ypg) and eighth in pass defense (277.4 ypg). The Eagles’ defense surrendered appalling yardage numbers in non-league losses to Northwestern (575), Army (595) and Notre Dame (393).
The defensive line is devoid of an impact player who can stop the ball at the point of attack or get to the quarterback. BC does have two quality, experienced outside linebackers in Steele Divitto and Kevin Pierre-Louis, and the Eagles’ porous secondary will benefit from the return of cover corner Al Louis-Jean from a broken foot.
Senior placekicker Nate Freese made 18-of-20 field goals and was 24-of-24 on PATs to lead the team in scoring with 78 points. Split end Spiffy Evans was the Eagles’ featured return man on kickoffs and punts. He averaged a stellar 25.3 yards on 11 punt returns and 18.6 yards on 34 kick returns.
Addazio doesn’t have a lot to build around. The Eagles’ last three recruiting classes have lacked an impact player, so there’s not much depth behind a strong senior class. The Eagles can score points with their passing attack, but they lack an effective running game or a tight end to exploit the middle of the field. The Eagles have liabilities at all three levels of defense and are destined to endure a third straight losing season.