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Boston College Football: 2017 Eagles Preview and Prediction

Harold Landry, Boston College Football

Harold Landry, Boston College Football

Boston College finished strong, winning its final two games to become bowl eligible and then beating Maryland in the Quick Lane Bowl. The heat isn’t completely off of head coach Steve Addazio, however, as the Eagles need to make significant strides on offense if they want to get out of the bottom tier of the ACC Atlantic Division. The hope is that a new quarterback and some impact defenders can help Boston College take that next step, but the reality is that the Eagles may have too many question marks to even get back to a bowl game.

Previewing Boston College Football’s Offense for 2017

There were glimmers of hope for Boston College in its Quick Lane Bowl win over Maryland, where offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler showed some up-tempo looks and more creativity, traits that have been sorely lacking in this program in recent years. And even though quarterback Patrick Towles graduated, there is some hope for improvement overall with a mix of experience and infusion of young talent.

It begins with Anthony Brown, a redshirt freshman quarterback who just might be the answer with his dual-threat ability. He impressed last season in practices and is expected to hold off junior Darius Wade for the starting position. Overall, don’t look for Loeffler to re-invent the wheel with the offense, which will still be run-first behind backs like Jon Hilliman and Davon Jones. Watch out for true freshman A.J. Dillon, though, whom the Eagles swiped from Michigan close to National Signing Day.

The receiving group returns largely intact, as Michael Walker and Jeff Smith will be the main targets, but much will hinge on the play of the offensive line, which has underperformed the last two seasons. Three starters return, so there are no excuses for the unit not to take significant steps forward.

Previewing Boston College Football’s Defense for 2017 

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Defensive end Harold Landry could have entered the NFL Draft and garnered a high pick after leading the nation in sacks last year with 16.5, but he is back, and the Eagles likely will field another strong front seven because of it. Although he did not start last year, fellow defensive end Zach Allen was a key contributor and gives the Eagles two solid bookends.

The linebackers will also be a strong point even with the graduation of Matt Milano. Middle linebacker Connor Strachan led the team in tackles a year ago and is a terror both against the run and as a blitzer. This is a team that has been among the best in the nation against the run in recent years, and don’t expect that to change.

The secondary is where the Eagles need the most improvement, as the overall speed has had trouble matching up with the top-level receiving corps in the ACC. Safety John Johnson leaves a hole, but three other starters return, including both cornerbacks. The Eagles have also begun to build some decent depth at those positions, so improvement against the pass is possible. Perhaps the defensive backfield’s best friend will be a pass rush that figures to be among the best in the league.

Previewing Boston College Football’s Specialists for 2017

At the beginning of last season, the Eagles were dreadful in the kicking game, which likely cost them the opener against Georgia Tech. But they smoothed things out by putting Mike Knoll in that role, as he hit 12-of-14 field-goal attempts. Don’t expect fireworks out of the return game, but Walker should be adequate there.

Final Analysis

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Coach Steve Addazio was squarely on the hot seat after his team dropped to 4–6 last year and suffered back-to-back losses to Louisville and Florida State by a combined 97–14 margin. But the Eagles earned wins over Wake Forest, UConn and Maryland, and Addazio had his third bowl trip in four seasons, a feat that is well within reach this season as well.

New athletic director Martin Jarmond will certainly give his own assessment of the state of the program, but right now Addazio seems to have the Eagles in that second tier of the Atlantic Division behind the likes of Florida State, Clemson and Louisville.

Is that BC’s ceiling under Addazio? It could be. As experienced as the Eagles are this season, don’t expect them to break that barrier just yet.

National Ranking: 70

ACC Atlantic Prediction: 7