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Boston College Football: 2018 Eagles Preview and Prediction

AJ Dillon, Boston College Football

AJ Dillon, Boston College Football

Boston College could be a team that takes a step forward in 2018. Steve Addazio has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, including one of college football's best running backs in sophomore AJ Dillon. Even with questions at quarterback, a veteran offensive line and talented receiving corps should help the Eagles put plenty of points on the board. The defense lost some key pieces but should remain solid, especially if the linebackers can stay healthy. Boston College may not be ready to challenge the likes of Clemson, but these Eagles could make a push in the ACC Atlantic Division standings.

Previewing Boston College Football's Offense for 2018

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The Eagles aren't going to mess around with anything too fancy this season, nor should they. They have a true feature back in sophomore AJ Dillon with a huge, experienced line and will butter their bread by handing the ball off and running play action.

Dillon came on toward the second half of last season and rushed for 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry. Coach Steve Addazio has always built his offenses behind a strong running game, and this one might be his best yet.

It's the quarterback position that still has a few question marks around it. Even though Anthony Brown had a solid freshman campaign, his knee injury in the loss to NC State makes for some unanswered questions going into the fall. His backup, fellow sophomore EJ Perry, could hold down the starting job if Brown's recovery slows. If Perry performs well enough in that spot, perhaps a quarterback controversy brews. Stay tuned.

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The receivers are as good as Addazio has had since he came to the Heights. Sophomore Kobay White and senior Jeff Smith complement tight end Tommy Sweeney, who led the team with 36 receptions for 512 yards and four touchdowns last season.

Previewing Boston College Football's Defense for 2018

The strength of this side of the ball again will rest in the front seven. After the Eagles lost defensive end Harold Landry to injury late last season, the line still did not have a significant drop-off despite missing a first-round-caliber talent. Much of that had to do with the play of fellow end Zach Allen, who enters his senior year as a player who will also be on the radar of NFL scouts. Last year, Allen recorded 100 tackles (15.5 for a loss) and 6.0 sacks. He will command extra attention from blockers and free up fellow defenders.

The drawback is that there isn't a ton of depth at defensive tackle, although Ray Smith and Tanner Karafa make a good starting pair.

The linebackers are in good shape despite getting decimated by injuries for most of last season. Connor Strachan, the team's leading tackler in 2016, returns after a knee injury wiped out his 2017 campaign. He returns on the strong side, while the middle should again be in the hands of sophomore John Lamot, who could have a breakout year.

The secondary lost cornerback Isaac Yiadom, but the safeties might be good enough to mask some deficiencies at the corner position early on. Senior Lukas Denis has blossomed into one of the ACC's top playmakers. He intercepted seven passes and played his best against top competition. He had 13 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception in the loss to Clemson.

Previewing Boston College Football's Specialists for 2018

The kicking game has been inconsistent over the past few years, as kicker Colton Lichtenberg made just 12-of-20 field goals last season. Michael Walker provides a capable option in the return game.

Final Analysis

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This should be one of Addazio's best teams, even though it may not show up in the record, as the Eagles draw both Miami and Virginia Tech out of the ACC Coastal Division and travel to an improved Purdue in the non-conference slate. Still, Dillon should have a big year, and the defense has enough returning firepower to keep games close. If either Brown or Perry provides a real threat in the passing game, the Eagles can win more than seven games under Addazio for the first time in his six years at the Heights.

National Ranking: 39

ACC Atlantic Prediction: 5