Boston College Eagles 2016 Preview and Prediction
COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2016 PRESEASON TOP 25
#65 Boston College Eagles
ACC Atlantic PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Steve Addazio, 17-21 (3 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Scott Loeffler | DEF. COORDINATOR: Jim Reid
Previewing Boston College’s Offense for 2016
The math on this isn’t difficult. When you have the top defense in the country in yards allowed per game and still finish 3–9, your offense is a problem area. There is some reasonable expectation for improvement under new coordinator Scot Loeffler, who most recently held down those duties at Virginia Tech. But he has his work cut out for him.
For the second time in three years, the Eagles will likely start a graduate transfer at quarterback in former Kentucky signal caller Patrick Towles. With the Wildcats, Towles played 28 games and completed 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards and 24 touchdowns with 24 interceptions. He’ll likely get the job over Darius Wade and John Fadule, both of whom saw playing time last year.
The hope is that the return of a healthy Jon Hilliman gives a boost to the running game. Hilliman broke his foot early last year, and his replacement, Myles Willis, is also back. But for a program that prides itself on its rushing attack under coach Steve Addazio, BC needs to improve upon its 3.9 yards per carry average from last season.
The major source of improvement must come from the offensive line, however, which returned no starters last year and struggled with youth and inexperience. With three starters back, expect at least some progress. If the pass blocking takes a step forward, the offense will too.
Previewing Boston College’s Defense for 2016
Under Don Brown, the Eagles’ defense consistently put up excellent numbers and kept the team in games. Now, with Brown off to Michigan, the Eagles turn to new coordinator Jim Reid to replicate that output. Luckily, he has a wealth of experience and some solid performers to work with.
The front seven again should be one of the tops in the ACC. Starting on the line, junior defensive end Harold Landry was a four-star recruit who began to live up to his billing as a sophomore. He had 4.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss and will be joined at end by promising sophomore Zach Allen. Truman Gutapfel will anchor the middle at tackle.
The Eagles should be just as strong at linebacker as they are up front. Matt Milano is a terror off the edge on the outside, as he made a team-high 17.5 tackles for a loss last year with 6.5 sacks. Look for Connor Strachan to take over in the middle for Steven Daniels.
The secondary lost a good one in free safety Justin Simmons, but strong safety John Johnson returns and will be the leader in the back end. Juniors Kamrin Moore and Isaac Yiadom offer some good experience at cornerback.
Previewing Boston College’s Specialists for 2016
There are several question marks here, particularly who will end up taking hold of the placekicking duties. Colton Lichtenberg, who made 3-of-6 attempts last year, may be that guy. Sherman Alston’s transfer left a hole at punt returner.
By and large, the Addazio era in Chestnut Hill has been a good one. His first two years pulled the program out of a tailspin and produced back-to-back winning seasons. That said, after a 3–9 mark in 2015, he has to be careful to make sure the bad momentum doesn’t snowball. There is turnover all over the staff, including the program’s third offensive coordinator in Addazio’s four years with the Eagles. That position, held by Loeffler, is really where the success will be decided going forward. The Eagles have largely failed to produce consistent passing offenses under Addazio, and a one-dimensional attack won’t cut it in the ACC.
Injuries, youth and inexperience can partly be blamed for last year’s struggles. However, the Eagles are capable of a rebound season and bowl trip if the offense improves.