Monday, August 11, 2008

Boston College Preview



2008 Schedule
Aug. 30Kent State (in Cleveland, OH)
Sept. 6GEORGIA TECH
Sept. 20UCF
Sept. 27RHODE ISLAND
Oct. 4@N.C. State
Oct. 18VIRGINIA TECH
Oct. 25@North Carolina
Nov. 1CLEMSON
Nov. 8NOTRE DAME
Nov. 15@Florida State
Nov. 22@Wake Forest
Nov. 29MARYLAND

2007 Results: 11-3 overall, 6-2 ACC (1st Atlantic Division); beat Michigan State 24-21 in the Champs Sports Bowl

Offense: Gone are quarterback Matt Ryan and running backs Andre Callender and LV Whitworth - along with 99.3% of last year's passing and rushing yardage. That's correct, 99.3%...not to mention the incalculable intangibles Ryan and Callender brought to the field on every play. That's a bit of a problem. Stepping into Ryan's fairly ginormous shoes is senior Chris Crane, who probably would've benefited from a little more field time last season (he threw just 4 passes in all of 2007). On the plus side, Crane does have one start in his career, a mostly error-free outing vs. Buffalo in 2006. Of greater concern, running back is even less experienced, with true freshman Josh Haden expected to shoulder much of the load as the Eagles will likely field three-receiver sets most of the time. And receiver is where the Eagles are mercifully stocked; Rich Gunnell and Brandon Robinson (1,740 yards and 12 TDs combined last year) are back, along with future NFL-er Ryan Purvis at TE (54 catches in '07). Three starters are gone from last year's so-so OL, but things should click a little better in year two of the Jeff Jagodzinski/Steve Logan system. Still, the combination of inexperience at QB and RB, along with the unproven OL means that a dip in production - and an increase in mistakes - on this side of the ball is a near certainty in 2008.

Defense: The defense appears a little sturdier heading into 2008, anchored by a front seven that should be among the best in the ACC. The return of tackle BJ Raji (missed 2007 due to academics) should offset the losses of linemen Nick Larkin and Brady Smith. All of the linebackers have starting experience as well, and the return of the feisty Brian Toal (missed 2007 due to injury) should kick the LB corps up a notch this season. The secondary is another matter. The losses of free safety Jamie Silva and CB DeJuan Tribble to the private sector leaves the defensive backfield devoid of proven leadership and playmakers, as SS Paul Anderson is the only returning full-time starter. Nonetheless, the BC defense is the unit that will carry this team early in the year and perhaps beyond that.

Special Teams: Kicker Steve Aponavicius is back for his final season in Chestnut Hill, but is limited by range (just 50% on field goal attempts over 30yds last year, and he didn't attempt any over 50yds). The punt return game took a major hit with the losses of Tribble and Silva. KRs Jeff Smith (injured most of last season) and Brandon Robinson are back. No info on who will take over punting duties from the recently graduated Johnny Ayers.

Coaching: For a guy who merely went 11-3 in his first season as a head coach at any level, Jeff Jagodzinski has gotten a ridiculously minuscule amount of publicity and notice. Sure, it helped that he inherited a loaded team and a once-in-a-generation QB, but taking the Eagles to #2 in the polls in November and to the conference championship game couldn't even garner Jags the ACC Coach of the Year honor (Al Groh of all people nabbed that title). Whatever he may become as a head coach in the long term, he sure as hell handled the less-than-smooth transition from the O'Brien Era brilliantly and he surrounded himself with excellent assistants in OC Steve Logan and DC Frank Spaziani. I'm more interested in seeing whether he can take recruiting to another level at BC and how he handles the gauntlet that the Atlantic Division is becoming.

Odds & Ends: BC's 30-9 overall record and 16-8 ACC mark since joining the league in 2005 are both the second best in the conference over those three seasons....the Eagles have lost to every Atlantic Division rival at least once since joining the ACC except Clemson; BC has beaten the Tigers three straight times by seven total points (and twice in overtime)....last year's 28-14 win over Miami was BC's first over the 'Canes since the 1984 Hail Flutie classic

Schedule Analysis: Very manageable....at first. The first five games are broken up by two bye weeks and the TOB-Bowl at N.C. State looks to be the toughest of the early contests. Having those two bye weeks early in the season is probably a good thing for the inexperienced offense, but things get awfully grueling over the last seven weeks - each of those seven opponents is expected to go bowling this season. The last three games may be the most trying stretch of all - road trips to Tallahassee and Winston-Salem, then home with Maryland. If the Eagles haven't locked up a bowl bid by game nine, they're in some trouble. For the first time in a while, there are no Thursday-nighters for BC this season. Duke, Miami, and Virginia are absent from this year's slate.
Projected Wins: Kent State, Georgia Tech, UCF, Rhode Island, Notre Dame
Projected Losses: @North Carolina, Clemson, @Florida State
Toss-Ups: @N.C. State, Virginia Tech, @Wake Forest, Maryland

Primo Eagle Blogs: Eagle in Atlanta, BC Interruption, Heights and Lows

Heartwarming You-Tubery:

Also seen in "Greatest Moments in Florida State Football History"

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5 comments:

Andrew said...

KR Jeff Smith is back...Bad News for Clemson (See '06 game in Chestnut Hill)

Marcus said...

Whoops, brain fart on my part. Thanks for the correction and I edited the preview.

BCMike said...

Not an overview heavily Eagle-happy. No matter, it will just be another year of BC "sneaking up" on people en route to a double-digit win total. Not sure when folks will start to realize that BC is a perennial contender, but it's clearly not this year.

Marcus said...

Mike-

Aside from my Wake preview, none of my ACC capsules have been overly-happy. But I can't sing about sunshine and lollipops when there are serious issues that your team is facing heading into 2008. I sure as hell want BC to be great - I've got nothing against the Eagles and it would be good for the ACC if BC took up annual residence in the Top 10/Top 20.

WeisGipper said...

Please stop by and take part in the Football Friday Chat this Friday, August 22 in the IBB Chat Room. Friday's topics will include the latest news from fall camp, the injury report, the depth chart, the recruiting trail, and the latest information surrounding the Irish's 2008 opponents. Also there will the Moderator of the Boston College Blog: Eagle In Atlanta, on hand to field any questions you have about the Eagles.

The chat starts at 2 p.m. EST and you can join by either clicking on the IBB Chat Room link on the right hand side of the IBB blog page or by typing this URL: http://client11.addonchat.com/sc.php?id=292584