Hope and concern series: Boston College

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

There's always reason for hope -- your team has the best quarterback in the league, it's got a favorable schedule, a great coach, or the defense returns almost everyone. But there's also always a few reasons for concern. I'm stealing an idea from my colleague, Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg, and will go through each team in the ACC's biggest reasons for hope and concern in 2009. Let's start in Chestnut Hill:


Biggest reason for hope -- The running game

Four starters return on the offensive line, which should be one of the best in the ACC, and they'll pave the way for two up-and-coming running backs in Josh Haden and Montel Harris. The two combined for 106 yards per game, which was the second-best true freshmen total in the country. Harris, who wasn't offered a scholarship until two weeks before signing day, set a BC freshmen rushing record with 900 yards to finish 5th in the ACC. It was the 14th-best single-season effort by a freshman in ACC history. Haden started 13 games at tailback and rushed for 479 yards (4 ypc). He also caught 13 passes for 100 yards. The duo will have its chance in the spotlight this year, as Haden and Harris will be needed to take some pressure off of whoever becomes the new quarterback.

Biggest reason for concern -- Missing stars

There is no Matt Ryan, B.J. Raji and Ron Brace have moved on, and there likely won't be any Mark Herzlich. Those within the program aren't even sure when standout linebacker Mike McLaughlin will return from a ruptured Achilles. And everyone will be under the direction of a first-year head coach. It's going to be a team effort in the truest sense of the phrase, but somebody will have to emerge as a leader and a player the Eagles can depend upon in the clutch. Can 25-year-old Dave Shinskie, who hasn't thrown a collegiate pass let alone a football in six years be the face of Boston College football this fall? He might not have a choice.