Preseason predictions: Boston College

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

It wouldn't be July without a few predictions about what this fall will hold for ACC football. This week I'll start to make three predictions for each team and we'll see how they shake out come November. I'll save the actual game predictions for in-season, and make these more of a team overview.

We'll start with the Eagles:


1. Dave Shinskie will be a better quarterback than people think. Who? You'll get to know the 25-year-old signal-caller very soon. Shinskie spent the past six years playing minor league baseball and has yet to throw a collegiate pass, but Frank Spaziani wouldn't have taken a chance on him if he didn't show some potential. That doesn't mean he'll be the next Matt Ryan. Maybe more along the lines of a Chris Crane. As long as he can manage the game without turning it over, this offense stands a chance.

2. The Eagles' running game will flourish behind one of the best offensive lines in the conference. This will also help take some pressure off of Shinskie. Don't forget the Eagles have sophomores Montel Harris and Josh Haden in their backfield. The two combined for 106 yards per game, which was the second-best true freshman total in the country. Harris was the most productive true freshman tailback in school history with a rookie-record five 100-yard rushing performances and 900 total. Both will benefit tremendously from last year's experience and earn some attention despite the plethora of talented backs in the ACC this year.

3. The losses up front and in the linebacking corps will be too much to overcome. The Eagles have to replace hulking tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, which won't be easy. And it will be simply impossible to replace the skill and leadership of linebacker Mark Herzlich, the top defensive player in the ACC. BC's defenses have been stellar in the past -- last year the Eagles ranked fifth nationally in total defense and seventh in rushing defense -- but this should be a year it bends. No doubt the strength will be the secondary.