Previewing the 2014 season for coach Steve Addazio and the Eagles.
Coach: Steve Addazio (second year at BC, 20-17 overall)
2013 record: 7-6 (4-4 ACC)
Key losses: RT Ian White, LT Matt Patchan, WR Alex Amidon, RB Andre Williams, QB Chase Rettig, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Steele Divitto, DE Kasim Edebali, PK/P Nate Freese
Newcomer to watch: QB Tyler Murphy. Could it be anyone else? Though you could argue other positions have traditionally been more important for BC -- which has earned the nickname O-Line U -- quarterback is football’s glamor position. Always has been, always will be. So now that Chase Rettig is trying to stick with the Green Bay Packers instead of trying to stick it to the Florida State Seminoles, there will be a new signal-caller in Chestnut Hill for the first time in four years. Murphy, a graduate student transfer from Florida, will get a chance to do in Boston what he couldn’t do in Gainesville -- prove he’s a winning QB. Addazio, who recruited the Connecticut native to the Gators when he was an assistant there, loves Murphy’s makeup and skill set. Now it’s up to Murphy to make it happen on the field.
Biggest games in 2014: at Massachusetts, Aug. 30; vs. USC, Sept. 13; vs. Clemson, Oct. 18; at Florida State, Nov. 22
Biggest question mark heading into 2014: Who’s on (the) first (team offense)? The Eagles lost a ton -- a ton -- of offense when Amidon, Rettig and Williams walked out those Yawkey Center doors for the final time. Williams alone accounted for more than 2,000 yards on the ground in his Heisman-finalist 2013 season.
That’s why two of the biggest questions facing BC in Year 2 under Addazio are: Who will fill those roles in 2014? And can they come close to matching their predecessors’ production?
Forecast: Mostly cloudy with sun breaking through at times.
After a surprising run to a 7-6, bowl-worthy season in Year 1, it’s likely the Eagles will take a step back in Year 2. To listen to Addazio during preseason has been to hear expectations being managed. In one breath, the coach is setting lofty goals -- keeping the same two he set last season, win the opener and get bowl eligible, and adding a third, make it to Charlotte for the ACC title game -- and in the next breath, he’s reminding anyone and everyone just how young his team is this season.
Because young teams make mistakes, and poorly timed mistakes (i.e. ones that come in crunch time) cost teams games.
So why the forecast for sun breaking through at times? There’s talent in that youth.
Addazio is not given to false praise. Plaudits must be earned, never simply awarded on promise. So it seems telling that he’s pumped up about some of the talent he and his staff have added to what they inherited.
He loves what he sees from sophomore backs Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse. He’s excited to deploy the size the Eagles now have in the receiving corps with Dan Crimmins (6-foot-5, 237 pounds), Shakim Phillips (6-3, 206), Charlie Callinan (6-4, 220) and Josh Bordner (6-4, 230). He can’t wait to get Mehdi Abdesmad back healthy on the D-line, alongside Truman Gutapfel and Malachi Moore.
Will all the talent that Addazio sees on Shea Field produce BC wins in Alumni Stadium?
The answer to that question will determine whether the clouds hanging over the Eagles’ season are light and fluffy or dark and full of foreboding.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.