Boston College Eagles preview

Steve Addazio has led Boston College to back-to-back bowl games. Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Coach Steve Addazio has exceeded expectations in his first two seasons in Chestnut Hill with back-to-back bowl berths following a two-year drought. But a complete about-face in offensive philosophy, a patchwork O-line and trips to Clemson and Louisville will likely sink BC in the rough Atlantic.


How the Eagles beat you: If BC’s offense hopes to soar in the ACC (26.2 ppg, 10th in the league), Addazio will have to retool his scheme. Gone is option QB Tyler Murphy, who had the second-most rush yards (1,184) of any QB in the FBS last season and led the ACC’s second-best rush offense (254.4 ypg)— and its worst pass offense (129.3 ypg). His replacement, sophomore Darius Wade, is a more traditional, pro-style passer, which will put the onus on a brand-new O-line and sophomore RB Jon Hilliman (team-high 210 carries and 13 rush TDs in ’14). “Darius’ arm is going to spread the defense out a lot better, and it should open up running lanes for us,” says Hilliman of him and junior Myles Willis (5.2 ypc).

How you beat the Eagles: Now, about that O-line: “We’re going to be playing with some guys who aren’t even here yet,” Addazio says of a recruiting class that included five big uglies, led by ESPN 300 OG Wyatt Knopfke (Sarasota, Florida). The other issue is whether Wade can actually deliver even with a clean pocket. He’s attempted only eight passes in his career (three completions), and his targets, while experienced, didn’t get many reps with Murphy running the show last season. Top returning target Dan Crimmins caught 25 balls in ’14.


How the Eagles beat you: A stacked front seven that allowed 94.5 rush yards per game (No. 2 in the FBS), 3.08 yards per rush (No. 6) and 43 runs of 10-plus yards (No. 5) returns five starters, led by junior DE Kevin Kavalec (10½ tackles for loss). Although the D was bolstered by an offense that held the ball for 33 minutes and 6 seconds per game (No. 10), the front seven was most responsible for BC’s finishing third in the ACC in points allowed (21.3 ppg). This group will be under more pressure now with a new-look offense that will rely less on ground-it-out drives.

How you beat the Eagles: Don’t let up on the pass: BC allowed seven teams to throw for 250-plus yards in ’14 and beat only two of them (USC and Virginia Tech). The losses of DE Brian Mihalik and LB Josh Keyes (8½ sacks combined) hurt an already mediocre pass rush (7 percent sack rate, eighth in the ACC), as well as a pass defense that ranked 10th in the ACC (229.8 ypg). With four of the Eagles’ top six tacklers gone—Keyes, CB Manuel Asprilla and safeties Dominique Williams and Ty-Meer Brown—underclassmen must step up in the back seven, and fatigue could set in for a team without much depth and one that buckled in the red zone (64.3 percent conversion rate, 12th in the ACC).