2015 season preview: Boston College Eagles

Steve Addazio has exceeded expectations in each of his first two seasons at BC, utilizing a relentless rushing attack to lead the Eagles to a pair of 7-6 campaigns and fourth-place finishes in the Atlantic Division. But will things change this year? With new quarterback Darius Wade under center -- and with four new starters up front -- the offense should be more vertical. BC returns what should be one of the better front sevens in the ACC, which should help make up for all of the personnel losses on the other side of the ball.

Best-case scenario: Wade exceeds expectations as a new starter, giving the offense a dimension it lacked the past two years. Addazio once again proves that he knows what he's doing with O-lines, as this young group jells quickly, leading to sophomore Jon Hilliman becoming one of the nation's top running backs. The pass rush is dominant, taking pressure off a young secondary. The kicking game is sound after a tumultuous 2014. BC pulls off another signature upset -- say, over Florida State or Notre Dame -- and surprises all once again, winning eight games.

Worst-case scenario: Wade has little to work with and struggles immensely, as the line shows its growing pains early and forces the new QB to make poor decisions. The secondary shows some leaks, undermining what should have been a strong defense. Moreover, BC still can't solve its kicking woes, which cost the Eagles dearly in a number of games last season. A tough schedule -- NIU and Notre Dame in the nonconference, plus a trip to Duke as the Coastal crossover opponent -- results in the first poor season of the Addazio era, with BC winning just four games.

Most important player: Wade. Yes, so much of the sophomore's growth will be determined by how the offensive line comes along. (Sixth-year senior Harris Williams, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 1 last year, is the only experienced starter.) But the Eagles will need Wade to be a dynamic downfield passing threat, and to be able to withstand and recover from some hits early. The 6-foot, 204-pound southpaw is the third different BC starter in as many years, and he will need to fill the leadership void left behind by Tyler Murphy, whose one year as a graduate transfer could not have gone any better.

Breakout player: Sherman Alston. You're going to remember this sophomore, and for reasons far beyond his 5-6, 163-pound frame. As a rookie last season, Alston was a jack of all trades: He tallied 352 rushing yards and two touchdowns (10.4 YPC), 175 receiving yards and two touchdowns, and 125 punt return yards on 15 tries. He averaged 50.2 all-purpose yards per game. With the offense expected to be more vertical this year, look for the speedy Alston to build off his debut campaign and take advantage of screens and underneath routes, opening things up for the offense and taking pressure off Wade.

Most important game: Oct. 3 at Duke. The Blue Devils are a rare Coastal opponent for BC and, like the Eagles, are breaking in several key starters this season, so this will be a great measuring-stick game for both teams. Plus, the contest comes at the start of a five-game month for BC that features a grueling stretch from Oct. 17 to 31: at Clemson, at Louisville and at home against Virginia Tech. BC plays in each of the first 10 weeks of the season, with a bye not coming until Nov. 14.

Class of 2015 signee to watch: Quarterback Elijah Robinson. The three-star dual-threat quarterback is worth a watch should Wade's performance not carry over from an impressive spring. Robinson was on campus for the spring and will enter August camp with the game having slowed down, and a spring under his belt. -- Gerry Hamilton

Class of 2016 storyline: The Eagles have a need at tight end and wide receiver and have filled that need early with three-star Scooter Harrington and Ray Marten at tight end. There are also three receiver commits on board. Keeping Peach State defensive end Bryce Morais in the fold is a chore for the staff. A class of about 20 is expected. -- Gerry Hamilton