NCAA Football Preview - Boston College Eagles

2013 SEASON IN REVIEW: Steve Addazio's first season in Chestnut Hill was a successful one, as the Eagles posted their first winning season since 2010. The BC ground game was the driving force in the team's overall success, as consensus All-American Andre Williams led the nation in rushing with 2,177 yards and became the first ACC player to win the Doak Walker Award.

Boston College opened the 2013 campaign with double-digit wins over Villanova (24-14) and Wake Forest (24-10), but followed that up with a pair of double- digit losses to USC (35-10) and Florida State (48-34) to close out the month of September.

A victory over Army (48-27) to start October was quickly followed by consecutive losses at Clemson (24-14) and North Carolina (34-10), as the team entered November with a losing record.

However, Addazio rallied the troops to four straight victories over Virginia Tech (34-27), New Mexico State (48-34), NC State (38-21) and Maryland (29-26) to secure a winning season with seven wins heading into the regular-season finale. The Eagles dropped that game at Syracuse (34-31), but still played a bowl game, accepting a bid to play in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl.

BC was pitted against a dynamic offensive squad in Arizona in the bowl game and suffered a 42-19 defeat. However, a foundation of winning was established by Addazio and should help him start year two with some momentum.


OFFENSE: With just three starters returning on the offensive side of the football, it could take some time for Addazio's squad to find a rhythm. The team relied heavily on Williams to carry the offensive load. That production is likely to come from a variety of sources this season and not just one player. The hope is that sophomores Myles Willis (346 yards, two TDs) and Tyler Rouse (125 yards, two TDs) are ready to step up.

Addazio has plenty of confidence in those two players.

"I think what happens is you just keep working on developing and finding those gems that you have within your team, and I happen to think that those two guys, Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse, are gems."

Compounding the offensive problems, at least early on, is a change under center, as former Florida Gator Tyler Murphy will close out his college career replacing veteran Chase Rettig. BC's all-time leading receiver Alex Amidon is also gone and he was by far the top target in an anemic passing attack. The team will return senior Bobby Swigert (6-1, 192), who missed the 2013 season due to injury. Playing backup to Rettig for much of his career, Josh Bordner (6-4, 230) will move to wideout with the hopes of providing a big target for Murphy.

The Eagles do have some continuity up front with all three returning offensive starters residing along the offensive line in seniors Bobby Vardaro (6-5, 306) and Harris Williams (6-3, 303) at guard and senior Andy Gallik (6-3, 300) at center. Add other veterans like former Florida Gator Ian Silberman (6-5, 294) and fellow grad student Seth Betancourt (6-6, 300) and this is an experienced group that could be one of the better front lines in the ACC this year.

Gallik, a third-team All-ACC selection in 2014, addressed the line depth at the ACC Kickoff event.

"I think that when you look at last year's success that we had in the run game, it was a little bit of both Andre and the system of us blocking scheme up front, having myself, Harris Williams and Bob Vardaro back is awesome because the starting experience we bring back, but at the same time we also bring Silberman from Florida with starting experience and we bring Seth back with experience, as well.

"What I said to a lot of people earlier was having five fifth-year seniors on the same offensive line, that's something I've never been around, I've never heard of, and I think that's really special."

DEFENSE: The Boston College defense returns six starters from last year's squad that had its ups and downs. The Eagles have enjoyed a period of great success at the linebacker position recently and that continued last season. Steele Divitto (third-team All-ACC) and Kevin Pierre-Louis (first-team All- ACC) both eclipsed the century mark in tackles. They are no longer roaming the middle for BC, which must find a suitable replacement in 2014. Steven Daniels could be that player. The 6-0, 257-pounder really elevated his game as a sophomore last year, finishing third on the team in tackles with 88 stops. A great deal is expected of senior Josh Keyes (6-2, 220), who has bided his time as a valuable reserve. Freshman Connor Strachan (6-2, 231) could make an immediate impact as well.

Getting production up front is the task at hand. Gone is pass rusher Kasim Edebali (9.5 sacks last year) and his production may have to be spread around. Senior end Brian Mihalik presents problems off the edge with his size at 6-9, 288, while redshirt freshman Jack Cottrell (6-4, 239) could blossom into a force after not seeing any action a year ago. Inside the team will look to junior tackle Connor Wujciak (6-3, 296) to be a factor.

The strength of the BC defense comes in the secondary, as all four starters return in cornerbacks Manuel Asprilla (68 tackles, two INTs) and Bryce Jones (62 tackles, two INTs) and safeties Sean Sylvia (68 tackles, one INT) and Dominique Williams (65 tackles, one INT)

SPECIAL TEAMS: The kicking game was not exempt from departures either, as All- American Nate Freese, who was a perfect 20-of-20 in field-goal attempts a year ago, is gone. Freese also handled the punting duties. Those jobs could be split up in 2014, although freshman Mike Knoll (6-1, 200) is versatile enough to do both. The youngster will battle junior Alex Howell for the starting roles.

OUTLOOK: Matching last year's seven wins won't be easy. Addazio is building something in Chestnut Hill, but losing 15 total starters from last year is reason for slight concern.

The non-conference schedule is comprised of Massachusetts, USC, Maine and Colorado State and the Eagles should fare no worse than 2-2.

The conference slate has Pittsburgh, Clemson, Louisville and Syracuse all coming to Chestnut Hill, while the Eagles go on the road to face NC State, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Florida State.

In all, Boston College has a winning record against just five teams on the 2014 schedule. The names have certainly changed, and although the win total may dip slightly from 2013, Addazio will have the Eagles playing hard each and every week.