BOSTON – The moustache is familiar, but everything else about Boston College coach Steve Addazio is a departure for a team that had grown accustomed to Frank Spaziani's laid-back ways.
The new coach, who came to BC from Temple, is an open spigot of energy who is hoping to get people excited again about a football program that went 2-10 (1-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) last season. It was the second straight losing record for a team that had made 12 consecutive bowl appearances — winning eight in a row from 2000-07 — and just the second time in history the Eagles have reached double-digit losses.
Addazio is stressing attention to detail, toughness and intelligence for a team that hasn't shown the talent to compete in the ACC. With some senior leadership, the Eagles' best hope is to get back above .500 and return to a bowl game.
Here are five things to look for this season in Chestnut Hill:
1. BE A DUDE: Addazio said he wants his players to be "Dudes," a mantra he borrowed from new defensive coordinator Dan Brown. What makes them dudes? Hard work, discipline and intelligence. (But, as linebacker Steele Divitto noted at ACC media day, if you have to ask, you probably aren't one.)
2. HIGH-ENERGY COACH: Everything Addazio says and does — even meeting with reporters in the middle of the summer — comes with the enthusiasm of a halftime speech. It's already made an impression on the players. "He just brings so much energy," receiver Alex Amidon said. "Any time you interact with him I come out ready to play a game. He pumps me up, definitely."
3. CHASE FOR THE LEADER: Quarterback Chase Rettig is playing for his fifth offensive coordinator since arriving at BC. Ryan Day, the latest to hold the position, says he wants to see Rettig emerge as a leader of the offense. "You have to be yourself, and I think Chase is learning," Day said. "These kids have been through some good, bad and ugly times. They're building a bond."
4. HIGH-RISK DEFENSE: Addazio says it will all depend on whether the Eagles can play great defense, and with holdovers like Devitto, who was named to the Butkus Award watch list, and fellow linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, they have a chance to shut other teams down. New defensive coordinator Dan Brown says the goal is to be attacking. That leaves the Eagles open to the big play, but Addazio says: "Beyond a doubt, if you can't play defense, you can't win."
5. WAIT 'TIL NEXT YEAR: BC has never impressed the recruiting sites with the five- or even four-star recruits, instead taking lower-rated players like Matt Ryan, B.J. Raji and Luke Kuechly and turning them into first-round draft picks. But Addazio has put himself in charge of recruiting and it seems to be paying dividends: BC already has 21 players committed from the high school class of 2014, enough to put it in the top 25 in the recruiting rankings. So even if Addazio's approach doesn't pay off in 2013, the Eagles have hope for the future.
Predicted finish in conference: 7th, Atlantic Division.
AP college football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org