2015 Boston College Eagles Football Preview

Jon Hilliman will be a workhorse for the Eagles this season.
Jon Hilliman will be a workhorse for the Eagles this season.

Boston College Eagles
Head coach: Steve Addazio
2014 Record: 7-6; 4-4 ACC
2014 Bowl: 31-30 OT loss to Penn State at Pinstripe Bowl
2015 Returning Starters: 3 offense, 6 defense

Odds to win 2016 CFB Championship: +120000
Odds to win 2015 ACC Title: +10000
Regular Season Wins: Over 5 (-125), Under 5 (-105)
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The Boston College Eagles are going to continue to be a run heavy team and it will try to break into a new offensive system under offensive coordinator Todd Fitch this season.

The Boston College Eagles are still going to run the football plenty this season. The adage has typically been to “play D, run, dominate special teams, force turnovers,” and it won’t be much different this season.

Sophomore QB Darius Wade will get his chances to throw the football, but the Eagles are going to set it up with the run. Wade threw just eight passes last season and the 6’0” 201 pound quarterback has to be better than Tyler Murphy was last season (57 percent completions).

Wade has earned praise from Addazio for his arm strength and accuracy, and he’s certainly going to throw it more under Todd Fitch (who worked for Skip Holtz at East Carolina and South Florida). Even so, in Addazio’s four seasons as head coach (two at Boston College and two at Temple) his offenses have attempted 140% more running plays than passing.

Wade has a great primary target in TE/WR Dan Crimmins. Crimmins caught 25 passes for 305 yards last year.

Sophomore RB Jon Hilliman rushed for 860 yards and 13 TDs last year and he’ll be featured heavy in a committee that will also include Myles Willis, Tyler Rouse and Marcus Outlow. WR Sherman Alston will get some carries too in jet sweeps and he rushed for 352 yards last season with a 10.2 yard per carry average. Boston College ranked 15th nationally with 254.7 rushing yards last season.

The OL replaces all five starters but coach Steve Addazio does have sixth-year senior Harris Williams to lead the way at G or C. If the OL can form strong around him, this team is well set to resume its ground dominance. Williams’ leadership is absolutely vital this season and his health will be monitored closely.

Addazio has been trying to position BC in this rebuild since taking the job, and according to schedule the team is still ahead of pace. 2016 is supposed to be the season the Eagles go next-level, but Addazio still expects about seven wins this season, two more than the O/U at oddsmakers 5dimes, “Seven wins year one and year two. As I said earlier, I felt when I came into this job, and I still feel now, those first three years were going to be in that range.”

DC Don Brown is known for being a blitzer with strong attacking units and that should be the case again for the Eagles this season. The defense last year was one of the best against the run and it finished second only to Michigan State in rush defense, surrendering just 94.5 yards per game. The Eagles’ team strength may lie in its front seven and it returns five starters there.

On the DL Truman Gutapfel, Connor Wujciak and Kevin Kavalec are all in the fold. That trio in addition to Malachi Moore combined for 29.5 tackles for loss last season and that number should continue to inflate this season. The LBs are led by Steven Daniels who had 72 tackles last year including 7.0 for loss. The secondary suffers the losses of Manny Asprilla and Dominique Williams but FS Justin Simmons is returning. Simmons made 76 stops and 2 INTs last season. He’s also able to play CB and is the best player in the Eagles’ secondary.

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The Eagles allowed just 21.3 points per game last season, good for 21st in the nation. It also ranked 11th in total yardage allowed (323.6).

The Eagles need Alex Howell to kick a lot better this season. He hit just 5 of 11 last year including a putrid 3 of 9 from 40 yards or longer. Howell was good for punts though, averaging 42.5 yards per punt. Myles Willis and Sherman Alston will handle kick and punt duties, respectively.

Addazio wants seven wins, but that seems to be pushing the limit for this team, notwithstanding that it got seven last year. Even so, this is a team that was 2-10 prior to his coaching and it still needs a lot of improvement before it can legitimately contend for ACC titles.

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The defense alone will keep BC competitive, but the offense is likely going to fritter some games away that would seem in all other senses “winnable.” Until the offense begins to prove itself and establishes confidence in what has worked (namely, running), the Eagles will have to fight hard.

Opening the season against Maine and Howard should prove easy enough, but the Eagles welcome Florida State to Chestnut Hill on Sept 18. The Eagles had trouble finishing games last season, but the improved special team play and defensive depth should likely account for getting back a victory that the offense blows. It equalizes, in other words.

Prediction: 6 wins

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