2015 ACC Football Preview: Boston College Eagles

2014 Record: 7-6 (4-4 ACC)

Returning Starters: Offense (3) Defense (6)

Key Players: RB John Hilliman, LB Steven Daniels, FS Justin Simmons

Steve Addazio has been a miracle worker of sorts over the past couple of seasons, as he has worked to completely change the identity of the Boston College program and quickly begin to turn the tide for the better in Chesnut Hill. Coming off of a 7-6 campaign, and in the midst of a reboot on offense, it will take another spectacular coaching effort by Addazio in 2015 in order to keep the Eagles heading in the right direction.

Offensively, BC is going to be a project initially. The Eagles offensive line is going to be completely revamped, as the veteran group from a year ago has departed. Among the new projected starters on the line, the five players have combined for 15 starts total over their respective careers. While there will be a steep learning curve there as it is, the Eagles will also be breaking in a new quarterback, as sophomore quarterback Darius Wade is set to take over for the graduated Tyler Murphy. As a true freshman last year, Wade only attempted eight passes all season, so as you may imagine, his play is as much of a wild card to the success of the Eagles as any in 2015. The one constant for BC however, is the emerging star running back John Hilliman. As a freshman in 2014, Hilliman enjoyed a fantastic first year of college football, amassing 860 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. I’d expect the Eagles to rely on the play of Hilliman early and often this season, as they attempt to raise the comfort level of their young quarterback in his first real game action.

The wide receiver position is quite possibly the biggest cause for concern for the Eagles on offense. The proverbial question marks come after veteran Josh Bordner graduated and TE/WR Dan Crimmins left the program unexpectedly a couple of months ago. Thus, the team is looking for Sherman Alston to be a major contributor. Alston, who was used mostly as a ball carrier in jet sweep situations last season (352 yards rushing), is now the leading receiver returning to Boston College, after only pulling in 16 passes for 175 yards in 2014. Graduate student Bobby Swigert could factor in as well, as he tries to make a near miraculous comeback from 11 different knee surgeries over his college career.

The offense has not been the lead cause of recent success, however. The linchpin of the turnaround for Boston College over the last couple of seasons has been the consistency of their defense. The attitude of getting stops and making it tough for opposing offenses to run the football has been a key facet of Steve Addazio’s game plan throughout each of his first few seasons in Chestnut Hill. The Eagles are returning six starters from their defense of a year ago, which was second nationally against the run, only allowing 94.5 yards per game. Among the returning starters are three key defensive lineman: DT Truman Gutapfel, DT Connor Wujciak, and DE Kevin Kovaleck. This trio managed to compile 29.5 tackles for loss last season, which was key to defining a defensive identity in 2014. Additionally, linebacker Steven Daniels is back, coming off of a year where he had 72 tackles. Leading the secondary is veteran Justin Simmons, who not only had two interceptions last season, but also led the team with 76 tackles.

While this summary tells much of the story of what to look for in the 2015 Eagles, we have you covered even more in depth on an exclusive podcast with myself, Justin, and Mark Rogers. Check it out below for a full review of key notes for Boston College heading into the season, along with a breakdown of their schedule.



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