The big 2014 Boston College football preview: Starting over in Year 2

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Addazio inherited an experienced lineup and a late-blooming superstar at running back. He rode that to a five-win improvement in 2013. What happens now that the team's bigger names are gone?

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1. Now the work really begins

Sometimes you get a buffer year.

When Steve Addazio took over at Boston College about 18 months ago, he brought with him the promise of strong recruiting, toughness, and a hybridized style of football, in which athleticism and play-making ability trump established ideas of positions and styles. (Seriously, ask him about five players, and he'll call three of them a hybrid of some sort.) It worked for him a bit at Temple, when he inherited Al Golden's program in 2011 and went 9-4 before falling to 4-7 the next year.

Addazio is a hell of a salesman. He has indeed proven to be a strong recruiter through his career, which now includes stops at Syracuse, Notre Dame, Indiana, Florida, Temple, and BC. (Granted, recruiting has yet to actually pick up at BC. Using Rivals.com ratings, he inked three four-star recruits, two high three-stars (5.7 Rivals Rankings), and three mid-three-stars (5.6) in the 2014 class; BC's average in the last three years of the Frank Spaziani era: 2.7 four-stars, 4.3 5.7s, and 1.3 5.6s. We'll see if that picks up moving forward.) But from the simple fact that he's landed two head coaching jobs in four years tells us he can sell his vision of a football program with great panache, even though we have yet to see what he actually intends to do with a team over the long haul.

As he did at Temple, he was able to build something out of the talent he inherited. After a stark, speedy collapse under Spaziani -- after 12 consecutive winning seasons, BC went just 6-18 in 2011-12 -- he was able to ride a horse named Andre Williams and a solid pass rush back to 7-6.

But now the real work begins. Williams is gone, as are quarterback Chase Rettig, receiver Alex Amidon, both starting tackles, both starting defensive ends, and two starting linebackers. If you were to list BC's 12-15 best players last season, those eight would have probably all made the list.

Whatever Addazio's vision is for this program, we'll begin to see it. We also might see at least a temporary dropoff, as we did in his second year at Temple. But that's not guaranteed.

2013 Schedule & Results

Record: 7-6 | Adj. Record: 6-7 | Final F/+ Rk: 65
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L 5-gm Adj. Avg.
31-Aug Villanova N/A 24-14 W 22.8 - 24.9 L
6-Sep Wake Forest 81 24-10 W 29.9 - 20.6 W
14-Sep at USC 11 7-35 L 14.5 - 41.9 L
28-Sep Florida State 1 34-48 L 46.0 - 28.8 W
5-Oct Army 100 48-27 W 48.8 - 27.1 W 3.7
12-Oct at Clemson 16 14-24 L 19.1 - 22.7 L 3.4
26-Oct at North Carolina 38 10-34 L 15.4 - 28.0 L -1.0
2-Nov Virginia Tech 27 34-27 W 36.0 - 31.7 W 5.4
9-Nov at New Mexico State 122 48-34 W 31.0 - 34.9 L 1.2
16-Nov N.C. State 92 38-21 W 34.7 - 28.4 W -1.9
23-Nov at Maryland 63 29-26 W 35.0 - 20.1 W 1.8
30-Nov at Syracuse 75 31-34 L 37.5 - 38.9 L 4.0
31-Dec vs. Arizona 25 19-42 L 27.9 - 39.0 L 1.0
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk Spec. Tms. Rk
F/+ +2.9% 49 -7.8% 92 +2.7% 14
Points Per Game 27.7 70 28.9 78
Adj. Points Per Game 30.7 51 29.8 84

2. Two steps forward, one step back

2-0, then 1-4, then 4-0, then 0-2. Expectations for BC in 2013 changed by the week, and by the end of the season there had been enough twists and turns that the Eages were impossible to rate. The team that battled Florida State much tighter than anybody else in the regular season was also the team that laid an egg in Chapel Hill. The team that beat Virginia Tech was the same that couldn't pull away from New Mexico State or Villanova.

Adjusting for opponent, we can basically say that BC was a slightly above average team that had two awful weeks in the middle of the year (and a pretty awful bowl performance).

  • Adj. Points Per Game (first 5 games): BC 32.4, Opponent 28.7 (plus-3.7)
  • Adj. Points Per Game (next 2 games): Opponent 25.4, BC 17.3 (minus-8.1)
  • Adj. Points Per Game (last 6 games): BC 33.7, Opponent 32.2 (plus-1.5)

Despite the up-and-down nature of the results (and despite a pretty impressive swing between the FSU/Army performances and the Clemson/UNC performances), BC typically hovered around a level of play that would have either barely beaten or barely lost to an average team from week to week. It makes sense, then, that the Eagles finished 65th, almost dead-on average, over the course of the year.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.34 7 IsoPPP+ 114.2 11
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 38.0% 105 Succ. Rt. + 99.4 65
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 28.3 36 Def. FP+ 100.4 55
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.8 19 Redzone S&P+ 97.9 71
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 12.1 ACTUAL 17 +4.9
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 93 38 66 60
RUSHING 20 31 68 21
PASSING 114 41 51 107
Standard Downs 15 40 7
Passing Downs 82 96 44
Q1 Rk 23 1st Down Rk 15
Q2 Rk 72 2nd Down Rk 45
Q3 Rk 70 3rd Down Rk 70
Q4 Rk 8

3. What does Ryan Day really want to do?

Ryan Day has been Addazio's offensive coordinator for two years now, first at Temple in 2012, then at BC last fall. At both stops, his offense ran the ball frequently and ran the ball well -- 21st in Rushing S&P+ for Temple in 2012 (despite a total lack of passing success), 31st for BC in 2013. For all of Addazio's talk of hybrids -- tight ends who are fullbacks who are H-backs, receivers who can run and/or line up in the slot and out wide, running backs who can catch, quarterbacks who are potential dual threats -- the ball is much more likely to leave the backfield in a running back's gut than through the air.

In other words, last season probably wasn't so much a "Hey, we've got Andre Williams, so let's run like crazy" situation; it was more "We want to run like crazy, and hey, we've got Andre Williams."

With two freshman backups at running back and a quarterback who wasn't going to contribute more than two or three non-sack carries per game, Williams indeed carried a ridiculous load. The 230-pounder* from Schnecksville, Penn., was built for it and found a seat in New York as a Heisman finalist for his troubles. He carried 35 times for 204 yards against Wake Forest, 28 for 149 against Florida State, and 30 for 263 against Army. After a tough game against Clemson (24 for 70), he put together one of the most impressive five-game stretches college football has seen in the last 20 years: 26 for 172 against UNC, 33 for 166 against Virginia Tech, 30 for 295 against NMSU, 42 (!) for 339 (!) against N.C. State, and 32 for 263 against Maryland. Wear and tear took him down in the regular season finale, just as the Heisman hype was picking up, and he carried just nine times for 29 yards. But in an era that barely produces running backs who average 20 carries per game, Williams averaged 27. And he finished 23 yards short of 2,200 for the season.

Now that Williams is a New York Giant, we'll see what changes. I assume the distribution of carries between sophomores Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse, not to mention a couple of exciting freshmen (Jon Hilliman and Marcus Outlaw) will be a little more normal -- first-stringer gets 15-20, second-stringer gets 8-12, etc. And I assume the mobility of Florida transfer (and likely starting quarterback) Tyler Murphy will play a role in the play-calling as well. But make no mistake: BC is going to run the ball a lot. And the Eagles will probably do it well, Williams or no Williams.

* Not sure how he weighed in at only 230, considering each thigh weighed 185 pounds.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2014 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Chase Rettig 162 263 1995 17 8 61.6% 22 7.7% 6.5
Josh Bordner 6'4, 220 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 2 4 17 0 0 50.0% 0 0.0% 4.3
James Walsh 6'1, 191 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6)
Tyler Murphy (Florida) 6'2, 214 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 112 185 1216 6 5 60.5% 22 10.6% 6.8
Darius Wade 6'2, 199 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
Opp.
Rate
Andre Williams RB 355 2177 18 6.1 8.0 37.5%
Myles Willis RB 5'9, 192 So. 3 stars (5.6) 60 346 2 5.8 5.1 46.7%
Chase Rettig QB 38 221 1 5.8 8.5 39.5%
Tyler Rouse RB 5'9, 192 So. 2 stars (5.2) 26 125 2 4.8 6.6 26.9%
Alex Amidon WR 8 47 1 5.9 3.1 62.5%
David Dudeck RB 5'11, 189 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 5 8 0 1.6 0.0%
Jon Hilliman RB 6'0, 215 Fr. 4 stars (5.8)
Marcus Outlow RB 6'0, 210 Fr. 3 stars (5.7)

4. Myles might be a keeper

A 5'11, 230-pound tailback is going to get pigeon-holed as a power back, a guy who plows into the back of his offensive linemen, falls forward, and gained three to six yards each play with minimal explosiveness. Williams was the exact opposite; he was certainly powerful, but his production was more of the all-or-nothing variety: two yards, two yards, two yards, two yards, 23 yards. The man was far more explosive than efficient. Of the 45 players to rush at least 200 times in 2013, only three averaged better than 6.8 Highlight Yards per opportunity: Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (7.1) and James White (7.4) and BC's Williams (8.0).

Strangely enough, Myles Willis, at 5'9, 192 pounds, was far more efficient and less explosive than Williams, albeit in a small sample. The former three-star recruit from Georgia showed quite a bit of potential for a true freshman -- efficiency usually comes last for young backs -- while also serving as one of the more efficient kick returners in the country. Again, we'll have to see what happens in terms of ball distribution (that might basically be dictated by how many true freshmen prove themselves worthy of early action) and whether that affects his presence on special teams, but Willis is most likely a keeper.

And he'll be running behind a potentially decent line. Both tackles are gone, including all-conference Florida transfer Matt Patchan, but four returning seniors have combined for 77 career starts, and another Florida transfer, Ian Silberman, joins the mix. The line did a strong job of keeping defenders out of the backfield, and Willis is a solid downhill runner for his size.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Alex Amidon WR 108 77 1032 71.3% 44.1% 48.0% 9.6 145 9.8 163.8
Bobby Swigert (2012) WR 6'1, 192 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 37 22 249 59.5% 8.7% 64.9% 6.7 N/A 6.6 33.9
Dan Crimmins WR 6'5, 223 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 20 11 61 55.0% 8.2% 47.4% 3.1 -84 3.4 9.7
David Dudeck RB 5'11, 189 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 20 11 84 55.0% 8.2% 30.0% 4.2 -61 4.5 13.3
Jake Sinkovec TE 17 14 118 82.4% 6.9% 81.3% 6.9 -33 7.8 18.7
Mike Naples TE 14 10 207 71.4% 5.7% 53.8% 14.8 92 15.9 32.9
C.J. Parsons TE 13 9 116 69.2% 5.3% 66.7% 8.9 11 7.9 18.4
Spiffy Evans WR 13 7 97 53.8% 5.3% 53.8% 7.5 4 7.6 15.4
Bobby Wolford FB 6'2, 240 So. 3 stars (5.5) 11 9 105 81.8% 4.5% 55.6% 9.5 8 9.8 16.7
Brian Miller TE 10 6 72 60.0% 4.1% 12.5% 7.2 -3 5.6 11.4
Harrison Jackson WR 6'2, 204 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 10 5 46 50.0% 4.1% 25.0% 4.6 -23 8.5 7.3
Joel Rich TE 6'3, 255 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 1 1 14 100.0% 0.4% 0.0% 14.0 4 6.2 2.2
Josh Bordner WR 6'4, 226 Sr. 3 stars (5.5)
Louis Addazio TE 6'3, 248 Jr. 2 stars (5.4)
Michael Giacone TE 6'5, 262 Jr. 3 stars (5.6)
Drew Barksdale WR 5'11, 193 So. 3 stars (5.5)
Charlie Callinan WR 6'4, 219 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)
Thaddius Smith WR 5'10, 170 Fr. 3 stars (5.7)
Gabriel McClary WR 6'3, 190 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)
Sherman Alston WR 5'6, 165 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)

5. Who catches passes?

In 2012, Temple ranked 21st in Rushing S&P+ despite almost no production in the passing game (108th in Passing S&P+). Running backs Montel Harris, a BC transfer (symmetry!), and Matt Brown carried a heavy load, but in the absence of quality passing, quarterbacks Chris Coyer and Juice Granger did prove adept on the ground. They combined for 133 non-sack carries and 786 yards. Not bad at all.

In a listless, injury-plagued, identity-free Florida offense, Tyler Murphy had patches of success. He rushed 39 times for 248 yards (an efficient 59 percent opportunity rate, 4.4 highlight yards per opportunity), and his passing numbers were pretty decent in his first three starts filling in for the injured Jeff Driskel: 72 percent completion rate, 13.6 yards per completion, five touchdowns to one interception. Granted, the production dropped quickly. In his last four starts, he had a 56 percent completion rate, 9.4 yards per completion, and one TD to four picks, then mercifully missed the final three games of the year with a shoulder injury. He was in no way a star recruit, but his early production hinted at solid potential, and the running game and identity he inherits at BC should be stronger than what he was working with at Florida.

The receiving corps, on the other hand, probably won't be stronger. Only two of last year's top seven targets return from a passing game that was actually rather efficient (and completely lacking in explosiveness), and while Bobby Swigert returns after missing 2013 with injury, that means the top three returning targets (Swigert, Dan Crimmons, David Dudeck) combined to average a paltry 5.1 yards per target in their last seasons of action. The tight end position is almost completely unproven, and outside of the top three, the receiving corps consists of freshmen, sophomore Drew Barksdale, and converted quarterback Josh Bordner. It's quite possible that BC's running game improves and its passing game regresses in 2014.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 106.9 2.95 2.89 38.1% 55.6% 18.8% 88.6 3.3% 10.3%
Rank 40 66 100 80 113 59 81 30 105
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Career Starts Honors/Notes
Matt Patchan LT 21 2nd All-ACC
Ian White RT 36
Bobby Vardaro LG 6'5, 306 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 33
Andy Gallik C 6'3, 299 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 28
Harris Williams RG 6'3, 303 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 13
Seth Betancourt LT 6'6, 300 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 3
Dan Lembke LG 0
Aaron Kramer RG 6'7, 300 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0
Paul Gaughan LG 6'6, 300 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0
Dave Bowen LT 6'7, 288 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0
Frank Taylor C 6'3, 286 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0
Jim Cashman RT 6'7, 298 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0
Ian Silberman (Florida) OL 6'5, 293 Sr. 4 stars (5.9) 7
Jon Baker OL 6'3, 300 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)
James Hendren OL 6'7, 268 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.16 72 IsoPPP+ 97.9 73
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 43.2% 76 Succ. Rt. + 97.9 63
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 29.5 83 Off. FP+ 98.5 77
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.7 102 Redzone S&P+ 102.7 47
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 20.3 ACTUAL 20.0 -0.3
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 93 70 63 80
RUSHING 57 63 62 48
PASSING 113 66 70 105
Standard Downs 64 66 66
Passing Downs 79 76 69
Q1 Rk 43 1st Down Rk 85
Q2 Rk 87 2nd Down Rk 78
Q3 Rk 92 3rd Down Rk 75
Q4 Rk 99

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 98.3 3.00 3.20 38.9% 64.6% 15.9% 126.3 5.7% 9.8%
Rank 69 71 54 60 48 102 22 38 15
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Kasim Edebali DE 13 52.5 6.9% 14.0 8.5 0 5 4 2
Kaleb Ramsey DE 10 22.0 2.9% 4.0 2.0 0 0 0 0
Brian Mihalik DE 6'9, 288 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 13 20.5 2.7% 6.0 2.0 0 1 1 0
Connor Wujciak DT 6'3, 296 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 13 17.0 2.2% 2.0 0.0 0 2 1 0
Jaryd Rudolph DT 12 15.0 2.0% 3.5 2.0 0 0 1 0
Mehdi Abdesmad DT 6'7, 290 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 4 13.0 1.7% 3.5 2.0 0 0 0 0
Dominic Appiah DT 12 7.0 0.9% 0.0 0.0 0 0 1 0
Nick Lifka DE 6'2, 272 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 4 4.0 0.5% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Kevin Kavalec DE 6'3, 251 So. 2 stars (5.4) 4 2.5 0.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Truman Gutapfel DT 6'3, 280 So. 2 stars (5.4) 8 2.5 0.3% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Malachi Moore DE 6'7, 269 So. 2 stars (5.4)
Jack Cottrell DE 6'4, 239 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6)
Harold Landry DE 6'2, 255 Fr. 4 stars (5.8)
Kevin Cohee Jr. DE 6'4, 240 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)
Joseph Vitiello DE 6'4, 255 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)

6. A brand new pass rush

Despite a stellar pass rush, BC opponents had little qualms about throwing the ball on the Eagles last fall. The secondary was ultra-aggressive (the four starters combined for 17.5 tackles for loss and 17 passes defensed), which helped in terms of turnovers, but there were just far too many breakdowns. Opponents completed 142 passes of 10+ yards on BC (120th in the country), 47 of 20+ (97th), and 23 of 30+ (100th). The mid-season loss of safety Spenser Rositano to injury certainly didn't help -- with the Adj. Scores above, one certainly sees a defensive drop-off over the last half of the season.

In 2014, the secondary returns almost entirely intact (for better or worse), but the two best pass rushers, end Kasim Edebali and strongside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, are gone. The two combined for 14.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss, seven passes defensed, and four forced fumbles. That's a lot of production to replace, though players like end Brian Mihalik and linebackers Steven Daniels and Josh Keyes have hinted at decent potential.

Defensive tackle Connor Wujciak's return is welcome, especially for a decent run defense, but the key piece is likely Mehdi Abdesmad, who was playing at a nearly all-conference level through four games before missing the final two months with a torn patellar tendon. Abdesmad can play both inside and outside on the line (hybrid!) and should become BC's leading pass rusher. And if three-star redshirt freshman Jack Cottrell and incoming four-star freshman Harold Landry can contribute early, that's even better.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Kevin Pierre-Louis SLB 13 87.5 11.5% 10.5 6.0 1 1 0 0
Steele Divitto MLB 13 83.0 10.9% 6.0 3.0 1 5 0 0
Steven Daniels WLB 6'0, 257 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 13 71.0 9.3% 6.5 3.0 1 2 1 0
Sean Duggan (2012) MLB 6'4, 244 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 11 28.0 3.5% 1.0 0.0 0 1 1 1
Josh Keyes SLB 6'2, 220 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 11 22.5 3.0% 5.0 3.5 0 0 1 0
Mike Strizak WLB 6'2, 230 So. 3 stars (5.7) 9 3.0 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Tim Joy WLB 6'2, 224 Jr. 3 stars (5.5)
Connor Strachan LB 6'2, 240 Fr. 4 stars (5.8)
Christian Lezzer LB 6'1, 218 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)
Ty Schwab LB 6'2, 208 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)

7. What does LB U have at LB?

Boston College became synonymous with high-volume, 100-tackle linebackers during the Spaziani years (both as head coach and defensive coordinator). The Eagles produced pro talent like Luke Kuechly, Mark Herzlich, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, and Ricky Brown and seemed to always have at least one all-conference contender in the unit.

In Kevin Pierre-Louis, Steele Divitto, and Steven Daniels, BC had another strong unit in 2013. The three combined for 32 percent of the team's tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, and 11 passes defensed. Two of the three are gone, but there's certainly potential in the replacements. Daniels is a bowling ball at 6'0, 257, Josh Keyes does appear to be a potentially strong outside guy, and Connor Strachan was one of the stars of the 2014 recruiting class. Depth here is questionable, but the upside seems decent.

Then again, the upside was quite high a year ago, and BC ranked 63rd in Rushing S&P+ and 66th in Passing S&P+. Without improvement in the secondary, the linebacking corps might not matter much.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Manuel Asprilla CB 5'11, 178 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 13 61.5 8.1% 7 0 2 6 1 0
Sean Sylvia FS 6'0, 200 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 13 56.0 7.4% 2 0 1 2 1 0
Dominique Williams SS 6'0, 218 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 13 54.5 7.2% 3.5 0 1 1 0 0
Bryce Jones CB 6'1, 174 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 13 52.5 6.9% 5 0 2 2 0 0
Justin Simmons FS 6'3, 192 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 13 28.0 3.7% 1 0 0 3 0 1
Spenser Rositano SS 5 25.5 3.4% 2 1 0 3 0 0
Al Louis-Jean, Jr. CB 11 18.0 2.4% 0 0 0 1 1 0
C.J. Jones CB 5'11, 183 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 12 15.0 2.0% 1.5 0.5 0 0 0 0
Matt Milano SS 6'0, 215 So. 3 stars (5.7) 13 4.5 0.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
John Johnson CB 6'0, 191 So. 2 stars (5.4) 10 4.0 0.5% 1 0 0 0 0 0
James McCaffrey DB 11 2.5 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Joel Karim Zoungrana DB 6'0, 200 So. 2 stars (5.4)
Atem Ntantang CB 5'11, 190 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3)
Isaac Yiadom DB 6'1, 170 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)
Allen Dawson DB 6'0, 192 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)
Cameron Seward DB 6'1, 216 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)

8. Desperately seeking a glitch-free secondary

Again, from a pure play-making perspective, there was a lot to like about BC's secondary. Corner Manny Asprilla was particularly impressive; you're not going to find too many players at any position combining seven tackles for loss with eight passes defensed.

But the numbers just don't add up. If you have a top-25 pass rush and a back seven that racks up quite a few plays against both run and pass, you should rank quite a bit higher than 92nd in Def. F/+. Big pass plays were the biggest issue for this defense, and BC's prospects for fixing that in 2014 depend on whether you're a glass-half-full or half-empty kind of person.

Half-full: The top five tacklers in the secondary return, along with a sixth player, C.J. Jones, who saw plenty of action last fall. All of these players are juniors and seniors, which means BC has one of the more experienced defensive backfields in the league. And after having to adjust on the fly to Rositano's injury last year, the Eagles now have a full offseason to prepare.

Half-empty: Players don't tend to improve as drastically as juniors and seniors, so this unit might be basically what it already was unless some new blood can liven things up a bit.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Nate Freese 75 41.7 9 23 22 60.0%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Nate Freese 73 64.2 51 2 69.9%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Nate Freese 40-41 14-14 100.0% 6-6 100.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Myles Willis KR 5'9, 192 So. 30 23.6 1
David Dudeck KR 5'11, 189 Jr. 9 15.6 0
Spiffy Evans PR 13 11.8 0
David Dudeck PR 5'11, 189 Jr. 3 8.3 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 14
Field Goal Efficiency 1
Punt Return Efficiency 94
Kick Return Efficiency 21
Punt Efficiency 55
Kickoff Efficiency 49
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 120

9. A one-man special teams unit

Okay, Nate Freese wasn't actually a one-man special teams unit, not with what Myles Willis brought to the return unit. But it was close. Freese was a decent punter, a solid kickoffs guy and a nearly perfect place-kicker. He actually missed more PATs (one) than field goals (zero), and more than two-thirds of his kickoffs were touchbacks. He was a stud. He keyed a top-15 rating for BC in special teams, and there's almost no way to avoid a dropoff with his replacement.

2014 Schedule & Projection Factors

2014 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
30-Aug at Massachusetts 126
5-Sep Pittsburgh 39
13-Sep USC 9
20-Sep Maine NR
27-Sep Colorado State 79
11-Oct at N.C. State 66
18-Oct Clemson 5
25-Oct at Wake Forest 83
1-Nov at Virginia Tech 19
8-Nov Louisville 16
22-Nov at Florida State 1
29-Nov Syracuse 67
Five-Year F/+ Rk -1.0% (58)
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 66
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* 3 / 8.2
TO Luck/Game -2.0
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 11 (5, 6)

10. No margin for error

Temple struggled in Addazio's second year, and it's not difficult to see BC doing the same. That's just what happens when you lose your best players at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, offensive tackle, defensive end, and linebacker.

Still, it's not hard to see this offense remaining similar in quality. Addazio and Day produced a strong running game (without Andre Williams) at Temple and could do the same with Myles Willis and company. And it's not out of the realm of possibility that Tyler Murphy and the new passing game could be just as inefficient (and non-explosive) as last year's. If the secondary can pick up the slack for a pass rush that might suffer, then BC could produce a level of play similar to last year's. And while we wait to find out what kind of recruiter Addazio really is, maintenance of form won't be the end of the world.

But if BC indeed ranks in the 60s again in 2014, the path to a bowl game will be quite tricky. The Eagles play five teams projected in the top 20, and while we can debate the merits of Clemson in the top 10 or Louisville in the top 20, those teams are probably going to be better than BC. If the Eagles can go 2-4 against these five teams and Pittsburgh, that leaves a doable path to 6-6, albeit it one with minimal room for slips.

It appears BC is back to being a competent, decent program after a stark, three-year slide. And it appears that Addazio should have the horses in the backfield to keep running and running the ball for the foreseeable future. For all the other details, though -- recruiting, passing, defense -- we'll have to wait and see.

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