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Boston College's rapid improvement has earned Steve Addazio a rebuilding year

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These Eagles have beaten expectations two years running. Whether they do it again or not, you're looking at a program in good shape.

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. 3 straight will be awfully difficult

When a program falls apart, it happens suddenly. The bottom drops out for a coach, and then he's let go, and in a significant collapse, the next coach bottoms out as well.

Kansas went from 15th in the F/+ rankings to 115th in just three years (2007-10). Auburn went from first to 90th in two (2010-12). California went from 43rd to 106th in two (2011-13).

Sometimes it's a rockier road, one in which you swim against the current before giving out -- think Memphis in the mid-2000s or UConn more recently. These tumbles are often the hardest to recover from since they were years in the making.

Then there's Boston College. The Eagles pulled off something rare: they regressed for seven consecutive years. They ranked 14th and 18th in Tom O'Brien's final two years (2005-06), then 20th and 30th in the brief Jeff Jagodzinski era (2007-08). Frank Spaziani took over, and then stumbled to 47th, then 55th, then 71st, then 89th.

A seven-year regression, one in which you fall to 89th overall, requires systemic movement. Here, it was a quick collapse of a shaky offense followed by the slow-motion decline of a once-stalwart defense. In theory, once you reach the seventh year of the streak, you're approaching rock bottom, and there might not be a quick rebound available.

Steve Addazio disagrees. In his first year as BC head coach in 2013, his Eagles rebounded from 89th to 68th and, thanks to a winning record in close games, from 2-10 to 7-6. Then, with a transfer quarterback custom-made for the offense, BC surged to 36th.

The record remained the same in 2014, mainly because the Eagles went from one game above .500 in one-possession games to one game below, but they ran through USC, won four road games for the first time since 2007, played strong run defense, and crafted a clear offensive identity. They were a sound team that gave us a glimpse of what Addazio is trying to build on the Heights.

There's quite a bit more building to do. After strong improvement for two consecutive years, all expectations are off the table for now. The quarterback is gone, as are last year's top three wideouts, five offensive linemen who had combined for 134 career starts, the defense's two leading pass rushers, and five of the top eight in the secondary.

Addazio has been a head coach for four years -- two at Temple, two at BC -- and his squad has improved dramatically in three of the four seasons. The other season, his second year at Temple, he dealt with turnover as his Owls fell from 35th in F/+ to 101st. I doubt we see regression of that level, but with the amount of youth, it will be hard to avoid at least a couple of temporary steps backward.

Then again, I said pretty much the same thing last year.

Sometimes you get a buffer year. [...]

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, we'll begin to see it. We also might see at least a temporary dropoff, as we did in his second year at Temple.

Fool me once ...

2014 Schedule & Results

Record: 7-6 | Adj. Record: 11-2 | Final F/+ Rk: 36
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Adj. Scoring
Margin
Win
Expectancy
30-Aug at Massachusetts 120 30-7 W 89% 28.1 100%
5-Sep Pittsburgh 43 20-30 L 36% -8.1 8%
13-Sep USC 16 37-31 W 90% 30.2 95%
20-Sep Maine N/A 40-10 W 55% 2.8 95%
27-Sep Colorado State 49 21-24 L 54% 2.6 26%
11-Oct at NC State 55 30-14 W 90% 29.4 97%
18-Oct Clemson 14 13-17 L 65% 8.8 29%
25-Oct at Wake Forest 101 23-17 W 78% 18.2 99%
1-Nov at Virginia Tech 33 33-31 W 75% 15.6 85%
8-Nov Louisville 23 19-38 L 25% -15.8 1%
22-Nov at Florida State 15 17-20 L 50% 0.1 25%
29-Nov Syracuse 80 28-7 W 85% 23.9 99%
27-Dec vs. Penn State 45 30-31 L 61% 6.3 60%

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 31.9 46 23.5 36
Points Per Game 26.2 86 21.3 20

2. The run game travels?

With a capacity of under 45,000, Alumni Stadium isn't exactly known as one of the country's most raucous venues. Smaller places can get loud, but with BC's average attendance of just 34,270, it would stand to reason that the Eagles wouldn't have a significant home field advantage.

I'm still not sure I've ever seen this, though. "No significant home field advantage" is one thing; "home field disadvantage" is another.

  • Average Percentile Performance (home): 59% (~top 50 | record: 3-4)
  • Average Percentile Performance (road/neutral): 74% (~top 35 | record: 4-2)

While the home performance against USC was top-notch, and while the road game against UMass wasn't exactly far from home (nor was the bowl game in Yankee Stadium), these averages are baffling. Either BC was one of the best road teams in the country, or the Eagles' home performances held them back. This is ripe for pointless speculation, but the bottom line is that BC was quite a bit better away from Chesnut Hill.

Perhaps that would be a good thing to continue. The Eagles play Duke, Clemson, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Syracuse away from their home stadium. Win four of those, and you're on the way to a good season, huh?

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.94 23 IsoPPP+ 122.6 24
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 40.6% 78 Succ. Rt. + 112.4 29
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 29.8 67 Def. FP+ 98.0 92
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.2 81 Redzone S&P+ 109.1 44
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 11.6 ACTUAL 13 +1.4
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 83 26 29 24
RUSHING 15 20 32 14
PASSING 124 36 37 33
Standard Downs 29 42 24
Passing Downs 24 14 25
Q1 Rk 34 1st Down Rk 27
Q2 Rk 23 2nd Down Rk 47
Q3 Rk 29 3rd Down Rk 2
Q4 Rk 65

3. A one-year tease

If only we had gotten four years to watch Tyler Murphy in this offense.

After verballing to Al Golden's Temple, Murphy got a late Florida offer and ended up signing with the Gators and offensive coordinator Addazio. Addazio left for Temple in 2011 when Urban Meyer left, and Murphy was a strange fit for Will Muschamp's offensive vision (whatever that actually was). He saw brief time as a starter for injured Jeff Driskel in 2013, but he ended up taking the graduate transfer route to reunite with Addazio for one season.

What a season it was. With Murphy running the show, BC went all in on a dual-threat rush attack; including sacks as pass attempts, Murphy attempted 251 passes to 159 rushes, and four running backs split about 31 carries per game (half to freshman Jon Hilliman).

The backs weren't incredibly efficient, but they forced opponents to keep an eye on them, which allowed Murphy to get a step on the defense running a variety of options. Murphy turned into one of the most effective rushing quarterbacks you'll see: of 30 FBS quarterbacks with at least 100 non-sack carries, Murphy ranked fifth in opportunity rate (percentage of carries gaining at least five yards) and a distant first in highlight yards per opportunity.

And I mean distant:

Highlight Yards Per Opportunity (QBs w/100+ rushes)
1. Tyler Murphy, BC (8.8)
2. Reginald Bell Jr., EMU (7.1)
3. Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech (7.1)
4. Cody Fajardo, Nevada (7.0)
5. Marcus Mariota, Oregon (6.6)

Only 13 of the 30 quarterbacks averaged even 6 highlight yards, and Murphy averaged nearly 9.

Of course, Murphy's gone. Graduate transfers don't always succeed in their final schools, but when they do, it feels like a tease, a what-could-have-been supernova. After one year of running with the perfect quarterback, Addazio turns the reins over to someone new, most likely sophomore Darius Wade. Wade is a smart, athletic lefty who probably doesn't have the jets that Murphy did but could be effective. How much time will he need?

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2015 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Tyler Murphy
131 230 1623 13 10 57.0% 21 8.4% 5.9
Darius Wade 6'0, 204 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8510 3 8 23 0 0 37.5% 0 0.0% 2.9
Troy Flutie 6'0, 182 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7959
Elijah Robinson 6'2, 187 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8503
Jeff Smith 6'0, 162 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8389

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Jon Hilliman RB 6'0, 224 So. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8808 211 860 13 4.1 5.0 29.4% 1 0
Tyler Murphy QB
159 1332 11 8.4 8.8 53.5% 6 0
Myles Willis RB 5'9, 194 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8419 88 459 2 5.2 5.8 39.8% 3 3
Marcus Outlow RB 5'10, 203 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8506 60 248 0 4.1 3.8 36.7% 0 0
Tyler Rouse RB 5'8, 194 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 48 214 3 4.5 4.3 33.3% 0 0
Sherman Alston WR 5'6, 163 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7958 34 352 2 10.4 7.6 73.5% 0 0
Darius Wade QB 6'0, 204 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8510 2 12 0 6.0 1.0 100.0% 0 0
Richard Wilson RB 5'10, 224 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8080
Ben Glines RB 6'1, 205 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8414







4. A sophomore takeover

If it's not Wade, it's probably sophomore Troy Flutie (yes, BC Heisman winner Doug's nephew). Sophomore Jon Hilliman will again get most of the carries at running back, with sophomore Marcus Outlow among the primary backups. Sophomore receivers Charli Callinan and Sherman Alston are the two leading returnees from last year's receiving corps. Sophomore guard Jon Baker is, with his one career start, the second-most experienced first-string lineman.

Sophomores become juniors and seniors, and if some of these young pieces find sporadic success in 2015, it could mean fantastic things for 2016 and 2017. But wow, BC's offense could be green.

There are older players who could provide lifelines. Junior running backs Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse are potentially explosive change-of-pace guys in the backfield; Willis had nice jets in the open field (and a bit of a fumble problem), while Rouse caught a few passes out of the backfield. Bobby Swigert, BC's No. 1 receiver as a freshman in 2010 and its No. 2 in 2011 and 2012, has missed the last two seasons with injury but is scheduled to return in some capacity this fall. Junior Harrison Jackson is a former star recruit who missed last fall to injury.

Still, the odds are decent that sophomores will lead the team in rushing, passing, and receiving. Meanwhile, freshmen and redshirt freshmen could play a key role up front.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Josh Bordner WR
37 27 346 73.0% 17.8% 62.2% 9.4 27 9.3 60.0
Bobby Swigert (2012) WR 6'0, 199 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8620 37 22 249 59.5% 8.7% 64.9% 6.7 N/A 6.6 33.9
Dan Crimmins WR
34 25 305 73.5% 16.3% 67.6% 9.0 10 8.6 52.9
Shakim Phillips WR
32 13 282 40.6% 15.4% 59.4% 8.8 107 8.8 48.9
Charlie Callinan WR 6'4, 224 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8210 28 13 149 46.4% 13.5% 39.3% 5.3 -20 5.7 25.8
Sherman Alston WR 5'6, 163 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7958 21 16 175 76.2% 10.1% 38.1% 8.3 -13 8.8 30.3
David Dudeck WR 5'11, 194 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 14 13 148 92.9% 6.7% 28.6% 10.6 0 13.5 25.7
Marcus Outlow RB 5'10, 203 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8506 14 11 103 78.6% 6.7% 50.0% 7.4 -25 7.4 17.9
Harrison Jackson (2013) WR 6'2, 207 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8145 10 5 46 50.0% 4.1% 25.0% 4.6 -23 8.5 7.3
Bobby Wolford FB 6'2, 248 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8404 8 6 40 75.0% 3.8% 87.5% 5.0 -31 3.3 6.9
Tyler Rouse RB 5'8, 194 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 5 4 44 80.0% 2.4% 20.0% 8.8 -3 4.7 7.6
Gabriel McClary WR 6'3, 204 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8392 4 2 12 50.0% 1.9% 25.0% 3.0 -13 3.9 2.1
Nat Dixon WR 6'3, 185 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8000 3 1 6 33.3% 1.4% 100.0% 2.0 -8 N/A 1.0
Drew Barksdale WR 5'11, 198 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8178 2 0 0 0.0% 1.0% 50.0% 0.0 -3 0.0 0.0
Thadd Smith WR 5'9, 175 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8675 1 0 0 0.0% 0.5% 100.0% 0.0 -1 N/A 0.0
Michael Giacone TE 6'5, 254 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8419
Louie Addazio TE 6'3, 252 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8082
Tommy Sweeney TE 6'5, 246 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7939
Nolan Borgersen WR 6'3, 200 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8371
Chase Pankey WR 6'1, 179 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8362

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 114.8 2.79 3.65 41.0% 71.7% 19.7% 77.9 6.9% 9.9%
Rank 20 88 34 42 34 72 106 103 102
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Career Starts Honors/Notes
Andy Gallik C 41 2014 2nd All-ACC
Bobby Vardaro LG
45
Ian Silberman RT
20
Seth Betancourt LT
16
Harris Williams RG 6'3, 296 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8347 14
Aaron Kramer RG
12
Jon Baker LG 6'3, 281 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8547 1
Dave Bowen LT 6'7, 289 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7815 0
Frank Taylor C 6'3, 297 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8739 0
Jim Cashman RG 6'7, 301 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8434 0
James Hendren OL 6'7, 293 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8429
Sam Schmal OL 6'6, 294 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8183
Austin Stevens OL 6'3, 270 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7826
Chris Lindstrom OL 6'4, 260 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8275
Anthony Palazzolo OL 6'5, 330 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8590
Aaron Monteiro OL 6'6, 208 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8464
Wyatt Knopfe OL 6'2, 265 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8449
John Phillips OL 6'6, 285 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8390

5. Steve Addazio usually has a good OL

'The offensive line is the ultimate of the team,' Addazio says. 'That is the epicenter of a cohesive unit that depends on each other. There’s an accountability factor in there. "You can count on me. You can trust me." That comes with time. That comes with shared pain and sacrifice. That’s what builds those great offensive lines. Whether they’re the most talented line is really not relevant. It’s not just a bunch of good players. It’s a bunch of good players that know how to work together and rely and count on each other.'

-- Grantland's 'College Football Coaches’ Guide to Rebuilding an Offensive Line From Scratch'

Addazio was running offensive lines long before he was running offenses, and even if you didn't know that, you knew that. Everything about him screams, "I like to yell at 300-pounders." He spent 16 years as a power-conference line coach at Syracuse, Notre Dame, Indiana, and Florida.

From 2005-10, Florida only once ranked outside of the Adj. Line Yards top 30 and ranked first in 2008 and 2009. His first BC line ranked 40th, and despite losing starting guard Harris Williams early, last year's ranked 20th.

Addazio and line coach Justin Frye go way back -- Addazio coached Frye at Indiana, and Frye was an OL grad assistant at Florida before serving in his current role at Temple and BC. Given a decent baseline of talent and experience, one should assume these two will figure out how to build a competent line.

It will take a while for that baseline to be reached, however. Williams returns, as does sophomore Jon Baker, who spent time in the rotation last year. After that: who knows? Career reserves Frank Taylor and Jim Cashman are back, but the odds are good that multiple true and redshirt freshmen will see the field. (And let's not even think about what might happen if there are injuries.)

Addazio knows just how important a good line is, but it's almost impossible to see this line performing very well this year. Next year, though? That's easy to see.

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Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.85 72 IsoPPP+ 101.1 61
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 38.8% 31 Succ. Rt. + 110.6 30
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 31.2 38 Off. FP+ 99.0 78
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.3 63 Redzone S&P+ 109.5 34
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 14.0 ACTUAL 14.0 +0.0
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 11 55 41 61
RUSHING 2 33 28 48
PASSING 68 69 55 73
Standard Downs 44 46 44
Passing Downs 77 48 93
Q1 Rk 49 1st Down Rk 44
Q2 Rk 36 2nd Down Rk 56
Q3 Rk 28 3rd Down Rk 30
Q4 Rk 112

6. A strong D for 45 minutes

Seems like all Don Brown was missing was a few more warm bodies. The coordinator crafted what we might call the BC defensive prototype last year: a mean bunch with disruptive ends and linebackers that stuffed the run and blitzed well on passing downs.

The 59-year-old Brown knows Northeastern football about as well as anybody; he has been the D.C. at Mansfield, Dartmouth, Yale, Brown, UMass, Maryland, and UConn, and he spent 12 years as head coach at Plymouth State, Northeastern, and UMass. He knows what kind of talent he can find, and he knows how to use it.

He needed just a few more pieces last year. BC ranked 49th in first-quarter S&P+, 36th in the second quarter, 28th in the third ... and 112th in the fourth. The Eagles's scoring margin was plus-90 in the first three quarters and minus-25 in the fourth. Some of that stems from garbage time stats, but BC played in a lot of close games, so that's not necessarily a big impact. In six losses, the Eagles were outscored in the fourth quarter by a 47-15 margin.

The biggest regression happened in the secondary; BC allowed passer ratings under 130 in the first and third quarters but went to 149.4 in the second and 132.5 in the fourth, which makes sense when you see that the Eagles lost two regulars to injury. Still, there were thinner teams out there; in theory, BC isn't too far away from playing 60 minutes of stellar ball.

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 111.3 2.47 2.17 35.1% 60.9% 27.0% 99.3 4.3% 9.8%
Rank 30 13 4 27 29 4 67 73 25
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Kevin Kavalec DE 6'2, 253 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7982 13 35.5 5.3% 10.5 3.5 0 0 0 0
Connor Wujciak NT 6'3, 300 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8679 13 25.5 3.8% 7.5 3.0 0 0 1 0
Brian Mihalik DE
13 23.5 3.5% 5.5 4.5 1 1 0 0
Truman Gutapfel DT 6'3, 281 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7914 13 19.0 2.8% 5.5 1.5 0 1 0 0
Malachi Moore DE 6'7, 273 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8026 13 15.5 2.3% 6.0 4.0 0 0 0 0
Mehdi Abdesmad (2013) DT 6'7, 286 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7800 4 13.0 1.7% 3.5 2.0 0 0 0 0
Seyi Adebayo DE
13 10.5 1.6% 4.0 3.0 0 0 0 0
Harold Landry DE 6'3, 245 So. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8606 13 8.0 1.2% 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Nick Lifka DT
13 5.0 0.7% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Noa Merritt NT 6'0, 268 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7756
Jack Cottrell DE 6'4, 247 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8519
Kevin Cohee DE 6'2, 257 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8295
Joseph Vitiello DE 6'4, 262 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8238
Evan Kelly (Richmond) DT 6'1, 285 Sr. NR NR 14 38.5 5.1% 6.0 6.0 0 1 2 2
Zach Allen DE 6'5, 235 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8461
Wyatt Ray DE 6'3, 230 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8447
Ray Smith DT 6'1, 264 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8393








7. Opponents knew to throw

The BC pass defense wasn't terrible; the Eagles ranked 55th in Passing Success Rate+ and 67th in Adj. Sack Rate and brought the QB down on one of every 10 passing downs pass attempt. Still, the pass D lagged far behind the run D, and opponents knew it.

BC's run defense did a nice job of both slicing open opposing lines (fourth in stuff rate) and forming a net within about five yards of the line of scrimmage (27th in opportunity rate). It was a riddle few solved; only Pittsburgh gained more than 170 rushing yards, and only Pitt and Colorado State averaged better than 4.2 per carry.

While there's some turnover that must be accounted for -- linebacker Josh Keyes had 7.5 non-sack TFLs, which suggests he was an excellent run stuffer -- enough exciting pieces return to assume the run defense will again be stout. Both starting tackles (Connor Wujciak and Truman Gutapfel) are back, as is one-time starter Mehdi Abdesmad, who missed most of last year with a knee injury. Plus, end Kevin Kavalec and linebackers Steven Daniels and Mike Strizak (combined: 16.5 non-sack TFLs) are coming off of breakthrough campaigns.

Two interesting names could provide a level of depth BC didn't have. Sophomore Connor Strachan is a former four-star recruit who only got his feet wet, and Evan Kelly, a graduate transfer from Richmond who was something of a pass-rush specialist from the interior is aboard for his senior season.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Steven Daniels MLB 6'0, 257 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8511 13 58.0 8.7% 7.0 1.5 1 1 0 0
Josh Keyes SLB
13 55.5 8.3% 11.5 4.0 0 0 1 0
Mike Strizak WLB 6'2, 239 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8789 13 32.0 4.8% 5.0 1.0 1 0 0 0
Sean Duggan MLB
11 27.0 4.0% 2.5 0.0 1 0 0 0
Matt Milano SLB 6'1, 218 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8220 12 16.5 2.5% 3.0 1.0 0 1 0 0
Connor Strachan MLB 6'2, 230 So. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8810 13 8.5 1.3% 1.0 0.5 0 0 0 0
Ty Schwab WLB 6'1, 222 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8266 12 1.5 0.2% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Christian Lezzer SLB 6'0, 215 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8140 8 1.5 0.2% 1.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Tim Joy LB 6'1, 223 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8075
Kevin Bletzer LB 6'2, 217 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7992
Jimmy Martin LB 5'11, 220 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8307
Tanner Karafa LB 6'3, 230 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8439








Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Justin Simmons FS 6'3, 201 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8156 13 69.5 10.4% 2 1 2 5 0 0
Manuel Asprilla CB
13 63.0 9.4% 4 0 0 9 0 0
Dominique Williams SS
13 49.0 7.3% 4 0.5 1 3 0 0
Ty-Meer Brown FS
13 36.0 5.4% 3 1 1 2 0 0
John Johnson CB 6'0, 198 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7919 8 21.5 3.2% 1 1 0 2 0 0
Bryce Jones CB
5 18.5 2.8% 1.5 0 1 2 0 0
Kamrin Moore CB 5'11, 192 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8367 13 18.5 2.8% 0.5 0 0 4 0 0
Sean Sylvia SS
13 13.0 1.9% 1.5 0 0 1 0 0
Isaac Yiadom CB 6'1, 184 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8396 13 10.0 1.5% 0 0 0 1 0 0
Atem Ntantang CB 5'11, 193 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7844 12 2.0 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Allen Dawson DB 6'0, 191 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8017
Cameron Seward DB 6'0, 223 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8373








8. Opponents will probably throw some more

The losses up front could hurt the pass rush more than anything. Josh Keyes and departed ends Brian Mihalik and Seyi Adebayo combined for 11.5 sacks last fall, and all are gone. The rush probably won't suffer much, but any regression could hurt, considering the turnover in the backfield.

Because of injuries to John Johnson and Bryce Jones, Don Brown had to play quite a few DBs; nine ended up making at least 10 tackles.

But only four of those nine return. Senior Justin Simmons is a keeper at free safety, and corner Kamrin Moore (four pass breakups) showed play-making potential as a freshman. After Simmons, Johnson, Moore, and sophomore Isaac Yiadom (about whom little is known), however, is a second string full of new names. Only Simmons has been a long-term contributor.

Granted, there aren't many proven passers on the 2015 slate, but this is problematic.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Alex Howell 6'5, 214 Sr. 65 42.5 4 16 21 56.9%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Alex Howell 6'5, 214 Sr. 67 58.8 18 2 26.9%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Joey Launceford 14-18 4-4 100.0% 0-0
Mike Knoll 6'0, 207 So. 13-15 2-3 66.7% 1-1 100.0%
Alex Howell 6'5, 214 Sr. 8-9 2-2 100.0% 3-9 33.3%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Myles Willis KR 5'9, 194 Jr. 34 26.3 1
Sherman Alston PR 5'6, 163 So. 15 8.3 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 41
Field Goal Efficiency 110
Punt Return Efficiency 64
Kick Return Efficiency 19
Punt Efficiency 75
Kickoff Efficiency 13
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 84

9. Got a kicker?

That BC managed to rank 41st in special teams efficiency despite ongoing issues at place-kicker is impressive. Myles Willis was one of the ACC's better kick returners, Sherman Alston's punt returns were efficient, and Alex Howell's kickoffs were high and easy to cover. But Joey Launceford missed PATs in four different games and got demoted twice. Howell proved accurate inside of 40 and awful outside of it, and then-freshman Mike Knoll eventually settled into the role a bit.

If either Knoll or Howell can provide steadiness here, this should be a top-40 unit.

2015 Schedule & Projection Factors

2015 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. S&P+ Rk
5-Sep Maine NR
12-Sep Howard NR
18-Sep Florida State 17
26-Sep Northern Illinois 78
3-Oct at Duke 54
10-Oct Wake Forest 89
17-Oct at Clemson 15
24-Oct at Louisville 32
31-Oct Virginia Tech 26
7-Nov N.C. State 48
21-Nov vs. Notre Dame 16
28-Nov at Syracuse 73
Five-Year F/+ Rk -1.2% (60)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 53 / 64
2014 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin* 1 / 2.4
2014 TO Luck/Game -0.5
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 9 (3, 6)
2014 Second-order wins (difference) 8.2 (-1.2)

10. A mulligan

Scouting the opposition

BC wasn't likely to make a bowl in its first year with Addazio but did. I expected the Eagles to step backward last year, and instead they surged ahead again.

Maybe they'll have more surprises in store, but even if they don't, this year's a mulligan. He's surprised twice, so if BC regresses, it's a freebie, not only because of the past but because of the future.

Boston College will be breaking in underclassmen in quite a few big roles -- quarterback, receiver, defensive back, pass rush, most of the offensive line two-deep. That could mean 2015 struggles, but there's enough potential here to be confident in a 2016 rebound.

Two late-September home games will tell us most of what we need to know. Florida State visits on September 18 (a Friday night), and NIU comes to Chestnut Hill eight days later. The Eagles will be a sure underdog in one and a favorite in the other, but while FSU will tell us how BC shapes up athletically, NIU is speedy and confident enough to pull an upset on a young squad. Go 1-1 in those (and don't slip up to Maine in the opener), and that will be a sign that BC is competitive enough to have a chance at seven wins.

And man, if these Eagles reach a bowl in a rebuilding year, 2016-17 could be a lot of fun.