Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pre-Season Preview: Boston College Eagles

2009 Record: 8-5 (5-3 in ACC)
2009 Bowl: Emerald Bowl (lost to USC 24-13)
Final 2009 AP Ranking: Not Ranked
Head Coach: Frank Spaziani (9-5 at Boston College)
Non-Conference Schedule: Weber State (9/4), Kent State (9/11), Notre Dame (10/2), Syracuse (11/27)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 24.8 points per game (9th in ACC)
Rushing Yards/Game: 137 (6th in ACC)
Passing Yards/Game: 186 (8th in ACC)
Total Yards/Game: 323 (9th in ACC) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 19.8 points per game (3rd in ACC, 19th in Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 103 (2nd in ACC, 14th in Nation)
Passing Yards/Game: 224 (10th in ACC)
Total Yards/Game: 327 (4th in ACC)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: -0.23 per game (9th in ACC)
Penalties: 43 yards per game (1st in ACC, 19th in Nation)

Returning Starters
Offense: 8
Defense: 6
Kicker/Punter: 1

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Dave Shinskie, Sopk (148 of 287 for 2041 yds, 15 TD, 14 INT, 157 ypg)
Rushing: RB Montel Harris, Jr (308 carries for 1457 yds, 14 TD, 4.7 ypc, 112 ypg)
Receiving: WR Colin Larmond Jr, Jr (29 rec, 596 yds, 5 TD, 2.2 rpg)
Tackles: LB Luke Kuechly, Soph (158)
Sacks: DT Damik Scafe, Sr (2); DT Kaleb Ramsey, Jr (2)
Interceptions: FS Wes Davis, Sr (3)

ACC Unit Rankings
QB- Phil Steele #9; Athlon Sports #8
RB- Phil Steele #2; Athlon Sports #3
WR/TE- Phil Steele #10; Athlon Sports #11
OL- Phil Steele #3; Athlon Sports #2
DL- Phil Steele #6; Athlon Sports #6
LB- Phil Steele #1; Athlon Sports #2
DB- Phil Steele #8; Athlon Sports #8
ST- Phil Steele #11

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Athlon Sports: #34
Phil Steele: #30
Sporting News: #34

2010 Pre-Season ACC Atlantic Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #3
Phil Steele: #2 (tied with Clemson)

2010 Bowl Prediction  
Athlon Sports: Independence Bowl (vs. BYU)
Phil Steele: Independence Bowl (vs. Air Force)

Boston College went 8-4 in the regular season last year under first year Head Coach Frank Spaziani. BC should have a better offense this year as they won't be relying on a freshman QB and they have Montel Harris back (almost 1,500 yards rushing last year). They have a real shot at the ACC Atlantic Division if they get a couple of breaks. We spoke with the SB Nation Blog BC Interruption to get more details on the 2010 Boston College Eagles.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team?

A major strength of the 2010 Eagles team is on the offensive line. While the Eagles do lose All-American center Matt Tennant, they do return 9 of the top 10 offensive linemen, which is good for #8 in FBS. In addition to a strong offensive line, BC’s running game will also be a strength. The Eagles are led by junior RB Montel Harris, who is poised to break all sorts of Boston College rushing records in his final two years on the Heights. BC will need to give Harris some support, however, as BC may have overused Harris a bit during his sophomore year (308 carries, 1,554 yards).

One glaring weakness of this team is in the receiving corps. The Eagles will have to replace Rich Gunnell, the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards. BC will turn to Colin Larmond Jr. to be the #1 receiver in a very young, inexperienced receiving corps. The other glaring weakness is at quarterback, where the incumbent starting QB Dave Shinskie hasn’t done much to distinguish him from a pack of sophomore and freshmen QBs.

Looking at the schedule who will be the first major test and why?

The Eagles should coast through their first two games of the season (Weber State and Kent State) and will face their first major test of the season on September 25 when they face Virginia Tech. BC has struggled with the Hokies historically, most recently on the wrong end of a 48-14 beatdown in Blacksburg last season. However, BC has also played Virginia Tech tough at home of late and are 2-0 against the Hokies in Alumni Stadium since joining the ACC. Also, the Eagles get an off week early this season, and will have an extra week to prepare to host the Hokies.

What team on the schedule do you fear the most?

While Virginia Tech will be the toughest team on the Eagles’ 2010 schedule, the team on the schedule that I fear the most is the October 16 trip to Tallahassee to take on Florida State. This game will have huge implications in the ACC Atlantic Division title race, and BC can ill-afford to lose the head to head tiebreaker to the Seminoles if they have any hope of winning the Atlantic Division this year.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

The best player nobody is talking about may be senior DT Damik Scafe. Last season, the Eagles did a woeful job of getting pressure on the quarterback and it will fall onto the shoulders of Scafe and redshirt freshman Dillon Quinn to get more pressure on opposing QBs and stuff the run.

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

Without question, the best offensive player on the team is Montel Harris. Harris had a breakout sophomore campaign, rushing for 1,554 yards on 308 carries. With running back Josh Haden transferring after the Notre Dame game, Harris took over most of the rushing duties. In two years as BC’s feature running back, Harris has broken both the freshman and sophomore rushing records for attempts and yards, and now is the sole owner of the record for most rushing touchdowns in a single game (5, set in BC’s 52-20 beatdown of N.C. State last season). To a fault, Spaziani may have overused Harris last year, and will look to distribute the workload a little more evenly this season.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team?

Luke Kuechly had a phenomenal freshman campaign, leading the conference in tackles and finishing second in the country. His 12.2 tackles per game were the highest average for any freshman since the NCAA began tracking tackles in 2003. Kuechly has been receiving all sorts of preseason All-Conference accolades and stands to be the linchpin of a very good Eagles’ linebacking corps. With the return of 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year Mark Herzlich, BC’s LBs should be one of the stronger units in the nation.

What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach its full capability?

Senior defensive end Alex Albright has been plagued with injuries throughout his three years on the Heights. Hopefully Albright will stay healthy this year and anchor a defensive line that must get more pressure on opposing QBs if the Eagles hope to reach their full potential.

Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

All eyes are on true freshman WR Shakim Phillips (6’2”, 191 lbs.). Phillips is one of the Eagles’ most highly touted WR recruits and he can make an immediate impact in a receiving corps that has lost Rich Gunnell, Justin Jarvis and Clarence Megwa.

Who is the top defensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

If he sees the field, freshman LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (6’1”, 215 lbs.) could have an impact bolstering an already strong starting LB corps of Kuechly, Herzlich and senior Mike Morrissey.

Who is your early pick to take the ACC? Are there any teams flying under the radar that you think will be better than predicted?

Even though Georgia Tech won the ACC last year, the most consistent and strongest football program in the conference over the last 5 years has been Virginia Tech. Until proven otherwise, I think you have to defer to Virginia Tech as this year’s ACC Champion. Their Atlantic Division slate of games is very manageable (at BC, at N.C. State, Wake Forest) and the only way they get tripped up in the Coastal Division is if they can’t come out of a tough, two game stretch in late November unscathed (at Georgia Tech, at North Carolina).

Homer pick aside, Boston College annually flies under the radar. The schedule sets up nicely (Coastal Division opponents include Duke and Virginia) and Clemson may be without the services of starting QB Kyle Parker, which could have a significant effect on where the Tigers finish in the Atlantic Division. The general consensus is that BC will finish third in the Atlantic behind Florida State and Clemson, but I could easily see them finishing right behind FSU or winning the division for the third time in six seasons.

Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?

As I said, I think the schedule sets up nicely for BC this season. This is the year to capitalize when you face both Duke and Virginia on the other side of the conference. The non-conference schedule is also very manageable, with two near sure-fire wins (Weber State and Kent State) and more traditional rivals going through a bit of a rebuilding phase (Notre Dame and Syracuse). Right now, my gut tells me the Eagles again get to 8-9 wins in the regular season. If I had to wager a guess, I’ll go with 9-3 knocking on the door of another Atlantic Division title.

A successful season is probably 8-4. Anything less, particularly with the schedule and returning a lot of pieces, would probably be a disappoint on the Heights.

BC Interruption is the place to go for Boston College sports. Visit their site during the year and follow them on twitter @bcinterruption. 

Previous ACC Previews
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Maryland Terrapins

Next Up: Florida State Seminoles

2010 Previews

Big 12- Kansas State Wildcats, Missouri Tigers, Texas Tech Red Raiders
Big East- Cincinnati Bearcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, USF Bulls, West Virginia Mountaineers
Big Ten- Michigan WolverinesMinnesota Golden Gophers, Northwestern Wildcats, Purdue Boilermakers
Conference USA- Houston CougarsTulane Green Wave, UTEP Miners
MAC- Ball State Cardinals, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, Temple Owls, Toledo Rockets
Mountain West- Utah Utes
Pac-10- Oregon Ducks, USC Trojans, Washington Huskies
SEC- Auburn Tigers, Kentucky Wildcats, Mississippi Rebels, South Carolina Gamecocks, Vanderbilt Commodores
Sun Belt- Troy Trojans
WAC- New Mexico State Aggies


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