2014 CFN Preview - Boston College Eagles
Boston College LB Steven Daniels
Boston College LB Steven Daniels
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 26, 2014


CollegeFootballNews.com Preview 2014 - Can transfers Tyler Murphy and Shakim Phillips shake up BC? (Getty Images)


Boston College Eagles

Preview 2014
 

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By Rich Cirminiello

Head coach: Steve Addazio
Second year: 7-6
Returning Lettermen
Off. 12, Def. 18, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best BC Players
1. C Andy Gallik, Sr.
2. LB Steven Daniels, Jr.
3. QB Tyler Murphy, Sr.
4. S Sean Sylvia, Sr.
5. WR Shakim Phillips, Sr.
6. CB Manuel Asprilla, Sr.
7. RB Myles Willis, Soph.
8. S Dominique Williams, Sr.
9. OG Bobby Vardaro, Sr.
10. DB Bryce Jones, Jr.
2014 Schedule

Aug. 30 at UMass
Sep. 5 Pitt
Sep. 13 USC
Sep. 20 Maine
Sep. 27 Colorado State
Oct. 4 OPEN DATE
Oct. 11 at NC State
Oct. 18 Clemson
Oct. 25 at Wake Forest
Nov. 1 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 8 Louisville
Nov. 15 OPEN DATE
Nov. 22 at Florida State
Nov. 29 Syracuse

With the wind at their backs, the Eagles are hoping to soar in the face of wholesale changes on both sides of the ball.

Now that second-year head coach Steve Addazio has succeeded in changing the culture at BC, he and his coaching staff plan to make winning a habit on the Heights. Sure, there'll be challenges ahead, like finding replacements for RB Andre Williams, WR Alex Amidon and LB Kevin Pierre-Louis. Addazio, though, has already completed the heaviest lifting in Chestnut Hill, getting an entire program to rethink its potential.

Boston College was a starkly different team in 2013, more confident and a lot more physical on both sides of the ball. The talent was essentially the same as it was in 2012, yet the program made the leap from two wins to seven prior to a New Year's Eve bowl loss to Arizona. Addazio has already been a game-changer across the board for the Eagles, and he's only begun the process of building BC into a perennial winner.

In the short-term, the Eagles will need to retool during the offseason, especially in the offensive backfield. Four-year starting QB Chase Rettig and Williams, who led the FBS in rushing, have graduated, leaving holes to fill at both positions. Rettig's shoes are likely to be filled by Florida transfer Tyler Murphy, a Connecticut native originally recruited to be a Gator by Addazio. If Murphy gets help from the skill position players, like RB Myles Willis, former UConn WR Shakim Phillips and rehabbed WR Bobby Swigert, the attack could be pleasantly diverse for a change.

On D, Boston College has a long list of priorities, from locating new edge rushers to coaching up the secondary. Last season, bad things often happened when the ball was in the air. The 108th-ranked Eagles pass efficiency defense allowed 26 touchdowns passes, while picking off just nine. The silver lining is that everyone is back for another year, though but no job will be safe this summer. Addazio will ride the four best defensive backs, regardless of their age and experience level.

The objective at Boston College this season is to add a new level to the foundation, while erasing any possibility that 2014 was a one-and-done fluke. Addazio is building something that will have a lasting effect on the program at a macro level. His Eagles are unquestionably moving in a positive direction, even if they veer sideways on the field this fall.

What to look for on offense: More roll-outs and designed scrambles for the quarterbacks. Now that Tyler Murphy has returned to the Northeast to finish his college career, the Eagles could have their most athletic quarterback since Doug Flutie was on campus three decades ago. The former Florida Gator is not only agile, but he has excellent pocket awareness as well. Murphy affords BC options it didn't have a year ago, and Steve Addazio and the assistants plan to maximize the quarterback's unique set of skills.

What to look for on defense: The search for pass rushers. Boston College took a quantum leap in sacks in 2013, going from six in 2012 to 36 last fall. But who'll attack the pocket now that DE Kasim Edebali and LB Kevin Pierre-Louis are gone? Senior Josh Keyes is capable of mimicking Pierre-Louis coming off the edge. Replacing Edebali, though, will be considerably harder. Fingers are crossed that sophomore Kevin Kavalec's three-sack effort in the spring game is a harbinger of things to come in September.

The team will be much better if ... the pass defense starts acting its age. Each of the four defensive backs who started the final 10 games return. But will the results be any different? They'll have to be, especially since the front seven isn't expected to provide as much support as a year ago. In last season's six losses, Boston College gave up at least 34 points in five of those games. In most instances, the leaky secondary was the culprit for the Eagles' defensive woes.

The Schedule: While the Eagles have to deal with September games against Pitt, USC and Colorado State, there aren't any complaints with how the first half of the year is set up with five games in a row at home after starting out the year with a "road" game against UMass in Foxboro. The payback comes in a big way over the second half with four road games in six including dates at Virginia Tech and Florida State. The two home games? Clemson and Louisville. Closing out at home against Syracuse should help.

Best Offensive Player: Senior C Andy Gallik. In Chestnut Hill, everything begins up front for an offense that gets its identity from a blue-collar, north-south running game. None of the team's blockers is better than Gallik, a two-year starter and a Third Team All-ACC selection. He's the glue of a front wall that'll be looking to replace a couple of tackles, Matt Patchan and Ian White. Gallik sets the tone with his heady leadership and his ability to open holes for the running backs.

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Steven Daniels. As the lone returning starter at the second level, Daniels will assume a much bigger assignment on defense in 2014. He's a stout run defender, with the lower body strength to anchor against opposing offensive linemen. Daniels is strong and tough at the point of contact, shedding blocks en route to the guy with the ball. With so many newcomers to the lineup in the front seven, the junior will be asked to take on more of a leadership role, both physically and emotionally.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore RB Myles Willis. Under Addazio, the Eagles are a run-first offense program, whose identity is derived from its ability to move a pile. Willis is not going to be a reincarnation of All-American Andre Williams, but he will be a focal point of the system. The 5-9, 192-pound playmaker should get at least 20 touches a game, which will afford him a chance to zip through the defense. Willis will also be a factor in the passing game, especially until Boston College mines a few go-to receivers for QB Tyler Murphy.

The season will be a success if ... the team returns to the postseason. Boston College has hurdles in 2014. Who doesn't? But Addazio is building the kind of program he hopes can withstand the loss of personnel from one season to the next. The Eagles won't leave the state of Massachusetts until Oct. 11, and the Nov. 22 trip to Tallahassee is the only time they'll be a prohibitive underdog. Bowling for a second straight year will send a message that BC is through with being an Atlantic Division doormat.

Key game: Oct. 11 at NC State. It's at this point of the 2014 season that Boston College might pivot in either direction. Win at Carter-Finley Stadium in the first trip outside state lines, and the Eagles could be sitting pretty in the quest for bowl eligibility. Lose and the team might start to skid, especially with Clemson, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Florida State still remaining on the schedule. BC at NC State also sets the stage for a potentially intriguing duel of one-time Gator quarterbacks, Eagle Tyler Murphy vs. the Pack's Jacoby Brissett.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Passing first downs: Boston College 90 – Opponents 151
- Third-down %: 35% – Opponents 42%
- Sacks: Boston College 36 - Opponents 23

- 2014 Boston College Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players 
2014 Depth Chart & Unit Rankings To Come This Summer