In 2015, Boston College may have been the single most perplexing team in the entirety of college football. Defensively, the Eagles were among the best teams in the nation, finishing the season with the third-best defense in the nation according to the NCAA S&P+ defensive rankings. But for as good as Boston College was on defense, they were equally bad, if not worse, offensively in 2015, coming in at No. 124 in the NCAA offensive S&P+ rankings.
The duality of BC's game shows up in the final scores of their 2015 schedule. The Eagles allowed 27 or more points only once (Clemson put up 34 against them) but also failed to ever score more than 17 in any of their 10 games against FBS opponents. The inability to get on the board doomed Boston College to a 3-9 record (0-8 in ACC play), the worst-such mark in head coach Steve Addazio’s three years at the helm.
Last season, Florida State traveled to Chestnut Hill for a Friday night matchup with Boston College in week three of the season. In the ACC opener for both teams, FSU blanked BC, 14-0, riding an incredible defensive performance while the Seminoles offense provided only one touchdown on 217 yards of total offense. This year, the teams will meet on a Friday for the second straight season, facing off in a Veterans Day game on November 11th in Tallahassee. As for the rest of BC’s 2016 schedule, outside of a midseason clash with Clemson on October 7th, the Eagles’ two hardest games both come late in the season in back-to-back weeks in the form of a home matchup against Louisville right before the trip to Tallahassee. Regardless of ACC play, the Eagles should see their wins total rise in 2016 solely due to their soft non-conference schedule which will seem them play no power-five teams, opting instead for recent FBS initiate UMass and FCS foe Wagner as well as games against Buffalo and UConn.
SB Nation's Bill Connelly released his Boston College preview on Thursday. The entire article is a must-read but below are a few excerpts.
In his preview, Connelly discussed Boston College’s quarterback battle which is fully underway between the returning signal callers and Kentucky transfer Patrick Towles:
BC featured a unique quarterback battle this spring. With Jeff Smith and Troy Flutie both tentatively moving to receiver, that left Darius Wade, walk-on John Fadule, and Kentucky graduate transfer Patrick Towles. Wade showed decent run-pass (but mostly run) potential before he got hurt last year, rushing 18 times for 103 yards (not including sacks).
Towles isn't going to run very much but has had his moments gunning the ball around. He didn't have ENOUGH of those moments in Lexington, but in singular performances -- 22-for-27 for 249 yards and two scores against Missouri in 2015, 24-for-43 for 390 yards and two scores against Mississippi State in 2014 -- he was brilliant.
The choice of Wade vs. Towles is as much about style as quality. Combining Wade with a bull like Hilliman and explosive (and inefficient) options like Tyler Rouse and Myles Willis could give BC a dynamic run game if the principles remain healthy, especially if the line takes a step forward after giving freshmen and sophomores 26 starts last year (and adding Jimmy Lowery, a nearly three-year starter at Eastern Illinois).
On the other hand, if you don't think you can get enough efficiency out of those running backs, you could go with more of a pass-first attack by having Towles distribute to juniors Thadd Smith, Charlie Callinan, and Drew Barksdale, sophomores Elijah Robinson and Michael Walker, and countless running backs and tight ends.
Knowing Addazio's style, and acknowledging that Wade was evidently quite a bit better than Towles in the spring game (even while seemingly working on a pass-heavy attack), I figure the former is more likely. But it's nice to have options, right?
Connelly also addresses a BC defense that returns many players from last year’s team but could very well struggle to emulate last year’s success:
Reid has quite a bit to work with with the return of three of the top five on the line, two of three linebackers, and five of six defensive backs. But injuries will almost certainly hit this unit harder than they did last year, and without the strong core of end Mehdi Abdesmad, tackle Connor Wujcak, and middle linebacker Steven Daniels, it's easy to wonder if the recipe has been altered a bit too much. Last year's defense was uniquely brilliant; this year's may be only good.
It’s hard to believe that Boston College’s offense will be as dreadful as it was in 2015. That being said, it’s seems equally unlikely that the Eagles’ defense will have the same level of success as it found a season ago. Still, a team so polarizing will be very interesting to watch throughout 2016 and if they are able to figure out how to score by November 11th, the Eagles could provide a late-season challenge for the Seminoles.