The Syracuse Orange football season is getting closer! (It's 42 days away, for those keeping track) And that means we're prepping for this all-important 2015 season at SU. Each week, we'll preview another team on the 2015 Orange schedule, from week one through week 13. Today, we conclude with the:
School: Boston College
#BRAND Slogan: "Ever to Excel"
Alternate #BRAND Slogan Suggestions: "Bahston Cawlege." "We-ah Nawt Hahvad. Fack You."
Recommended Blog: BC Interruption
Coach: Steve Addazio, 3rd year. Inheriting a program that had fallen on some hard times a few years ago, Addazio got right to work instilling a tough, grind-it-out mantra that the then-senior laden team bought into immediately. He doesn't try to out-gameplan himself and doesn't go out and recruit 5-stars at every position. Rather, he just plays to a system that works for the Eagles' personnel, stresses fundamentals and lets the team handle the rest. So far, it's worked... which may make you, Syracuse fan, slightly bitter.
2014 Record: (7-6) (4-4)
Recapping Last Season:
Losing a bunch of seniors from a 2013 team that exceeded every expectation laid before them, there were thoughts that BC could take a step back or two in Addazio's second season. Instead -- and despite ample reasons why they shouldn't have -- BC looked even better last year, hanging tight with opponents every weekend and ending up a couple breaks from a nine-win (or more) campaign. The marquee victory, which is one of several differentiators with the Orange right now, was over a top-10 in impressive fashion. The 37-31 win over USC last September announced to the college football world that the Eagles were "back." It was the type of win that made their swift rebuild irrefutable.
Crazier still, Boston College really only did one thing particularly better than most: they ran the damn ball. And ran it well. Pushed by quarterback Tyler Murphy, who racked up nearly 1,200 yards on his own, BC had the nation's 15th-best rushing attack, including three different players over 400 yards on the ground. Their passing game was among the worst in the country (124th overall at just 129 yards per game), but that highly effective, bruising run game completely negated the weakness of the pass. At quarterback, Murphy failed to impress throwing but did not hurt the team too much either. He understood the limitations of his receivers and took off as necessary (which was a lot). That's an effective QB.
Over on the defensive side, the Eagles were stout, holding opponents to just 21 points per game. They weren't ballhawks at all (forced just 14 turnovers in 13 games), but they knew how to keep teams in check at the line of scrimmage -- as is typical with any quality BC squad. They were 35th in sacks and 25th in tackles for loss. A then-young line of Kevin Kavalec, Connor Wujciak, Brian Mihailk and Truman Gutapfel (among others) were stifling and smart. And all played well above their recruiting evaluations. Again: all the product of good coaching.
History with Syracuse: Outside of Penn State and maybe West Virginia, we historically care about Boston College more than any other opponent that was/is on the annual schedule. The Eagles and Syracuse have faced one another 48 times, with the Orange holding a distinct 29-19 advantage over their Northeast brethren. As you already know, we have a trophy now, even if it's just between two SB Nation blogs. We'd also be remiss not to mention some of the more enjoyable outcomes for SU in the all-time series, in particular, those involving Diamond Ferri and Josh Parris.
2015 Season Outlook:
Just like last year, the narrative is Boston College taking a step back. Only this time, it won't affect the upward trajectory of the program. The Eagles lose a slew of starters, returning about nine or so depending on who you ask. In their place is a mixed bag of upperclassmen and young guns, and without the recruiting numbers to give faith in a freshman/sophomore surge, it's easy to see why the outlook may be knocked down a peg from the last couple years of bowl bids and tight matchups.
But even with those absences, there's still plenty to like about BC, much to your (and my chagrin). Running back Jon Hilliman returns to keep this team moving the ball well on the ground, while the receivers could be addition by subtraction given how little the group was used last season. Three of four return on the aforementioned defensive line, plus two of three come back at linebacker as well. Given the team's consistent success in the front-seven, that's a very good sign for this fall's returns.
On the other hand, though, Murphy was the key to last year's offensive success and he's no longer on campus. The entire offensive line must be replaced, and those aforementioned receivers could also go the other way (subtraction by subtraction). Whether it's Darius Wade or Troy Flutie under center, there's going to be a distinct step back at the QB position, and that learning curve could be made worse by the line's relative inexperience. The secondary's best player -- free safety Justin Simmons -- is back, but it's tough to say how much help he'll get from his very young cohorts on the depth chart.
Syracuse Game Date: Saturday, November 28
Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
Odds of Orange Victory: 55 percent
Very Early Outlook:
Syracuse gets a slight advantage here because of the home game, and the fact that BC will be coming off what should be a pretty tough game the weekend before vs. Notre Dame. That doesn't mean the Orange are clearly the better team. But a senior QB and promising linebackers on the SU sidelines should be able to match up well with this BC team that may or may not even be healthy by this juncture. Both teams could be playing for their bowl lives too. And as much as Syracuse has had some questionable returns under Shafer, they have answered the call in pressure situations. This will likely be a pressure situation. Orange win. All your #OrangeEagle points belong to us.