Syracuse Orange football's quickly approaching, so previews obviously are too. As you already knew (since we're pretty far into these already) we've been taking a look at all of SU's opponents for this fall. The schedule is still as difficult as always. Still, we're choosing an optimistic outlook each week, where possible. Today, we continue with the:
School: Boston College
#BRAND Slogan: "Ever to Excel"
Alternate #BRAND Slogan Suggestions: "The Oh-fer You Could Go For." "Your Offense is Offensive."
Recommended Blog: BC Interruption
Coach: Steve Addazio, 4th year. After engineering a swift bounce-back for the program in year one, things now seem a lot more uncertain for the head man at BC. Addazio's hallmark thus far has been defense, but as those results have increased, the offense has hit rock-bottom. He has time to turn things around, for sure -- he did go 14-12 with two bowl berths to start, after all. But the pressure could begin to build for Addazio to re-right the ship should 2016 continue the downward turn.
2015 Record: (3-9) (0-8)
Recapping Last Season:
Yesterday, I asked Twitter to share gifs that best represented Boston College's 2015 season. They didn't disappoint (congrats to the best entry, from former TNIAAMer Ben Burrows). As you already know, last fall (and winter too, to be honest) was rough for BC. The team lost every game in ACC play, failed to score more than 17 points against any FBS opponents and posted up some of the ugliest scores college football had to offer. Yes, there were injuries -- we should couch some of the criticism with that. And the team did stick around in every game. It's just that every contest was so damn unwatchable.
Those competitive games were largely a result of the Boston College defense. The group was one of the best, if not the best, defense in the entire country. No team allowed fewer total yards per game, and their 15.3 points per game allowed ranked fourth in the country. BC's rushing defense was better than anybody but Alabama's, and the pass defense was sixth. Boston College wasn't out-recruiting anyone. They were out-scheming opponents, which is probably more impressive, and also a testament to then-defensive coordinator Don Brown.
Offensively, however... yikes. The Eagles were among the 10 worst offenses in the country by nearly any measure. No player passed or ran for more than 500 yards. Their top receiver, Thadd Smith, caught just 17 passes for 233 yards (and 66 of those were on one play). Running back Tyler Rouse was the only player to account for more than 40 points on offense. Just four offenses in the entire country averaged under 300 yards per game, and Boston College was one of those. They also failed to score more than 17 points against any FBS opponent.
2016 Season Outlook:
Better, probably. The non-conference schedule gives BC a head start on improvement, as they host Wagner, Buffalo and Connecticut, while also heading to Gillette Stadium to face in-state foe UMass. Facing Georgia Tech in Dublin, Ireland could be a toss-up, and road games against NC State and Wake Forest may not pose enormous challenges. Boston College returns more experience than all but 14 other programs too. On the other end of things, though, Florida State, Clemson and Louisville are all on the schedule still. Virginia Tech is a road game. And even with those players back, there's no telling if they're improved.
Last year's elite defense loses safety Justin Simmons and linebacker Steven Daniels, but the biggest departure may be D-coordinator Don Brown, who's now on the sidelines at Michigan. He's replaced by Jim Reid, whose resume includes recent stops at Virginia and Iowa (and Syracuse in 2004). Reid has also been around the block in New England and served as the Eagles' DC once before (1994). He'll be tasked with replicating last year's success which was predicated on a mix of rushing the passer and a modest number of takeaways (23 last year). Luckily, lead sack specialist Matt Milano returns at outside linebacker, as do four of the team's top six tacklers from 2015 (including Milano).
Offensively, it can't get any worse, so newly-minted coordinator Scott Loeffler will have some leash. Loeffler's mixed success at Virginia Tech seemed to be on the upswing, and he'll at least get his first shot at positive results for BC with an experienced line. The running back situation is in flux but also brings in veterans. Jon Hilliman fractured his foot last season, but returns. And Myles Willis also looks to come back from a season racked with inconsistent field time. A lot will depend on how quickly Kentucky QB transfer Patrick Towles can jump in to grab the starting role there. If he can kick-start a passing game that was among the nation's worst in 2015, the Eagles could utilize a modest offense to help out its strong defensive group.
Syracuse Game Date: October 22
Location: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Odds of Orange Victory: 60 percent
Very Early Outlook:
Don't let the percentage above fool you. This will be a tough opponent for the Orange -- made tougher by the fact that Syracuse has to go on the road against the rival Eagles. Obviously the #OrangeEagle didn't go too well for BC in 2015-16 (so much so that both blogs stopped actively updating point totals). But there's always next season for Boston College to capture its first victory in the series; a win that would be greatly assisted by gridiron success. The Eagles' defense will be the calling card yet again. And if they can slow down Dino Babers's Syracuse offense, it could make for a tiresome afternoon for the Orange. SU's own, green defense could find itself on its heels trying to stop Towles too. Like you, I have faith in Syracuse. Just not enough to lock this one up as a W yet.