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Syracuse football 2020 opponent preview: Boston College Eagles

“Dudes” no more in 2020.

Boston College v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Sure, there’s a chance that the 2020 college football season doesn’t start on time — or at all. But until we hear otherwise, it’s worth continuing with business as usual.

The Syracuse Orange have 12 games this year, starting with the season kickoff at Boston College. Given how Syracuse put together their non-conference schedule, the Orange could’ve very well been stuck with a week one bye or a trip to Clemson (not sure which is worse). But luckily the Eagles helped us out. Now, we get to see if the week one matchup actually helps the Orange or harms them starting off a critical season for Dino Babers and his staff.

If you think it’s a little early to be talking about upcoming opponents, you’re probably right. Whether we’re coming off a five-win season or a 10-win season, though, I’m personally excited to see what 2020 turns into for the Orange. And since I run this place, we’re already diving into the coming year’s opponents, starting off with the...

Boston College Eagles

School: Boston College

Mascot: Eagles

#BRAND Slogan(s): #WeAreBC OR #GetIn

Alternate #BRAND Slogan Suggestions: #DudesNoMore OR #GetOut

Recommended Blog: BC Interruption

Conference: ACC

BC Football Spring Drills Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Coach: Jeff Hafley, first year. Hafley’s pretty experienced in the Northeast, having played at Siena in the late 1990s and then heading to WPI as a running backs coach shortly thereafter. He headed to Albany in 2002 and stayed there through 2005, before jumping over to Pitt as a defensive assistant. He headed to Rutgers in 2011, then the NFL (the Buccaneers) in 2012. Hafley joined the Browns’ staff in 2014, then the 49ers in 2016. After a decent-sized absence from the college game, he headed back as a member of the 2019 Ohio State staff, serving as co-DC and secondary coach. Now he takes on his first head coaching job with BC.

2019 Record: (6-7) (4-4)

Recapping Last Season:

Boston College was challenged with avoiding going 7-6 in 2019, and they pulled it off — barely, but didn’t want to keep chief dude Steve Addazio around given the program seemingly getting stuck in neutral. A 4-4 start didn’t really show much, and while they scored big wins over Syracuse and Pitt in the back third of the season, the Eagles were also stomped by Notre Dame and Cincinnati (while losing a close one to Florida State).

Anthony Brown found himself injured once again, unfortunately, so despite a solid start to the year (1,250 passing yards, nine TDs and just two INTs), the passing game was basically non-existent for the Eagles. Between Brown and Dennis Grosel, the Eagles were 113th in passing yards per game and leaned heavily on the rushing attack. That was a bit easier when you have a quality offensive line and a player like AJ Dillon (1,685 rushing yards and 14 scores) running the ball so well. David Bailey’s 844 yards on the ground were obviously nothing to sneeze at either, as we saw first-hand at the Dome last year.

On defense, Boston College was as rough as they’ve been in some time. The Eagles replaced a lot from 2018, and as a resut were 125th in terms of yards allowed per game and let up 32.2 points per game (101st in the FBS). BC’s interceptions were nearly cut in half year-over-year (from 18 to 10) and sacks dipped considerably as well (from 33 to 19). This was not a team that got much out of its defense, obviously. We’re experts in that sort of thing, though, so we know what it looks like.

Boston College v Pittsburgh Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

2020 Season Outlook:

Importantly for Boston College, they changed coaches this offseason, bringing in Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley to run the show. Perhaps just as importantly, BC will be forced to make complete offensive and defensive overhauls via videoconference — not an ideal solution for the Eagles or the many other teams in similar boats. Given his NFL experience, Hafley’s brought in NFL coaches on both sides of the ball: Former Packers QB coach Frank Cignetti last called plays with the Rams in 2015, while Tem Lukabu is a first-time DC and last coached linebackers with the Bengals.

Both Brown and Dillon depart for BC’, and the former’s transfer to Oregon means a competition at quarterback. Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec is one of several players competing for the job, and one of the only ones who’s completed a college pass. Cignetti’s coached QBs for a while, so his experience there is potentially helpful. Bailey returns to take the reins at running back, and there’s a fleet of capable young backs to help him out. Though it’s unlikely the new offense leans as heavily on the rushing attack as this team did under Addazio.

The defense is a nice mix of experience and youth, and seven of the top seven tacklers from last year are back. Linebackers have long been a strength for Boston College’s defense and that seems likely again with starting linebackers all back and an NFL linebacker coach coming in the door. BC’s inability to generate a ton of pressure last year won’t be helped in the immediate term by senior departures, but there are enough returning players to pick up the slack.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the layout of this schedule. Syracuse, Kansas, Purdue, Clemson, Louisville and Virginia Tech are six of the first seven opponents for the Eagles. Ohio, the only team to break up that collection, could also prove a challenge. That means a tough start for the Eagles, even if improved. The back portion of the slate’s no easy stretch either. This looks rough.

Boston College v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Syracuse Game Date: Friday, September 4

Location: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Odds of Orange Victory: 55 percent

Very Early Outlook vs. Syracuse:

Syracuse would really love to exact some revenge against Boston College following last year’s drubbing at the Dome, and though the current offseason situation doesn’t help either team, the Eagles do seem to be at a larger disadvantage. We know what Bailey is, but a lot hangs on how much the passing game can show up in early September. The defense should be better than last year’s disaster, but that could take a few weeks to come together. I’m not convincing myself SU will be all that sharp either to start things off (we saw last year’s opener), but I do think they’re in slightly better shape... so long as the O-line looks more like what we saw to close last season. Give me a close win for now, but I’m far from confident in that fact.