As part of SB Nation's fantastic college football coverage, Bill Connelly thoroughly broke down and analyzed the 2012 Boston College Eagles. Connelly had a lot of positive things to say about the Eagles. and his opus is well worth the read. So make sure you head over to the article and read the whole post. I will just be recapping why he thinks this year will be better for the BC Eagles.
1. Boston College's collapse coincided with some awful injuries luck. They lost the second-most starts in the country to injury last year -- 24 on offense, 31 on defense.
As I mentioned yesterday in the Emmett Cleary interview break down, this is certainly a piece of why the Eagles struggled but not the whole story. Every team had injuries, but it's interesting to see how affected BC was by the injury bug. With a new strength and conditioning staff and hopefully a little better luck, the Eagles will definitely improve in this area.
2. Last year's injuries are this year's depth. B.C. returns two quarterbacks with extensive starting experience, two running backs who carried at least 124 times last year, their top six overall receiving targets, six offensive linemen with starting experience, six of last year's top nine defensive linemen (including a seventh, who started before getting hurt early on), four of last year's top five linebackers, and nine of last year's top 11 defensive backs. Obviously some of these players have to improve for this to matter, but you'd rather have this level of experience than not have it, right?
I totally agree here. BC has game tested depth at many of their positions though I am hesitant to say the Eagles have depth at the quarterback position. Even if BC may not have the most skilled players in the ACC, they have experience, and that will be helpful moving forward. With the small recruiting class of 2012, it was imperative that the Eagles have experience to fill in for injuries and graduation.
3. The Eagles suffered some poor turnovers luck as well. They only recovered 28 percent of all fumbles (they were the anti-Michigan), and they were hurt by about 1.7 points of injury luck per game. Considering they lost one game by a single point (Duke 20, B.C. 19) and another by two (Notre Dame 16, B.C. 14, albeit with a last-second, mostly useless B.C. touchdown), a little luck in this category could have gone a long way.
Luck may have something to do with BC being 85th in the country in turnover ratio. BC ranked 44th in the country in interceptions and only 44th in the country as well in turnovers made. Fumbles will come with an improved defense, one that puts pressure on the quarterback, and really hits receivers and runningbacks. But then again as Connelly points out, maybe luck will help us out as well.
4. B.C. improved late. We might overestimate bowl performance when it comes to predicting success the next year, but November performance does mean something (especially when combined with a significant number of returnees), and B.C. was a much, much better team in November than it was in September and October.
They certainly did, playing better against N.C. State, Notre Dame and Miami. Though it seemed like the Eagles never put it completely together against any of those teams. The offense in the second half against the Wolfpack was dreadful, and the Eagles failed to put away a disinterested Miami team. Could Doug Martin help fill those gaps and give this team a killer instinct on offense?
5. Recruiting is picking up, if slightly. Spaziani's first recruiting class was a bit of a waste -- Rivals ranked it 70th, and the Eagles averaged just a 2.47 star rating per player -- but the last three classes have averaged 2.86, 2.74 and 2.75 stars, respectively. So far, 2013's class averages 2.90. This is far from spectacular, of course, but if B.C. is becoming more experienced and more talented at the same time, that can't be a bad thing.
Lots have been said here on the incoming class and the lack of interest these recruits are getting from FBS schools. What will be more interesting and telling is how this class shapes up as the year progresses. What will happen if these kids really are diamonds in the rough, and other schools come knocking? Will BC face more Akeel Lynch/Sam Grant/ Jaxon Hoods? Or will the kids stay around. And what happens if these kids never pick up the interest of other schools, what does that say about the shape of BC's recruiting?
6. Frank Spaziani has an odd amount of job security. This is equally a reason for optimism and pessimism considering how poorly Spaziani has done so far, but coaches on the hot seat, making desperation moves, don't usually save their jobs. If Spaziani is capable of turning things around for B.C., he will get the time to pull it off, though it could still be telling that he almost completely overhauled his offensive staff in the offseason. That's typically Chapter One of the Desperation Handbook.
BC fans all know this story. This is a make or break year for Spaz. Will he be able to turn the ship around, fix the offense and bring back the defense that BC fans have known and loved? That is the million dollar question right now.