As the 2012 college football season inches closer, we'll take a look at the previews of Boston College football from various publications and web sites. We'll start with Athlon Sports College Football. The overview doesn't provide much in the way of new material to BCI regulars well versed in the state of the program. But there are still a few interesting tidbits in there to review.
Here's how basically every preseason preview breaks down for Boston College football: The offense has been easily the worst in the ACC the last two seasons. Spaziani is counting on first year OC Doug Martin to turn around the offense this season, to succeed where many others couldn't. Martin is the fourth man to hold the position over the last three seasons. Can he successfully mentor Chase Rettig and turn around an offense that has failed to put up points in conference play?
Most season previews focus on the offense and don't pay much attention to the D, assuming that a Spaz / McGovern-led unit will again be solid. But it seems like the rest of the ACC is taking note of a defensive unit that goes into the season with some major questions. Cue anonymous opposing ACC assistant coach:
"Frank Spaziani's teams have always been strong on defense, but this year will be interesting. For the first time in three years they won't have either a Mark Herzlich or Luke Kuechly anchoring the defense." - An opposing ACC assistant coach
Refreshing to see another ACC assistant pick up on what I think is going to be the difference between a 3-9 and a 7-5 season this year. One simply can't expect an offense that has been worst in the conference for two years running to improve that dramatically with more or less the same personnel that they had last season. Sure, the offensive line will be improved from the disastrous first half of 2011, but this is a unit that averaged just 17.4 points per game in conference games last year (and 16.8 the year before). Even if the offense has a complete 180, this offense isn't going to be lighting up the scoreboard in ACC play. In my mind, the season hinges on the defense's ability to build and improve on a 'meh' season by Spaziani defense standards. If the D can't keep the team in games, the offense certainly won't be able to keep up and it might be another long year for BC.
Offense: Athlon seems to think that Rettig has the tools necessary to succeed, but needs to "refine his fundamentals and play with more consistency." After the dismissal of Montel Harris, Rolandan Finch is mentioned as the one to become the "feature back" over Andre Williams, who is briefly mentioned. Requisite "issues with ball security" mention when discussing Finch. BC also lacks the receiver that can stretch the field. Swigert, Larmond Jr. and Amidon are all referred to as "possession receivers." Spiffy Evans may be the speedster in the receiving corps. The strongest unit on that side of the ball is the offensive line. Four of five starters are back, and "they are all good."
Defense: Lots of question marks on defense. The front four less Max Holloway (NFL Draft early enrollee) is referred to as an "undersized and vulnerable unit" though Kaleb Ramsey returns and Brian Mihalik will replace Holloway. The LB corps similarly has its work cut out for itself as two former Bombers (Daniels and Duggan) attempt to fill the big shoes left by another St. X backer. KPL is referred to as the best player on D, while Divitto has "a lot of untapped upside." Athlon mentions the secondary got a "bum rap" due to the Eagles' inability to get pressure on opposing QBs. ALJ takes Fletcher's spot, while Noel and Sean Sylvia are "high-functioning safeties."
Specialists: Freese is mentioned to have "recovered from a bad start" to become a reliable option at kicker. I'm not sure I agree with this. He was only 1-4 during the second half of the year after starting the season 9-12. Two of those misses were in the Maryland game, so weather, OK, but missed his only attempt in the N.C. State game (41 yards). His only FG during the entire second half of the year was a 30-yarder in the Miami game. When the schedule got tougher, the offense simply couldn't put the team in a position for Freese to even attempt field goals. Passing mention of Gerald Levano replacing Quigley at punter -- which, no joke, is huge -- and no mention of the return men, though Spiffy is listed as both the punt and kick returner.
Final Analysis: States the (very) obvious that if we have a repeat of last season, Spaziani is gone. OK. Looking into the crystal ball based on this prediction, the boosters, alumni and student body clamoring for Spaz's head are going to get their wish. Athlon has the Eagles pegged for 3-9, 1-7 ACC. Dead last in the ACC Atlantic Division and 86th nationally. Yep, even worse than Duke.
In the end, Athlon is probably the least high on the Eagles chances to rebound in 2012 predicting BC to lose one more game than they did in 2011. The disturbing part is I think this prediction is based more on personnel than it is on the schedule (which they don't touch on ... it's difficult, and only includes six home games). Athlon is NOT high on the Eagles talent level going into the season, ranking the quarterbacks, wide receivers / tight ends, defensive line and the defensive backs 11th best in the conference and ahead of only Maryland (QB), Georgia Tech (WR/TE), and Duke (DL and DB). Only one player -- OL Emmett Cleary -- cracks Athlon's first or second Preseason All-ACC teams.