There were numerous problems with the offense in 2015, but the most disconcerting had to be the incredible struggles of the offensive line. While they were young, the level at which they played at, and constant mistakes they created, made any sort of consistent offense nearly impossible. Even experienced linemen like Harris Williams and Dave Bowen, who were counted on to be the anchors, struggled, making 2015 one of the worst BC offensive lines in recent memory. But given what we saw out of the line in 2013 and 2014, and the offensive line pedigree that head coach Steve Addazio brings to the program this year we will have to see improvements, right? RIGHT???!!
Expected And Unexpected Losses
BC's offensive line suffered some attrition this offseason, some of it due to graduation (Williams and Bowen), while others were more of a surprise. Frank Taylor, who started at center for the Eagles at the start of 2015, lost most of the season due to injuries, and eventually lost the starting role to Jon Baker. At the end of the season he decided to leave the program. Possibly the biggest loss BC suffered this offseason happened when tackle James Hendren announced he was leaving the football because doctors wouldn't clear him due to multiple head injuries. Hendren, a Brookline native was expected to take over for Bowen at tackle, and his loss is certainly a tough one for the program.
A Valuable Reinforcement Has Arrived
BC found themselves in a position that not many schools want to be in in 2015. Up and down the offensive line depth chart they were forced to plug in true and redshirt freshmen, many of whom had just stepped on to campus in August We all saw what happened, as penalties, missed assignments and just overall bad line play plagued the team all season. Fortunately, we can look at this as a year of learning, as they all now have a year of experience under their belts, and most importantly another year of weight training to build them up. To help ease this transition even further will be Jimmy Lowery an offensive tackle graduate transfer from Eastern Illinois that should slide into the starting line up right away. While at Eastern Illinois, he earned All Ohio Valley Conference honors, while leading the nation in fewest sacks allowed. The line is still very young, but Lowery will be a vital cog moving forward.
Will They Gel?
Even if they struggled mightily last year, one of the positives looking forward is that most of the young guys will be returning and that is a good thing. Listening to coaches speak, they always talk about how important it is for offensive linemen to gel and trust one another. They learn each other's tendencies, and most importantly hopefully communicate better. Last year when it seemed every player was learning on the fly, this kind of cohesion was impossible. But BC has to hope that with a year under their belt, players like Aaron Monteiro, Jon Baker and Chris Lindstrom start to work more as a unit, and open up holes for the running game and continue to gain understanding on reading defenses for pass rush blocks.
True and Redshirted Frosh On The Scene
Even with the returners, BC is going to need to fill in some gaps left behind by the players no longer on the team. Grad transfer Nick Lowery clearly will be taking one, and you have to imagine that will be the starting role that Dave Bowen had last year (or sliding Aaron Montiero over and taking his tackle role). But BC is going to need to use some of their depth to fill in other roles. The favorites for these positions will be probably be the redshirt freshman who didn't see the field last year: Anthony Palazzolo, John Phillips and Wyatt Knopfke. Palozzolo has bulked up to 315lbs according to his BCEagles profile, so he could be slotted in as a tackle if needed, while Knopfke at 285 looks to be a guard.
In terms of the true freshmen, BC has a handful coming in, but none during the spring. Elijah Johnson, Tom Kowalkoski, Sean Ragan, and Shane Leonard all will be joining the team in the fall. Given the depth BC has already on campus, you have to imagine that most of these guys will be redshirting, unless of course they blow the coaching staff away during summer practice.
Projected Offensive Line Two Deep
LT Aaron Monteiro (So.), Sam Schmal (So.)
LG Jim Cashman (Sr.), Wyatt Knopfke (R-Fr.)
C Jon Baker (Jr.) Joel Rich (Jr.)
RG Chris Lindstrom (So.) Austin Stevens (So.)
RT Jimmy Lowery (Gr.) Anthony Palozzolo (R-Fr.)