There have been a lot of positive vibes amongst fans and media members going into the 2018 Boston College Eagles football season. Today the AP had the Eagles at #34 in their poll, writers Phil Steele and Brett McMurphy had them in their top 25, while many other analysts have BC as the possible surprise in the ACC. But let’s look at the other side of this team. What about this Eagles squad could prevent this season from coming up roses? Here are some weaknesses that I have identified that could put a damper on the 2018 season.
Coaching: Steve Addazio is a good talent evaluator, who has done a great job of finding some diamonds in the rough and turning them into ACC/NFL caliber players. Just look at what he has done with guys like Isaac Yiadom, Lukas Denis and Tommy Sweeney. But the biggest critique and one Addazio has yet to shed, is his in game decision making. There was a stat that Tom Fornelli released last week that had the Eagles leading the country (10) in 3 points or less losses in CFP era. Now 5 of those were in the abomination known as the 2015 season, but still Daz has the reputation for struggling in close games. And of course there is his two minute drill play calling, which can be infuriating at times. Questionable play calling, especially on offense has become a hallmark of his tenure, and something he need to avoid this year with multiple top 25 teams on the schedule. Until he can show that he can take out a team, especially a good team, in a close game, this will be an albatross around his neck.
Secondary Depth: BC has two of the best safeties in the country in Lukas Denis and Will Harris and I believe they will help mask deficiencies in the back end of this defense, but you have to look at the cornerback position and have some concerns. Hamp Cheevers is definitely a solid CB, though a little undersized, and Taj Amir Torres is a serviceable #2, but who will BC have at the nickel, and what happens if there is an injury. The Eagles have been using former WR Nolan Borgersen in the secondary, and there is plenty of young talent that could be plugged in, but there isn’t much experience back there. And a position where communication is key, that could take some time to learn something opposing ACC offenses won’t provide.
Kicking: This is always going to be a question mark in a Steve Addazio system. While extra points certainly improved last year (40/43 with all three misses coming against UConn), field goal kicking is still a major worry. Colton Lichtenberg went 13/20 last season, and if BC gets into a field position battle Addazio is going to need a kicker who can put 3 on the board. We have yet to see that in Addazio’s tenure, hopefully that’ll change this year but could be a problem.
Interior Defense Problems: One of BC’s biggest problems on defense last year was the interior play of the defensive linemen. Three games in particular, Notre Dame, Louisville and Wake Forest were games in which opposing offenses just bullied BC inside, and were able to tear open huge holes that led to big explosive plays. Noa Merritt, BC’s most experienced DT is gone, leaving Ray Smith and younger players like TJ Rayam, Jaleel Berry and Kyiev Bennermon to fill the two deep. These players may be fine, as Daz can coach up many of his dudes, but they are still young and a question mark. Teams like Miami, Virginia Tech, FSU, and Clemson can and will establish the run, and if BC’s middle up front can’t close those holes it could lead to more explosive plays.
Quarterbacks: Anthony Brown is back after a major leg injury ended his redshirt freshman season in 2017. We saw glimpses of brilliance against UVA, but there were certainly games where he really struggled. He seemed to be getting it all together when he was lost for the season, so it’ll be interesting to see if can continue to build. He has been slowly acclimating to the rigors of the game during practice, but Addazio has said he’ll be QB1 starting in Week 1. But if he struggles, that could unglue the offense, something this team can’t afford to do. It is doubtful that EJ Perry IV or Matt MacDonald take the reigns from Brown, but if he struggles it is anyone’s guess and that is not a predicament any offensive coordinator wants to be in.
Running Back Depth: It goes without saying that this team’s successes are linked directly to the play of sophomore AJ Dillon. If he goes down, expectations are going to definitely be lowered for the remainder of the season as he is expected to be the centerpiece of this offense. But what is available in terms of depth after Dillon? There is Travis Levy, but from we’ve seen he doesn’t appear to be an every down back, Daz has been using wide receiver Ben Glines and linebacker Davon Jones in that role as well, and there is David Bailey who is a true freshman. This team is missing a Jon Hilliman, a guy who can go in and spell Dillon when he needs a breather (though from reports Dillon is in even better shape than last year) Again, maybe one of these players can jump in and take those reps, but they are a huge question mark going into the season.
So there you have it, five factors that could really throw a monkey wrench into this upcoming season. Is there something about the makeup of this team that has you worried? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.