Next up is a preview of the Boston College defensive line. The 2021 iteration of this unit by and large left plenty to be desired. Teams were able to cut right through the line on the ground (170.8 ypg) and the pass rush was severely lacking (1.75 sacks/game).
All that being said, there’s still a bit more context to consider. Vince Oghobaase’s group was put in a tough spot from the get-go. Defensive tackle Chibueze Onwuka was sidelined before the season began with an Achilles injury, a massive blow for a team with little depth on the inside. Onwuka was taking massive strides and headed for a big season, anchoring the defensive line. Without him, the defensive line showed some sieve-like tendencies. Now he returns as a veteran leader on the team and a whole host of others gained valuable experience. Cam Horsley should pair with Onwuka inside. The now-junior started nearly every game and has been a steady presence for a few years.
Now the Eagles have a bit more depth at the position. Khris Banks made some key plays during the season and finished with 2.5 sacks and tackles for loss. Ty Clemons is another name to watch along the line, as he performed admirably in only his freshman year. Izaiah Henderson started three games last year at nose tackle as well after coming back from injury in 2020.
On the ends, senior leader Marcus Valdez missed a handful of games early in the year due to injury as well. He still managed to lead the team with five sacks. Shitta Sillah might be on the other end and is poised for a big season. Sophomores Donovan Ezeirauku and Neto Okpala both found the field and made impact plays as freshmen, and will see a heavier role this time around. Ezeirauku, in particular, raised some eyebrows with his play and could definitely compete for the starting job.
There are a handful of other younger guys who could fight their way into the mix or be forced into action. Edwin Kolenge is a freshman with great size. Quintayvius Hutchins is a redshirt freshman who could line up on the outside.
Improvement along the defensive line is a major priority this season. All things holding, the unit can exceed expectations.