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Weekly Kickoff: A New Year on the Heights

USA - Education - Boston College Photo by Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images

How is it the end of August already?

Boston College freshmen moved into their dorms on Thursday, shortly followed by the upperclassmen, and now all of those Eagles will be filing back into their classrooms this week. It’s a very familiar time of year, filled with memories of making new friends, reconnecting with old ones, figuring out my new class schedule, and waiting in that terribly long line for my books at the BC bookstore. I’m jealous of all of you who get to experience it once again (or for the first time!). That campus is really a special place for all of us.

And now on Saturday, for the first time in 40 weeks, Boston College football will take the field at Alumni Stadium. It’s been an interesting offseason for the team to say the least, between a coaching staff overhaul, big roster changes, and expectations from the national media completely bottoming out. BC was picked to finish 13th out of 14 teams in the ACC, an indication that the team is not expected to bounce back from their dreadful 3-9 campaign last year. But those preseason predictions are often offbase, with many Boston College teams often outperforming expectations just because the national media doesn’t give us a whole lot of respect.

Will that be one of those years? It’s tough to say. I do think Boston College will finish better than 13th in the conference if not for just the ridiculously easy schedule set before them. The Eagles’ only ACC opponent in the preseason top-25 is FSU, while the remainder of their schedule is focused on the schools that are likely to finish in the bottom half of conference standings. But I also think they’ll be a lot better because of what made them so bad last year: the offensive line.

BC had a ton of good pieces in 2022, but an utterly useless OL made it impossible for any of those pieces to actually get their jobs done. Without any run-blocking, the BC RBs were completely stifled and the passing game suffered from a lack of ground support. On the other side of the ball, the defense was constantly on the field because of how bad the offense was, tiring them out and giving way to some bad performances that they could’ve avoided. There were a lot of cases in which the BC defense performed admirably for extended periods, but they got so tired out that eventually the opponent’s offense broke through. With a fixed offensive line, everything can start to function again. It can make way for a turnaround that will seem very dramatic, but was really just behind the curtain this entire time.

Their first game will be a good test of this theory. Northern Illinois is not a pushover of a team and could certainly win this game themselves, but they don’t have the same level of pure talent that the Boston College players have. With an entire offseason to reconstruct the roster and re-calibrate the offense, a victory in this game is essential. It will at least demonstrate that this team is capable of evaluating their problems and overcoming them, something that didn’t even seem possible a few games into the 2022 season.

And to top it all off, it looks like Saturday will be a sunny, 82 degree day. I can’t think of a better way to kickoff your September than a beautiful day at Alumni Stadium, seeing old friends, and getting your hopes up once again for a football team that will, eventually, break your heart in some kind of way.