1. Play of the Front Line: Going into this season, one of the biggest concerns was the defensive line. BC lost Kasim Edebali and Kaleb Ramsey, and Mehdi Abdesmad was a giant question mark going into the season. Many of us questioned what this defense would actually be able to do. Watching them, especially against the run, we saw a group that played above what we expected.
First and foremost, sophomores Kevin Kavalec and Truman Gutapfel emerged as ACC caliber defenders, Kavalec recording 10.5 tackles for loss and Gutapfel becoming a true nose guard. Add in true freshman Harold Landry, senior Connor Wujciack, and transfer Seyi Abedayo, and you actually had depth at the position. BC finished the season 2nd in the country in rushing defense and 35th in sacks, both numbers that are hard to believe if you think back to our expectations before the season.
2. Production of the Freshmen: Looking at the roster before the season it was clear that the freshmen were going to have to step in and produce immediately, and boy did they. First and foremost you have to look at running back Jon Hilliman, who finished 8th in the ACC in rushing with 860 yards and 13 touchdowns. When folks were worried about the loss of Andre Williams, he immediately rose to the challenge. But it doesn't end there; on offense you had Sherman Allston, Marcus Outlow and Jon Baker all starting during the season. On defense we saw freshmen contributors jump right in as well, with Christian Lezzer, Kamrin Moore and Isaac Yiadom. And in the kicking game Mike Knoll...
3. Tight End Disappearing Act (In the Passing Game): Looking at the 2013 passing statistics, the three of the top four targets were tight ends. They combined for 33 catches. This season BC tight ends had one catch. Now I don't know if that was a scheme choice (keeping them in to block), a talent choice (most of the TE's were recruited as blocking TE's) or a combination of both. But for a team that struggled with the short passing game, I was surprised that neither Mike Giacon or Louie Addazio were sent out on flats or short hooks more often. Will be interesting to see if they continue that trend in 2015.
4. Offensive Line's One Year Rebuilding Process: 2013 was a glorious year as the Boston College offensive line returned to its roots. It was rough, it was tough, but also it was senior-heavy. Matt Patchan and Ian White, both tackles, graduated and left numerous questions up front. Add that guard Harris Williams was hurt early in the 1st game, and Addazio was looking at replacing 3/5th of the front line. But that is exactly what they did. The line did well setting up the run, and minus a few miscommunications and errors, they held some of the best defenses at bay. To really see the effectiveness of the line, all you have to look at is the Penn State game: against a defense that allowed an average of 85 yards on the ground, the Eagles were able to pound out 285 yards.
5. Kicking—or lack thereof. This is kind of beating a dead horse here, but it was shocking how putrid our kicking game was this year. There are lots of theories behind it. Whether it was poor form by the kicker or holder, the truth is that BC went through three kickers this year who, in total, missed 8 XPs and seven field goals. This cost BC at least three games, and was absolutely painful to watch. Addazio has gone on record already to say that he is going to fix it this offseason. Getting a new freshman kicker probably wouldn't fix anything, so the question is, what will he do?