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ACC Preview: Eagles continue to build

Boston College and head coach Steve Addazio are coming off of a fairly decent 7-6 season, but a poor ACC record of 2-6. While the Eagles showed potential last season, they still are far behind the ACC Atlantic’s three contenders – Clemson, Florida State and Louisville.

BC is fortunate enough to only be losing six starters from last year’s team. However, one of which is starting quarterback Patrick Towles.

Although Towles did not light up the stat sheet, he did lead the team in many ways. The one-year starter had a QBR of 110 and had over 2,000 yards of total offense. Other than him the only other player on offense who will not be returning is tackle Jimmy Lowery, who was also a one-year starter.

Last season BC was a more defensive oriented team being ranked 9th nationally in total defense. The Eagles are losing four players on that side of the ball. One of the players that will be missed is defensive back John Johnson. He was second on the team in tackles last season and led the team in interceptions with three.

Many considered Johnson to be the backbone of the defense. They’re also losing defensive end Kevin Kavalec, who was second on the team in tackles for loss.

While they have lost some solid players they return a majority of their talent. Offensively they return starting running back Jon Hillman, leading receiver Michael Walker and two other starting receivers as well as starting tight end Tommy Sweeney. The Eagles also return all but one offensive lineman.

On the defensive side of the ball they are returning a lot of talent, including linebacker Connor Strachan. He led the team in tackles last season as well as in fumble recoveries. Next to him in the linebacking corps is third leading tackler Tyler Schwab.

With only the loss of Johnson in the defensive backfield, they have three starters returning in Kamrim Moore, Isaac Yiadom and Will Harris. The most impressive player returning is defensive end Harold Landry, who had 16.5 sacks and was in contention for several defensive player of the year awards.

The biggest question for BC is who will take over at the quarterback position. With four returning starters on the offensive line, whoever takes over behind center will have an experienced offensive line in front of him.

The top contenders for the position are redshirt freshman Anthony Brown and redshirt junior Darius Wade.

“The quarterback play is so critically important,” Addazio said. “Both of these guys, Anthony Brown and Darius Wade, did some great things throughout the spring. Throwing the ball, command of the offense, putting us in and out of good plays, leading the team, we saw some really good quarterback play. And I think that we’ve got depth, we have depth at that position now, and that’s the first time we have had that kind of depth and that level of play. So that will help our offense incredibly.”

Wade was expected to get time as a starter in 2015 before an injury sidelined him. It seems as if Brown may be taking over to build a longer future for BC. With all receivers returning and Sweeney at tight end, there is not much competition going on in those positions.

“I thought Darius had an exceptional spring, and he capped it off with an exceptional spring game,” Addazio said. “He’s really learning how to lead that football team. He’s always had a good skill level. I think part of what makes you gain experience is the adversities that you go through.

“Darius has handled all of that, and I would say he has had his biggest growth and development this off-season. That’s always a great thing, to watch a young man do that, so I’m really excited about Darius and happy for him. I want to see him continue to grow at the same rate that he did this off-season.”

Wide receiver A.J Dillon looks to get some time at running back after averaging a solid 5.7 yards a carry when running the ball.

On defense, defensive end Zach Allen, who had a stellar year as a backup will be expected to step into a starting position with little push from any other players. With the linebacking corps returning their two leading tacklers, Max Richardson and Sherieff Grice are looking to get more playing time.

In the secondary the biggest question is who will replace Johnson. The two top candidates that have stepped up in the spring and look to take over are Gabriel McClary and Taj Amir-Torres.

 

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