Friday, August 1, 2008

Life Without Matt Ryan: Boston College Preview

BC Coach Jeff Jagodzinski scoffs at doubters
ACC Atlantic #5 - Boston College Eagles

2007 Results and Offseason:
Boston College won 9 games for the 4th straight season in 2007 behind the strong arm of QB Matt Ryan. The Eagles rose all the way to #2 in the nation and made an appearance in the ACCCG. Despite losing out on the ACC Title, BC won their 8th straight bowl game. BC lost star QB Matt Ryan, but will gain two starting defenders out in 2007.

2007 Record: 11-3 (6-2)
Ret. Starters: 10
Ret. Lettermen: 39
Off PPG: 26.6 (4th), RYPG 83.8 (10th), 348.8 (1st)
Def PPG: 20.6 (4th), RYPG 72.9 (2nd), 275.3 (12th)

Offense (6 Ret. Starters, 15 Ret. Lettermen)
The departure of Matt Ryan leaves a big void at QB for BC. With so many close games last year, the Eagles were not able to get a lot of game snaps for the backup Chris Crane. Crane has just 40 career passes despite entering his senior season. The BC rushing attack was an afterthought most of the season because they didn't need to run. Gone are Andre Callender and LV Whitworth. Stepping into their place could be true freshman Josh Haden who took part in Spring practice. The Boston College receivers are one of the more underrated groups in the conference. No burners in this group, but they run routes well and catch the ball. Junior Rich Gunnell was the leading target last year. Tom O'Brien sent many O-lineman to the NFL and his development paid off for Jeff Jagodzinksi in his first year. The Eagles will have to replace 3 starters from a unit that allowed sacks on just over 3% of Ryan's pass attempts last season.

Defense (4 Ret. Starters, 22 Ret. Lettermen)
The D-line was very effective last year ranking #2 nationally in rush defense. Two starters were lost but one will be regained from 2006 (BJ Raji). This unit should provide very solid play again. At LB, BC gets back arguably their best defender from 2006, Brian Toal, from shoulder surgery last season. ACC second teamer Jo-Lonn Dunbar and his 90 tackles will have to replaced though. In the defensive backfield, just 1 starter returns from last season. 1st Team AA Jamie Silva and both CBs are gone from last season. The pass defense stat is a little misleading considering BC was up on most teams last year.

Special Teams:
Former walk-on Steve Aponavicius returns for his senior season after an inconsistent junior campaign. The punter and kick returners will have new faces this season.

Newcomers of Note:
The aforementioned Haden will likely see time at TB. Also P Ryan Quigley may win the job in fall practice. QB Justin Tuggle is the son of former All Pro LB Jessie Tuggle of the Atlanta Falcons.

Schedule:
Non conf. opponents include @Kent State, vUCF, vRhode Island, and vNotre Dame. BC has won 5 straight against Notre Dame and has always been a thorn in the Irish side. The Eagles drew @UNC, vGT, and their permanent opponent vVT from the Coastal. BC has seven straight after an Oct 11 bye including trips to FSU and Wake in two of their final three games.

Final Thoughts:
Boston College always seems to fly under the radar in August as people over look their talent and coaching. The QB development will be a huge key to their success with the inexperience at the position. I do think BC takes a step back this season because of that inexperience, but I would not be shocked to see them challenge for 9 wins again.

Prediction:
Likely Wins: @Kent State, vRhode Island
Likely Losses: None
Swing Games: vGT, vUCF, @NC State, vVT, @UNC, vClemson, vND, @FSU, @Wake, vMaryland

7-5, 3-5

My Duke, NC State, and Virginia Previews.

Check back Sunday for ACC Coastal #4 Preview.

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