Sorry Eagles fans, I would like to tell you that 2011 was just some crazy nightmare, and that you will soon wake up from it. The dismal 4-8 season was the worst since 1998. The offense was downright offensive, averaging less than 300 yards of offense for the second straight year. The defense gave up over 20 points per game for the first time since 2007, and the most since 2003. And while this is a new year with a lot of the same cast of characters back, that doesn't necessarily mean things will improve a lot.
The Eagles are on their fourth offensive coordinator in three years. And that can't help in Chase Rettig's development. Rettig improved on his completion percentage last year, but only to 53.6%. Rettig also threw at least one interception in eight of 12 games, and was sacked eight more time last year compared to his freshman season.
There are three running backs who could see time this year. Juniors Rolandan Finch and Andre Williams and sophomore Tahj Kimble will see the work at running back. Finch led the team with 705 yards rushing, and Williams led the team with four touchdowns. Kimble really stood out in spring practices, and should find his way in to some more carries.
There really isn't a guy that can stretch the field in a big way. Colin Larmond had the highest yards per catch and the longest receiving play on the team, but he only caught 34 passes last year. Bobby Swigert has been a very reliable target in his two years on campus, catching 83 passes. Alex Amidon could be a guy to watch. If he can get on the field, he could be a sleeper. Chris Pantale has been a solid tight end in his three years on campus. He has 77 career catches.
The strength of the offense coming in to this year will be the offensive line. With four starters returning, and a lot of the backups back, this until will be able to sustain an injury or two and still be fine. They should be able to open some more holes for the running backs, and should be able to keep Chase Rettig upright and in the pocket more.
While it wasn't a great defense for BC last year, the team did allow under 20 points per game in four of their last five games, and only allowed over 400 yards of offense once in the final five games. But the defense only sacked the quarterback 11 times last year. To put that in perspective, five players had more than that last year. And after allowing 83 yards per game rushing in 2010, the defense allowed 151 yards per game last year. This means the defensive line will need to step up big time this year. The question is if the line is good enough to attack the quarterback. Last year's leader in sacks is gone, and the leading returning sacker had two. The entire defensive line returning this year totaled four. Dominic Appiah had half of those. He might be the guy to watch on the defensive line.
Just how important was Luke Kuechly to Boston College's defense last year? He had a hand in 22% of the team's tackles. He nearly had as many tackles as the next three tacklers combined. To say he was a magnet for the football might be an understatement. I doubt anyone on BC's roster will account for that many tackles this year. Kuechly's replacement, Sean Duggan, played a decent amount last year, and did show signs as a freshman of being a guy the defense can count on.Steele Divitto is a guy I like, not just for his ability, but you have to like that name. Divitto is one of only two returning players to have a sack and an interception last year for the Eagles. Kevin Pierre-Louis is the team's leading returning tackler with 74, and also leads among returners in tackles for loss.
I'll be honest. The secondary really isn't that good. They helped allow 243 yards passing per game, the highest since 2007. There is some turnover in the secondary this year. Al Louis-Jean is a new starter who did show a little promise in limited playing time last year. Manuel Asprilla had a solid freshman campaign, and looks to improve on that. Jim Noel is the other player on the defense who returns after having a sack and an interception, and Sean Sylvia started two games, played in 11, but is fifth among returning players in tackles.
Kicker Nate Freese had a down year last year, going 10-16 on field goals after being nearly automatic his freshman year. Gerald Levano is the new punter. Although he's a senior, he has yet to punt in a college game. Spiffy Evans, a receiver, is slated to be handle punt and kick return duties. He did return 23 kicks last year, averaging over 21 yards per return.
Boston College's roster features players from 21 states, ranging from New Hampshire to Washington, and three countries (USA, Canada, Germany).
I don't think it's that far fetched to think Frank Spaziani could be on the hot seat this year. The team's win total has dropped every year since he took over, and the frustration is prevalent with the fan base. I think the offense will be a little better this year. I am concerned about Chase Rettig. Even though I like what he can do, I thought he would progress more than he has. Maybe the offensive line has had something to do with that. The defense still concerns me. The Eagles couldn't sack the quarterback last year, and with most of that cast back this year, it's hard to believe they will improve that much this year. And with no dominant player on defense, who steps up for them? The schedule has a couple of tough stretches in it where I don't think BC will win. I think they will miss out on a bowl again this season.