13 Returning Starters (6 on Offense, 7 on Defense)
Top Players: QB Matt Ryan, RB L.V. Whitworth, RB Andre Callender, OG Josh
Beekman, DT B.J. Raji, LB Brian Toal, CB DeJuan Tribble, FS Jamie Silva
Ask yourself this: When was the last time Boston College wasn’t good? Tom O’Brien
has done an excellent job overall, and the Eagles have won at least seven games
every year since 1999. They have won eight games or more every year for the past
five seasons. They have been to a bowl game every year since 1999, and they have
gone 6-1 in those bowls.
The Eagles return 13 starters this season, and their team looks to be
basically the same as all of Tom O’Brien’s teams. They aren’t that
athletic, but they are a well-coached team that plays solid defense and likes to
run the football.
BC’s offensive line should be their offensive strength in 2006. They also have
two good running backs in L.V. Whitworth and Andre Callender, either of which is
capable of rushing for 100 yards on any given day. They will run behind an
offensive line that returns three starters and is headlined by All-American
candidate Josh Beekman at right guard.
The Eagles only averaged 145 yards per game on the ground last year, which
ranked just 59th in the nation. They will look to get back to their old ways
this year by pounding out the tough yardage on the ground. Look for them to run
behind the veteran right side of the offensive line, where Beekman and tackle
Gosder Cherilus return.
That being said, the line still has some question marks. Jeremy Trueblood and
Patt Ross departed, and if a suitable replacement can’t be found for Ross at
center, Beekman may have to slide over. But BC always puts a good line on the
field, and this year should be no difference.
Boston College lacked playmakers on the offensive side of the ball last year,
so they moved the explosive Will Blackmon to receiver from cornerback. He
responded by catching 51 passes for 763 yards. However Blackmon is gone, as is
second leading receiver Larry Lester.
Overall, the Eagles lost three of their top four receivers, including tight
end Chris Miller. Tony Gonzalez (28 receptions) and Kevin Challenger (16
receptions) must respond. The tight end position is also a big question mark
heading into the season, though Vanderbilt transfer Jon Loyte will win the
Boston College is very experienced in the defensive secondary. DeJuan
Tribble, Ryan Glasper and Jamie Silva are all returning starters, and Larry Anam
has a lot of experience as well.
The Eagles only ranked 62nd nationally in passing defense last year, but this
group, which features two seniors and two juniors, has another year under its
belt. They probably won’t be the class of the ACC, but they should play well,
except when they are matched up against a team with very athletic receivers,
such as Virginia Tech and Florida State.
Last year Boston College had one of the top linebacking corps in the ACC.
Former VT recruiting target Brian Toal was very good as a sophomore, and seniors
Ray Henderson and Ricky Brown were three year starters. This year could be a
Toal returns and is a strong candidate for All-ACC honors. However Jolonn
Dunbar and Tyrone Pruitt will have the unenviable task of replacing the steady
and experienced Henderson and Brown. At 5-11, 218, Pruitt is a bit undersized
for strong side linebacker. And at middle linebacker, Dunbar weighs in at just
Power running teams could have success running against the Eagles this year
because of those size problems. BC was fifth nationally against the run last
year, but that will not be the case in 2006. Huge defensive tackle B.J. Raji
(6-1, 337) will have to keep opposing linemen off the undersized linebackers.
BC’s biggest game is September 9th against Clemson. The Eagles won in
overtime in Death Valley last year and get the Tigers at home in 2006. Clemson
could be caught looking ahead to their September 16 showdown against Florida
If Boston College knocks off Clemson in week two, they could be 5-0 when they
host Virginia Tech for a Thursday night ESPN game on October 12.