2008 ACC Football Season Preview: Boston College

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Boston College Eagles

Returning Starters: 10 (6 offense, 4 defense, per Phil Steele)

Key Losses: QB Matt Ryan, RB Andre Callender, RB L.V. Whitworth, OT
Gosder Cherilus, OG Ty Hall, DE Nick Larkin, DE Brady Smith, LB Tyronne Pruitt,
LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, CB DeJuan Tribble, FS Jamie Silva, P Johnny Ayers

Key Returnees: WR Brandon Robinson, WR Rich Gunnell, TE Ryan Purvis, C
Matt Tennant, OT Anthony Castonzo, OG Clif Ramsey, DE Alex Albright, DT B.J.
Raji, DT Ron Brace, LB Brian Toal, LB Robert Francois, LB Mark Herzlich, LB
Kevin Akins, LB Mike McLaughlin, CB DeLeon Gause

Overall
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Boston College soared to new heights last year, winning 11 games and
advancing to the ACC Championship Game before eventually falling to Virginia
Tech. They were ranked as high as #2 in the nation, led by quarterback Matt
Ryan. Now Ryan is gone to the NFL, and we’ll get to see exactly how talented
this team is.

The Eagles lost some major players besides Ryan off last year’s team, but
they also get a couple of standout defenders back who missed the 2007 season, DT
B.J. Raji and LB Brian Toal. Matt Crane, Ryan’s replacement, is a r-senior who
should be solid. BC should find themselves back in another bowl game.

Offensive Strength

New Boston College quarterback Matt Crane should have some pretty good
targets to get the ball to. Rich Gunnell (64 catches), Brandon Robinson (56
catches) and Clarence Megwa (30 catches) all return as part of a very
experienced wide receiver corps. Matt Ryan’s talent certainly helped these guys
last year, but they are good players in their own right.

Throw in returning tight end Ryan Purvis, an All-ACC player who caught 54
passes last season, and Crane will have plenty of weapons to help him out on
offense.

Offensive Weakness

Last season was Jeff Jagodzinski’s first year on the job, and in the course
of one season Boston College went from being a tough, physical team up front to
a finesse team. The Eagles’ pass blocking is still very good, but they couldn’t
run the ball against anyone with a decent defensive front last year. After
losing first round pick Gosder Cherilus, as well as senior guard Ty Hall, their
running game won’t get any better this year.

We haven’t even mentioned the running back situation yet. Attempting to run
behind an offensive line that can’t drive block particularly well will be true
freshman Joe Haden. The Eagles’ backfield will be made up of freshmen this year.
The most experienced back is linebacker-turned-fullback James McCluskey, who had
eight carries for 14 yards a year ago.

Although it’s not ideal to place so much pressure on a quarterback who has
never played a meaningful down, Boston College will have no choice next year.
The running game likely won’t be there for them.

Defensive Strength

Boston College will have arguably the most physical front seven in the
conference next year. They did lose end Nick Larkin to graduation, and end Brady
Smith to disciplinary reasons. However, they return mammoth defensive tackle B.J.
Raji, who sat out last season because of academics. Ron Brace, a very good and
experienced player, also returns at tackle.

Despite losing senior linebackers Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Tyronne Pruitt, BC went
six-deep at linebacker last year. They’ll be fine, especially when you consider
that they bring back All-ACC player Brian Toal, who missed last season with an
injury. He’ll join a group of solid veterans such as Mark Herzlich, Robert
Francois and Kevin Akins. BC will be a tough team to run against in 2008.

Defensive Weakness

BC’s natural recruiting territory doesn’t include a lot of exceptional
athletes, so it’s not surprising that their defensive weakness is, as usual, at
defensive back. The Eagles lost a pair of very good starters in cornerback
DeJuan Tribble and free safety Jamie Silva. Tribble was drafted, while Silva led
the team with 8 interceptions and was an All-ACC selection.

DeLeon Gause had a pretty good season at cornerback as a freshman last
season. He should be a solid player, but overall the Eagles don’t have the
talent in the defensive backfield as other ACC teams. They’ll struggle when they
meet a high-powered passing offense such as Florida State.

Will Stewart’s Take: Most Tech fans groaned when BC was announced as VT’s
cross-divisional rival after the ACC expanded to 12 teams, but this is rapidly
turning into a good rivalry. The matchup was a big one in the very early days of
the Big East, but from 1996-2002, the Hokies won seven straight, and BC-VT lost
its luster.

But from 2003-2007, BC won three of four, including last year’s epic regular
season matchup, and that put the spice back into things. VT’s ACC Championship
made it three out of the last five for BC.

The other thing that livened up the relationship was the advent of new BC
coach Jeff Jagodsinski, a guy that Hokie fans love to hate. Dancing the jig in
Lane Stadium after beating the Hokies will earn the ire of the Tech faithful any
time.

Though I like what Jagodzinski adds to the rivalry, I don’t like him, and my
gut says he’ll tank at BC. Sounds spiteful and petty, yes, and as Chris noted,
this year will be the first chapter of that tale. The honeymoon Jags went on
with Tom O’Brien’s players is over. Now we’ll see how the marriage holds up.

Boston
College 2008 Football Schedule

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College 2008 Roster

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College 2008 Depth Chart

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