#HOTTAEKS From The Football Beat to Kick Off the Season

Boston College football

Michael Sullivan, sports editor

  1. Patrick Towles throws for 2,300 yards with 20 touchdowns (and 11 picks), as Steve Addazio contemplates his entire philosophy of offense by having a quarterback not named Tim Tebow who can throw the ball.
  2. Sharrieff Grice is the starting weakside linebacker by midseason. It’s not that Ty Schwab or Mike Strizak won’t be good. Based on what I’ve seen from practices and scrimmages, though, Schwab seems like more of a middle linebacker. If Jim Reid keeps up the Don Brown tradition, he’ll want a crazy-fast blitzing-type on the edge like Grice.
  3. BC’s offense finishes between 70th and 80th in yards per game, while the defense remains top-five. Last year was such an anomaly that there isn’t a reason for me to believe that the offense won’t rebound well. Plus, Scot Loeffler has a proven track record. And that defense. Well, you know what I think of that defense.
  4. John Johnson, Truman Gutapfel, or Matt Milano will be drafted in the first round, the other two higher than the third. It’s about time someone recognized these guys for the stars they’re going to become.
  5. Boston College will be ranked at some point this year. I don’t mean a high ranking. But the 20s. Call me crazy. I am crazy. (Also, I’m trying this new positive-outlook thing this year.) But it’s not out of the question. Georgia Tech is a winnable game. Virginia Tech is one the Eagles could surprise in. Massachusetts, Wagner, and Buffalo are very easy. 5-0, and then 6-1 with the only loss to Clemson for a Power Five team that has the best defense in the nation is too difficult to ignore.

SEASON: 8-5 (4-4 ACC)
vs. Georgia Tech, W 17-13
@ Massachusetts, W 35-7
@ Virginia Tech, W 24-21
vs. Wagner, W 62-3
vs. Buffalo, W 35-17
vs. Clemson, L 28-13
vs. Syracuse, W 24-14
@ NC State, L 14-10 (OT)
vs. Louisville, L 20-7
@ Florida State, L 27-14
vs. Connecticut, W 28-20
@ Wake Forest, W 14-13
Belk Bowl, Charlotte, N.C vs. Arkansas, L 23-21

Riley Overend, assoc. sports editor

  1. BC will get its first win in Ireland tomorrow, but it won’t be easy. Georgia Tech will push the Eagles into overtime, where Steve Addazio will have to (reluctantly) rely on kicker Colton Lichtenberg for a game-winning field goal. The sophomore is gonna need all of his 186 pounds behind the kick, but it’ll barely clear the uprights for the victory, briefly making fans forget about the infamous missed extra point in the Pinstripe Bowl in 2014.
  2. This year, Addazio is making use of a deep running back unit by assigning Tyler Rouse and Myles Willis as punt returner and kickoff returner, respectively. It will pay off, as BC will receive a much-needed spark on offense in the form of a punt return touchdown—until one of them gets hurt and the ground game is gasping for air again.
  3. A very talented No. 19 Louisville squad is riding a hype train on the heels of a 70-14 win over Charlotte in which quarterback Lamar Jackson registered eight touchdowns in the first half alone. But when the Cardinals make the trek up to Chestnut Hill in November, they will be met by a stout Eagle defense that will hold their explosive offense to a season-low in yardage. BC will come away with its biggest win since 2014 and gain an impressive point on its bowl resume.
  4. At the end of the season, the most NFL-ready Eagle won’t be a member of their feared defense. Although Matt Milano, Harold Landry, and Connor Strachan should all earn All-ACC nods, offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom will turn scouts’ heads when he protects the right side of the pocket for Towles this year.
  5. Lastly, with a chance for BC’s first 8-win season since 2009 on the line, the team will lose its final game on the road at Wake Forest in traditionally heartbreaking fashion.

SEASON: 7-6 (3-5 ACC)
vs. Georgia Tech, W 23-20 (OT)
@ Massachusetts, W 24-13
@ Virginia Tech, L 17-10
vs. Wagner, W 31-16
vs. Buffalo, W 21-20
vs. Clemson, L 34-13
vs. Syracuse, W 24-17
@ NC State, L 24-14
vs. Louisville, W 27-24
@ Florida State, L 30-7
vs. Connecticut, W 20-7
@ Wake Forest, L 13-10
Hyundai Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas, Oregon, L 31-24

Annabel Steele, asst. sports editor

  1. One of the biggest problems last year was lack of consistency in the quarterback position. BC will face no such issue this season, with either Patrick Towles or Darius Wade under center. Yup, there won’t be any need to start any freshman walk-on (former) scout team quarterback.
  2. Sure, the Eagles may have lost some key members of the defense (including coordinator Don Brown). No, that doesn’t matter. Even with the losses, the Eagles’ defensive unit will be one of the country’s strongest for the second year in a row.
  3. Homecoming was hardly exciting or happy last year when Wake Forest managed to beat BC 3-0. You can count on some revenge for that this season. The Eagles will blow the Demon Deacons out of the water on Nov. 26 in the last week of the regular season.
  4. The Eagles will also beat UMass in a blowout at Gillette Field. The air game will be BC’s biggest weapon … almost like the spirit of a certain Boston-based quarterback taking the field with the Eagles. Better check the air pressure in the balls just to be safe.
  5. BC’s going bowling this season! It may be optimistic, but I see seven wins for the Eagles this year. Making any bowl game would be a big deal and show a lot of improvement from last season. With consistency in the quarterback position, a stronger offensive line, and a strong defense, I don’t see why the Eagles can’t do it.

SEASON: 8-5, 3-5 ACC
vs. Georgia Tech: W 28-14
@ Massachusetts: W 35-10
@ Virginia Tech: L 21-14
vs. Wagner: W 42-7
vs. Buffalo: W 31-10
vs. Clemson: L 28-10
vs. Syracuse: W 17-10
@ NC State: L 17-14
vs. Louisville: L 21-7
@ Florida State: L 17-10
vs. Connecticut: W 21-17
@ Wake Forest: W 45-10
@ Pinstripe Bowl, New York, N.Y. vs. Nebraska, W 20-16

Alec Greaney, online manager

  1. BC and Wake Forest put up a combined score in the single digits.
  2. The leaders in rushing carries (Jonathan Hilliman), touchdowns (Tyler Rouse), and yards (Davon Jones) will all be different players.
  3. The marching band do a Harry Potter-themed halftime show for Patrick Towles.
  4. BC’s defense is called overrated until it holds both Clemson and FSU to 20 points or fewer.
  5. Patrick Towles will have more passing yards through two games than John Fadule, BC’s leading passer, had all last season (464).

SEASON: 5-7 (3-5 ACC)
vs. Georgia Tech, W 16-10
@ Massachusetts, W 26-10
@ Virginia Tech, L 24-17
vs. Wagner, W 83-0
vs. Buffalo, W 34-14
vs. Clemson, L 20-13
vs. Syracuse, L 28-7
@ NC State, L 24-16
vs. Louisville, W 16-13
@ Florida State, L 17-16
vs. Connecticut, L 28-19
@ Wake Forest, W 6-3

Tom DeVoto, A1 Editor

  1. BC will have at least one very great win (or at least a strong moral victory) and at least one very terrible loss.
  2. Running back Davon Jones will be BC’s breakout star, and he’ll cement himself as the running back of the future.
  3. For whatever reason, quarterback Darius Wade will see extensive game action this season.
  4. BC will score more points in the Wagner game than it did in all ACC action last season.
  5. Two BC defensive players will be on postseason award watch lists and drafted in the first four rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft.

RECORD: 6-7, 3-5 ACC
vs. Georgia Tech – L 17-14
@ Massachusetts – W 27-7
@ Virginia Tech – L 7-6
vs. Wagner – W 76-10
vs. Buffalo – W 42-14
vs. Clemson – L 31-10
vs. Syracuse – W 14-10
@ NC State – L 28-13
vs. Louisville – L 38-21
@ Florida State – W 21-17
vs. Connecticut – L 14-13
@ Wake Forest – W 24-21
Hyundai Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas vs. Cal, L 28-14

Chris Noyessports staffer/advance scout

  1. BC kickers will convert at least 65 percent of their field goal attempts—The struggles of BC’s field goal kickers in recent years are well documented. Last season, one of the nation’s most beleaguered units made just 6 of 11 attempts (54.4 percent), the eighth-worst mark in the country. But this is the season when Colton Lichtenberg and Mike Knoll will make the leap from dreadful to below average. A national ranking better than 100th could even be in the picture.
  2. Jeff Smith plays the Sherman Alston role—Over the last two seasons, the Eagles’ offense attempted to get Alston the ball in space, where his athleticism could do damage. Unfortunately, he often had trouble securing the ball, whether in the passing game or on punt returns. This season, the speedy Smith will claim the slot receiver role as his own. The former quarterback can make a difference on runs, short passes, and even down the field. Plus, he has a few inches on Sherm.
  3. The student section is nearly empty for the first quarter of either the Wagner or Buffalo game—In all honesty, an early afternoon game against a low-level opponent just doesn’t motivate BC students to show up on time for kickoff. Whether still wiped out from the night before or just sleeping in, Superfans don’t seem to fill the student section until the second quarter for these late September games.
  4. Tommy Sweeney leads the Eagles in TD catches—No offense to Louie Addazio, but this season, the Eagles will start a tight end who can make a huge difference in the passing game. Sweeney showed his development near the end of last season, forming a nice connection with John Fadule. His size and mobility allow him to be a threat down the middle of the field, a dimension the Eagles have lacked in recent seasons. Look for Sweeney to make a mark in the red zone.
  5. BC will win its final two games to sneak into bowl eligibility—The Eagles will stumble into the renewed rivalry with UConn in late November at 4-6, desperately needing a pair of victories to salvage its season. Showing great poise and a developed maturity, the Eagles’ offense will cobble together its best consecutive games all year. They will knock off the Huskies and Wake Forest, finishing at 6-6. Bowl eligibility might even turn down the flame lit under Addazio.

RECORD: 7-6 (2-6 ACC)
vs. Georgia Tech, L 17-13
@ Massachusetts, W 28-6
@ Virginia Tech, L 20-14
vs. Wagner, W 38-7
vs. Buffalo, W 27-10
vs. Clemson, L 27-10
vs. Syracuse, W 24-17
@ NC State, L 21-20
vs. Louisville, L 24-14
@ Florida State, L 31-14
vs. Connecticut, W 27-17
@ Wake Forest, W 24-20
Quick Lane Bowl, Detroit, Mich. vs. Minnesota, W 21-17

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Between New York, Boston, and Philly, we editors rarely agree on anything.