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ACC Season Preview: Boston College

By Carlos Pineda
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Boston College head coach Steve Addazio has plenty of challenges in front of him as he attempts to take the Eagles bowling in 2015.

In a situation very similar to last year, Boston College enters the 2015 season needing to replace an entire offensive line and starting quarterback.

Even with those hurdles, the Eagles managed to finish the 2014 season with a respectable 7-6 record, which could have been more, as four of those losses were by four or fewer points.

Third-year coach Steve Addazio not only must replace five starters that had more than 130 starts combined and earned the nickname “O-Line U,” but also QB Tyler Murphy, who flourished in Addazio’s system.

Murphy, a University of Florida graduate transfer, was the nation’s leading rusher at the quarterback position last year and set the ACC single-season record for most rushing yards by a QB (1,184). Against Southern California, Murphy rushed for nearly 200 yards, and Boston College gained a season-high 452 yards on the ground in an upset win over the ninth-ranked Trojans. BC ranked 14th in the nation in yards rushing with 3,675 yards.

Replacing so much talent and experience is no easy feat. Addazio said it was "difficult" at the ACC Kickoff in July.

“I think we were able to do a good job in year one and year two of maximizing our talent, putting together offensively and defensively the pieces and special teams that fit the talent we have at hand as we rebuild this program,” Addazio said.

The offense returns three starters, including sophomore running back Jon Hilliman, who played in all 13 games as a freshman, while making seven starts. Hilliman is a much-needed bright spot for the Eagles, as he rushed for 860 yards, 60 shy of tying the freshman rushing record, and his 13 touchdowns were tied for second in the ACC last season. At QB, sophomore Darius Wade looks to be the front-runner to get the starting job. Despite getting limited playing time in three games last year, Wade had a good showing in spring camp.

With so much youth on offense, BC will need to rely on its defense to make big plays.

Despite being down three starters in the secondary, the Eagles defense returns six starters. Cornerback Justin Simmons and linebacker Steven Daniels, the team leaders in tackles a year ago, lead a BC defense that ranked 11th in total defense last fall, allowing just 324 yards a game.

Although Boston College is coming off consecutive 7-6 records, the Eagles have made a lot of progress under Addazio. BC went 4-8 and 2-10 respectively before Addazio's arrival in Chestnut Hill, and have since played in back-to-back bowls. Last year the Eagles lost to third-ranked Florida State on a last second field goal in Tallahassee. They dropped a defensive battle to Clemson, 17-13, and missed an extra point in overtime against Penn State in the Pinstripe Bowl, losing 31-30.

Outside of facing cupcakes Maine and Howard to open the season, Boston College faces a competitive schedule. BC hosts the Seminoles on Sept. 18, and travels to Clemson and Louisville in consecutive weeks on Oct. 17 and Oct. 24. Virginia Tech visits on Halloween, and the Eagles face Notre Dame at Fenway Park on Nov. 21.

2015 Schedule

Sept. 5 – MAINE
Sept. 12 – HOWARD

Oct. 3 – at Duke
Oct. 17 – at Clemson
Oct. 24 – at Louisville

Nov. 7 – NC STATE
Nov. 21 – Notre Dame (Fenway Park)
Nov. 28 – at Syracuse

Carlos Pineda - Carlos Pineda is a featured writer for Southern Pigskin. He covered the UCF Knights football team for Florida Today in 2010. Carlos' work has been published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel and Orlando Business Journal. He attended the University of Central Florida. Follow Carlos on Twitter @CarlosFPineda.