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ACC Season Preview: Boston College

By Carlos Pineda
SouthernPigskin.com
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Boston College is looking to bounce back from a winless conference campaign in 2015.

The Boston College Eagles had arguably the best defense in college football last season, but costly injuries made generating offense and scoring problematic as they bottomed out with eight consecutive losses to finish the year at 3-9.

Running back Jon Hilliman and quarterback Darius Wade each suffered season-ending injuries early on, while running back Myles Willis missed multiple games.

The Eagles defense proved to be reliable all season long, as they allowed 254.3 yards of total offense and 15.3 points per contest. Boston College may have gone winless in the ACC, but five of its losses came by three points or less, including a 19-16 loss to fourth-ranked Notre Dame in which the defense forced the Fighting Irish to commit five turnovers.

Looking ahead to 2016, Boston College returns 15 starters, a change of tune from the eight starters BC had heading into last season. The Eagles still have plenty of youth on the roster but with the 35 players that saw action for the first time last year, the on-field experience is crucial going forward.

The defense was the cornerstone last year, and head coach Steve Addazio expects a really talented defense to return, led by linebacker Matt Milano. The Eagles ranked among the top six nationally in scoring defense, rushing defense, passing defense and total defense. Addazio welcomes new defensive coordinator Jimmy Reid, who spent the last three years coaching linebackers at Iowa, as well as a familiar face in mentor Paul Pasqualoni as defensive line coach. 

On offense, Hilliman, Willis and Wade are healthy again, and Kentucky graduate transfer Patrick Towles rounds out the stability and experience at the quarterback position. He threw for 2,148 yards with nine touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 10 games for the Wildcats in 2015. The offensive line, which only had one starter a year ago, is wiser, bigger and stronger, which should be a major boost to a running game that averaged only 164.4 yards and an offense that averaged 17.2 points last year. The hiring of new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, who coached at Florida and Temple with Addazio, will go a long way in establishing the passing game in Chestnut Hill, which ranked among the worst in college football last season (124th) with 111.2 yards per game.

Boston College gets an early test right away as it opens up the new season in Ireland against league foe Georgia Tech. The Eagles conclude the Coastal portion of the schedule two weeks later on the road at Virginia Tech. They face two of the three toughest Atlantic Division teams at home, Clemson on Oct. 7 and Louisville on Nov. 5., and a week later travel to Tallahassee to face Florida State. 

2016 Schedule

Sept. 3              Georgia Tech (Dublin, Ireland)

Sept. 10            at Massachusetts

Sept. 17            at Virginia Tech

Sept. 24            Wagner

Oct. 1               Buffalo

Oct. 7               Clemson

Oct. 22             Syracuse

Oct. 29             at NC State

Nov. 5               Louisville

Nov. 11             at Florida State

Nov. 19             Connecticut

Nov. 26             at Wake Forest

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.