The storyline of the Boston College Eagles 2015 football campaign was simple: Great defense kept the team in games, but the offense couldn't deliver.
That storyline was evident this past Saturday as BC fell to Syracuse following a game-winning field goal by the Orange Men as time expired. The Eagles finished the season at 3-9 and didn't win a conference game despite ranking atop the FBS in yards allowed per game on defense. The Eagles had plenty of reasons to justify their record, including the 64 underclassmen on the team. The offensive squad returned just one lineman with prior starting experience, and they lost two tight-ends, a receiver, their feature runningback Jon Hilliman, and starting quarterback Darius Wade. Multiple runningbacks and receivers also missed time during the season, and the offense was constantly changing personnel. After Wade went down, the Eagles were forced to rely on two true freshmen in Jeff Smith and toward the end of the season, walk-on John Fadule.
The offense ranked 126th out of 128 FBS teams in yards per game, and second-to-last in total first downs. And according to TeamRankings.com, the Eagles topped the list of punt attempts per game and ranked second-to-last in trips to the red zone. Time and time again, the Eagles failed to move the chains on offense despite their stifling defense.
In two of the biggest games of the year on national television, the Eagles offense could not score points. Against Florida State, the Eagles kept the Seminoles to just seven points into the fourth quarter but then couldn't score themselves, eventually losing 14-0. And on November 21 at Fenway Park, the defense forced five Notre Dame turnovers, yet the Eagles offense didn't score a touchdown until the final frame. The Fighting Irish escaped with a 19-16 victory.
The Eagles didn't look bad four games into their season, starting 3-1, but went on a nine-game losing skid to end the season.
The offensive line struggled to mesh and couldn't create many holes for runningbacks or time for quarterbacks to find open receivers. With Fadule and Smith, two dual-threat quarterbacks that relied on their feet as much as their arms, less than three months into their first year at Chestnut Hill, opposng defenses stacked the box and blitzed incessantly.
It was a tough year for BC football after two consecutive 7-5 seasons, but the Eagles squad included only 16 seniors and one graduate student. This year's seniors did play major roles, especially on defense, as Stephen Daniels, Mehdi Abdesmad, and Justin Simmons all made significant impact. Offensively, the Eagles will lose only two key contributors in Tyler Rouse and Louie Addazio. With Hilliman and Wade returning next season combined with an entirely new recruiting class, the Eagles look to turn the page on a dismal 2015 campaign to a potentially potent defense once again, and an offense that could rack up points on the scoreboard.
After the loss to Syracuse Saturday, head coach Steve Addazio said in his postgame press conference that his team will be "going to go back to the good old days, it's going to be a rough offseason" and the team is "going to get better."
And sophomore linebacker Connor Strachan, who ranked second on the team in number of tackles, echoed his coach's sentiments:
“I think we have a great foundation. Everyone wants to work hard. Everyone does work hard. Next week we start off getting ready for next year. We have big expectations. We’re ready to really explode.”
The Eagles grew during the season, and there were many positive signs of success to come. But their offense has work ahead of them before spring practice if they want to contend in the ACC. Considering that the team returns the majority of their starters and that Wade and Hilliman should be healthy before next fall, the team can rebuild and compete in the ACC come September.