CFN: 2009 Boston College Preview

The CFN 2009 Boston College Preview, Breakdown, and Analysis.

Head coach: Frank Spaziani
1st year
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 17, Def. 19, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 16

Ten Best BC Players
1. LT Anthony Castonz, Jr.
2. LB Mike McLaughlin, Sr.
3. RB Monel Harris, Soph.
4. C Matt Tennant. Sr.
5. RG Thomas Claiborne, Jr.
6. WR Rich Gunnell, Sr.
7. DE Alex Albright, Jr.
8. FS Wes Davis, Jr.
9. DT Damik Sacfe, Jr.
10. DE Jim Ramella, Sr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction: COMING
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 Northeastern
9/12 Kent State
9/19 at Clemson
9/26 Wake Forest
10/3 Florida State
10/10 at Virginia Tech
10/17 NC State
10/24 at Notre Dame
10/31 Central Michigan
11/14 at Virginia
11/21 North Carolina
11/28 at Maryland

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 9-3
2008 Record: 9-4

8/30 at Kent St (Clev) W 21-0
9/6 Georgia Tech L 19-16
9/20 UCF W 34-7
9/27 Rhode Island W 42-0
10/4 at NC State W 38-31
10/11  OPEN DATE
10/18 Virginia Tech W 28-23
10/25 at North Carolina L 45-24
11/1 Clemson L 27-21
11/8 Notre Dame W 17-0
11/15 at Florida State W 27-17
11/22 at Wake Forest W 24-21
11/29 Maryland W 28-21
12/6 ACC Championship
Virginia Tech L 30-12
Music City Bowl
12/31 Vanderbilt L 16-14

Tighten up that chin strap and do not look up, Eagles. The sky may indeed be falling over Chestnut Hill.

In what has to be the most disruptive offseason endured by any program, Boston College is trying to regroup from a series of startling events. Maybe losing the Music City Bowl to Vanderbilt in the waning moments created some really bad mojo for the program. First, there was the very messy and very public divorce between the school and head coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who was canned in January for interviewing with the New York Jets. Right before spring, Mike McLaughlin, the team’s rock at middle linebacker, went down with an Achilles injury. Right after spring, the program was rocked when it learned that ACC Defensive Player of the Year Mark Herzlich was suffering from Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. And to top things off, projected starter Dominique Davis decided to transfer, leaving the school without a single quarterback who’s thrown a pass at this level. What else can possibly go wrong?

The man inheriting this difficult situation is Frank Spaziani, the long-time assistant coach who was promoted from defensive coordinator. He’s waited a long time for this opportunity and isn’t about to complain just because the deck is stacked against him. He and his staff realize this is not a typical Boston College squad, so they plan to accentuate the stable areas and coach up all of the young kids being thrust into expanded roles.

Amid all the uncertainty, there are some positives, like the offensive line, RB Montel Harris, and a defensive backfield that’ll be among the stingiest in the conference. Will they be enough to get the Eagles over the hump and back into the postseason for a 12th straight year? It’s going to be real close. One thing is certain—this is not the same team that’s appeared in the last two ACC championship games. A wickedly improbable offseason has made sure of that.

What to look for offense: The development of the quarterbacks in the summer. The line is fantastic. The backs are trending upward. The receivers will get there. The quarterbacks, however, are a mess, and are capable of becoming a giant spoke in this maroon and gold wheel. Dominique Davis was supposed to be building on last fall’s emergency debut, but he ran afoul with the books, got suspended, and opted to transfer. That’s left a quartet of complete unknowns to battle in August for the right to lead the Eagle offense. The staff is hoping that someone emerges because none of the competitors were particularly sharp in April.

What to look for on defense: The defensive backs to work overtime. The line lost its two best players. The linebackers will be in the same boat if Mike McLaughlin is slow to return from his Achilles injury. It’ll be up to a deep and talented secondary to pull its weight and them some this fall. The strength of the D, the defensive backfield boasts the return of nine lettermen and three starters. If corners Roderick Rollins, Donnie Fletcher, and DeLeon Gause can survive in man coverage, it’ll allow safeties Wes Davis and Marcellus Bowman to press up and provide more support in run defense.

The team will be much better if ... the offense gets more efficient on third downs and in the red zone. With so much turnover taking place on the defensive front seven, it’s incumbent upon the offense to extend more drives than a year ago and start trading more field goals for touchdowns. Boston College was 86th nationally on third-down conversions and in the bottom half of the country in red zone offense. If the Eagles can’t improve in those two areas, it’ll have a direct impact on that rebuilt D.

The Schedule The Eagles have the one nasty non-conference game against Notre Dame, but it takes it easy the rest of the way, and that includes Central Michigan, to all but guarantee three wins. Getting Virginia Tech on the road and North Carolina from the Atlantic is a lousy break, and facing Clemson in the ACC opener in Death Valley will be a make-or-break moment for the Atlantic season. There aren't two road games in a row and there's a nice break in the first week of November coming off the day against Central Michigan. That'll mean BC will go almost a month without playing a conference game in the middle of the season.

Best Offensive Player: Junior LT Anthony Castonzo. You ever get the feeling that a player is on the cusp of a big breakthrough season? Castonzo is one of those players. He elevated his play a year ago, moving seamlessly from right tackle to left tackle, and earning a spot on the All-ACC second team. A tremendous athlete at 6-7 and 287 pounds, he has the frame, the feet, and the fire that’s going to start being noticed by pro scouts.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Mike McLaughlin. Maybe. He’ll first have to fully rehab an Achilles injury suffered in the spring and show he can plant and pivot without pain. If he’s available, he’s the program’s best defender, an instinctive middle linebacker and the vocal leader of the group. An underrated and outstanding complement to Mark Herzlich a year ago, he was second on the team with 89 tackles, adding a dozen tackles for loss, and four sacks.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Codi Boek or redshirt freshman QB Justin Tuggle. Although Boek has a lead, he’ll need to ante up this summer in order to maintain his spot atop the depth chart. Whoever starts won’t need to be Matt Ryan for the Eagles to win, but he does have to make plays in order to give the offense some semblance of balance. The ground game will be the staple, with Montel Harris and Josh Haden running behind one of the country’s best lines. However, if Boek or Tuggle can complete passes and limit the mistakes, the attack becomes exponentially tougher to defend.   

The season will be a success if ... the Eagles qualify for an 11th consecutive bowl game. Considering what this program has endured since the end of 2008, a postseason game—any postseason game—would qualify as a resounding victory. This fall is all about regaining footing and developing a quarterback before realistically thinking about an ACC championship run again in 2010.

Key game: Sept. 26 vs. Wake Forest. Can you say crossroads game? If the Eagles plan to go bowling in December, this is one they’ll need to have. Likely 2-1, courtesy of a soft early schedule, this visit from the Demon Deacons kicks off a rugged stretch that includes Florida State, Virginia Tech, NC State, and Notre Dame. If Boston College can’t hold serve here, it could easily slip to 2-6 by the time pumpkins are being carved.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Passing touchdowns: Boston College 17 - Opponents 9
- Sacks: Boston College 35 for 225 yards - Opponents 21 for 155 yards
- Third quarter scoring: Boston College 73 - Opponents 37

- 2009 CFN BC Preview | 2009 BC Offense 
- 2009 BC Defense | 2009 BC Depth Chart
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