ACC Preview: Boston College

New head coach Jeff Jagodzinski takes over the Eagles program with a veteran coaching staff and a talented squad that will challenge for a spot in the ACC Championship Game.

2007 ACC Media Preseason Poll – 2nd in the Atlantic Division

Inside Carolina's Vote – 2nd in the Atlantic Division

2006 record (10-3, 5-3 ACC)

Jagodzinski may not have any head coaching experience at the collegiate level, but his first two big decisions in Boston were home runs – hiring former East Carolina head coach Steve Logan as offensive coordinator, and retaining nine-year defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani, who served as the Eagles interim coach during their 25-24 Meineke Car Care Bowl victory over Navy in December. Logan was an offensive wizard in Greenville for a decade, and brings a wealth of knowledge about the responsibilities and difficulties that a Division I head coach must tackle – that fact cannot be overlooked. Jagodzinski (Jags for short) was able to build relationships in the Northeast during his time as BC's OC in '97-'98, and it should be noted that Jags is as vibrant as former head coach Tom O'Brien is stoic. The only roadblock the new head coach has faced thus far was losing offensive line coach Jim Turner to philosophical differences during spring practice.

Offense: Perhaps the biggest offseason ACC move that received the least amount of national attention was BC's hiring of Logan. Word from the ACC Kickoff is that senior QB Matt Ryan (58.3% comp, 2,942 yds, 15 tds, 10 ints) will be given much more freedom to audible plays at the line of scrimmage after seeing defensive sets, an opinion former OC Dana Bible did not share. Look for the Eagles' offense to be more aggressive and improve on last season's 354.1 ypg, good for second in the ACC, especially with seven starters back. Senior WR Kevin Challenger (47 rec, 543 yds, 5 tds) and junior WR Brandon Robinson (36 rec, 490 yds, 1 td) will be Ryan's top targets, while veteran seniors L.V. Whitworth [pictured, right] (174 car, 791 yds, 4 tds) and Andre Callender (146 car, 633 yds, 3 tds) solidify the backfield.

Defense: Spaziani returns nine starters from a squad that ranked 34th in total defense (310.9 ypg) in 2006, but only ranked 14th in scoring defense (15.7 ppg). Senior LB Jolonn Dunbar (92 tkl, 5.5 tfl) returns to lead an outstanding front seven, although senior LB Brian Toal (50 tkl, 4.5 tfl) must return from shoulder surgery for this unit to meet its full potential. The defensive line returns all four starters – seniors BJ Raji (23 tkl, 5.5 tfl) and Nick Larkin (33 tkl, 3 tfl), junior Ron Brace (20 tkl, 3.5 tfl) and RS sophomore Jim Ramella (injured prior to last season). Seniors CB DeJaun Tribble (49 tkl, 7 ints) and FS Jamie Silva (57 tkl, 5.5 tfl) will be called upon to strengthen the defensive secondary.

Special Teams: Junior Steve Aponavicius received national attention last season as a fan-turned-kicker in a game against Virginia Tech. While the former walk-on made 8 of his 11 attempts last season, it looks as though true freshman Billy Bennett may take over his duties. Senior punter Johnny Ayers ranked 18th nationally in net average (37.5) last season. Tribble averaged 8.7 yards on punt returns in 2006 and sophomore Jeff Smith ranked seventh nationally in kickoff returns (28.0).

Schedule: Boston College has the opportunity to start strong with home games early against Wake Forest, NCSU, Army, UMass and Bowling Green -- a 6-1 start is a reasonable expectation. The Eagles will visit Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, but a split in those contests is possible. The meat of the schedule starts on Oct. 25th at Virginia Tech, followed by home contests against FSU and Miami, and road trips to Maryland and Clemson.

Top Newcomer: No question – Steve Logan. Not only is he an excellent game planner, but his ability to adjust play-calling during live game situations will make this Boston College offense a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators.

Key Game: Vs. Wake Forest on Sept. 1. The Eagles have lost three of their last four to the Deacons by a combined total of 19 points, and their lone victory during that stretch required overcoming a nine-point deficit in the final 3:36.

Jagodzinski on his new job: "I feel very fortunate to be able to step into a situation like that where they've had a lot of success. I think we can continue to do that, do the same things they've done in the past with just a little bit different spin to it."

Dunbar on the defense: "The defense has been playing well for the last five years, in my opinion, but I think we need to play better. If Matt and them can only put up 21 points, we need to make sure the next team has less than 21 points. There are a lot of things we need to work on defensively, from top to bottom. And if we do that, we'll be a better team."

Word from the Beat: "From a talent standpoint, this is as promising a BC team as they've had in years, but they do have question marks. At the head of the list, of course, will be the coaching change. This is Jeff Jagodzinski's first gig as a head coach and there's no telling what that will bring. He does have strong assistants in OC Steve Logan, DC Frank Spaziani and O-line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr. BC is also instituting a new zone blocking system that Jagodzinski used in Atlanta and Green Bay and that transition bears watching. As far as strengths go, they've got the best quarterback in the ACC in Matt Ryan and their defense should be very good, especially the front seven. An Achilles heel could be in the secondary, where they have to fill the cornerback and strong safety positions. With Wake Forest, NC State and Georgia Tech on the docket right off the bat, we'll know quickly what way this season is headed." -- Steve Conroy, Boston Herald

2007 Schedule

S. 1 Wake Forest


S. 15 at Georgia Tech

S. 22 Army

S. 29 Massachusetts

O. 6 Bowling Green

O. 13 at Notre Dame

O. 20 bye

O. 25 at Virginia Tech

N. 3 FSU

N. 10 at Maryland

N. 17 at Clemson

N. 24 Miami

Jolonn Dunbar

DeJaun Tribble

BJ Raji

(Photos courtesy Getty Images)

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