CLEMSON – Let’s play the “Name an ACC Coach, besides Dabo Swinney, who’d be most fun to cover” game!
Jimbo Fisher? Folksy, wins a lot, but sometimes sticks his head in the sand. Bobby Petrino? Let’s talk about something else. Larry Fedora would make me feel bad about my body, Scott Shafer would terrify me and Dave Clawson would need to wear a nametag.
For my money, give me Steve Addazio. I remember his first ACC Media Days, when he was sitting somewhat lonely in the corner of a ballroom while coaches flocked to Fisher and David Cutcliffe and Frank Beamer.
Boston College was coming off a 2-win season, and Addazio was peppered with the usual “what do y’all need to do to turn things around” questions. Addazio summoned no clichés, made no false promises and was earnest about the long road ahead.
Two years later, BC’s looking UP. The Eagles went 7-6 (4-4 ACC) each of the past two seasons, beating Virginia Tech in Year 1 of Addazio and collecting a sweet win over then-No. 9 Southern Cal last fall, before playing very competitively in losses to Florida State, Clemson and Penn State.
Don’t forget, it was a ballgame into the fourth quarter two years ago at Death Valley. Addazio has absolutely had his fellas ready to play both times against Clemson, and since the Tigers will be coming off games vs. Louisville, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, this could be construed as a hangover game, and that’s not a good thing against Addazio’s ground-and-pound approach.
Boston College coach: Steve Addazio (14-12, 3rd season)
Returning starters: 10 (4 offense, 6 defense)
2014 record: 7-6, 4-4 ACC
Scoring offense: 26.2 points per game (86th in FBS)
Scoring defense: 21.3 points allowed (21st)
Series: Clemson leads 13-9-2, including 5-3-1 at home
Opposing beat writer to follow: Mike Vega, Boston Globe (@MBVega)
1. Line change: Live by the senior-laden offensive line, and die by the, um, just-graduated offensive line. Boston College’s behemoth quintet of center Andy Gallik, guards Bobby Vardaro and Aaron Kramer and tackles Seth Betancourt and Ian Silberman are all gone (Gallik and Silberman were sixth-round NFL Draft picks in May), and incidentally, so is the man they protected: former Florida transfer quarterback Tyler Murphy. Andre Williams, the Heisman finalist and nation’s leading rusher in 2013, wasn’t properly replaced last year, though Jon Hilliman (13 TDs in 2014) could be due for a sophomore breakout. At any rate, the nation’s 83rd-rated offense last year doesn’t appear on paper ready for a steep incline. There is a new offensive coordinator in town, as Todd Fitch takes over for Ryan Day, who became Chip Kelly’s quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.
2. Stingy vs. the run: Two years ago, Boston College was dead-last in the ACC in defense; last year, it was third-best. Is that good? Don Brown’s complex scheme helped the Eagles rank No. 2 nationally against the run last year, and the majority of his front seven returns in 2015 – led by nose tackle Connor Wujciak, defensive end Ken Kavalec and linebacker Steven Daniels. Cornerback Justin Simmons also brings experience to the back end of a defense that expects to thrive again.
3. Close but no cigar: The Eagles responded to a week two home loss to Pittsburgh by letting Murphy wriggle loose in an upset of Southern Cal, and lost four of its ensuing five defeats by a combined 11 points. BC will get an early crack at Florida State this year, and later has to travel to Clemson, Louisville and Notre Dame. Another middling-type season wouldn’t be a big surprise, but it also wouldn’t be shocking to see BC affect the College Football Playoff race in some way. Ultimately, Addazio would be well-served to turn around his 0-2 bowl mark in Boston.
Week before: Georgia Tech
Next week: at Miami
On the horizon: Florida State