2010 NCAA Football Preview: Boston College Eagles

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Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.

2009 Season Breakdown

2009 final record (overall, conference): 8-5, 5-3
Bowl Game: Emerald Bowl (L 24-13 vs. Southern Cal)
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): NR, NR
Conference finish: 2nd ACC Atlantic
Offensive rank: 98
Defensive rank: 26

2009 Individual Statistical Leaders

Rushing: Montel Harris, 1,457 yards, 14 TD
Passing: Dave Shinskie, 2,049 yards, 15 TD, 14 INT
Receiving: Rich Gunnell, 880 yards, 7 TD
Tackles: Luke Kuechly, 158 total tackles
Sacks: Adrian Moten, 6 sacks (5 solo, 2 assisted)
Interceptions: KRoderick Rollins, 3 interceptions; Wes Davis, 3 interceptions

2010 Season Outlook

(* denotes conference game)

Key Matchups

September 25 vs. Virginia Tech: The Eagles get Duke and Virginia from the Coastal Division, but must also deal with the Hokies. With Clemson and Florida State on the docket within their own division, a conference-opening win against Virginia Tech would prove helpful in their quest for a division and conference title.

October 2 vs. Notre Dame:Notre Dame's win over Boston College last season marked the first victory for the Irish since 2000. The Holy War, as it has been dubbed, has been played in every year since 1992 except for a two year lull in 2005 and 2006. The Eagles shouldn't have too much trouble qualifying for the bowl season and this one won't have any bearing on their finish within the ACC, but BC has to be hungry to prove 2009 a fluke in the latest round of the rivalry.

October 16 @ Florida State:This one, however, does have bearing on how the Eagles will finish in the ACC. Florida State is considered by many the frontrunner to claim the Atlantic title with a Heisman candidate for a quarterback and one of the best offensive lines in the country. What's more, the Seminoles defense should be much better than it was last year. This is a crucial matchup in terms of the Atlantic's eventual representative in Charlotte.

October 30 vs. Clemson:Clemson, like FSU, is another hurdle that BC must clear if they hope to get their shot at an ACC title. Sure, C.J. Spiller is gone, and so is Jacoby Ford, but with one of the ACC's top quarterbacks committing himself to football in the fall, at least for 2010, and Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington coming into the season with lofty expectations, the Tigers are a popular choice to repeat as division champs.

Preseason Rankings (will not officially be released until August)


Coaches': N/A

Key Losses

Rich Gunnell, WR; Matt Tennant, C; Jim Ramella, DE; Austin Giles, DT; Mike McLaughlin, LB; Roderick Rollins, CB; Marcellus Bowman, S

Key Returning Players

Dave Shinskie, QB; Montel Harris, RB; Anthony Castonzo, OT; Rich Lapham, OT; Thomas Claiborne, G; Mark Herzlich, LB; Luke Kuechly, LB; DeLeon Gause, CB; Wes Davis, S

Offensive Overview

As a 25 year old true freshman last season, Dave Shinskie led the Eagles to an 8-5 record and a spot in the Emerald Bowl. He's 26 now and defended his spot atop the depth chart with early enrollees Chase Rettig and Joshua Bordner, and his backup last season, Michael Marscovetra, competing to take over. It's no given, and Shinskie will have to continue to defend his starting position throughout summer and fall, but many expect him to hold onto his starting spot this fall.

RRunning back Montel Harris has emerged as one of the conference's top runners. He's currently 10th on the school's all-time rushing list entering his junior season and will be running behind one of the nation's top offensive lines. Scary to think the kind of numbers he could put up should he stay all four years. (He has 2,357 career rushing yards. The BC career record, held by Derrick Knight, is 3,725.) Rolandan Finch, who missed the end of last season to mono, was set to fill the backup role behind Harris before tearing his ACL in the spring. The Eagles' depth at running back is a concern and one of the storylines entering fall camp.

Getting back to the offensive line, center Matt Tennant is gone, but the other four starting linemen return for the upcoming season. BC should field one of the nation's top offensive lines this season led by left tackle, and Rhodes Scholarship candidate mind you, Anthony Castonzo. The Eagles will replace wide receiver Rich Gunnell, BC's leader in career receiving yards, but return a talented crop with Colin Larmond expected to claim the featured spot. Tight end Chris Pantale caught 25 passes for over 200 yards and a touchdown last season, and will return to the starting lineup in 2010.

Defensive Overview

Five starters are gone on a unit that ranked 26th in total defense last season. The biggest story is the return of linebacker Mark Herzlich, who missed last season as he was treated for, and overcame, a rare bone cancer. Herzlich was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 and a first team All-American. He returns this season with questions about how well he will readjust to the game, but was named to the Lott Trophy watch list recently. Herzlich will be joined in the linebackers corps by Luke Kuechly, who as a freshman finished second in the nation with 158 total tackles. Mike Morrissey also returns after starting the final seven games last season. Will Thompson is also expected to play a major role.

The defensive line loses two regular starters in tackle Austin Giles and end Jim Ramella. Alex Albright and Brad Newman started 13 combined games last season, while Damik Scaffe started 10 at defensive tackle. All three will play a significant role on this year's line. Safety Marcellus Bowman and cornerback Roderick Rollins are gone, but there is talent on the roster ready to jump at the opportunity to claim the starting role. Jim Noel and Dominick LeGrande are competing to replace Bowman, while Donnie Fletcher and Isaac Johnson are competing to start opposite DeLeon Gause at corner.

Special Teams Overview

Ryan Quigley handled punting duties last season and could take over kicking duties this season with Steve Aponavicius now graduated. Quigley averaged 40.8 yards per punt last season. Nate Freese is also a candidate to take over kicking duties.

DeLeon Gause is more than a solid cornerback, he's also a return man with great potential. Gause handled return duties in a limited role last season, but could be the featured guy in both kick returns and punt returns this season.

Head Coach: Frank Spaziani

Frank Spaziani spent a few years in the Canadian football league before coming to BC as the running backs coach in 1997. He served as defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2008 before being named head coach in January of 2009. Spaziani has led several top defenses at BC and continued that tradition last season with a 26th ranked total defense. The Eagles ranked 2nd in total defense in 2007 and fifth in 2008.

While Spaziani enters just his second season as head coach at BC, he'll begin his 14th year as a part of the coaching staff. Boston College has been very consistent over the last decade and Spaziani's hiring in the 2009 offseason will be important in maintaining that consistency heading into the future.

Top 2011 Draft Prospects

Anthony Castonzo, OT; Rich Lapham, OT; Thomas Claiborne, G; Mark Herzlich, LB

Season Prediction

3rd ACC Atlantic

This will be a three way race between BC, FSU and Clemson. All three teams return their starting quarterback from last season and will field arguably the top three offensive lines in the ACC, and anybody who has consistently followed the game knows how important the battle in the trenches can be. All three teams are also expected to field solid defenses; even Florida State, who should make vast improvements over last season's 108th ranking in total defense.

The running game, with Montel Harris and a solid offensive line, will prove the bread and butter of the BC offense, but the passing game returns a quarterback with a year of experience under his belt, a solid tight end and talent in the wide receivers corps.

On defense, one of the best stories in the entire nation has been that of Mark Herzlich. While expecting him to return to his 2008 form right away isn't fair, Herzlich is expected to be a big part of the Eagles defense. Filling in for Herzlich last season, Luke Kuechly was outstanding and is part of a dynamic group of returning linebackers.

There is no clear cut frontrunner in the ACC Atlantic, but three very good contenders, making this one of the harder races to call. Frankly, the only real surprise would be if the three teams don't finish one, two and three, in whatever order. - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.