Steve Addazio and the Eagles begin their 2014 season Saturday against UMass at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Boston College
As impressive a job as head coach Steve Addazio did in his first season at The Heights, guiding his Boston College Eagles to another winning season in 2014 could very well prove to be a better accomplishment.
Addazio has the task of replacing eight offensive starters, including Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams, who is now an NFL running back with the Giants. Replacing Williams will certainly be daunting, considering the back was just the 16th player in NCAA history to rush for over 2,000 yards in an individual season, but Addazio is hoping there will be some carryover in the success of the running game with center Andy Gallik, guard Bobby Vardaro and guard Harris Williams returning.
“Last year was about setting a new culture, it was about maximizing what we had, getting those seniors to really buy in and become a team again,” Addazio, whose team went 7-6 last year, told BCEagles.com. “And we did a good job of that. That group had been weathered, they'd been through a lot, and it meant a lot. They really experienced the hard times, and had a purpose. “Now you have a young group of guys, along with some of the older guys who are whittled down, the ones that are still here, there's some talent there. The ones that remain are building an identity … Year two is the hardest year.”
There is legitimate excitement from Eagles backers about the quarterback position, as Tyler Murphy – a graduate transfer from Florida – is sure to bring some flash given his ability to run as well as pass. Murphy went 2-4 and passed for 1,216 yards and six touchdowns as a starter with the Gators last year but was slated to be a backup in Gainesville this season, which is his last year of eligibility. Murphy is expected to help guide along freshman Troy Flutie who, needless to say, has longtime Eagles fans buzzing given his bloodlines (he is the nephew of Doug Flutie and son of Darren Flutie).
On defense, the Eagles need sharp improvement from a year ago. There were far too many shootouts in 2013, as the Eagles gave up 28.9 points per game, an average which includes the 42 points they allowed to Arizona in their Independence Bowl loss. BC will count on their secondary for leadership as corners Manny Asprilla and Bryce Jones and safety Sean Sylvia return. The defense took a hit last week when it was learned that linebacker Tim Joy will miss the entire season due to a knee injury.
A look at when and where BC football plays in 2014:
• Saturday, Aug. 30 vs. UMass at Gillette Stadium (3 p.m., ESPN 3) • Friday, Sept. 5 vs. Pittsburgh (7 p.m., ESPN) • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. USC (8 p.m., ABC or ESPN) • Saturday, Sept. 20 vs. Maine (TBA) • Saturday, Sept. 27 vs. Colorado State (TBA) • Saturday, Oct. 11 at NC State (TBA) • Saturday, Oct. 18 vs. Clemson (TBA) • Saturday, Oct. 25 at Wake Forest (TBA) • Saturday, Nov. 1 at Virginia Tech (TBA) • Saturday, Nov. 8 vs. Louisville (TBA) • Saturday, Nov. 22 at Florida State (TBA) • Saturday, Nov. 29 vs. Syracuse (TBA)
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter:@BurkeMetroBOS