After an offseason full of speculation regarding the fate of the college football season, the Boston College Eagles kick off their 2020 campaign on Saturday in Durham, North Carolina, against the Duke Blue Devils.
The upcoming season will look different for more reasons than just the COVID-19 pandemic, with the athletic program undergoing wholesale changes in the offseason.
Longtime head coach Steve Addazio and ascendant athletic director Martin Jarmond are gone (albeit for very different reasons), and Jeff Hafley and Pat Kraft have now taken their places, respectively.
Key contributors from a year ago are also nowhere to be found, with quarterback Anthony Brown now at the University of Oregon and star running back A.J. Dillon with the Green Bay Packers.
Make no mistake, though, the Eagles could field an offense much more potent than last year’s iteration.
With a talented offensive line still intact and transfers Phil Jurkovec and Jaelen Gill expected to contribute immediately, Boston College could be in good shape offensively.
Running backs Travis Levy and David Bailey, while not on Dillon’s level, still form a potent duo, and new offensive play-caller Frank Cignetti Jr. figures to mix things up more than Addazio did.
The uncertainty surrounding this season ultimately comes down to the defense around linebacker Max Richardson, with a shaky secondary likely to be put to the test against ACC competition.
The defensive-minded Hafley should help matters, but a truncated offseason could make the transition to a new coaching staff awkward.
Expect the Eagles to be competitive in their opening game against the Blue Devils, with the result ultimately hanging on the play of Jurkovec and the rest of the offense.
The former Notre Dame backup should be a huge upgrade at the quarterback position after Dennis Grosel, last year’s part-time starter, struggled to produce.
Games against Texas State, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, and Virginia also look manageable, but barring unexpected improvement, the rest of the ACC schedule could give the Eagles fits.
Boston College plays six teams currently ranked in the top 25, including top-ranked Clemson and seventh-ranked Notre Dame.
With just one non-conference opportunity to improve their record this year, the Eagles could have a difficult transitional year. However, offensive improvement should be the main goal as Hafley and Kraft look to build up a program in flux.
Contention should not be expected for the Eagles, but a winning record after a difficult offseason should be the goal for a team that figures to look much different than it did a year ago. Playing spoiler in a crowded ACC could just be an added bonus.
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