BY DANIEL MOGOLLON
COLLEGE FOOTBALL INSIDERS
2006 RECORD: 10-3; ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE: 5-3
Won Meineke Car Care Bowl vs. Navy 25-24
LOCATION: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
STADIUM: Alumni (44,500)
HEAD COACH: Jeff Jagodzinski
OVERALL: 0-0 (0 seasons)
AT BOSTON COLLEGE: 0-0 (0 seasons)
When you think of the Boston area sports, the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins come to mind, with the Eagles somewhat of an afterthought. Unlike most of the other programs, Boston College plays in the shadow of professional sports franchises…something the folks in Tallahassee or Blacksburg do not have to compete with. You would have to think that played a role in longtime headman Tom O’Brien leaving the comforts of Bean Town to take over the North Carolina St. Wolfpack. The new man in charge is Jeff Jagodzinski, whose last job ironically was offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers, the one NFL team that plays in a town with a college atmosphere.
WHEN THE BIRDS HAVE THE BALL
OFFENSIVE COORDINAROR: Steve Logan (1st Season)
OFFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 7
KEY LOSSES: Josh Beekman, James Marten, Tony Gonzalez
Bringing Steve Logan, a successful head coach at East Carolina, was a good move by the rookie head coach. Logan inherits an excellent quarterback in Matt Ryan, the reigning Atlantic Coast Offensive Player of the Year. Ryan has all the tools to play on Sundays and is nice place to start for the new regime. Due to ankle and foot injuries, Ryan was not 100 percent for most of last season, a testament to not only his ability, but also his toughness. There is a lot to love with the BC signal caller. The receivers are unproven, but we could see the tight ends break out, in particular Ryan Purvis, who finished his sophomore campaign on a high note. Tackle Gosder Cherilus continues the tradition of lineman at the blue-collar school, however they are changing philosophy to a zone-blocking attack and it will be interesting to see if the have to take a step back before the change pays off. On the ground the tag-team of L.V. Whitworth and Andre Callender are solid runners, but neither scares opponents, which is why the speedy Jeff Smith could cut into their workload.
PRO PROSPECTS: 1) Gosder Cherilus (SR), 2) Matt Ryan (SR), 3) Ryan Purvis (JR), 4) Ryan Poles (SR), 5) Lenox Whitworth (SR), 6) Andre Callender (SR)
WHEN THE OTHER TEAM HAS THE BALL
DEFENSIVE COORDINAROR: Frank Spaziani (9th Season)
DEFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 8
KEY LOSSES: Ryan Glasper, Brian Toal (INJ)
The loss of linebacker Brian Toal, who will redshirt the 2007 season, hurts, however the Eagles still have eight returning starters, along with Frank Spaziani’s eight years of experience as the coordinator, making this the unit of continuity for BC. With middle linebacker Jolonn Dunbar back, the linebacking core should be just fine. Making the linebackers’ job easier are the 680 pounds that tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace bring. They have even more ability at end with senior Nick Larkin back, joined by a trio of talented sophomores in Austin Giles, who displayed pass-rushing skills in limited duty, as well as Brady Smith and Alex Albright. Two secondary positions are locked up with cover corner DeJuan Tribble and the hard-hitting Jamie Silva, however the other two spots must be filled if they are to improve on their pass defense.
PRO PROSPECTS: 1) DeJuan Tribble (SR), 2) Jolonn Dunbar (SR), 3) B.J. Raji (SR), 4) Austin Giles (SO), 5) Jamie Silva (SR)
And down the stretch they come…after a schedule that should have them 5-1 or possibly even 6-0 to start out, the games become a little bit tougher. Four of their last six are away from the friendly confines, with trips to South Bend, Blacksburg, College Park and Clemson. The two home games? Miami and Florida St. -- while each program has taken a step back, the talent is there and each could have rediscovered their swagger by the time they make their visits to Chestnut Hill. If the Eagles reach last season’s win total of ten, the faithful can rest easy that they are in good hands with Jeff Jagodzinski.
How the Eagles handle adjustments along the offensive line will dictate how far they go and if they can make a run at the Atlantic Division title, giving them a chance at their first ever BCS appearance. As much talent as BC has produced along the offensive line, over the last three years they have averaged 3.9 yards per carry or worse, which is simply unacceptable, so it might be time for a change. Jagodzinski is a believer in the zone-blocking scheme, which also caused some flux along the coaching staff as well. In April, O-Line coach Jim Turner left the program due in large part because of the system change, forcing Jagodzinski to take over himself in the spring, before finally hiring Jack Bicknell Jr.
CFI FINAL ANALYSIS
The Eagles have been among the most consistent programs in the nation under Tom O’Brien, winning seven straight bowl games and winning nine games plus in back-to-back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history, yet many were happy to see him go. O’Brien’s tendency to play it close to the vest may have cost the Eagles an even bigger season in 2006. With eight games decided by a touchdown or less, it was almost ensured the Eagles would lose a few of those games, so it will be interesting to see how opening things up will affect wins and losses. Either way, a well-stocked defense should keep them in every game.
Check back tomorrow to see who is #18 in CFI’s Top 25 Countdown