Our SB Nation sister site for the BC Eagles, Boston College Interruption, joins us today to talk some ACC football. AJ Black and I discuss ACC football and what’s in store for a 2018 Eagles team that has a roster primed for immediate success. You can follow AJ on Twitter here, and see the other half of our Q&A here.
STS: There have been a lot of good coaching hires in the ACC the past couple of years. The ACC is as deep as ever with Virginia coming off a bowl appearance and UNC expected to improve. With such a deep group of quality teams, there’s a chance the ACC has a lot of six and seven wins teams that are actually pretty good. Excluding Clemson, Florida State, Miami, and Virginia Tech, which program(s) do you see rising this year? Over the next handful of years?
Black: I am going to sound like a bit of a homer here, but I think BC is going to turn some heads this year. They have really started to churn out and develop players that are ACC caliber, and this year will be a year where there are a quite a few All-ACC nominees. If Steve Addazio can get out of his own way, and not clench up in big games, I think they could beat some teams and finish 2nd this year. Another team that I really think will take a jump is Wake Forest. I like Dave Clawson as a coach, I think he really gets it on both sides of the ball, and they are going to be a team to watch in the future.
STS: AJ Dillon is favored as ACC Player of the Year. Aside from him, what couple of players on BC are you most excited to watch this year?
Black: There are quite a few. I think the biggest name on offense will be tight end Tommy Sweeney, when BC had their resurgence on offense last year, part of it was due to Sweeney becoming a huge target for the team. He is fast, has great hands and is probably the best tight end in the conference. He’s got NFL tight end written all over him. Another name is on defense, defensive end Zach Allen. He exploded last year, and he can do everything well from pressuring quarterbacks to shedding multiple blockers. He’s smart, learns quickly and continues to improve, he will be a first day draft pick next year. In the secondary BC has two safeties to watch out for, Lukas Denis and Will Harris. Denis led the country in interceptions last year, and has a great knack for the ball, while Harris is a ferocious tackler. They are a very exciting tandem.
STS: Boston College recently played Notre Dame and UConn in their non-conference slate. What programs would you most like to play out of conference in the coming years?
Black: BC fans are always clamoring for more P5 teams, and while I agree scheduling some are nice, you don’t want to flood your schedule with an impossible OOC schedule. We have Ohio State in a few years which should be pretty fun, and Stanford which matches up well with our academic profile, but I’d love to see UCLA and Michigan, two schools again with solid academic profiles that are in areas that BC likes to recruit.
STS: Boston College has won exactly seven games in four of Steve Addazio’s five seasons at the helm. From the outside, it looks like you’re starting to build momentum. How’s the mood of the fan base?
Black: We are excited for this year, but I can tell you if Daz goes 7-6 again things are going to sour quickly. It feels a little stagnant right now, but this year he has everything he wants, a team piled with players he developed, a deep offensive line, and a killer running back. He needs to take the next step, this year, I think he will, or the fans will start to turn.
STS: You have to go back nearly a decade to find a Boston College roster quite this promising. The schedule is loaded however with Miami and Virginia Tech from the Coastal Division. What are expectations for this season?
Black: I’m very optimistic of this schedule and this team and I will tell you why. I think BC lines up very well in the first seven games. They have UMass, Holy Cross, Temple which should be automatic wins. I am not buying on Purdue who is replacing their entire front line on defense, not what you want to do against a veteran O-Line and AJ Dillon. We also get Wake Forest while their starting QB is suspended, and I am selling on Louisville who got trounced by BC last year at home with Lamar Jackson. That leaves NC State, which should be tough on the road, but I thought BC should have beaten them at home last year if our starting QB, Anthony Brown, didn’t go down with a knee injury.
So 7-0 going into a Friday Night Red Bandana game against Miami is not that crazy of a possibility. And man, those Red Bandana games can be special, ask FSU and USC. I think 8-4 is realistic, and they win a bowl game they are 9-4, and that is exactly the step in the right direction BC needs to go.