Boston College Eagles — 2018 Syracuse Football preview

Addazio
Football coach Steve Addazio speaks to reporters. Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo, Stew Milne.

As we countdown to kickoff in August, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each week over the summer. SU will continue its 2018 schedule when it finishes its regular season against Boston College on Nov. 24.

HOT SEAT NO MORE: One year can make a big difference. At this time in 2017, Boston College head coach Steve Addazio was on several ‘hot seat‘ lists, especially two seasons removed from a disastrous 3-9 finish. Six games into the season, Addazio’s squad was 2-4 after a 23-10 loss to Virginia Tech, and the cries were only growing louder. That proved to be a turning point in BC’s season, with the Eagles losing just once in the regular season the rest of the way to finish 7-5 (they would lose a 27-20 game to Iowa in the Pinstripe Bowl). Any discussion of the hot seat is currently on hold, with Addazio returning an elite running back, a veteran offensive line and an always stingy defense. Though the Eagles may not challenge the upper echelon of the brutal Atlantic Division, Boston College could find itself in the mix for a high finish if things break correctly its way.

» Related: Notre Dame Fighting Irish — 2018 Syracuse Football preview

WHO TO WATCH FOR: The Eagles’ offense isn’t complicated, and there’s no reason to deviate from it this season. Addazio has always favored a smashmouth style attack, and he has one of the best running backs in the country in AJ Dillon. The sophomore emerged as one of the nation’s top backs last season, rushing for 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns. “Obviously we’re a run heavy team,” tight end Tommy Sweeney said. “His play speaks for itself. He’s a rare combination of speed and quickness and vision.” If quarterback Anthony Brown can show that he’s fully healthy after suffering a knee injury late in the season against NC State, the Eagles may be able to keep pace with some of the more offensive-minded teams on their schedule. When healthy, Brown threw for 1,367 yards and 11 touchdowns in his freshman season. “He’s been just cut free to full activity,” Addazio said. “It was a shame, unfortunate deal last year. He was really starting to really peak, as was our team.”

PREDICTION: Defensive lineman Zach Allen (100 tackles, six sacks) returns to lead a staunch front seven. He’s got the eye of many NFL scouts, and he’ll have the benefit of linebacker Connor Strachan returning from injury. Strachan was granted a medical redshirt after suffering a season-ending knee injury, but appears to be back at full strength. All of that leads to the Eagles legitimately eyeing a top-3 finish in the ACC Atlantic and a bowl game for a second straight year. SYRACUSE 31, BOSTON COLLEGE 35.

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Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.