ACC Football 2013 Payback Games: Boston College

Eagles Fans Were Crushed By Last Year's 30-23 Defeat vs. Virginia Tech; Can They Bounce Back in 2013?

BC Fans Were Crushed By 2012’s 30-23 Defeat vs. Virginia Tech; Can They Bounce Back in 2013?

Every team in the ACC has a couple games they wish they had back from 2012. Whether they didn’t bring their A-game, or the other guys just got lucky, every school would love another shot at an opponent, for the ability to prove it won’t happen again. Luckily, because of conference play and parity in the ACC, many will get a chance at redemption immediately, with rematches already on the books for 2013.

As part of our 2013 college football season preview, we’ll be running through the biggest “payback” games for each school. As no team finished with just one loss, there are likely multiple choices for each — none more “right’ than another, necessarily. Still, every selection should help provide some extra motivation for fans as they gear up for this season’s slate of games.

Team: Boston College Eagles

Opponent: Virginia Tech Hokies

Last Year: Loss, 30-23 (OT) vs. Virginia Tech

This Year: November 2, vs. Virginia Tech

In an otherwise hapless season of ACC play, the Eagles did manage a win against a depleted Maryland team, while also forcing overtime in an eventual loss versus a seven-win Hokies squad. Those are the highlights. But despite the use of the word “forced,” Boston College was not in this game by chance of a miracle — they’d actually outplayed Virginia Tech for the majority of the contest. Ultimately, their downfall would be decided by some overly conservative play-calling from former coaches Frank Spaziani and Doug Martin.

With just over one minute remaining in regulation, BC received the ball on their own 17 yard line. Possessing some momentum and reasonable amount of time, one would surmise the offense would at least attempt to move the football and try to get in range for a game-winning field goal (score was tied at 23 at the time). Instead, two running plays and a kneel-down sent it into overtime as a perturbed Chestnut Hill crowd booed. In overtime, the BC defense was on its heels for the entirety of a six-play touchdown drive by Tech. And then the offense took over, down seven and needing to get it in the end zone to force another overtime. The plays? Rush up the middle for no gain. Poorly-drawn pass play that resulted in a Chase Rettig sack. Incomplete pass. And then a seven-yard pass on 4th and 11. End of game.

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Way-Too-Early 2013 ACC Football Power Rankings (May 6)

Do Vic Beasley and the Clemson D Decide Whether or Not the Tigers Contend for a Title?

Will Vic Beasley & the Clemson D Decide Whether or Not the Tigers Contend for a Title?

As SB Nation so aptly pointed out today, we are halfway through college football’s offseason; which means that as of right now, it’s just 115 days ’till kickoff, one of the most magical days on the sporting calendar. For the ACC, hope springs eternal at the moment, with at least one real national title contender and a collection of up-and-comers looking to crack the polls, too. Obviously, it’s all speculation, but what else do we have to get us through the next few months?

1. Clemson Tigers (Last: 1): We’ll know all we need to about Clemson after the first game against Georgia — a matchup that’s likely to pit two top-10 teams against one another in a national showcase. The Tigers offense will be fine, but were the glimmers of hope the defense provided come the end of 2012 a flash in the pan, or an indication of better things to come? I’m tempted to think the latter, actually.

2. Louisville Cardinals (Last: 2): The Cardinals’ schedule is a joke consisting of the depleted Big East American Athletic Conference, so running through it with 11 or 12 wins should not be a problem at all. What observers will find truly intriguing about Louisville this year will mostly revolve around whether voters will give the Cards enough credit in the national title conversation, and/or how much Heisman hype Teddy Bridgewater can amass.

3. Florida State Seminoles (Last: 3): New starting quarterback Jameis Winston appears to be the real deal, but we won’t know the extent of the young passer’s growing pains until the real games begin. Though the ‘Noles lost plenty to the draft (11 players in all), the last few recruiting classes still leave plenty of talent to keep this team hovering among the top 15-20, nationally.

4. North Carolina Tar Heels (Last: 5): On paper, the Heels lost quite a bit with the departures of Giovani Bernard and Jonathan Cooper, but that discounts the extent of the offense’s evolution under coach Larry Fedora much too heavily. As a senior, QB Bryn Renner‘s poised for his best year yet, and after a strong part-time campaign last year, running back A.J. Blue could be one of the conference’s biggest surprises.

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ACC Football Head Coaching Hot Seats 2013

Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson is One of Several ACC Coaches on Tentative Ground Right Now

Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson is One of Several ACC Coaches on Tentative Ground Right Now

We’re just jumping into spring practice (you can look at every ACC team’s previews here), but for all 14 (15) squads, this is the start of the 2013 season. And for head coaches, this is where the year’s evaluations start; from their players, the school administrations, the fans and the boosters that can easily pull the plug on their position. While some of the ACC‘s head coaches are firmly entrenched where they’re at, there are also plenty that find themselves in precarious situations. Regarding both, we provide a quick evaluation of where all of them stand, new coaches and all.

Completely Safe (5)

Dabo Swinney, Clemson (sixth year): Swinney has brought the Tigers to an extended period of success they haven’t seen in decades, winning the ACC, becoming a perennial top-20 program and taking home a huge victory in the 2012 Chick-fil-a Bowl. The only things left? Consistently beating South Carolina and winning a national championship.

David Cutcliffe, Duke (sixth year): After getting Duke to their first bowl game since 1994, it appears that Cutcliffe can do no wrong in Durham. Of course, now the question begs whether he can keep it up. So long as he can consistently win between five and seven games, Cutcliffe will be just fine at Duke.

Charlie Strong, Louisville (fourth year): Strong had a real opportunity to leave this past offseason, yet chose to stick around at Louisville to finish what he started. While there’s always the threat he could head to the SEC, Strong’s ability to rebuild this program and contend on a national stage (see: Sugar Bowl) have him here long-term if he wants to be.

Larry Fedora, North Carolina (second year): Just a small sample size for Fedora thus far, but in his one season, he’s already brought UNC to a place of far more prominence than they’ve been in a decade. He’ll get several seasons to continue implementing his system, but if trends continue, he’ll be fine in Chapel Hill.

Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh (second year): Another second-year coach, Chryst has seen some results after a season at the helm, but it appears he’s set to grow the program further after (especially after a nice recruiting haul this spring). If they take a step back, questions may start, but he’s got plenty of runway to work with.

Fine for Now (4)

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State (fourth year): Expectations are always high at FSU, so it’s no surprise Fisher sits here, despite winning 12 games and an ACC title last year. Now, of course, it’ll be interesting to see if he can live up year-to-year. If Fisher can’t contend more than every few seasons, patience will grow short very quickly around Florida State.

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ACC 2013 Spring Football Preview: Boston College Eagles

Steve Addazio's First Spring Practices at BC Will Set the Tone for His New Regime

Steve Addazio’s First Spring Practices at BC Will Set the Tone for His New Regime

As the ACC‘s spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing the big storylines for each of the league’s 14 (15, in this case) teams. Check back on weekdays for what to look out for during your school’s spring practices and spring game.

Team: Boston College Eagles

Spring Practice Start Date: February 28

Spring Game Date: April 13 April 20 (updated to reflect newly announced date)

The Eagles are undergoing a complete overhaul this offseason now that Frank Spaziani’s reign of terror is finally over. Head coach Steve Addazio brings a new intensity into spring practice, and by all accounts, he’ll be looking for “his guys” early, to see which players are set to help him rebuild this program from the depths of 2012’s 2-10 finish.

Offensively, there’s hope for continuity as former wide receivers coach Ryan Day takes over to run a group that only scored 19.8 points per game last year. Whether or not he can harness quarterback Chase Rettig‘s skillset into wins, however, will be his biggest test as part of his new role. Rettig and his connection to receiver Alex Amidon were the only positives for the struggling offensive unit. In order to fix things going forward, he’ll have to identify some new leaders along the line (perhaps Dan Lembke and/or Aaron Kramer at the tackle spots?) and establish a running game to take some pressure off Rettig. Last year’s backfield was among the worst in the country, and those same players — mainly Andre Williams and Rolandon Finch — are back again for 2013. With former offensive coordinator Doug Martin and his pass-happy (to a fault) system out of the fold, there’s at least hope for some balanced play-calling this season.

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2012 ACC Football Season Recap: Boston College Eagles

After a Disastrous 2012 Season, We Try to Find a Silver Lining for Boston College Football

After a Disastrous 2012 Season, it’s Tough to Find Positives for Boston College — Though We Do Try

Team: Boston College Eagles

W-L: 2-10 (1-7)

Postseason: N/A

Top Offensive Performer: Alex Amidon, WR

Top Defensive Performer: Nick Clancy, LB

The talk heading into the 2012 season was that new offensive coordinator Doug Martin would be letting the reigns loose on a passing game that had been ranked 100th in the nation back in 2011. And sure, that did happen. The Eagles were ranked 45th in the country in passing yards per game this past season, and QB Chase Rettig — once thought to be a lost cause in a failing system — threw for more than 3,000 yards (nearly equaling his previous career total). But despite the increase, it didn’t really result in points scored. BC scored 19.8 points per game this season; more than last season’s paltry 18.2, but the team only moved from 112th to 111th in total scoring offense year-over-year. That average was also boosted by a four-game stretch in which they scored 31 points or more three times (but won just one of those contests).

Where Martin and the Boston College offense failed most, however, was the running game. After career leading rusher Montel Harris left the program this summer, the Eagles struggled to find any real consistency with his replacements, Rolandon “Deuce” Finch and Andre Williams. But it’s not entirely right to blame the backs, when it was Martin’s system that really caused the issue. In 2012, Boston College ran the ball just 345 times (versus 437 times in 2011). Predictably, the Eagles’ run game was a disaster as a result of the rushing/passing inequity, only racking up 90.5 yards per game (119th in the country). Even more predictably, Doug Martin is no longer with Boston College and will be taking his one-dimensional offense back to New Mexico State next season.

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ACC Football 2012 Power Rankings: Week 14

Tajh Boyd and the Clemson Offense Were No Match for South Carolina, as the Gamecocks Embarrassed the Tigers Once Again

With the regular season officially over, we check back in with the ACC’s teams to assess the damage of 2012. The good: two teams won ten games during the regular season, just one team won less than four games, and 10 teams (could be 11 if Pitt wins this weekend) won at least six games. The bad: No team won more than 10 games, two of the league’s top five teams are ineligible, and eight teams (out of 14) won between five and seven games. Oh, and Maryland decided to leave. Which is bad.

1. Florida State Seminoles (10-2) (7-1) (LW: 1): Favored against archrival Florida, the Seminoles had a very manageable game at home and seemed poised for their first 11-win regular season in years. But then they struggled out the gate, and closed just as poorly en route to a 37-26 defeat. As a team, FSU looked outmatched everywhere but the defensive line, and quarterback EJ Manuel‘s four turnovers were the stuff of a worst-case nightmare. They’ll be favored again in the ACC Championship Game, and under no circumstances can the conference really afford for them to lose.

2. Clemson Tigers (10-2) (7-1) (LW: 2): Clemson’s BCS dreams are all but dead after they came up very short against South Carolina and its vaunted defensive front. The Tigers impressive offense was shut down in a way no one had really figured out up until Saturday, and the result exposed a team that can’t run the ball with consistency, nor can they manage to stop anyone on defense either. If Clemson hopes to take the next step and become a truly elite program under coach Dabo Swinney, they need to take full advantage of opportunities against top-tier competition. They had just three games against teams with winning records all season, and went 1-2 in those contests, while being outscored 124-116.

3. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (7-5) (5-3) (LW: 5): It’s unfortunate for the conference to see Miami sit out another postseason, but if the alternative is seeing an even better, more experienced version of this group next year, it may be the best option for everyone. In line to play in its first ACC title game, we miss out on a ‘Canes/’Noles matchup this year in exchange for what’s hopefully many more to come. Anyone who watched Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson in action this season knows there are good times ahead, so long as the defense starts to clean up its act.

4. North Carolina Tar Heels (8-4) (5-3) (LW: 4): As the year’s wore on, we’ve caught glimpses of what this Heels offense could truly become under Larry Fedora and his spread attack. But on Saturday, quarterback Bryn Renner really delivered on that potential by putting up over 300 yards and five touchdowns. The junior’s obviously taken a bit more time to adapt to the new system than initially expected, but all in all, you still can’t argue with 3,356 yards and 28 scores. Expect even better production next year, as Fedora really turns him loose.

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ACC Football 2012 Week 13 Lessons: SEC Dominates ACC on Showdown Saturday

Favored By a Touchdown, the Seminoles Still Proved No Match for the Rival Gators This Weekend

Each Monday morning, we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 13 of ACC football action:

1. Nothing’s changed: We thought that Clemson and Florida State — the class of the ACC — could come out of this weekend’s matchups with their SEC rivals victorious. We were so very, very wrong. FSU struggled right out the gate, and quarterback EJ Manuel was happy to hand the ball right to Florida several times during the mistake-laden, forgettable contest. Clemson’s high-flying offense — considered among the best in the nation — was held to just 17 points against South Carolina. Georgia Tech and Wake Forest were also thumped by SEC foes, making the ACC 4-0 against its southern brethren on Showdown Saturday. Instead of a perception boost, the weekend provided an even bigger hit for the already-wobbly ACC.

2. Notre Dame‘s never been further away: While the ACC would love to see Notre Dame’s continued success, both before and during their partnership, the Irish’s impending shot at a national title proves how far away they are. There was plenty of talk they could potentially be coaxed into a full-time membership with the ACC, but I doubt that’s likely anymore. In going 12-0 this season, Notre Dame proved they stand apart from the system. They don’t need a conference to compete for championships, and if they end this season with a title in hand, there’s little doubt they’ll remain independent for decades.

3. Realignment holding pattern: There are murmurs that a decision could come this week as to the ACC’s replacement for Maryland. But who will it be, and will there be more than one add? Thoughts of a 16-team superconference (adding Louisville, UConn and Cincinnati) have seemingly been shot down for the time being, but the choice has essentially come down to those three schools. Personally, I’d like to see the league make some calls to a few bigger fish first, but for all I know, they’ve already done this.

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