GREENSBORO, N.C. — A year ago, the Boston College football team was coming off a two-win season and was picked in a preseason media poll to finish sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic Division. It didn’t sit well then with coach Steve Addazio.
Predictably, Addazio had the same reaction when he learned Monday at the ACC’s Football Kickoff that his Eagles, coming off a 7-6 season and a 2,000-yard rushing performance by Andre Williams, were projected to finish sixth in the division.
“It doesn’t sit well with me, I’m not going to sit here and lie to you,’’ Addazio said. “But, I understand that. One season doesn’t mean a lot. I think, if anything else, it’ll fuel the fire. I’ll make sure we’ll talk about that as a football team when we get back.
“But, you know what, it is what it is and it’s up to us to change that perception. How do you do that? You do that with your preparation, you do it on the field, and you do it with your wins and losses.’’
Addazio said the Eagles did make inroads in earning the respect of opposing players and coaches across the conference.
“We’re a tough, hard-nosed physical football team and they know when they play us we’re going to come with a physical brand of football,’’ said Addazio. “But at this point people are still probably skeptical of our program and where we are and I understand. We’ve got nine returning starters and lost 17. We’ve got an unproven quarterback [Florida transfer Tyler Murphy] and we lost our receiver [Alex Amidon] and running back [Williams], who accounted for a vast majority of our offense. I get all of that.
“So we love the motivation and we love being the underdog, so that’s a great place to be and that’s where we are again.’’
Lined up for success
Addazio said BC’s success this season would rest, as it almost always does, with its offensive linemen. “That’s where it all begins,’’ said Addazio, a former offensive line coach.
“We’re going to be good up front now.’’
He’ll have five fifth-year seniors on the line. Returning is center Andy Gallik, a third-team All-ACC selection last season, and senior guards Harris Williams and Bobby Vardaro as well as left tackle Seth Betancourt. In addition is right tackle Ian Silberman, a mid-year transfer from Florida. “Ian Silberman took the place of Ian White. Ian [Silberman] was a starter at Florida and he’s a hell of a player, I know him, I coached him, I recruited him. He’s an NFL-caliber player. And Seth Betancourt played a lot of football at BC and he’s going to be on the left side. He’s a very good football player.’’
Backing up the starters is a talented group that includes Aaron Kramer, a 6-foot-7-inch, 293-pound senior from Duxbury; Dave Bowen, a 6-7, 291-pound junior; and Jim Cashman, a 6-7, 301-pound redshirt freshman.
“We can put 8-9 guys on the field we feel who can be good, quality players up front,’’ Addazio said. “Big, strong, physical guys. So we’re not going to take a step back on the O-line, that’s not going to happen.’’
Addazio said BC’s defensive front seven has the ability to be just as big, strong, and physical as the offense, especially with the return of lineman Mehdi Abdesmad, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last year against Florida State. “Mehdi was our most dominant and best defensive player last season until he got hurt,’’ Addazio said. “So we played the rest of the season without our best defensive player. He’ll be back and ready to go.’’ Abdesmad, a 6-7, 297-pound senior, will be part of an imposing front along with Brian Mihalik, a 6-9, 295-pound senior, and Connor Wujciak, a 6-3, 304-pound junior . . . Addazio is excited about the improved size of BC’s receiving corps, saying the team could field at least three “matchup problem’’ type receivers. The tall trio are Josh Bordner, a 6-4, 230-pound senior who was converted from quarterback; Charlie Callinan, a 6-4, 220-pound redshirt freshman; and Dan Crimmins, a 6-5, 237-pound junior. “Teams want to play man coverage against us because they want to load the box against the run,’’ Addazio said. “At Florida, we had a guy like Percy Harvin and when they played man against him, he was gone. Now, you better have big corners who can match up against these big-body receivers. It’s really a page out of Stanford, that’s where I see us headed and I’m really excited about our receiving corps.’’