NCAA Football Preview - Boston College Eagles
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From The Sports Network By Pat Taggart, College Football Staff Writer 2003 SEASON IN REVIEW: The 2003 season began with a heartbreaking 32-28 loss to Wake Forest for Tom O'Brien and his Boston College Eagles. The team did respond with a pair of road victories over Penn State and Connecticut, but a September 20th matchup with Miami-Florida in Chestnut Hill resulted in a 33-14 defeat. After beating up on Ball State and Temple in the ensuing weeks, BC suffered its third loss of the campaign, an ugly 39-14 setback at Syracuse. At 4-3, Boston College appeared to be mediocre at best. A gritty 27-25 triumph over Notre Dame had fans feeling good, but that win was followed by a pair of losses to Pittsburgh and West Virginia. Fortunately, the season ended with a three straight victories. After knocking off Rutgers on the road, the Eagles flew into Blacksburg and emerged with a 34-27 win over Virginia Tech. That triumph set up a San Francisco Bowl matchup with Colorado State, and that showdown resulted in a 35-21 victory. 2004 ANALYSIS: OFFENSE: With only two starters back along the offensive line, protection is the biggest concern. The man expected to lead the squad from the quarterback position is Paul Peterson, a senior who earned the job late in the '03 season and played well. Although he is rather small at 6-0 and 184 pounds, Peterson threw for 1,124 yards and 10 scores in limited duty as a junior. Should he falter, Quinton Porter will be prepared to regain his starting role. Porter threw for 1,764 yards and 14 touchdowns last season before losing his job to Peterson, and he is certainly more than capable of stepping in again. Whichever quarterback is under center, there is talent to throw to in Grant Adams and Joel Hazard. Adams hauled in 46 balls for 720 yards and five scores a year ago, and he figures to be in contention for All-Big East honors this time around. The running back spot is not a sure thing, as Andre Callender, Jeff Ross, and L.V. Whitworth will all compete for carries. Ross is a sophomore and the other two are freshmen, giving the Eagles a talented but young group. DEFENSE: Mathias Kiwanuka is a star, as the Boston College defensive end is coming off a 2003 campaign in which he registered 13 sacks. The Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award is certainly a possibility for Kiwanuka, as he is 6-8 with 4.55 speed. If Phillip Mettling can put some pressure on the quarterback from the other end position, Kiwanuka could be even better in 2004. As for the linebackers, Ray Henderson is the most experienced of the group. He is the team's leading returning tackler with 88 stops and will provide plenty of leadership. Will Blackmon highlights a secondary that should be among the better units in the league. Blackmon picked off four balls in '03 and will draw the opposition's top receiver more times than not. Overall, this defensive unit should be solid and give the Eagles a chance to win each time out. SPECIAL TEAMS: Jeff Gomulinski averaged nearly 40 yards per punt a year ago and is back for his senior season. Considering that there are some questions for the Eagles that will need to be answered early on, strong play by Gomulinski will be key. Mike Fassel, the son of former New York Giants' coach Jim Fassel, figures to be the placekicker. As for the return game, Blackmon will showcase his talent on kickoffs. OUTLOOK: This season is the last for Boston College as a member of the Big East, as it will move to the ACC at season's end. The Eagles figure to be among the top teams in the league this year, but they are not a sure thing by any means. It remains to be seen if one of the tailbacks can be a standout, and a quarterback controversy is certainly possible. Expect Boston College to finish third or fourth in the Big East, but don't be surprised if the team finishes higher.