Boston College drew its 2008 success from its defense that ranked fifth nationally, but replacing two of the best defensive tackles in college football is no easy task.
It’s safe to say that with the losses of B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, the Eagles will not see that same kind of dominance on defense. In addition to the losses of Raji and Brace, linebacker Mark Herzlich, the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year, was recently diagnosed with cancer and cannot play until the 2010 season.
Another key loss for the Eagles was the firing of head coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who led the team to a 20-8 record during his tenure with Boston College. With Jagodzinski’s departure, the 2009 season marks the beginning of the Frank Spaziani era. Spaziani put together particularly stingy defensive units as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator for the past nine seasons.
With all the defensive losses and the transfer of quarterback Dominique Davis, most eyes will be on the murky quarterback battle between freshman Justin Tuggle, 25-year-old David Shinskie, junior Codi Boek and Michael Marscovetra. Shinskie appeared to be taking control of the position prior to sustaining a cracked rib in a scrimmage on Aug. 23, but whoever eventually gets the starting job can take comfort in an offensive line that returns four starters anchored by tackle Anthony Castonzo. It is yet to be seen, however, how much their offense will miss the presence of wide out Brandon Robinson. The Eagles went 1-1 against the Hokies last season.
Predicted Record: 8-4 (5-3)
Clemson fell far short of its lofty 2008 expectations. This year, it won’t have the pressure of a top-10 preseason ranking to live up to, which will be crucial for the early success of redshirt freshman quarterback Kyle Parker, who was named the starter for the season opener.
However, the offense will most certainly be anchored by running back C.J. Spiller, who returns to the Tigers after opting out of the NFL Draft. Unfortunately for the Tigers, neither Parker nor Spiller may find much protection behind an offensive line that ranked 103rd in the nation in sacks allowed.
The Tigers’ 12th-ranked pass defense returns corners Crezdon Butler and Chris Chancellor, but the offensive line will need to give Parker more protection if they are to make a run at the Atlantic Division championship.
Predicted Record: 7-5 (5-3)
The sun never seems to shine in Durham come football season. The Blue Devils return defensive stars in Vince Oghobaase at defensive tackle and Vincent Rey at linebacker, but the rest of the team’s outlook seems pretty bleak.
Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis improved by leaps and bounds, but lost his favorite target in wide receiver Eron Riley. Freshman recruit Desmond Scott possesses the talent to be a quality tailback, but he may struggle early behind a dismal offensive line that returns only two starters. Duke hasn’t been to a bowl game since 1994, and the streak won’t end this year. The Blue Devils lost last year’s matchup against Virginia Tech 14-3.
Predicted Record: 3-9 (0-8)
Florida State looks to reload on defense and rely on redshirt junior quarterback Christian Ponder in 2009. Ponder returns after leading the Seminoles to a nine-win season in his first year. The now-seasoned junior hopes to improve on his accuracy and match his impressive running ability to complement a dangerous arm.
On defense, because of the departure of defensive ends Everette Brown and Neefy Moffett as well as linebacker Derek Nicholson and cornerback Tony Carter, the Seminoles hope to coach up young talent to succeed in stopping ACC offenses. However, producing elite defenses has never been an issue for defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews and his staff. The Seminoles defeated the Hokies in their contest last year 30-20.
Predicted Record: 9-3 (8-1)