The penultimate article of the 101 Days of Boston College Football is not about firm predictions per se. Rather, it is about the expectations that will feed into those predictions. These are the things that Eagles players, coaches, and fans know must happen in order for this team to show real improvement, but it’s also a matter of whether or not they’ll be expected to clear those high bars. Consider this part one of the predictions article.
For some perspective, expectations in 2008 were for a good team, but one that would take a big step back without Matt Ryan. They won the ACC Atlantic again, so one might say they exceeded them. In 2009, Frank Spaziani’s first year, the Eagles were panned by the media but won 8 games. The win total certainly exceeded expectations, though the play of the offense was far from adequate. In 2010, with a relatively easy schedule, there was a belief that BC would cruise to a good record and contend for the ACC Atlantic title. Instead, they eked out 7 wins after starting the season 2-5. Finally, last season, many had this team pegged at about 6-6 or 7-5, but the bottom fell out and they went 4-8.
Boston College enters the 2012 season having been disappointing each of the previous two years. What we all want to know is this: Which way will this season break?
This is BC football’s expectations baseline as I see it heading into this season:
• Exceeding the win total from last season. 2011 was a nightmare, but to carve out a new low would be completely unacceptable. Five wins is a low bar to clear, so there are no excuses on this one.
• The offense escapes the triple-digit rankings. The expectation here shouldn’t be that the Eagles’ offense will take a massive jump into the top quarter of FBS. I know lots of folks here like Doug Martin, but you have to learn to walk before you can run, and after three straight years in the total yardage and scoring offense gutter, it’s imprudent to expect BC to go from one of the worst offenses to one of the best overnight. Moving out of the 100s in those rankings is a must, however.
• We’ll know what we have in Chase Rettig. I’m not sure what I expect from him personally, to be honest, but one thing that’s certain is that by late November, we’ll know whether or not the Rettig era at BC will amount to much. This is his junior year, and it’s make-or-break. If he doesn’t put it all together in 2012, he probably never will. There is a lot of pressure on Rettig, but he (and his offensive line) has to make it work or this team’s not going anywhere.
• Kevin Pierre-Louis takes over on defense. No more Luke Kuechly, and nobody is going to replace him in any sense because, as they say (paraphrased) in memes, one does not simply replace one of the best BC defensive players of all-time. Nevertheless, someone is going to step up and take charge, and the likely candidate is KPL. He’s primed for a big year — not Kuechly big, but big enough. Pierre-Louis may be the best player on the team right now, so look towards him.
• Kaleb Ramsey helps lift run defense back to above-average levels. The Eagles run defense regressed last season, from #1 in the nation in 2010 to middle-of-the-pack in 2011. With Kaleb Ramsey moving back to the interior of BC’s defensive line, that should help contain opposing run games a little.
Tomorrow, the 101st day and the season prediction.