tiger paw

Steve Addazio took over a Boston College program that had suffered back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in 14 years (including a 2-10 mark in 2012) and engineered a remarkable turnaround. In what were supposed to be rebuilding years, Addazio led the Eagles to back-to-back seven-win seasons and two consecutive bowl games.

Addazio is the first coach in Boston College history to lead the Eagles to five bowls in the first six seasons as head coach.

The 2018 regular season featured a return to the national rankings for the first time since 2008 and the Eagles appeared in the College Football Playoff Top 25 for the first time in school history. Boston College appeared in the AP Top 25 poll four times in the 2018 season, the most appearances in the national rankings for BC since 2007.

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Addazio has no doubt that his Eagles are heading south to take on the best of the best this week in the Clemson Tigers.

"Obviously, we're going down to play the defending national champion," Addazio said. "We're going down to play an elite football team. On a personal note, I just have the utmost respect for Dabo Swinney. Gotten to know Dabo over the years. I think he's an outstanding football coach, a better motivator. He just has a knack for creating a great culture with his program, that's been obvious, and then, of course, recruit at a high level. So they have a lot of elite players on their program, on their team. That's very obvious when you watch the tape.

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"I see great athletes and a great coaching staff. I think their offensive coordinator, their defensive coordinator, those guys are elite guys, and you can tell by, when you watch the tape, how well-coached each side of the ball is."

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Eagles on offense

First-year offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian was named the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach on Jan. 14. 2019.

Bajakian came to the Eagles after serving the past four seasons as quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers led the NFL with 320.3 passing yards per game in 2018 and finished with the league’s No. 3 total offense (415.5 yards per game). Tampa’s quarterbacks ended the season with 5,125 passing yards, 36 touchdown passes and a 65.30% completion percentage. The Buccaneers finished with 71 passing plays of 20-plus yards and 14 passing plays of 40 yards or more.

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Known around the country as a one of the best quarterback coaches in the nation, Bajakian worked exclusively with former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston at Tampa Bay.

The 2017 season saw third-year Buccaneers quarterback Winston post career bests in completion percentage (63.8%), yards per attempt (7.9) and passer rating (92.2), while posting a career-low interception rate (2.5%). Winston’s 7.93 yards per attempt set a single-season franchise record and his six 300-yard passing games were the most in a single season in team history. He also ranked in the top five in franchise history in single-season passer rating.

Winston averaged 269.5 passing yards per game, which was the sixth-highest mark in the NFL. He also ranked fourth in both yards per attempt and yards per completion (12.43). Winston finished his third season with the third-most passing yards by a player from the rookie season through the third season, trailing only Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning, while registering the seventh-most passing touchdowns.

This year, the Eagles are turning to Dennis Grosel. There’s nothing like making your second career start in a stadium that is completely filled, entirely orange, and incredibly loud. Still, Addazio has faith in his quarterback’s ability to manage a game, mentioning his alert third-down scramble that jump started a 98-yard touchdown drive against the Wolfpack as one such example.

“He’s a pretty sharp guy,” Addazio said. “I think he handles all that really well. I think with Dennis it’s just game experience, just being in those games and all the unique things that come up in a game, and managing all of that."

Eagles on defense

Bill Sheridan is in his second full season with the Eagles — however 2019 will mark Sheridan's first as defensive coordinator for the Eagles.

BC rounded out 2018 with a school-record 13 All-ACC selections, but only two are returning and neither is on the defensive side of the ball. There are five players on the Eagles’ defense that have started at least one collegiate game.

Not only will Sheridan be working with a host of first-time starters, he will also try to find a way to improve on the Eagles' biggest flaw: BC’s opponents converted on 37.4% of their third downs (49th in the nation).

Since the start of the 2017 season, Boston College is second in the country with 45 interceptions. The opportunistic defense started the season right where they left off in 2018 with three picks in the Virginia Tech win on August 31 and two in the win over Richmond. BC is 11th nationally in 2019 with nine interceptions, and have picked off at least one pass in 14 of the last 15 games.

However, the job this week will be the toughest they have faced all season.

“There’s no doubt in any mind that they’re the No. 1 team in the country — skilled, talented everywhere, proven it on the field,” he said. “So when I watch their tape, I see no weaknesses.”

The line

The Tigers are currently 35-point favorites.

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