20 on '20: Boston College Football's Biggest Area of Concern

A.J. Black

College football has opened up around the country, and as we await the Eagles return to Chestnut Hill it is time to look at some topics surrounding the team.

Do we highlight questions that need to be answered by the new staff? Perhaps we look at the biggest concerns with a team returning many starters and contributors but has specific questions needing to be answered at key positions?

In that light, BC Bulletin presents its "20 on '20" series where we dissect (you guessed it) 20 topics pertaining to the football program. 

Previous Topics:

No. 1: Which Position Group is the Deepest?

Topic 2: What is the biggest area of concern for the Eagles?

Last season, the defense struggled, and they struggled a lot. They finished near the bottom of the country in almost every statistical category including yards allowed, passing yards allowed, and points. The struggles was throughout the program, on every unit, and included the gameplan put forth by the staff. However, there was one group that struggled the most, the defensive line. 

During the Steve Addazio era, you could look at the Boston College defensive line and pick out one player who was the glue or playmaker, whether it was Harold Landry or Zach Allen. In 2019, there wasn't a player that stood out. The group as a whole struggled against the run, and finished near the bottom of the country in sacks. You can point to individual games to see how much they struggled to get any sort of surge off the snap. A perfect example would be the Kansas game, where Jayhawks quarterback Cole Stanley had all day to throw the ball, and the running backs were able to easily get to the second level because of the trouble up front. 

This is not to say the group doesn't have potential. They lost defensive end Richard Yeargin to graduation, but added a defensive tackle with Chibueze Onwuka from Buffalo to add some experience up the middle. TJ Rayam had moments, but like the rest of the line it wasn't always consistent. In order for BC's defense to take that next step, they need better play from their defensive ends. As mentioned in our "Breakout Players" series, Marcus Valdez has shown glimpses of growing into a solid pass rusher and can be explosive at times. But he needs to become more consistent, and continue the growth he showed at the end of the season.  Shittah Sillah is a name to watch for as well at defensive end. 

As a true freshman he showed flashes of what he could become, but he only played sporadically. Brandon Barlow, Bryce Morais and Izaiah Henderson all could be players who see the field as well this year. 

As you can see there is potential there, but there is no one in that group that has stepped up to be that "go to" playmaker yet. The biggest hope is that the group as a whole progresses, a few step up to become reliable starters, and with some coaching they become more of an asset than the liability they were last year. But because of all that uncertainty, for now they have to remain the biggest question mark on the team.

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