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Preview: BC Eagles Defense & Special Teams

After receiving the gifts of last year's failed Deacon option attack, this year's Eagle defense returns several of the same names that you may recall scooping up loose fumbles

Jared Wickerham

Defense

Last year's BC Eagle defense was very proficient at getting to the QB, but when they didn't create pressure it backfired a great deal.  In fact, even though they were a top 25 team in adjusted sack rate according to Bill Connelly, they ended at #113 nationally in passing yards given up per game and 93rd in total yardage.  This year's defense will be comprised of the same starting secondary, but the tradition-rich LB position at BC may not live up to past standards based on the loss of their two top tacklers, Kevin Pierre-Louis and Steele Divitto.  Looking to fill these spots in the middle of the defense will be Josh Keyes and highly touted freshman Connor Strachan, as they join returning starter Steven Daniels who registered 71 tackles and 3 sacks in 2013.

The experienced secondary will be led by CB Manny Asprilla, who along with 61 tackles, 2 interceptions and 6 pass break-ups, also had 7 tackles for loss - quite the feat for a guy in the defensive backfield.  Joining him will be corner Bryce Jones and safeties Sean Silva and Dominique Williams, all of whom had over 50 tackles in 2013.  These four players also combined for 6 of the 9 interceptions for the Eagles last season.

Finally, the big hogs up front will likely be led by returning DT Mehdi Abdesmad who was having a breakout beginning to 2013 before a knee injury ended his promising season prematurely.  BC will miss the production of All-ACC 3rd teamer Kasim Edebali, but 4* freshman Harold Landry and 3* redshirt freshman Jack Cottrell will look to fill that large void at DE.  Run stopper Conner Wujciak is the other key returning piece in the middle of the line.

Special Teams

The BC kicking game lost its savior after 2013, as punter, kicker, and place kicker Nate Freese exhausted his eligibility.  Freese was a perfect 20-20 on field goals last season, including 6-6 from 40+.  Alex Howell will be Freese's replacement on both FGs and punts, which is not an enviable position.

The punt and kickoff return duties will likely be held by David Dudeck and Myles Willis, who return from last season. The punt return team will look to improve on their efficiency from last season, which was only 94th in the country.

Prediction

Although this is probably Wake Forest's most winnable conference game, it is hard to pick the Deacs based on the information currently available.  The fact that the game is in Winston-Salem does bode well, but in the end I expect the running game of the Eagles to wear down the Deacon defensive line in a low-scoring affair.  Both teams lost nearly all their offensive talent at the skill positions, so it will be interesting to see what names rise to relevance before the October 25th kickoff.  For now I'll go with Boston College 17 - Wake Forest 13.