The Demon Deacons' starting lineup was decimated by graduation. Fortunately for Deacs fans, they return three solid starters on the offensive line, including All American candidate Tyson Clabo (the best guard on BC's schedule not named Chris Snee) and feature a decent but undersized running back in Chris Barclay. Unfortunately, they've got a relatively inexperienced QB (Corey Randolph) who's more accustomed to running than passing. I expect Spaz to blitz, keep seven or eight guys in the box and dare them to beat the Eagles with through the air. When your star player is a guard, the BC defense has the edge.
The last thing I want to do as coach of a team facing O-Line U and its 1000-yard rushers is replace my entire DL; poor Jim Grobe. The Deacs return solid linebackers, mobile Kellen Brantley on the outside and undersized playmaker Brad White in the middle. The Deacs' secondary is a mixed bag; on the one hand they're experienced, on the other hand, they're not very good. The situation is ideal for Quinton Porter in his first start.
Prediction: More important than match-ups, Wake Forest is located in the state of North Carolina and no matter how staunchly they supported our admission to the ACC the stupidity of Duke, UNC and the Virginia legislature, and the last minute switcheroo by Mary Anne Fox, is all their fault. Deacs fans will receive a hostile welcome, BC-style, during their visit to the Heights. Expect BC fans to not share their Sam Adams and filet mignon, and hide the women and children when the whale pants crew gives them indignant looks (wrinkles permitting). The Eagles will be fired up, and should roll against a rebuilding Wake team. BC 28 - Wake Forest 13.
2. Penn State (9/6/03)
The best addition to BC's schedule in years, the Eagles may be catching a break in this one. Zack Mills and Michael Robinson are both dynamite quarterbacks. However, the offensive line is a lot like my mother's Midwestern cooking, unseasoned; only tackle Chris McKelvy returns as a starter. With the departure of Bryant Johnson and Larry Johnson, there will be dearth of talent and experience at the skill positions. Donnie Johnson, Mike Gasparanto and true frosh Austin Scott will have a tough go in early September facing Doug Goodwin and Tim Bulman with onion breath.
On defense the line of scrimmage was also decimated with John Bronson the only starter returning. Super-soph Tambi Halli will star at one tackle and massive red shirt frosh Levi Brown at the other, but this line is very raw. Linebacker U will feature Gino Capone as resident stud in the middle and a pair of good outside backers in Derryck Toyles and Dereck Wake or Lamar Stewart. The defensive backfield has suffered injuries and lacks experience at the starting spots, so despite good size, CBs Rich Gardner and Alan Zemaitis will have their hands full with the BC wideouts.
Prediction: Big East fans from the posh suburbs of Morgantown, West Virginia, to the tropical climes of Syracuse, New York, are hoping against hope that Penn State sees the light and returns to its roots playing football in the Northeast where the Lambert Trophy is king. What better way to ensure that outcome than by showing the Nittany Lions that not only can PSU lose to Michigan with stunning regularity, but a 3rd place finish in the Big East is theirs for the taking as well? I like our defensive line here, I don't like the 100k+ in the stands, but since Friday will be my 21st birthday again, I predict a day half-alive on the couch and an Eagles win eliciting my only audible response before 5 p.m. BC 24 - Penn State 20.
3. University of Connecticut ("sUeConn") (9/13/03)
Randy Edsall is an excellent coach, UConn has surpassed perennial doormat Rutgers in its second year as a D-1A team, they've got an early admission to the Big East and UConn fans have plenty to be excited about. Dan Orlovsky is an accurate, strong-armed quarterback with potential to play at the next level. Their wide receiver corps is adequate with Matt Cutaia back from injury, and features a blazing receiver in Jason Williams. Running back Terry Caulley is a surprising talent; he's small, shifty and possesses excellent vision. While the Huskies' offensive line returns four starters the program has not yet built up the size and foot speed combination on the offensive line to succeed against the best defensive line they'll face this year. Expect Kiwanuka, Mettling, Bulman, Goodwin, Unis and Martin to be in the backfield all day.
The Huskies' defense line unit is solid, defensive end Uyi Osunde can get after the quarterback and could cause problems for the Eagles. The linebacker unit is also good, featuring playmaker Alfred Fincher in the middle. In the defensive backfield, the Huskies struggle against good passing teams and they lose their best cover man in Roy Hopkins. Cornerback Marlon Jones is talented but will be outmanned by the Eagles receivers. As a whole this defense matches up well with Big East teams Rutgers or Temple but expect them to wear down as the game progresses.
Prediction: Bring your kids to Rentscheler Field (a.k.a. "The Bakery") because everyone who's been to a grade school birthday party knows that nothing lights up a child's eyes like cupcakes. UConn fans have been going on record for months now, predicting a massive victory; like Duke and Indiana before them, UConn's basketball success pretty much ensures that they have already surpassed BC in football. Unfortunately, Tom O'Brien, Deep-Sea Dana Bible and Frank Spaziani have been conspiring in secret dark rooms to abscond with the value of this game. UConn plays hard and keeps it close at the half but in the end, UConn fares as well on the scoreboard as Attorney General Blumenthal will in the courtroom. All in all though, it's a great day for tailgating at The Bakery and the electricity in the stadium ensures that this will be a great game for years to come, a backyard brawl New England style, where nobody can pronounce the letter R, fans sneer at each other in Brooks Brother's trousers and mutter haughtily into their microbrews and dry white wine. BC 42 – sUeConn 13.
4. University of Miami (9/20/03)
Let's face it; Miami outmans the Eagles at almost every position. Brock Berlin was the #1 QB recruit according to many publications, Frank Gore is a superstar in the making, Kellen Winslow could start on most NFL teams, Beard and Geathers are the total package at receiver, big and fast (although a slight drop from 1st round draft pick and twice-caught academic fraud and plagiarist Andre Johnson). The offensive line is also loaded with Vernon Carey anchoring the unit.
On defense the Canes are also, you guessed it, loaded. The defensive line was the hardest hit unit on the team, and while defensive tackle Wilfork is a 1st team All American candidate, this is not a classic Miami line. Its going to be tough getting by the linebackers though, anchored by DJ Williams on the outside and Jon Vilma in the middle, two players who may be the best at their positions in the country. The secondary is still young but plenty experienced with 1st team All-American candidates in Antrel Rolle (CB), Sean Taylor (FS) and Maurice Sikes (SS). Joel Hazard and Grant Adams had better bring their A game because there is no margin for error against these ball hawks.
Prediction: Something about this game screams upset to me. I can't really justify this based on the lineups; no doubt BC has closed the talent gap considerably but falls short of Miami's talent everywhere but the defensive line. However, after being Shalala'd in the ACC debacle and with the past three finishes at Chestnut Hill, BC is simply due. BC will send the Canes pACCking in front of the first ever pre-2nd quarter capacity crowd at Alumni Stadium. The lights will go out on the Miami-BC series both literally and figuratively while the Eagles take a bow and their first Sports Illustrated cover in the new millennium. BC 23 – Miami 21.
EagleWolverine is a writer special to EagleInsider.com. He can be reached at Eagle_Wolverine@yahoo.com.