When college football analysts look at predicting outcomes for a team one of the most reliable metrics they use are games played. It usually shows off how seasoned a team is, how ready they are to face in game speed, and react and adjust to adversity. To no one's surprise, BC's offensive line is ranked near the bottom of the ACC in returning games played with 62. If you were to follow "expert" logic that would lead you to believe that the Eagles will regress on the offensive line, and that they probably will struggle this year. Steve Addazio talked at length about the position during media day last week, specifically the culture that they have created and has been passed on by graduating players. Check out what he had to say by watching the video below.
While some of this may be chalked up to "coach speak", where coaches are bound to say positives about their team to the media, I think there is more truth than exaggeration in what Addazio has to say. Take Tyler Vrabel, son of Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. Both coaches took time to address his growth both as a player and physically. He's now over 300 pounds, and has jumped in to the starting role, something Addazio usually only reserves for guys that have shown they can handle it like previous young starters Chris Lindstrom, Jon Baker and Ben Petrula. Even national guys like Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated are taking note:
Vrabel still will have some growing pains, but clearly he is going to be a talented player sooner rather than later. Ben Petrula as I have mentioned on the site multiple times is going to be an NFLer, probably a first rounder by the time he gets out of BC. His play at tackle was at an All-ACC level last year, and if he continues to improve he will be that big physical lineman that Chris Lindstrom was last year. That is going to be a key to getting the line where it needs to be in 2019. Replacing Lindstrom, and I believe Ben Petrula may not be to that elite level, but he will great this year, and really solidify that offensive line.
On top of that BC is bringing out John Phillips, a senior guard, who has experience. Along with Petrula, they will be the leaders on this offensive line, the guys that know what to do and can communicate it to the younger players. Phillips cycled in a lot last year, and when he played he was very good, ranking the top offensive lineman in pass protection in the ACC by Pro Football Focus.
And when Addazio talks about culture, there is no better example than Anthony Palazzolo, a grad student guard who has been around the team for years, he again knows the system, has been around guys like Lindstrom and Aaron Monteiro. Even though he hasn't seen significant playing time, he is not going to be this raw kid who is being thrown to the wolves.
On top of those three, the team has a ton of depth on the offensive line, much of it with collegiate experience. Zion Johnson, a transfer from Davidson who was just granted his immediate eligibility is someone that Addazio is really high on, and he could jump in at tackle at any point. Hayden Mahoney was a starter for Miami last year at guard. Having ACC starting talent ready to play is a huge asset for this team. And at center BC has options. As of now it looks like Alec Lindstrom will start, but Dwayne Scott out of URI could challenge him to start. BC will be able to absorb injuries with capable backups on their two deep, and be able to cycle in experienced players when they need to. Again, a huge asset for Steve Addazio and that offense, as they are going to have seasoned vets ready to play at the drop of a hat.
Am I saying that BC's offensive line will be elite or great this year? I am not prepared to say that as of yet. However, I don't believe that the offensive line will be a liability, something prognosticators have been predicting all summer. Steve Addazio has built a team and culture that at least should be able to reload each summer at the offensive line position, and that will be something that will be crystal clear in 2019. There are plenty of things to worry about in terms of BC football, but the offensive line should not be one of those aspects.