CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- The Steve Addazio era begins at Boston College with more than a sprinkle of optimism.
Asked at the team's media day if bowl eligibility is the goal of a program that has had two straight losing seasons, the ever-enthusiastic Addazio said, "Yes, absolutely. We are fighting for that. Win the opener, get bowl-eligible. Absolutely.
"This football program has got to get back to a bowl game. ... Rattling off 12 years of bowl games, that's a bar and that's a bar we need to be at and climb from, so we're in a footrace for that."
The Eagles built a streak of 12 straight bowl game appearances. They also won eight bowl games in a row.
But the past two years, lowlighted by last year's 2-10 record, were disastrous, leading to the firing of Frank Spaziani. Addazio, the head coach at Temple the past two seasons and a native New Englander, was brought in to be the cornerstone of the Eagles' latest rebuild.
Boston College has a decent senior class, led by quarterback Chase Rettig, running back Andre Williams, receiver Alex Amidon and several impact players defense.
But if you take the expert analysis in February as gospel, the cupboard was anything but full when it came to recruiting. With marginal depth on the roster, not gaining big contributions from underclassmen would become the toughest thing the new staff has to contend with.
The Eagles will turn up the tempo on both sides of the ball in an effort to even the playing field.
The Eagles are stressing a fast start.
Boston College opens at home against FCS foe Villanova before a Friday night home game against Wake Forest. One preseason publication had BC ranked 84th in the country, while Wake was No. 70. Week three brings a matchup with USC.
"I just want to win and go back into the locker room after the game and celebrate wins," Rettig says. "I don't want to be outworked. It just feels so much better when you know you overcame something to get a victory or you busted your tail to get a victory."
SPOTLIGHT ON SEPTEMBER: Clearly, if the goal of becoming bowl eligible in the first year of the Steve Addazio Era is to be realized, the Eagles will have to come out of the first five games at least 3-2. The fifth of those games, at home against Army, is actually in October, but September has to hold at least 2-2 for this team to have a chance. BC opens with a home game against FCS Villanova (actually Aug. 31) and a Friday-night ACC game against Wake Forest before trouble hits. The Eagles finish September at USC and at home against nationally ranked Florida State, one of the favorites to win the conference. See what we mean? Wins over Villanova and Wake Forest hold a key to the season.
KEYS TO SUCCESS: Whenever there's a new coaching staff, the term "buying in" always seems to come to the fore; and there's no difference here. New systems on both sides of the ball, and for the offense it's the fifth system in four years, this one set to be up-tempo. That's a lot of ask, but when you have a senior quarterback people think has a pro arm, that's a good place to start. If Chase Rettig can get the offense, anemic the past two years, going, and if the defense can, as coordinator Don Brown says, attack "like their hair's on fire," there will be some success.
AREAS OF CONCERN: You name it, really, except for K Nate Freese and return man Spiffy Evans, both solid in their spots. The offense was 115th in the country in rushing and 99th overall last season, and that was with the passing game a respectable 45th. There is a lack of depth at running back, where Andre Williams has to hold up, and there's no experience at tight end. On defense, the Eagles were No. 111 against the rush and 75th overall, but there are four seniors in the front seven and that could help. The punter is new and therefore a concern.
--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.