Boston College looking to repeat as ACC’s best defense in 2016

When looking at the numbers, it’s somewhat astounding that Boston College failed to win an ACC game in 2015, finishing with an overall record of 3-9.

Even though the Eagles struggled all season to find a productive offense, Steve Addazio’s defensive unit was arguably the best in America last fall. It’s just a shame that such an effective defensive unit was essentially wasted by one of the worst offensive clubs in the country.

The Eagles lost ACC games last fall by scores of 9-7 (Duke), 3-0 (Wake Forest), 14-0 (Florida State), 17-14 (Louisville) and 19-16 (Notre Dame), leading up to a devastating last-second 20-17 loss in the regular-season finale at Syracuse. Remarkably, BC didn’t score more than 17 points in an ACC game all season and finished at or near the bottom of the conference in most offensive categories.

Boston College led the entire nation in total defense in 2015, as the Eagles allowed an average of just 254.3 yards per game. By comparison, the second-closest ACC school, national finalist Clemson, averaged nearly 60 more yards allowed per game last fall than BC.

The Eagles also allowed the fewest opposing first downs in the country — just 166 over 12 contests — and led the nation in tackles for loss per game (9.6). Only Clemson managed more total tackles for loss, but the Tigers played three more games than the Eagles, averaging more than one tackle for loss per game less than the Eagles.

Defending the pass, BC ranked sixth nationally, allowing just 171.5 yards per contest through the air. Only four Power 5 schools — Georgia, Michigan, Texas A&M and Missouri — did better defending opposing passing attacks. The Eagles were also stout defensively in the red zone, giving up just 10 touchdowns in their opponents’ 22 trips inside the 20-yard line. Boston College’s .733 red zone defensive scoring percentage (10 TDs, 12 field goals) tied for ninth nationally with Mississippi State.

BC was the only team in the country last fall to allow fewer than 1,000 rushing yards over the entire season and finished second in the country in rushing yards allowed per game. Only national champion Alabama proved to be more efficient defending the run than Steve Addazio’s troops, as the Eagles surrendered just 82.8 rushing yards per game (Alabama allowed 75.7).

But BC’s 2.39 yards allowed per carry, in fact, was better than Alabama’s 2.43 yards allowed, and better than everyone else in the country for that matter. The Eagles also allowed the nation’s fewest rushing touchdowns on the season (6). In addition, the Eagles were fourth in America in defensive points allowed per game (15.3), ranking behind only national stalwarts Wisconsin, Ohio State and Alabama, and they were fifth in defensive pass efficiency.

Looking ahead to 2016…