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Boston College offensive line might face growing pains early on

5/21/2015

The start to the season is far from ideal, but Boston College never planned for it to happen this way.

After New Mexico State bailed on a scheduling agreement last year, the Eagles were stuck with little to no options to fill the open slot. So they open against two FCS programs -- Maine, then Howard -- before facing Florida State at home on a Friday night.

Not only does this mean BC must win seven games this season to become bowl eligible, they must go into their ACC opener with a new starting quarterback and a revamped offensive line that will not have been tested nearly to the extent the Seminoles will challenge them.

Steve Addazio has proven throughout his career that he knows what he is doing when it comes to coaching the offensive line, but even he is a bit unsure about what could be in store early in the season with all five starters gone, including two NFL draft picks.

There is reason for optimism, though. Two starters should be seniors -- including Harris Williams, a starter last season before he broke his ankle in the opener. But Addazio said recently he will have to rely on freshmen more than he has in quite a while.

During the spring, BC only had seven healthy linemen. Williams sat out, and redshirt freshman Sam Schmal also missed time. Developing depth will be big in the fall for a team that relies on its physical presence up front.

BC signed five offensive linemen in 2015. One of them, Chris Lindstrom, enrolled in the spring, so he'll be the most likely candidate to earn early playing time.

Addazio did not discount having to start a true freshman, either. He said the last time he started a true freshman on the offensive line was in 2007, when he had Maurkice Pouncey at Florida. Overall, Addazio said he has rarely had to start a true freshman offensive lineman.

Whether that happens or not, Addazio is expecting some early growing pains as his unit builds chemistry and finds its groove. Perhaps it would have benefited the Eagles to play FBS competition before facing Florida State for that very reason.

After all, one of the biggest reasons Boston College nearly upset Florida State the past two seasons has been its physical style, a tone its veteran offensive line set in the trenches. But the Eagles had no control over their ACC schedule, nor did they plan to play two FCS opponents to open the season.

With Addazio in charge, there is no doubt the Eagles will develop another solid offensive line. He believes he will have NFL-caliber players at every position in three to five years. But what remains unknown -- even to Addazio -- is how long it will take for them to grow into a dominant unit in 2015.