Countdown to Kickoff: 39 Days
As our 100 Days to Kickoff continues on, we begin our opponent previews to provide a quick look at each of the teams coming up on our schedule this season. Each team has changed and provides new challenges than in years past, so this week is all about learning about those changes and learning exactly what the ACC has to offer.
2016 Opponent Previews - Boston College
P Matt Shiel - Just based on the statistics, Shiel seems like a pretty good punter. He averaged over 40 yards a punt and did a good job of pinning teams inside the 20 yard line. I am not sure who will be replacing Shiel, but starting kicker Jagger Lieb is also listed as a punter on their website so he might be taking punting duties as well.
And nobody else. Well okay, it probably isn’t literally nobody, but nobody who made a huge difference on the field last year. Considering this is just the Bear’s fourth season since restarting football in 2013, that makes a lot of sense. The players who were freshman that first season are now seniors.
RB Tee Mitchell - Tee headed up their successful running back tandem last season along with Alex Lake. Both are back and should continue to anchor the Bears offense. Both of them averaged right around 5.5 yards per carry and combined for over 150 yds/game. The success of these two will go a long way to the improvement of the Bears.
QB John Russ - Starting QB John Russ also returns after a statistically strong season. He threw for 7.3 YPA with 18 TDs to only 3 interceptions. He did a good job of controlling the football and is even a bit of threat to run, gaining 382 yards on the ground. Russ did take too many sacks, but he looks like a solid FCS quarterback. He returns all of his top five receivers so more time together should yield more results.
LB Tripp Patterson - Last year, Tripp led the team in tackles with 70, despite missing one game. Based on the stats, Patterson looks like the clean-up linebacker as he only had 4.5 TFL but he nearly led the team with 4 pass break-ups. The Bears’ pass rush specialist Tosin Aguebor also returns next season.
CB Jeremy James - Last season James led the team in pass breakups with six, which complemented his one interception and impressive three forced fumbles. He has started every game in his career, though he missed part of his freshman season with injury. Look for him to play Georgia Tech’s top receiver.
Given the dearth of information and the fact that the Mercer website only lists two freshmen, I am going to assume that there will not be many impact newcomers. Any speculation from me would be a total guess. Considering almost every contributing player is returning, a newcomer would have to really impress to see the field.
It’s pretty easy to be optimistic for Mercer this season. They went 5-6 last season and only one of their losses was by more than one possession. Even a slight improvement could lead to dramatically improved results. With their total lack of turnover, they should be more than slightly improved. Not only with their team be much more experienced than most teams they will play, they should have better chemistry for just about everyone. Their game against Tech this season is their first against an FBS team since their return. They should not be competitive with Tech but crazier things have happened. Relevant fact: Mercer’s first ever win was against Georgia Tech in 1892.
Projected Record: 8-3 (5-2 SOCON)