They are making us daffy, the BC Eagles are. They make this minute’s hot take the next minute’s bad take. They are the classic Churchillian “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
Who are they, really? The kids who exasperate us with 39 penalties in three games? The kids who spit in the eye of fourth-quarter deficits? The kids who grab facemasks, jump offside and lose their minds? The kids who amassed 457 yards of offense against the No. 3 team in the country?
The answer is yes.
The Eagles are a roadside billboard advertising that more than one thing can be true at the same time. It is absolutely absolute that there are no absolutes about BC football, 2023.
“It was obviously disappointing that we lost, but it showed us we’re a very good football team,” linebacker Kam Arnold told the assembled media after Saturday’s agonizing loss to Florida State. “There’s not a team on our schedule that we can’t beat. If anything, that should boost our confidence and have us attack our schedule full steam ahead.”
Arnold is correct. Now that Florida State has passed, there is no team remaining the Eagles cannot defeat. Now for the “two things can be true at the same time” thing. There’s no team to which BC cannot lose, either.
This is what would happen should they repeat Saturday’s first half of five false starts, two delays of game, two holding calls, a personal foul and a pass interference. Remember, too, that FSU declined three others. BC actually committed 14 penalties in the first half, one week after coach Jeff Hafley addressed the issue passionately.
So many questions here.
Why are there so many penalties pre snap?
Can a lack of discipline get fixed?
How did it arrive in the first place?
“You can blame officials all you want, but the number of penalties BC is committing illustrates a lack of fundamentals from the coaching staff,” ESPN’s Dave Pasch said during Saturday’s game, unloading unusual candor from the broadcast booth.
Yet just when you want to hammer Hafley and his players for creating unnecessary duress, you credit them for not allowing their foibles to deter them. To wit: They erased a 14-point deficit against Northern Illinois in the fourth quarter, forced a fumble in overtime facing the fright of losing to Holy Cross and rallied from 21 down Saturday.
Again: Who are these guys?
Right now, they are the team that makes the optimist feel paranoid and the pessimist feel guilty. The optimist wants to see a dynamo in Thomas Castellanos, a bulldozer in Kye Robichaux and the general feeling that if you can gain 457 yards on Florida State you can gain 457 yards against anybody. The pessimist who wanted Hafley fired at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday has pangs of guilt after seeing a dynamo in Thomas Castellanos, a bulldozer in Kye Robichaux and the general feeling that if you can gain 457 yards on Florida State you can gain 457 yards against anybody.
But then they both meet in the middle, understanding that all the hope and wonder of what potentially exists here gets wiped out at any moment by five false starts, two delays of game, two holding calls, a personal foul and a pass interference.
Let the record show that BC’s 19 unanswered points in the second half Saturday came penalty free, at least until John Pupel, the kid who won the game by forcing the fumble in overtime last week, committed the killer facemask penalty. Still, the overarching theme: See what happens when you play penalty free?
But can they play penalty free? Are they truly capable or is a general lack of discipline in the DNA of this particular group? Remember: They’ve been flagged more than 40 times overall in three games at home. What happens when they go on the road? Guess we’ll all find out Saturday in Louisville.
Meantime, two things are sure about the BC Eagles of 2023: The next time we see Castellanos running free, look behind him to make sure there’s no flag on the field. And issue a hot take at your own risk. This minute’s exasperation could be the next minute’s celebration.
Mike DiMauro, a columnist in Connecticut, is a contributor to Eagles Daily and a member of BC’s class of 1990. He may be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or @BCgenius