Updated: Aug 22
Eagles looking to bounce back after dismal 2022 season
Photo courtesy of BCEagles.com
The facts are evident. Boston College has lost its starting quarterback and its star receiver to the NFL. All on the heels of a 3-win season. Yet, coming into this year, the expectations remain high for not only a rebound, but for a win total they haven't been able to achieve since 2009.
This could be a case of local hometown bias, with the current iteration of the Eagles being projected to finish second to last in the ACC. Yet there are two main aspects that could spell the perfect storm of surprising success on the field.
BC’s lack of firepower in their overall schedule has been discussed at an alarming rate. It's widely known to be one of the weakest in power five, if not the easiest. The OOC slate is made up of 3 lower-level group-of-five opponents, rounded out with a top 5 ranked FCS team and a renewed rivalry with Holy Cross. Without a marquee matchup, the schedule hurts BC from being able to have a buzz with an early season matchup. For a team that struggled to win games last year, it will set them up with four winnable games.
The ACC slate also bodes well for the Eagles. With the new scheduling “pod” format, BC has been grouped with Pitt, Miami, and Syracuse. These three games all shake out to be fairly even. The matchup with Pitt is intriguing in itself due to the potential “Revenge Game” for transfer Quarterback Phil Jurkovec. Furthermore, the Miami game is scheduled in the Eagles favor as well - on paper at least. Black Friday, cold November day with a holiday hangover.
The matchup with Syracuse looks to be a tad worrisome, as the Eagles have historically struggled with competent Cuse teams at the Carrier Dome. Without road trips to Tallahassee, Blacksburg or Death Valley looming on the schedule, BC has more than lucked out. Instead, the top toughest road destinations are the previous alluded to Carrier dome, and Pitt coupled with a trip to Louisville. This presents a much more favorable chance to pick up victories away from the Heights.
Balanced and Revamped Offense
Zay Flowers was one of the best players in the country last season, and there's a reason he was the program’s first-ever 1st-round receiver. The top leading receiver for Boston College last season has the talent to make a good team great. The issue is that when the team is bad -- one player is not going to make a difference. In a vacuum, losing the program’s receiving triple-crown winner does not bode well for the prospects of a bounce-back season. The Eagles seemingly will not replace Flowers or his production with one player. The good news coming out of cam however is that Jeff Hafley and company spent the off-season revamping the overall roster which should give the Eagles a better product on the field, even without a talent such as Flowers.
UCF provided a pair of transfers in QB Thomas Castellanos and receiver Ryan O’Keefe. The latter is presumably taking over the top wide receiver role and wearing number 4, but that is where the comparisons to his predecessor should end. It’s unfair to expect Flowers level production from the O'Keefe, though his ability to shake loose and stretch the field is something BC still desperately needs. The playmaker's skill set should translate well in the ACC.
Last year the offensive line struggled remarkably resulting in a pass-heavy offense that was completely void of a running game. The Eagles had responded by bringing two starters into the fold in Kyle Hergel from Texas State and Logan Taylor from Virginia. Couple that with retaining the anchor of the unit in Christian Mahogany and suddenly the outlook of the unit looks to be a strength. An underrated portion of the rebuilt offensive line is that BC should enjoy All-ACC production from running back Pat Garwo who received 2nd team honors in 2021 but struggled to gain any traction last season.
Having a balanced offensive approach gives the Eagles options offensively that they have struggled to sustain during Hafley’s entire tenure.
The 2020 season featured strong Quarterback play and a seemingly strong offensive line that struggled to pave the way for the rushing game. The following year, the Eagles had high expectations to build on the previous year but they could not catch a break. Jurkovec was injured in week 2 and the rushing game became the defacto emphasis despite an offense that had been built primarily on the passing game. This past season the offensive line struggles returned, and the running game faltered leaving BC to rely on the passing game once again except this time it was to little success.
The back and forth has left BC fans yearning for days of a sustainable offensive strategy that can put points on the board, and translate to wins on the field. The two offensive strategies must coexist and integrate with one another in year 4 of Hafley’s tenure in order for any bounce back to become realistic.
The proverbial stars have aligned for BC to break through to a level the program has not seen in over a decade. Even on the heels of an embarrassment of a season -- the expectations should surpass the results of recent seasons. The college landscape is being dominated by realignment talk and NIL money flying around. The time is now for a rebound season that will ascend the school into rightfully being granted a seat at the table.
Brett Rider, Publisher, to Eagles Daily and BC Class of 2020. He may be reached at email@example.com & @brettrid3r