A disappointed Jeff Hafley walked into the postgame media session Saturday looking defeated as ever but simultaneously energized by the effort put on display by Boston College in the near upset over Florida State.
"Very disappointed, very emotional locker room," he said. "We didn't come to this game to be close with them, we came to win. Thought we had a really good plan, we wanted to win the time of possession, which is kind of why we played the way we did. I was gonna be very aggressive, maybe I was too aggressive on fourth down early in the game but it worked out for us.
"I felt good going into halftime and then they jumped on us, but then we fought back -- I mean man, we fought all the way back. This isn't on one player, this isn't on a missed extra point, we're not gonna go down that road. We had a chance to win it at the end of the game -- I wanted to drag them into the fourth ... I'm really proud of our guys. It was hard in the locker room, and I think this game brought them closer together. Couple of guys spoke up in the locker room after the game, and just listening it was pretty inspiring. They're hurt, they're upset -- trust me ... This can be a really good team ... And it's not that I'm upset that we lost, I am upset that we lost, but I'm just hurting for those guys, because we did have a chance."
The offensive line was incredibly solid, minus the penalties, which created plenty of time and space for Thomas Castellanos and Co. against one of the best pass rushes in the country. Kyle Robichaux and Castellanos rushed for 159 yards combined with Castellanos making plays left and right both with his arm and legs.
"I thought our o-line did a really good job today -- that group that we blocked, you don't even wanna look at them before the game," Hafley said. "I mean, those guys look like NFL guys across the board. The protection was really good."
But, the main topic of discussion and discourse Saturday throughout the ballgame was the flags by BC. Hafley was heated over last week's personal fouls and things after the whistle -- one of which being Castellanos' penalty that he made a social media post about as well as having to call the Holy Cross Athletic Director to apoligize -- and the penalties weren't necessarily things of that nature, but regardless the Eagles still racked up 18 flags, a program record.
One of their flags, a face mask at the end of the game on third down by John Pupel, costed BC the chance at a game-winning drive and exteneded the FSU drive -- where they just kneeled the clock out from there; which, all BC needed was a field goal to take the lead had they gotten the ball back.
"Today was a little different. It wasn't the post snap, personal fouls that got me really hot," he explained. "We wanted to take as much clock as we could. And we were doing some stuff early in the game where you saw we were standing in the huddle and then kind of running to the line, so we were taking a lot of the clock. And I think it must have been this week operationally between the quarterback and the o-line with it being loud, there were some other issues there that I tried to explain to the refs, but I'm not sure that helped.
'We cleaned it up in second half -- we cleaned that part of it so we stopped doing that. Some, it's just, young guy in there, jumping, you know. False starts, I mean, a player reaches out and tries to make a tackle at the end of the game on a face mask. We didn't have personal fouls. We didn't have the dumb fouls. I gotta go back and watch it but it's too many. We gotta clean that up. But there's a couple today, ineligible guys downfield too that I gotta see that on tape. But the guys went into halftime and they adjusted to it. I thought the staff did a good job throughout the game, I thought it was a really good plan. We could have executed it better on both levels."
Castellanos, just his second career collegiate start, went 20-of-33 through the air throwing for 305 yards, a touchdown, though an interception while he rushed for 95 yards on 16 carries. His numbers were fantastic and he seemed to have found his way out of every hole BC was in.
"There's some things that we gotta clean up, he's a young kid -- he's a sophomore, it's his second start, probably the biggest game he's ever played in his life, so I'm proud of him. He stays composed, he's a tough kid, he sees down the field, he made some big throws, had some big runs, and that's a great performance. He's gonna be a great player."
And as to the atmosphere put on display by the BC students and fans on Red Bandana Day, Hafley was impressed.
"I thought (the atmosphere) was great," he said. "I saw Allison Crowther (Welles' mom), gave her a big hug, which usually brings tears to my eyes ... she's a special woman with a special son. I thought the students were great, I thought it was loud, I appreciate them, and they need to come back. Because we're gonna get this thing going, and I think it's the first time I've felt where this team believes in each other more than they did coming into this game. And I know maybe you don't understand why, but I felt that in the locker room. So, the atmosphere was great, I'm very grateful for that, and I hope that continues."
How does BC build on this moving forward?
"Play clean football. Be aggressive, have a great plan," Hafley responded. "We were inches away from knocking off the No. 3 team in the country, which I don't think BC has done -- I think it's like 0-17 versus top-four teams at home. It was an opportunity to make history, and they came together and they fought. Like, really fought at the end and came back. Had a chance to win it at the end of the game, and if you listen to them talk, they know who they just played."
Quinn Riley, Chief Editor, to Eagles Daily. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org & @QuinnRileyBB