By MIKE DiMAURO
No other image better symbolizes the angst associated with watching Boston College sports than Charlie Brown charging toward the football.
We know what’s next: Lucy yanks it away. And we here in Eagledom chastise ourselves for scoring a perfect 10 on the Gullible-O-Meter. Why do we let them keep doing this to us?
Then there’s this: Reverse Charlie Brown’s initials and what do you get?
And yet with that said … I morph into Gulliver The Gullible once again and ask: What if this really is the year for BC football?
Ah, but there are reasons for this bout with positivity and hope. (Aren’t there always?) And it begins here: Even though it’s hard to argue the old Bill Parcells line, “you are what your record says you are,” there’s no way BC was as lousy as last year’s 3-9 record suggested.
Here’s why: The mismanagement of the offensive line created a trickle down effect that skewed the effectiveness of an otherwise decent enough roster that honestly had enough to beat (at least) Rutgers, Virginia Tech, UConn and Syracuse.
Christian Mahogany’s injury, too much reliance on underclassmen and failure to use the transfer portal correctly all conspired to give BC arguably the most overmatched offensive line in the Power Five. The residual effects:
BC could not run the ball effectively, leaving too much responsibility on the passing game. Eventually, defenses did the old pin-the-ears-back thing.
Phil Jurkovec, who battled injuries here in his first two years, often ran for his life, perhaps thinking more about self preservation than winning games.
Jurkovec rarely had time to allow plays to develop downfield - most unfortunate when Zay Flowers was running routes and nobody could cover him.
The inability for the offense to stay on the field left the defense on the field too long - and often vulnerable as opposing teams assumed possession with favorable field position.
And so while it might have been convenient to conclude, “same old BC,” it would also have been incorrect. Jeff Hafley has upgraded the talent here. It’s just that one segment of the team was so bad that the rest of it could not compensate.
But if preseason hype and the eye test mean anything, BC’s offensive line could be a team strength in 2023.
First, Mahogany, a presumptive player on Sundays, is back and healthy. The youngsters from last year have wisdom for their pain. Hafley went into the transfer portal and got Logan Taylor from Virginia and all-Sun Belt pick Kyle Hergel from Texas State. That should translate into more running lanes for Pat Garwo and Alex Broome and more time for quarterback Emmett Morehead.
And perhaps a better trickle down (trickle up?) effect than 2022: BC should possess the ball longer, run the ball better and use play action to get its receivers and tight ends open.
Moreover, it’s more rest for Donovan Ezeiruaku and Shitta Sillah, who give BC its first bookend rushers maybe ever. The Eagles have had many good edge rushers over the years - Mike Mamula and Mathias Kiwaunuka among them - but never in combination.
The overarching idea here: This has a chance, particularly with a manageable (soft?) schedule, to be a fun season.
Yahoo Sports listed BC behind only Auburn among the teams most likely to have “bounce back” years. Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com called Louisville her “sleeper” team in the ACC, but wrote of BC, “another team to watch is Boston College. I don't know if the Eagles will play for a conference championship, but after winning three games last year, I fully expect this team to make a turnaround in 2023.”
Gulliver The Gullible be damned. The Eagles ought to be way better. And it all starts Saturday at Alumni Stadium against Northern Illinois.
Maybe it’s more than coincidence that the student section will be singing “Mr. Brightside.” That’s the theme for 2023. What if this really is the year?
Mike DiMauro, a columnist in Connecticut, is a contributor to Eagles Daily and BC Class of 1990. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org @bcgenius