First Look: Boston College Eagles

Today we continue our “First Look” series, where we preview each of the Tigers opponents during the upcoming season.

The Boston College Eagles hung with Clemson longer last year than they have in a while and now Jeff Hafley looks to improve on what some would say was a great first campaign.

The former Ohio State defensive coordinator took over a Boston College team that has not beaten an AP Top 25 opponent since their upset of No. 9 USC in 2014 and the matchups really hadn’t even been close. From 2016 through 2019, ranked opponents had dominated the Eagles by an average margin of 30 points a game.

Hafley’s staff got them closer to that elusive top 25 win than they have been in many years during his first season, though. This team that many thought would finish at the bottom of the ACC last year finished 6-5 overall (5-5 ACC) and were a two-point conversion away from forcing overtime against 12th ranked North Carolina. The Eagles also lost to the ACC’s top two teams Clemson and Notre Dame by just 20 points combined. Another bright side for Hafley’s staff is they’re bringing back 18 starters on offense and defense.

Quarterback Phil Jurkovec, the transfer out of Notre Dame, took over as the starter last summer and ran with it. He threw for 2,558 yards and 17 touchdowns in 10 games while helping the Eagles go from second-to-last to third in the conference in passing offense. This is really impressive when you consider that offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti took over a run-oriented attack.

He will have All-ACC first-team wide receiver Zay Flowers back. Flowers led the conference with nine touchdowns last season. Then the Eagles have CJ Lewis and Kobay White to help out.

BC’s run game, on the other hand, took a nose dive going from eighth in the country in 2019 to 118th last season and has become the Eagles biggest question mark. Changing to a zone run scheme in 2020 seemed to cause major issues for them. One thing helping BC is they have everyone up front coming back, but their top rusher, David Bailey, decided to transfer out. He was their only back with over 500 yards last season.

On the defensive side the Eagles were really bad in 2019 and defensive coordinator Tem Lukabu has already helped to change that. Last season he guided them from 125th to 73rd in total defense, 101st to 60th in scoring defense, and 122nd to 82nd in pass defense. BC allowed 40 fewer passing yards per game in 2020 (245.5) than they did in 2019.

Two big holes on the Eagles defense were created by the departures of linebackers Isaiah McDuffie and Max Richardson. The two combined for 206 total tackles last season. Temple grad transfer Isaiah Graham-Mobley is already expected to have one of those spots filled but there should still be competition for the other starting spot.

The Eagles secondary looks to be headlined by Florida State transfer Jaiden Lars-Woodbey, who started 22 games there. Then they have redshirt senior Brandon Sebastian who is a three-year starter on the outside and corner Josh DeBerry who was named All-ACC honorable mention last year.

Boston College also has a favorable schedule in 2021. Their first three games come against non Power-5 teams and their only out of conference matchup with a Power-5 opponent comes in Week 4 at home against Missouri, a very winnable game.

After that they open ACC play with a trip to Clemson. They also have road games against Louisville, Syracuse and Georgia Tech while they will host NC State, Virginia Tech, Florida State and Wake Forest.

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