Boston College surprised a lot of people last year when it finished 6-5, despite having a first year head coach in Jeff Hafley and the lack of a normal season due to COVID-19. The former co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Ohio State came to Chestnut Hill and immediately changed the culture of the program.
BC moved on from Steve Addazzio after seven years at the helm and the improvement was immediate. The Eagles matched their record from Addazzio’s final season in 2019 with six wins and could’ve had more as two losses were within one possession.
In just one season, Hafley has earned respect for his team and molded Boston College into a potential threat in the Atlantic Division. Last season should certainly give fans optimism after years of consistent mediocrity, now the next challenge is can Hafley and Company take the next step?
That question could be answered as soon as this year. BC returns a lot of production at every position on the field and has elite talent returning, especially on the offensive end. Phil Jurkovec is back for his second year as the starting quarterback. The Notre Dame transfer had a breakout season in 2020 finishing 5th in the ACC with 255.8 passing yards per game and had the second fewest interceptions with just five.
He certainly can improve on things heading into year two. Jurkovec finished in the bottom half of the conference in efficiency and completion percentage. Perhaps more time in the pocket could contribute to boosting those numbers this fall. Luckily for the Pittsburgh native, Boston College returns one of the best offensive lines in the country.
All five starters return to a front five that was ranked 21st in the nation last season by Pro Football Focus. BC ranked 13th last year in the FBS in pass-blocking, according to PFF. Three seniors are back including guard/tackle Zion Johnson, center Alec Lindstrom, and guard Ben Petrula. Johnson and Lindstrom were recently elected to the media’s preseason All-ACC team at guard and center, respectively.
The Fizz asked Johnson about the importance of bringing back lineman that have experience playing with each other, here’s what he had to say.
“It’s awesome. Us three, we already have a close working relationship playing next to each other, we played next to each other in 2019. The communication is there and over the spring I think we’ve really honed in on that. We’re all on the same page.”
The other two starters coming back are third year guard Christian Mahogany and fourth year tackle Tyler Vrabel. Johnson is ecstatic to suit up and play alongside them for another season.
“Christian Mahogany and Ben (Petrulla) coming back is awesome. Ben’s been playing a lot of football. I think the biggest thing playing with those guys that helps me is their football knowledge. It makes it a lot easier for me when guys know what’s happening on the defense and they’re not making busts on offense. I think that’s going to be the difference that propels us this year.”
It’s rare that an entire starting five returns for an offensive line. It’s even more rare when the line returning is one of the best in the nation. Guess which team had the best o-line in the country last year? Notre Dame. You can probably just guess ND every year if someone asks and be right. So that means Jurkovec has played behind some incredible big fellas over his time in South Bend and Chestnut Hill.
“The o-line is kind of like a cult on the team, the way that they stick together. You can tell they care so much about each other. It’s a little different position than anywhere else because of how you have to work together. But they’re all close and they’re all veterans and they’re all nasty guys. I’m just excited to see what they can do now that it’s year two under the new scheme.”
Between a top five quarterback in the ACC and one of the best offensive lines in the country, it’s safe to say Boston College will have one of the best offenses in the country. Tack on the fact that one of the best wide receivers in college football is on the roster.. Yeah they’ll cause some issues in the conference this year.
Zay Flowers is back for his junior season after a breakout campaign last year. The playmaker from Fort Lauderdale finished fourth in the ACC with 81.1 receiving yards per game last year. Flowers also led the entire conference in touchdowns with nine and finished inside the top ten in every other wide receiver statistic category. If that isn’t enough to tell you how good he is, Flowers was just voted to the media’s preseason All-ACC team.
If you can believe it Syracuse held BC to its second lowest scoring output last year in a 16-13 barnburner in the Dome. The Eagles return to the Loud House for the third consecutive time this season. ‘Cuse hopes to beat Boston College at home for the first time since 2015.