Boston College linebacker John Lamot faces Syracuse quarterback JaCobian Morgan during Saturday’s game at the Carrier Dome. Mark Konezny / USA TODAY Sports
While the countdown to the kick-off in September is on, we will be doing a team-by-team opponent preview every week during the summer. This week we’re previewing Syracuse’s matchup with Boston College on October 30th with three major storylines.
Former Boston College head coach Steve Addazio has been a hallmark of persistence (not always for the better) while at Chestnut Hill.
In his first season with the Eagles, he took a team that went 2-10 in 2012 and immediately established a winning culture of 7-6 (4-4 ACC), raising hope that Boston College was ready to be in the ACC to compete become a threat to be a double digit contender for victory.
But seven wins would be as good as Addazio would ever achieve with the Eagles. In seven seasons with Boston College, Addazio led her to five separate seven-win seasons and six bowl appearances, but never broke the eight-win threshold. Enough was enough at Chestnut Hill after the mediocre 2019 season that saw the Eagles go 6-6, and he was fired and took over the position of head coach at Colorado State.
Current head coach Jeff Hafley has brought new hope to BC. He revamped the dated run-first offensive with an innovative pass-first scheme, restoring Boston College’s defense in just one season, scoring 6-5 and even 5-5 in the ACC game.
Hafley is in a good position to finally get Boston College above the seven-win mark in 2021.
BC’s 2021 schedule is decidedly less difficult, with votes against Colgate and UMass and Temple going 1-6 in 2020. Her toughest non-conference match is a date with Missouri, who went 5-5 and was forced to pull out of the Music City Bowl due to COVID issues. In addition, their two coastal crossovers against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are certainly also winnable.
Jurkovec and the passing game
Upon arriving at Boston College, Hafley immediately dropped Addazio’s offensive style of ball control and installed a dynamic passing attack that averaged 284.2 yards through the air, good for 24th place in the FBS. That was largely due to Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec, who won the starting place in summer camp and scored 2,558 yards and 17 touchdowns in 10 games.
Jurkovec is getting back most of his favorite shims, led by All-ACC First Team selection Zay Flowers, only the second wide receiver in school history to be called up to the first team. He finished second in the ACC with 892 yards and finished twelfth with nine touchdown catches.
Two other names to keep an eye out for are Redshirt Senior CJ Lewis (28 receptions for 460 yards and five touchdowns) and PhD student Kobay White, who led the team with 29 receptions in 2019 and added 460 yards and five touchdowns, but in 2020 because of an ACL violation.
It remains to be seen what Hafley will do about the running game. Boston College averaged just 101.7 yards per game on the ground last year (118th in the FBS), and reigning starter David Bailey stepped on the transfer portal and landed at Addazio in Colorado State.
The Eagles bring back graduate Travis Levy and Redshirt student Pat Garwo, and with a year of zoning and a return of a seasoned offensive line, they’re looking to BC to jump into the frantic leaderboard.
Related: Has Syracuse’s offensive line improved from 2020?
Questions to linebackers, but a deeply minor matter
Addazio’s defensive was unusually poor in 2019, ending up at or near the bottom of the FBS in all major categories. But Hafley made great strides on this side of the ball, with the Eagles taking a respectable 68th place on defense with 28.4 ppg.
Much of the improvement came from linebackers Max Richardson and Isaiah McDuffie (206 tackles and 6.5 sacks), but they are now off the program. It’s especially important given Hafley’s move to a 4-2-5 base formation last year, but the Eagles have also landed Temple Grad transfer Isaiah Graham-Mobley to fill one of the available spots.
The secondary is where the strength of the defense lies. The Eagles’ biggest off-season win could be former five-star recruit and Florida State security / linebacker transfer Jaiden Lars-Woodbey.
On the corner, three year old starter Brandon Sebastian, All-ACC Honorable Mention Josh DeBerry and Redshirt junior Jason Maitre (six starts on the corner in 2020) all return and should be key elements of a defense that had 21 takeaways in 2020 (third ). in the ACC).
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