We know that Boston is known for chowder, accents, throwing tea into harbors, and starting world-changing revolutions. What do we know about football there, however? Well, you’re in luck. Nora Patel of SB Nation’s BC Interruption is here to tell us more about the Boston College Eagles.
T-Mill: It is year 1 under a new coach for BC, and he is a first time head coach. How different is Jeff Hafley from Addazio?
Niraj: Oh, man where to begin. In nearly every way, I’d have to say. It’s the usual adage that every hire Is usually the exact opposite of the fired. Whereas Addazio was old fashioned and predictable on offense, Hafley brings a new style defense. Offensively, he likely will bring in a more balanced approach to the game as opposed to the previous run-heavy regime. In general, Hafley brings a positive attitude and his coaching philosophy revolves around relationship building.
T-Mill: Both Purdue and Boston College have tough early season stretches. Is that a detriment under a new regime?
Niraj: I think BC’s first month or so is about on par with what we’ve had for the past few years, and it’s not all that bad. We start with a conference game in Syracuse before Ohio and Kansas. Not the most daunting of tasks, but not cakewalks. Yeah, maybe an early FCS game would be nice to shake off the rust and allow the new coaching staff to get their feet wet, but everyone is dealing with this so I don’t think it’s a good excuse. Regardless of the early games, this offseason will make it difficult.
T-Mill: AJ Dillon and Anthony Brown are gone. The offense is in an overhaul. What are your expectations on that side of the ball.
Niraj: The first question is whether or not Notre Dame transfer QB Phil Jurkovic is granted his transfer waiver. I’s not the most hopeful, but there is certainly a chance. Without him, my expectations in terms of wins and production are similar to how last year ended. Dennis Grosel took over for Anthony Brown after he got hurt last season, so he should have the inside track. I can’t say I have the most confidence in him, but I think this coaching staff will move on if he can’t get the job done. Regardless, I expect a more balanced offense, one that isn’t as predictable and resembles more of a modern day offense. With a top ranked offense line, I expect the run game to continue to flourish. Four lineman were named preseason All-ACC, and I think David Bailey handled a solid role last season to take on an expanded one this year. While he won’t have to handle AJ’s ridiculous workload, he won’t have to face as many stacked boxes (see predictability). So he and the bevy of backs behind him should be just fine. The offense as currently constructed is built to run effectively, and that should continue. There likely will be growing pains no m
T-Mill: The BC defense was not great last year and already got burned by Rondale Moore once. How does Hafley, a defensive-minded coach, fix that unit?
Niraj: He’ll need to focus on fundamentals. Luckily, that is a point of emphasis for Hafley. Tackling, or lack thereof, proved to be an achilles’ heel for the group last season. For all their difficulties, there were very few losses on this side of the ball, so you can expect improvement. A major addition comes in the form of linebacker Isaiah McDuffie, who was injured for most of last year. Paired with the only bright spot of the defense last year in linebacker Max Richardson, I expect dramatic improvement. With the DB whisperer that is Jeff Hafley, the pass defense can’t possibly get any worse.
T-Mill: Obviously with Boston being a larger city than West Lafayette there are COVID concerns. Where is BC in their process and what is your outlook on that end?
Niraj: The team actually just reported back in late June and are in the midst of a quarantine. They seem to have really good protocols in place, but there are obviously concerns. The school is a little outside of the city despite the name, but it’s still of course more populated. As a whole, the state is trending in the right direction, but they will take all necessary precautions.
T-Mill: Finally, what is your way too early prediction (assuming this game is played)?
Niraj: BC legitimately has some top talent especially on the offensive side, and a defense with nearly everyone returning and a better overall philosophy/system on both sides. It will all come down to the quarterback, but even then I have some level of optimism. I’m not really sure why. Actually, I do; it’s because of the coaching change. Assuming the game is played, I think this is when the team starts to shake off the rust from a weird offseason. Let’s go BC 28 Purdue 24.