College Sports

5 things that would help Boston College turn it around in football

The Eagles can still salvage their season, but they’re running out of time.

Joshua Bessex
Freshman quarterback Emmett Morehead saw his first action in last week's loss to Syracuse.


When the Boston College football team started the season 4-0, it wasn’t far-fetched to believe that the Eagles could still win eight or nine games even with starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec sidelined.

They were fresh off a thrilling win over Missouri and had lots of momentum heading into Atlantic Coast Conference play. Since that point, BC has stumbled through an 0-4 stretch to move to .500 overall and last in the conference standings. Opponents have outscored the Eagles, 101-40, during that span, and a season initially filled with optimism has spiraled into one disappointing result after another.

“Are we where we want to be? No. I get it,” coach Jeff Hafley said. “Do the fans have every right to be disappointed? They do. I’m disappointed, trust me. I’m not happy about it, and I’m going to do something about it.”

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The Eagles still have time to finish strong, starting with the Red Bandanna Game against Virginia Tech Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.

Here are five things that need to happen for BC to turn its season around.

Start Emmett Morehead at quarterback

Dennis Grosel has had a tremendous career, and his accomplishments and leadership shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Now, however, is the time to let true freshman Emmett Morehead take over. Morehead hadn’t played since his junior year of high school, but he was able to come in on the road in a tight game at Syracuse last Saturday and help the Eagles keep the game competitive until it wasn’t.

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“He throws the ball for a freshman as good as anyone I’ve seen in a while at that age,” Hafley said.

Morehead displayed an ability to connect on deep passes — something the Eagles have been sorely lacking this season — on a 44-yard completion to Zay Flowers, then his running ability on multiple scampers. He may make mistakes, but the way the season is going, the Eagles need to consider both the present and future.

It appears likely that Morehead will be the quarterback whenever Jurkovec leaves, so it would be wise to get him as many reps as possible now. Hafley said he doesn’t necessarily like playing two quarterbacks as he did against Syracuse, and his plan is to stick with one this week unless things go awry.

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Stop allowing sacks

BC’s opponents registered just two sacks in the first four games. In the last four, against tougher competition, that number has skyrocketed to 15, including five by the Orange.

Injuries to offensive lineman Tyler Vrabel haven’t helped, and one of BC’s strengths on paper has turned into an area of concern.

“Our mind-set hasn’t changed,” offensive lineman Zion Johnson said. “We know we can’t let the quarterback get hit. When we get tired, we have to make sure we don’t revert to bad habits.”

Hafley acknowledged a change needs to be made, whether that’s in scheme or personnel.

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Don’t let the damage escalate

It’s easier said than done, but it’s really been one poor stretch that has hurt BC in each of the last three games.

A tight battle against ranked North Carolina State morphed into a 33-7 blowout loss following a 21-0 third quarter. Louisville scored 14 points in a lopsided second quarter to turn a 7-7 game into a 28-14 final. BC controlled most of the game against Syracuse, but the Orange erupted for 21 points in a span of five minutes in the third quarter to seize command and win, 21-6.

“Defense isn’t a sometimes thing,” linebacker Vinny DePalma said. “All 11 guys on every play have to do their job or else big plays and explosives can happen like that.”

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Win the turnover battle

The Eagles committed five turnovers in a 40-14 loss to Virginia Tech last season. That number obviously has to go down, and they have to continue to take the ball away on defense as they have the last few games.

After causing four turnovers against Louisville and adding a key one against Syracuse, what was once a troubling trend appears to be heading in the right direction. Marcus Valdez, who forced a fumble against the Orange, is encouraged and believes consistency isn’t far off.

“We’re definitely going to need to play better on defense and make more plays like that everywhere,” Valdez said.

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Finish drives and finish games

The Eagles have put together several solid drives recently, but those drives far too often are leading to field goals or turnovers on downs.

They’ve also been in several games but have seen each one crumble in a variety of ways.

They have the star power, the depth, and the coaching to contend, and now’s the time to do it. Expectations from the outside have changed, but a bowl game remains well within reach.

The Eagles can still salvage their season, but they’re running out of time.

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