Boston College

10 things to watch as Boston College wraps up the regular season vs. Wake Forest

Ben Petrula has been a model of consistency for Boston College. Michael Dwyer/AP Photo

Boston College, fresh off a comeback attempt against Florida State that fell short, welcomes one of the nation’s most explosive offenses to town Saturday at noon.

As the Eagles (6-5, 2-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) look to keep alive their chances of reaching eight wins for the first time since 2009, No. 21 Wake Forest (9-2, 6-1) stands in the way.

The Demon Deacons, who reached as high as No. 10 in the Associated Press poll after starting 8-0 for the first time, average a whopping 43.1 points and 490 yards per game. A win over BC would give them the ACC Atlantic Division title and launch them into the ACC championship game; a loss would deprive them of both goals.


BC coach Jeff Hafley called Wake Forest “probably the most complete team” the Eagles have played all season.

Quarterback Phil Jurkovec added, “We know they’re a quality opponent, and they’re playing for a lot, so we’re going to get their best.”

Here are 10 story lines to follow.

· Fifteen BC players missed practice Wednesday with flulike symptoms, according to Hafley, and all tested negative for COVID-19. He didn’t specify which players were sidelined and didn’t know whether any will miss the game.

· If offensive lineman Ben Petrula plays, it will be his 60th consecutive start, tied for the longest current streak in the nation.


Petrula didn’t play in the first game of his freshman season in 2017 but has started every one since. Hafley said he’s having his best season to date.

“I feel like I’ve been here forever, like an old man,” Petrula said, “but I’m proud to do it.”

· Hafley said Jurkovec still isn’t 100 percent after returning against Virginia Tech following a hand injury that sidelined him for nearly two months.

He said Jurkovec’s grip strength was at about 50 percent against the Hokies, and the coach has been impressed by how admirably he’s fared given the circumstances.


“You want to talk about tough? That’s who that kid is,” Hafley said. “He’s not 100 percent, and he’s going out there and fighting for his teammates every single day.”

· After the Seminoles held him without a reception in the first half, Zay Flowers responded with three catches for 92 yards and a touchdown in the second.

Hafley made it clear that BC is trying to get him the ball all game and will continue to do so. Flowers is tied for fifth in program history with five 100-yard receiving games.

· The Eagles fell behind, 21-7, to Georgia Tech, but responded to earn a 41-30 road win. They trailed, 26-3, to FSU and nearly stormed all the way back before falling short, 26-23. Hafley said starting strong has been a major point of emphasis this week.


“We need to start faster,” he said. “We need to execute faster. We need to make adjustments faster. We need to do everything a little bit quicker.”

· Starting fast is particularly crucial against a Wake Forest team that has a knack for punishing opponents with its high-octane offense. Quarterback Sam Hartman is 235 of 391 (60.1 percent) for 3,475 yards, with 31 touchdowns passes and a passer rating of 156.3.

“We’ve faced a lot of teams that run the quarterback lately,” Hafley said. “This is a team where the quarterback wants to throw it before he runs it.”

It won’t be easy, but the Eagles are better-equipped than most to stop him. They boast the nation’s fifth-best pass defense (167.8 yards per game) and have allowed the third-fewest completions (159). The Eagles will likely throw some unusual looks at Hartman.


“We’re going to try to get a lot of pressure in his face, get a lot of hands up, make his vision a little blurrier than usual,” linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley said.

· Defensive back Josh DeBerry, who leads the Eagles with 53 tackles from the nickel position, has been arguably BC’s most valuable defensive player.

He finished with a career-high 10 tackles against Georgia Tech but missed the Florida State game with an ankle injury. Hafley said he’s day to day.

· One young player to watch, if he’s able to play, is sophomore defensive tackle Cam Horsley. He has started every game but one this season and has registered 1.5 sacks and a quarterback hit in the last two.


“I think he’s one of our more improved players,” Hafley said. “I think his future is extremely bright.”

· Freshman kicker Connor Lytton has converted 10 of 11 field goal attempts (90.9 percent), which is the best mark in the nation for a true freshman.

· Saturday is Senior Day, and Hafley took time to recognize those who have helped build the program.

He believes there will be a time when the Eagles will be playing to get into the ACC championship game on the last weekend, and it will be in large part because of the current crop of seniors who laid the foundation.

“They’re going to look back, and they’re going to be damn proud,” Hafley said. “I’m more worried about sending these seniors off as winners at home than I am anything else.”

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