In this installment of our 2021 Opponent Previews, let’s take a look at what we might be able to expect from the just-outside-of-Boston College Eagles this season.
All-time record: 679–498–37 (.575)
National Titles: 1 (1940)
All-time record vs GT: 3-7 (last played 2020)
Head Coach: Jeff Hafley
2020 Season Review
Record: 6-5 (5-5 ACC)
ACC finish: 6th overall (3rd Atlantic team)
Against GT: W 48-27
Final SP+ ranking: 79th overall (48th offense, 98th defense, 28th special teams)
Jeff Hafley’s first year as head coach was a solid outing for the Eagles. They defeated 5 ACC opponents and played Clemson very close (only losing by 6). Of their 5 losses, 4 came against ranked teams (the last one being UVA in the final game of the season). They pretty much accomplished the year one dream: they won the games they were supposed to win, lost the ones they weren’t, and even won the 50/50 ones. Throughout the season they weren’t particularly amazing at any one facet of the game but they were consistent. The big highlight was transfer QB Phil Jurkovec (Notre Dame), especially when targeting All-ACC WR Zay Flowers.
In total the Eagles are returning 9 offensive starters, with Jurkovec and Flowers being the key ones. The ACC has a strong group of quarterbacks and Jurkovec is absolutely right up there with them; he’s the reason BC was successful in shifting towards a pass-focused offense in 2020. A big loss for him though is TE Hunter Long (drafted by Miami); Long was responsible for nearly 700 yards and 5 TDs in 2020. Another name to keep an eye on is Kobay White; he was 2019’s leading receiver but missed 2020 due to an ACL injury.
While the passing attack is shaping up to be a good one, the run game has more open questions. The entire offensive line is returning, but there weren’t any particular standouts at RB in 2020. David Bailey was the leading rusher but he’s decided to transfer out. Travis Levy will likely be the new #1 but he’ll need to make a big jump in production for the Eagles to have success on the ground.
2020 saw a lot of defensive improvement from the Eagles, but they still weren’t exactly stellar on that side of the ball. Incoming transfer S/LB Jaiden Lars-Woodbey (FSU) should be a huge injection of talent to a squad that really needs it. BC’s two leading tacklers (LBs Isaiah McDuffie and Max Richardson) are both gone, leaving two huge holes at LB. Another transfer, Isaiah Graham-Mobley (Temple) should be able to start there right away. As far as the secondary goes, they don’t have a ton of big-name talent but they are returning a lot of experience.
My expectation for BC in 2021 is probably a continuation of 2020 with a slight improvement since they’re returning a lot of experience and already have a good base to build on from Hafley’s first year. Jurkovec seems like the real deal, but it all may hinge on if the defense can make improvements and if the running game can find some consistency. I think 6-7 wins and a strong bowl showing is reasonable.
As far as GT’s prospects go, I think the game revolves around our ability to take advantage of their deficiencies. With a lackluster rushing attack, BC will likely still be throwing the ball late. If we can force a couple bad throws and turn them into stops then our RBs can dominate the late game. On the offensive side of the ball we really need to put up numbers; the big chance they have is if Jurkovec has a monster game and we’ll need the points to cover that. I think this is going to be a close game with the winner being whoever’s defense can make a few big stops in the fourth quarter. On paper our defense is better so I’m going to be optimistic here and project a 35-31 win for the Jackets.