Welcome to the next installment of our 2032 opponent previews! Today we’ll be looking at our northernmost opponents, the Boston College Eagles.
All-time record: 688–510–37 (.572)
National Titles: 1 (1940)
ACC Titles: 0
All-time record vs GT: 4-7
Current Head Coach: Jeff Hafley
2022 Season Review
Record: 3-9 (2-6 ACC)
ACC finish: 7th Atlantic
Against GT: n/a
Final SP+ ranking: 112th overall (94th offense, 102nd defense, 123rd special teams)
In a word, BC’s 2022 campaign was bad. They opened the season with a lackluster one point loss to Rutgers that really set the tone for the rest of the year. A close win over then-#16 NC State was the highlight (though the Wolfpack did not finish the season ranked), but the only other two wins were against Louisville and… Maine. Mixed in there was a drubbing from Notre Dame, several multi-score beatdowns, and a bad low-scoring loss to UConn. Bleh.
It’ll be something of a new look on offense for the Eagles this year. “Special Assistant to the Head Coach” Rob Chudzinski has been promoted to “Associate Head Coach for Offense and Offensive Development” (they really like words huh). After a season-ending injury in 2022, QB Phil Jurkovec immediately transferred to Pitt and left RS freshman Emmett Morehead in charge. All-ACC WR Zay Flowers is also gone after having been drafted in the first round by the Ravens. On the positive side, the offensive line will be getting back several starters that were missing last year as well as gaining some very experienced transfers. RB Patrick Garwo also brings a good amount of experience and consistency to the position.
Given Morehead’s limited experience and the resurgent O-line I would expect BC to focus more heavily on the ground game in 2023. Still, I think a lot of their success (in general and against us) is going to depend on how much Morehead has improved after a full offseason of preparing to be the starter. Priority 1A for our defense needs to be stopping the run; if we can do that successfully then I like our chances of forcing Morehead to try to beat us with his arm.
While the offense has lost its star power, the defense has largely retained it. Three returning starters are coming off All-ACC honors: DE Donovan Ezeiruaku (Second Team), LB Vinny DePalma (Honorable Mention), and CB Elijah Jones (Honorable Mention). There are also several transfers coming in across the defense to fill in the gaps left by outgoing players.
They might not be world-beaters, but this isn’t a defense to take lightly. They’ve got a healthy mix of talent and experience, and with an improved offense they’ll be getting more rest between series. Our offense is going to need to put consistent drives together to chip away at them and that’s a bit concerning given how tall of an order that’s been in recent years. I think the differentiator has to be our ability to adapt - can we react quickly, find the weaknesses, and put our players in the right positions to make progress.
I don’t think this is going to be an especially pretty game to watch. All signs point to BC’s 2023 identity being “we play defense and run the ball” and that’s always a recipe for a low-scoring snoozer, especially when both teams are working with re-tooled offenses. Still, I think we have a slight edge for a few reasons. First, it’s a home game and that’s always worth something. Second, I think we have more talent at the skill positions that can break a crucial play or two open. Third, I think both programs are in rebuild mode but Key has more momentum than Hafley does at the moment.
Give me Jackets 24, Eagles 20. What do y’all think?