Well that sure wasn’t pretty, but the job got done. Saturday’s game probably did a good job of humbling the Eagles, and sometimes you have to win ugly games (very ugly) and show some resiliency. The Sun Belt has proven to be no joke, so the competition shouldn’t be discounted. There is clearly a lot of room for improvement, as we knew, but there were some silver linings.
For one, the clock management and composure down a score in the waning minutes, fantastic. That’s not something we’ve experienced in quite some time. Not to mention a game winning field goal. We’re clearly a second half team. Phil Jurkovec has the second highest passing yards in the second half of games in the nation with 368 yards. It goes without saying, but the team has to come out strong to allow the defense to settle and not tire out too early. They were all out of sorts and timing was poor. One more start like that, and we have a real problem.
Offensively team sorely misses what Kobay White brings to the table. His ability to move the chains opens up the offense, and with Texas State zoning in on Zay Flowers, the Eagles weren’t able to get much going downfield. The offense was wildly inconsistent and out of sync. Jurkovec again looked uncomfortable and made ill-advised throws and took some tough sacks.As we talked about entering last season, Hunter Long is something else. Long leads the country in receptions by a tight end with 16, and his rapport with Jurkovec is on point. Long scored the game-tying touchdown with a minute to go, and helped set up the game-winning field goal. He’s a special player, but that’s not surprising. Jaelen Gill didn’t get too much going (4 rec, 32 yards), but it would be worthwhile getting him the ball in space. He showed flashes as a dynamic runner, and he could even help open up the ground game. The offensive line failed to get any push, and the Eagles rushing offense barely eclipsed the century mark, largely thanks to some scrambling by Jurkovec. We can only be patient so long before calls for reverting course on the position changes.
The defense clearly struggled through much of the contest, but came up big in key moments. The team dealt with some key losses on the backend. Deon Jones’ injury and Jahmin Muse’s ejection for targeting really stopped the Eagles from defending the middle of the field, and their soft zone was quite susceptible to a flurry of slants. It was shades of Kansas through the first half, and the blood pressure of Eagles fans everywhere was reaching dangerous levels. That being said, when the offense wasn’t going in the first half at all, it was Mike Palmer who was a yard shy of completing a pick-six. Young players in Kam Arnold and Shittah Sillah really stepped up as well, and how about Max Roberts making his presence felt after being added to the roster that morning. Isaiah McDuffie, despite missed several missed tackles, came up big again when it mattered most.
How about that Texas State coach using all three timeouts to try and ice Aaron Boom Boumerhi. Expect the unexpected they say, but he did just the opposite. Boumerhi was able to kick the game winning field goal with nothing to stop him. BC has a very difficult matchup next week in #11 UNC. Texas state had three games under their belt and knew exactly who they were. That showed through much of the context. It will be three weeks since UNC’s lone game of the season thus far when the teams matchup in Chestnut Hill. Maybe the turn tables will turn right for Eagles.