Twice over the course of my 15 (yikes!) years as a BC season ticket holder, a fall Saturday in Chestnut Hill arrived with the promise of a new beginning.
September 1, 2007 against Wake Forest was the first game of the Jeff Jagodzinski era, a game in which BC immediately built upon the hope fans had that Jags could take BC to the next level after years of knocking on the door.
August 31, 2013 ushered in the Steve Addazio era, where the hope was just to stop the bleeding after BC’s two worst seasons in over a decade, and move past the drama of the GDF/Jags/Spaz incident.
Both Saturdays were special, because you could feel hope in the air.
It’s no fun to show up at the stadium when you don’t feel hope for at least some kind of progress in the future, and there was a bit of hopelessness the last time fans walked out of Alumni Stadium on November 9, 2019, 660 days ago, after BC lost to Florida State to fall to 5-5 - ending hope that Addazio could push past the 7 win mark for the first time in his BC tenure.
After all the excitement surrounding the hire of Jeff Hafley before the 2020 season, we never got to have that feeling of being there for a new era, because the new era kicked off without any of us present- and with questions around whether and when it would happen, and if it should happen in the first place.
Now, 20 months after Jeff Hafley was hired, fans will finally get to watch his version of BC football in person.
The combination of Hafley’s first home game with fans, a chance to watch arguably the most talented BC roster in some time, and the ability to be in person at a game for the first time in two years makes Saturday feel like a new new beginning.
Let’s be clear about one thing as we prepare for week one: this game will basically tell us just about nothing about what BC can accomplish this year, or even what we can expect them to look like against major competition, as they are likely to run a vanilla playbook.
There are early season ‘buy’ games that can at least give you a glimpse at what higher-end games will look like - teams that offer some level of competition like Villanova, UMass and Texas State. And then you have teams like Colgate, Wagner, UConn, Howard, Holy Cross etc. where it really is just a glorified exhibition.
This is obviously in the latter category, and in a normal year, this game would be pretty unremarkable. Colgate played two games last spring, going 0-2, capped off by a 40-8 loss to BC’s Jesuit pals, Fordham. Their last game against an FBS team was 48-7 loss to Air Force in 2019.
But this isn’t a normal year.
If you know me in real life you know that I moved outside of New England, and for the first time in over 15 years my personal and/or professional life doesn’t revolve around BC’s campus. I initially didn’t plan on flying up for a BC-Colgate scrimmage, making plans to be at the other five home games. But as the date drew nearer I couldn’t resist the opportunity to be in one of my favorite places for the first time in far too long.
Whether it’s getting your first in-person look at Phil Jurkovec, or seeing people who tailgate next to you or sit in your section for the first time in two years, Saturday is going to be special for BC fans. Enjoy it.
Boston College vs. Colgate
Saturday, September 4, 2021
12:00 PM, ACC Network
Colgate’s record last year: 0-2
All-time BC vs. Colgate record: 0-0
It’s pretty astonishing that these two teams have never met, given how long both have been playing football, and their geographic proximity - Colgate’s team dates back to 1890, and BC has played plenty of now-Patriot League teams throughout their history. But this is the first ever game between BC and Colgate. History, I guess.
- New coach: This will be interim head coach Stan Dakosty’s first game in charge at Colgate. Dakosty played for the Raiders in 2001-02 and has been an assistant coach for 15 years with the program. He picked up the head coach job after former coach Dan Hunt stepped down due to an unspecified “violation” during the offseason. Hunt’s resignation came as a surprise, as he put together a winning record overall and had a few nice seasons with the Raiders in the Patriot League.
- Searching for offense: For Colgate fans, you have to figure the hope and expectation isn’t that they’ll be able to do much to stop BC’s offense - it’s that there will be some sign that their disastrous offensive output last season was due to writing off the shambolic 2020-21 ‘season,’ rather than the mark of a team that is UConn-level bad at moving the ball.
In their two games last year, returning quarterback Grant Breneman threw for 0 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, a year after throwing for 5 TD and 5 INT in 10 games in 2019. Breneman is also their returning leader in rushing yards from a team that averaged 2.6 yards per carry.
If the rushing and passing game both are as bad as they looked in the spring, this will end up being a running clock game by the second half. But if they can show signs of life on offense it will give the Raiders some hope that they will contend in the Patriot League this year.
What I’m watching for from BC this week:
- The first depth chart: BC will post their first depth chart for the season at some point today, providing some insights into how Jeff Hafley and his staff view positional battles that took place during camp. You can expect a healthy dose of backups and rotation during the actual game, but seeing who plays the first few drives as the first unit will give us a chance to evaluate what BC might look like during ACC play.
Transfers like running back Alex Sinkfield and tight end Trae Barry will likely battle for some first string time, and we’ll get a chance to see how they stack up with BC’s returning players.
- Health: We have no reason to expect Phil Jurkovec or Kobay White to look any worse for the wear after their 2020 seasons were ended by injuries, but watching them move and seeing how their sharpness compares to when we last saw them is probably one of the few useful pieces of information we’ll be able to glean from this game.
The other key in these games, of course, is to get through them without any injuries.
- The crowd: Normally, with a Labor Day weekend kickoff against an FCS team, with a game against an SEC team just a few weeks away, I’d expect a pretty empty house for the opener. I do wonder if a lot of people, like me, will feel especially compelled to attend after missing out on going to any games last year, or if I’m just a weirdo (I know the answer could be ‘both’).
What to watch for on BCI this week:
This week: with BC putting together its best recruiting class in years, I’ll take a look at how BC’s recruiting ranking has historically correlated with on-field results.
Later this week, Curtis and Peter will preview the BC/Colgate game on each side of the ball, and Niraj will break down the BC depth chart.
Laura will round up season predictions from the full staff, and a roundtable of us sharing what we’re excited to watch for this coming Saturday.
Curtis will have you covered on game day with coverage here on the site and on Twitter at @bcinterruption.
Welcome to football season!